The Ox: The Authorized Biography of The Who’s John Entwistle…. by Paul Rees

When I see the word “authorized” I get really skeptical that they will not tell the complete story. This one proved me wrong. John’s son Christopher had said that this book was going to be warts and all. He was correct in that. I was super excited to read this. In the past year, I re-read Pete Townshend’s autobiography, Roger Daltrey’s autobiography, and re-read Keith Moon’s biography by Tony Fletcher and to top it off the Kenney Jones biography.

John actually wrote 4 chapters himself in 1990 when he wanted to write his own book. He soon grew tired of it and just stored it away. Rees did manage to incorporate some of what he wrote that included stories about him and Moon I never heard. John Entwistle is the least written about of the four. Any info on him is nice and a lot of this was new to me. Rees goes over the highlights and you don’t get dragged down at any point. The only thing I didn’t like was…like Daltrey’s autobiography it’s short…only 320 pages long.

The book goes through the history of the Who that Who fans know but with a lot of anecdotes. I found out more about John’s life than I ever knew. You see where he developed his black humor and he was probably the best pure musician in that band. I would recommend this book to any rock music fan. You get some funny stories also…

One about the Who opening up for the Beatles and listening to them through monitors in the dressing room rolling on the floor laughing hearing The Beatles sing obscene words to their songs “I Want To Hold Your ****”…A Hard Day’s ****. because the screaming was so loud and they couldn’t be heard out front.

Why I looked forward to this book…

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John was a bass hero of mine growing up. I started off learning trying to learn the riffs he did by slowing Who albums with my finger so the riffs would be slower…but they were still fast. Most bass players fill in the empty space but with the Who, there wasn’t much empty space because of Moon’s playing. He played what amounted to lead bass and it worked well…his harmonics made up for the lack of other instruments.

Keith Altham (journalist): John was an enigma. That he was the best bass guitarist of his generation is not in dispute, but because of the peculiar demands placed upon him by The Who he wasn’t a bass player in the accepted sense of the term because he didn’t play bass like anyone else, any more than Keith Moon played the drums like anyone else or, for that matter, Pete Townshend the guitar. “His playing was so dextrous and inventive that he was often indistinguishable from a second guitar.”

Lemmy: “He’s the best player in Rock and Roll ever…no contest”

John Entwistle: “I just wanted to play louder than anyone else …

Bill Wyman: John was the Jimi Hendrix of bass players

Bring It On Home: Peter Grant, Led Zeppelin, and Beyond–The Story of Rock’s Greatest Manager… by Mark Blake

I had a business trip this past week driving a car for at least 10 hours to and from Atlanta and finished up this audiobook about the legendary manager Peter Grant. I have read one book about Grant by Chris Welch but I like this one better. Both of Grant’s kids were interviewed by author Mark Blake and they gave a perspective and info that has never been shared.

Grant had been a van driver, bouncer, stagehand, wrestler, and Don Arden’s assistant. He was 6’3″ and at one time over 300lbs… He road managed the tough and a little crazy Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Bo Diddley, and The Animals before he took over the Yardbirds which then turned into Led Zeppelin.

Grant changed the music business across the board. The promoters would enjoy a 60/40 split and better until Grant. He changed it all to 90/10 split with the artists actually getting the windfall instead of the promoters. His saying was 10 percent of Zeppelin was better than nothing. Now it is an industry-standard. The one other manager that I have read about is Brian Epstein who managed the Beatles. Grant and Epstein were complete opposites except for one thing. There was nothing they would not do for their respective bands. They were both loyal and trustworthy with the band’s finances unlike other band’s managers at the time. That is where the comparison ends.

Grant indeed was loyal to a fault…but he did business by suggestion and intimidation. Pouring water in bootleggers tape recorders, smashing film cameras by fans at concerts, and threating anyone that got in Zeppelin’s way or anyone who might be getting something they shouldn’t. He added to their already dark reputation. He started a Zeppelin label in the mid-seventies called Swan Song and signed Bad Company. He became their co-manager and traveled with them when Zeppelin wasn’t touring. He was even asked by Queen in 1975 if he could manage them…he turned them down because he didn’t have the time.

After Bonham died it became close to impossible to get him on the phone. His drug intake, already heavy, escalated during the early eighties. He did eventually get clean, lose weight, and turn into a living legend and he tried to be an English gentleman.

The book moves at a good pace and it goes over the hype and myths that Grant and Page built for Zeppelin.

If you are a Zeppelin fan or a fan of rock in the seventies it’s a good read. Although Grant could be tough, intimidating, and frankly scary at times…he did have a soft side for his family and of course…Led Zeppelin. I would give it 4.5 stars.

I did learn a new name for a certain drug… “Peruvian Marching Powder”

 

When Giants Walked The Earth…. by Mick Wall

I read this book about Led Zeppelin over a year ago…and recently while waiting for a Beatles book to get released I  went through it again. The book is much better than The Hammer Of The Gods released in the 80s. There are many things in this book that I didn’t know. Overall I liked it…but..

Mick Wall would do these interludes that are supposed to be some kind of interior monologue by the protagonists (but in second person). The book is well researched and he would be going along great and then all of a sudden he would try to get into each member’s head and have a monologue (in cockney many times) on what they were thinking at that moment…I don’t care how much you researched someone you do not know what they were thinking at that time.

