Neil Ratner, MD
Paperback: 317 pages
Publisher: Rock Doc Entertainment LLC; 1st edition (January 28, 2019)
Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton
I was intrigued when I read a blurb for Neil Ratner's new Rock Doc when I saw his memoir included stories about the professional careers of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Edgar Winter, and Rick Derringer during their various heydays in the 1970s. I wasn't disappointed. Roughly one-quarter of the book is Ratner's account of his years as a personal manager, tour manager, and production supervisor for those talented performers.
Then, Ratner's autobiography shifts gears as he describes how he left the happy rock and roll lifestyle to enter medicine and specialize as a pioneering anesthesiologist. After establishing the break-through idea of setting up anesthesiologist services in doctor's offices to reduce the need to use hospital operating rooms, Ratner described the day Michael Jackson walked into his office and Ratner's life forever changed.
After that, reader interest in the longest section of the book will depend on your interest in Michael Jackson. Ratner unfolds a long, warm, intimate relationship he and Jackson shared both professionally and personally for decades. The account is as revelatory as anything I've read on Jackson's complex life. Those much more familiar with his story might not find too much new other than Ratner's passages on his relationship with the singer. Personally, I was glad to learn so much about Jackson's, and Ratner's, relationship with Nelson Mandela and their many strong connections to South Africa.
The book takes another sharp turn when Ratner details his experiences with the legal system after he's convicted for insurance fraud. while I might have missed these chapters if I'd given up reading the Michael Jackson saga, I'd have missed a very positive, rather uplifting story of redemption and a growing spiritual depth Ratner acquired in prison. What he does after his incarceration is another surprising turn and an admirable one at that. Very admirable.
Since Rock Doc touches so many bases, the potential readership should include those interested in rock and pop history, medicine, Michael Jackson, Nelson Mandela and South Africa, not to mention all the transformative perspectives Ratner shares as he summarizes his more recent years. The memoir is told with a personal, often passionate tone that is candid enough to disarm all but the most cynical of readers.
This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Jan. 25, 2019: