By: Neil Ratner MD - Rock Doc Entertainment LLC, $19.99
Description: The highly engrossing 'Rock Doc' will take you from backstage at a Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon concert in the early seventies, where Neil's production company, Circus Talents, Ltd. was providing production services, to the office operating rooms of elite New York surgeons where Neil Ratner MD was Director of Anesthesia.
Verdict: Well, for those not in the know, author Neil Ratner quit college in the late sixties and traversed the Hollywood celebrity world as a successful road manager for names like Edgar Winter's White Trash and tour manager for Emerson Lake and Palmer.
He established a full service production company (a pioneering approach at this stage) to support the artists on tour and worked with T-Rex, Genesis, Pink Floyd and many others.
Later in his career he managed the successful songwriter Denise Rich and built Dream Factory studios in NYC.
After his successful career in the music industry he decided it was time to follow his heart and pursue his other childhood dream of becoming an MD.
Even though not a single American school wanted to take him, he didn't give up and moved to Mexico to get his medical degree. He made it back into the American system and after many years of residency Neil became an anesthesiologist.
In what can only be described as a series of If you didn't read it here you would never have known moments, Neil's story combines not only the highs and lows of both music and medicine, but also intertwines rabidly with celebrity friendships, high profile meetings and a downward spiral that would have brought many lesser men to their knees.
Picking things back up though, when Propofol became available in the U.S. in the late 1980's Neil was one of the first to become expert in its usage as it was a perfect drug for office use.
His relationship with the top plastic and reconstructive surgeons in New York allowed him to treat a number of high profile patients. That's how Neil met Michael Jackson. He became his personal doctor and a close friend.
They had a lot in common and Neil accompanied the star from late 1997 until his last performance in 2001. Indeed it was during Michael Jackson's tour in South Africa, Michael introduced Neil to Nelson Mandela.
They would meet again a few years later when Neil went with Michael to present Mandela a check for Mandela's Children's Fund. A meeting that would have a great impact on Neil's future charity work.
For Neil's world of fame and fortune, good times and even greater times was about to come crashing down when he was convicted for insurance fraud and sentenced to jail.
As you can well imagine, this was a turning point in his life. Power and greed were no longer perfectly acceptable ways of exploiting his personal position.
Thus Neil served four months in federal prison and 4 months of home confinement. Worse than that he lost everything: money reputation, job, and even his (so-called) friends.
But Neil refused to be defeated and became more focused on improving the lives of people in deprived areas around the globe. He knew it was time to make a difference.
He knew life was not just about money and material things and so this is when his relationship with Nelson Mandela began to play a role in how he was going to make a contribution to humankind.
It wasn't that Neil hadn't tried before. He began with solo charity work in Samburu, Kenya, where he established a bush clinic. A few years later after the US Embassy bombings in Africa in 1999, he co-led a team of doctors that operated on over 300 people that suffered deforming injuries.
But Neil knew that wasn't near enough. Going to prison and losing everything showed him a different side of life. It was time to start something new.
Thus he established a charity project called International Community Bakeries. Its purpose was to create community based, community supported, self-sustaining micro bakeries which produce fresh, high quality, healthy breads.
The charity started with creating a bakery in South Africa at a place called Nkosi's Haven a home for very poor single HIV positive Moms and their kids.
When Mandela heard about the project he helped Neil raise the necessary funds for the bakery. The bakery opened in 2009. A second bakery followed in a township outside Cape Town two years later and last year they opened a third bakery in one of the worst slums in Port Au Prince Haiti.
Phew! Well, it's hardly an understatement to say that 'Rock Doc' is a uniquely personal opus that reveals the incredible beginning, middle and end (as of today) of a man embedded in the world of music on minute, of medicine the next, and then bounced through the justice system, only to come out the other end a better, stronger, and more whole person intent on giving his newly-cleansed heart and soul to the most deserving.
Instilled with honesty, even to the point that Ratner admits that the events portrayed inside are to the best of his memory from those days and that whilst all the stories in the book are true, some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved, his words just continue to showcase a man not out to besmirch or step on others as he takes his new path forward.
In a heartfelt, well-scripted, and scenically told to perfection book, one dedicated to all those that have been told by others, "You'll never," and also to Michael Jackson, whose presence was with him for much of the writing, and also his soulmate and partner for the last 42 years, Leann, the book begins with the MD in the house and about to meet the aforementioned King Of Pop in his office.
Not giving much away here, but as we head into the four-part photograph section midway through the book, just prior to the opening of the Rock section (the others being Doc, Michael Jackson and Rock Doc) it is revealed that it was actually the King Of Pop himself who gave Ratner his "Rock Doc" moniker!
In conclusion, chapter by chapter of this amusing and painfully life-lived book reveals a new facet of Neil Ratner that not only colorizes the man himself, but adds to the history of others re: MJ that perhaps we didn't even know had a correlation.
Ergo, 'Rock Doc' is an incredibly honest reveal of a man who, layer by layer, chapter by chapter, presents to us, arms open wide, Ratner's most personal tales of his intimate friendships with average joe's to mega stars, from loved ones to a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, from drugs to court rooms to jail, and yet who encases it all sublimely within a magnificent transformation tale.
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