Book Review: Life Is a Butt Dial: Tales From a Life Among the Tragically Hip

Cleve Hattersley

Life Is a Butt Dial: Tales From a Life Among the Tragically Hip

By his own admission, Cleve Hattersley stumbled through a life of adjacent stardom. Best known as leader of Greezy Wheels, the house band of the Armadillo World Headquarters, the Austinite's memoir offers a long, strange trip across America's countercultures, like a Beat Forrest Gump. Serendipities range from sublime (Jimi Hendrix auditioning at the Night Owl in NYC) to surreal (living across the street from the Manson family in the Haight), with the author marveling at his dumb luck most of all. And yet, it's Hattersley the hustler who positioned himself in Greenwich Village in the early Sixties, at the Fillmore on the West Coast later in the decade, in Austin's progressive Seventies, and in running the Lone Star Cafe back in NYC through the cocaine-fueled, cameoed Eighties. The songwriter's narration is as erratic as an after-hours, smoked-out jam session, jumping from his prison stint for smuggling pot to running Kinky Friedman's political campaigns with an anachronistic nonchalance, but his informal and gossip-spilling telling never fails to entertain. Beyond the anecdotes, Hattersley's life seems to be a testament to saying yes but keeping your shit together enough to get out alive and, maybe more importantly, maintain a helluva a story to tell.

Life Is a Butt Dial: Tales From a Life Among the Tragically Hip

by Cleve Hattersley
Yes Publishing, 210 pp., $19.95

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Cleve Hattersley
Greezy Wheels Take a Last Bow
Greezy Wheels Take a Last Bow
Still Greezy after all these years

Doug Freeman, June 23, 2017

Media Watch: Unwinding the Twine at KUT
Media Watch: Unwinding the Twine at KUT
Listeners protest cutbacks of legendary local DJs Paul Ray and Larry Monroe

Kevin Brass, Aug. 7, 2009

More Music Reviews
<i>Me & Mr. Cigar</i>
Me & Mr. Cigar
Butthole Surfers singer Gibby Haynes debuts a deeply weird and wonderful young adult novel.

Alyssa Quiles, Feb. 21, 2020

Texas Platters
Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan
A Texas Flood of new interviews paint an intimate portrait of late Austin guitar god

Doug Freeman, Sept. 6, 2019

More by Doug Freeman
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Exhorder, Lera Lynn, Sobbrs, a Tom Waits tribute, and more shows worth seeing

Dec. 3, 2021

What We're Listening to Right Now
What We're Listening to Right Now
Aaron Stephens, Paul Cauthen, Drakulas, Glasshealer, Pretty Little Thieves, and more local sounds

Nov. 26, 2021


Cleve Hattersley, Greezy Wheels, Armadillo World Headquarters, Jimi Hendrix, Charles Manson, Kinky Friedman

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle