Mark Oliver Everett’s upbringing was ‘ridiculous, sometimes tragic and always unsteady’. His father – a quantum mechanic who worked for the Pentagon – was a genius who had corresponded with Einstein aged 13. He rarely spoke, and following his own miserable childhood had eccentric ideas of how children should be brought up. Mark – known as ‘E’ – and his older sister Liz were raised in a house with no rules, with parents who had ‘a kind of seventies swinging marriage’.
Lacking any real sense of authority, E had to raise himself, not always with the greatest success. His love of music helped pull him through, and by his early 20s he was on the brink of stardom with his first album – Beautiful Freak. But then tragedy struck – having already lost his father to a heart attack, his sister and mother both died in short succession – Liz from an overdose, and his mother from cancer. It was the kind of brutal loss that could destroy someone, but somehow E survived, and channelled his experiences into his music. In THINGS THE GRANDCHILDREN SHOULD KNOW he tells his story – one that is surprisingly full of hope, humour and wry wisdom.