February 27, 2012

Rock assistant, tour manager featured in Downtown lecture series

Posted: February 27, 2012
Chris O'Dell, an assistant for the Beatles and a tour manager for the Rolling Stones, will present "Music, Truth and Substance Abuse" on March 29 as part of the Spring 2012 Humanities Lecture Series.
Photo by: Touchstone Books
Download image

Chris O’Dell wasn’t famous. She wasn’t even almost famous, but she was there.

The Tucsonan was at the center of the world of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1960s and 1970s, surrounded by friends and musicians who are considered legends. She worked with the likes of the Beatles; Rolling Stones; Bob Dylan; Led Zeppelin; Eric Clapton; Santana; Leon Russell; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Queen and Fleetwood Mac.

O’Dell was in the studio when the Beatles recorded "The White Album," "Abbey Road," and "Let It Be," and when Paul McCartney recorded "Hey Jude," she sang in the chorus.

She worked with the Rolling Stones as their personal assistant on their 1972 tour and did a drug run for Keith Richards.

She's "the woman down the hall" in Joni Mitchell's song "Coyote," which is about a love triangle on Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue tour. She's the "mystery woman" pictured on the back of the Rolling Stones album "Exile on Main Street." She's the "Miss O'Dell" of George Harrison's song about her.

O’Dell also is the next featured speaker at the spring 2012 Humanities Lecture Series at the Downtown Phoenix campus, hosted by ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and ASU Project Humanities. Her presentation on “Music, Truth and Substance Abuse” will address her own experiences in the music business, addiction and the intimate relationships she formed with the Beatles and other rock legends.

The lecture takes place at 6:30 p.m., March 29, at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Phoenix, Innovation Auditorium, room 110. It is free and open to the public.

“Now more than ever students and members of the community need to know the facts about substance abuse in the entertainment business,” says Mirna Lattouf, faculty in the humanities and series organizer. ”As substance abuse continues to get glorified, Chris O’Dell gives us a glimpse of the harsh realities behind the scenes.”

While O’Dell was busy living the high life, she also was getting high and drunk, and developed an addiction over the course of her 20-year career in the music industry.

“Drugs and alcohol were just part of the culture and no one at the time knew it was a problem,” O’Dell says today. “It was fun, a way of escaping, relaxing and just hanging out. I think one of the reasons that it took so long for me to admit to having a problem and finally getting clean and sober is that no one around me considered it a problem. And, of course, there was the money to afford the drugs.”

O’Dell finally got sober in 1988 and says she eventually outgrew the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.

“Eventually, as I got older, the passion for me just wasn’t there anymore, and I just sort of outgrew it,” O’Dell says. “The music industry changed so that I couldn’t return to it now. I was actually invited to a tour in 2004 and by the end of it … I was just exhausted and sick.”

Today, she is an addiction recovery counselor and hypnotherapist, and the best-selling author of "Miss O’Dell: My Hard Days and Long Nights with The Beatles, The Stones, Bob Dylan and the Women They Loved" (Touchstone Books, 2009) – a book she will sell and sign after the lecture.

For directions, visit http://nursingandhealth.asu.edu/contact/directionsdt.htm. For parking information, visit http://nursingandhealth.asu.edu/contact/parking.htm. For more information, call Mirna Lattouf, series lecture organizer, at (602) 496-0638.

Marshall Terrill, Marshall.Terrill@asu.edu
(602) 496-1005
ASU Office of Public Affairs