What is the Last Music Bio Book You've Read?

DuranDuran

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barbee0715

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^^Have you read this yet?? Is it any good? I picture the Chitlin' Circuit as old theatres in big cities (like the Orpheum Circuit)-not shacks-is this the origins of it and how it started?? I'd like to know the history.

(This cover reminds me of two stores in two towns in Oklahoma that we used to walk to when I was really little-we just called them "the little store"-I don't remember any whiskey or beer signs, but it's what we used as a convenience store and we got popsicles there.)
 

DuranDuran

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barbee0715;4174879 said:
^^Have you read this yet?? Is it any good? I picture the Chitlin' Circuit as old theatres in big cities (like the Orpheum Circuit)-not shacks-is this the origins of it and how it started?? I'd like to know the history.

(This cover reminds me of two stores in two towns in Oklahoma that we used to walk to when I was really little-we just called them "the little store"-I don't remember any whiskey or beer signs, but it's what we used as a convenience store and we got popsicles there.)
It was both. But the juke joints (in which some were shacks and some were called "hole in the wall", etc.) were primarily in southern USA. The halls tended to be in the north, like the Apollo Theater in NYC. I don't know if you heard the story of how B.B. King named his guitar Lucille, he was playing in one of those juke joints in Twist Arkansas and some guys started fighting and they turned over a barrel that contained kerosene (or some kind of gas) that they has fire in to heat the building. The place caught on fire and everybody ran out. B.B. realized he forgot his guitar (he didn't have much money at the time) and ran back in the burning building to get it. He almost lost his life and later found out the 2 guys were fighting over a lady named Lucille that worked in the place. So he called his guitar that to remind himself to never do something like that again.

As far as the book goes, it's pretty good, and talks about the guy who is credited with creating the Chitlin' Circuit named Denver Ferguson. It starts out in the Duke Ellington big band era and the book mentions a few performers, but mainly talks about people behind the scenes. One thing mentioned is that Little Richard started out doing a drag act before doing any recording and that crossdressing acts (usually dancers) were fairly common on the chitlin' circuit (if you've read Mike's book, he mentions a drag performer he saw when the J5 were performing in clubs). But Richard later lost interest in doing drag and wanted to perform as himself. Blues singers and the early R&B star Louis Jordan are mentioned too in the book too.
 

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Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency {2016}

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

Just bought a new Prince bio by some one called Mick Wall. So far it is pretty trashy focussing on his drug addiction. Plus the photos are very incorrectly dated with a "Lovesexy (1988)" era shot being dated as 2001 ! and a clear Parade era (1986) shot being labelled as 1990. Oh I love it when people don't bother to research their subject and just write what they "Think" happened. The bibliography reveals mostly post 2010 books of various quality being quoted and even one about Rick James, 7 books! Ideally there should be at least 50 references in a good book. I want my $29.90 back!

Then again, there has been a rash of books about Michael Jackson which have come out sicne his death, which are mostly poorly researched and filled up with lies, gossip and rubbish. Veracity needs to come back to musical journalism. Like Prince said on his 1996 album Chaos and Disorder - Welcome to Mendacity - sign your name.
 

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This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty Of Rubber Soul Fifty Years On {2015}

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Shining Star: Braving The Elements Of Earth, Wind & Fire (2014)

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

^ How was it?
 
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ChrisC

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

I'm reading it now actually.

I'm a huge fan of his so I'm loving it. I'm not too far in. I'll give a better review when I finish.
 

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Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City {2012}

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ChrisC

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

I'm reading it now actually.

I'm a huge fan of his so I'm loving it. I'm not too far in. I'll give a better review when I finish.

Realise I never came back to give a review on this.

Absolutely loved reading it. I find usually with these books it's the artist's earlier days that fascinate me most but I found it quite slow and once Bruce gets to the point of getting his first recording deal it just sped right up and became much more engaging. He talks very frankly about his depression through the years but it's often what he leaves out that is most telling. Indeed in the final passages of the book he admits he has not told the full story for fear of offending those people it concerns. The book also has a tendency to lapse into a track by track 'review' of whatever album he made at the time and becomes a little fragmented, jumping forward and backwards to isolated events in his life. Tellingly he completely ignores his two critical and commercial failures from the early 90s, the albums Human Touch and Lucky Town - I was disappointed in this. He sort of alludes to them when discussing the album after this but he seems keen not to address them at all. Numerous times he tries to explain his position in terms of the E Street Band and their importance to him and how he sees himself as a solo artist, he talks often of the members coming to him for raises and such and telling them "no". I felt he struggled to really define his position and theirs - it had clearly led to tensions throughout the years that Bruce seemed eager to brush over. His relationship with his father is detailed throughout.

I have another book called Springsteen on Springsteen which collates various interviews Bruce did throughout his career and reprints them in full. I'd say it was worth reading both in an attempt to obtain a full picture of the man and his career.

My next music book is either going to be Johnny Cash's autobiography or Making Michael. But I have a number of other non-music books I'm looking at next.
 

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

Realise I never came back to give a review on this.

Absolutely loved reading it. I find usually with these books it's the artist's earlier days that fascinate me most but I found it quite slow and once Bruce gets to the point of getting his first recording deal it just sped right up and became much more engaging. He talks very frankly about his depression through the years but it's often what he leaves out that is most telling. Indeed in the final passages of the book he admits he has not told the full story for fear of offending those people it concerns. The book also has a tendency to lapse into a track by track 'review' of whatever album he made at the time and becomes a little fragmented, jumping forward and backwards to isolated events in his life. Tellingly he completely ignores his two critical and commercial failures from the early 90s, the albums Human Touch and Lucky Town - I was disappointed in this. He sort of alludes to them when discussing the album after this but he seems keen not to address them at all. Numerous times he tries to explain his position in terms of the E Street Band and their importance to him and how he sees himself as a solo artist, he talks often of the members coming to him for raises and such and telling them "no". I felt he struggled to really define his position and theirs - it had clearly led to tensions throughout the years that Bruce seemed eager to brush over. His relationship with his father is detailed throughout.

I have another book called Springsteen on Springsteen which collates various interviews Bruce did throughout his career and reprints them in full. I'd say it was worth reading both in an attempt to obtain a full picture of the man and his career.

My next music book is either going to be Johnny Cash's autobiography or Making Michael. But I have a number of other non-music books I'm looking at next.
Great review. I agree that it is unfortunate that he skipped over the 'other band' years so quickly. I thought he did address his struggles with the clash between the characters in his songs and what his own life had become ("a rich man in a poor man's shirt"), and the difficulty of finding material to write about at that time nicely. With regards to not getting into certain topics because he does not want to hurt other people's feelings: it is unfortunate, but you can't really blame him. Info about tension within the band is out there already, in limited doses Mainly, it seems like Steve and Jon Landau did not get along, feelings were hurt when Bruce disbanded the band, and it took a while to fully resolve those when they came together again for the reunion tour (for instance, see Garry Tallent's comments in Peter Ames Carlin's Bruce bio). I get the sense all these guys have moved on from that now (as did Clarence and Danny before they passed) and value whatever time they have left together.

Personally, I am always interested in more recollections about his work itself. But that clearly was not the focus of this book. Overall I thought it was a very nice and honest autobiography. When he's not asked very direct questions in interviews, Bruce has this tendency to ramble and discuss aspects of his career in very abstract terms. I was afraid the book could turn into this as well, but it really did not. It contained plenty of funny, self-depricating, and also touching stories - the parts regarding his relationship with his dad, fatherhood, and his struggles with depression in particular. He had been open about all these subjects in the past in interviews, but it was nice to read a more extensive and reflective take on it.

Having read the book, it's no wonder that he leaves it all out on the stage night after night, and plays 4 hour shows: it seems like he needs it more than any of his fans do.
 

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Substance: Inside New Order {2017}

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Peter Hook is the former bass player in New Order & Joy Division. Both bands had 3 of the same members. This is a long book, a little over 700 pages. I used to hear New Order on the radio, but I didn't know anything about them or even what they looked like. They were like an anonymous act to me at the time. The book is kinda different than other autobiographies I've read, in that it has little segments talking about technical things like studio lingo and how things work like the earpiece that singers/bands use on stage.
 

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Re: what last music bio book have you read?...

I'm currently reading Garbage's This Is The Noise That Keeps Me Awake. Great book.

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Maximum Volume: The Life of Beatles Producer George Martin, The Early Years, 1926-1966 (2017)

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This new biography is the first volume of a 2 book series. I don't know when the 2nd part comes out.
 

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Re: Little Richard: The Birth Of Rock 'n' Roll (2009)

"The Man in the Music" by Joe Vogel
 

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Soul Train: The Music, Dance, and Style Of A Generation (2013)

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This book has lots of cool pics in it. Questlove doesn't appear to be that fond of the disco years though.
 

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This book has lots of cool pics in it. Questlove doesn't appear to be that fond of the disco years though.
Soul Train is becoming an original TV series starting in February on BET. Don't know if it's based on this book or not.
 

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Tattoos & Tequila {2010}

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Since there is a new biopic based on The Dirt, I figured I'd read Vince's own book.
 
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