He would sprinkle these monologues out so it’s not like they are the entire book but it was totally unnecessary to me…and it was annoying.

Here is a small example of a Jimmy Page interlude…and “G” is Led Zeppelin’s manager Peter Grant.  Now it’s down to just the two of you, Jimmy and G. And of course, the name, for what it’s still worth: the Yardbirds. Or maybe the New Yardbirds – G’s suggestion. That way, at least, it won’t be like starting again from scratch, he says. Not entirely, anyway. And you can still get paying gigs. Keep the wolf from the door until you can come up with something better. That’s the plan anyway, this long, rainy summer of 1968…

From 1968 to 1980 Led Zeppelin were together and left a giant legacy and myth behind. The book is solid and I found out many things I didn’t already know. I am a fan of some of their music…the less indulgent side of them anyway. I’m not the person who wants to listen to a 25-minute live version of No Quarter.

The author does go in-depth about Page’s infatuation of black magic and the dark image of the band. He also goes into the songwriting and about how they got the sound they did…so he covers the personalities, the music, and events that happened.

Things were going great for them until 1975 when Robert Plant was in a car wreck with his family and from that point on everything started to go downhill. This book covers everything you would want and it covers what happened after John Bonham died. They did think about regrouping many times through the decades but it was always Robert who had doubts…and after what he went through I cannot blame him. His wife was almost killed in the car wreck and Plant’s leg was badly hurt…then when he recovered his young son (Karac) died of a stomach virus and 3 years later Bonham died.

After Zeppelin unlike Plant and Jones, Jimmy Page didn’t adjust as well to life without the band. The book was written in 2009 and he does cover the O2 Arena reunion.

If you are a Led Zeppelin fan or a fan of classic rock through the seventies…this is a good book. Out of five stars, I would give it 3.75 out of 5 for the information it gives…without the monologues, I would consider a 5.

 

 

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties…Tom O’Neill

Hanspostcard had mentioned he was reading this book and from what he said I had to give it a try. I got the audible version. The author Tom O’Neill has an interesting quote that sums up the book… “My goal isn’t to say what did happen—it’s to prove that the official story didn’t,”

When I first started to listen I thought it was going to be a big conspiracy book but I was pleasantly surprised…Tom O’Neill took pains not to go there. He is pretty open that he does not find the “answer” to the murders. He also made it clear he wasn’t trying to clear the guilty parties of the Tate/Labianca cases. They are no doubt guilty but it was more about the circumstances around the question of why and the Helter Skelter theory brought by Vincent Bugliosi. Vincent was the prosecutor in the case and later wrote the book Helter Skelter…the best-selling true crime book ever.

Manson’s parole officer Roger Smith was really baffling. Manson was on parole through the late sixties and did everything he could to break his parole…Smith kept giving him a pass, protecting his family, and even fostering one of Manson’s kids. Manson must have had a hell of a rabbit’s foot or someone or some organization was looking out for him. If any of us would get caught with an underage girl, stolen cars, and narcotics… a trip to jail would be in our immediate future…even in the 1960s…much less being on parole at the time.

O’Neill has the documents to back up his claims. Bugliosi did suppress evidence and most around the case are still afraid to talk. Some of the evidence yes could have got by him but not to this extent. Tom interviewed a countless number of people… including tense interviews with Bugliosi.

Tom spent 20 years on this book. The story of him writing the book is just as interesting as the story. He became depressed and obsessed with the murders. In 1999 he was writing an article for Premier Magazine and kept extending the deadlines for the 30th anniversary of the murders. Then in 2009, it was going to be a book published by Penguin for the 40th…that didn’t work out because he kept finding new leads and information. Finally this year the book was released for the 50th anniversary of the murders.

What I found interesting also was the other subjects that were brought up…COINTELPRO, Operation CHAOS, and MKULTRA…goverment secret programs that could come into play. There is much more in the book than I’ve touched on…I would recommend getting it…it makes you think and question.

Below is a great review of the book.

https://www.straight.com/arts/1283716/extended-interview-50-years-after-manson-murders-tom-oneills-disturbing-new-book-chaos

 

The Big Fella by Jane Leavy

This is one of the many books on Babe Ruth. He was one of the most written about person in the 20th century. Jane Leavy took a different approach to write the book. She jumps around in time periods but it’s not distracting. I found out things I never knew about the Babe and that is the reason I wanted to read it. Thanks to Hanspostcard again for another great recommendation.

When I was growing up I read everything I could about Babe Ruth. I never was a Yankee fan and never will be but I do love this period of the Yankees. Unfortunately, some people think of Ruth as this huge obese baseball player because of movies like the terrible “The Babe” in 1992. When Babe came up he was a great athlete and didn’t start getting out of shape until his last years. One thing that I would love to see about the Babe is a well-made movie…we have yet to see it.

The man’s popularity was only rivaled by Charlie Chaplin. If anyone was made for a time period it was this man. He could be crude, brash, stubborn, and generous and was the idol of millions of kids during the 20s and 30s. He was so much better than anyone of his peers that it seemed unfair. The man could rise to the occasion when needed. He did everything big, whether it was hitting a home run, striking out, or living his unfettered life.

Sometimes an athlete is just so much better than his peers and they would be a generational talent. Tiger Woods and Michael Jordon would be in this select group.

When Babe retired in 1935 with 714 home runs the closest player to that mark at the time was his old Yankee teammate Lou Gehrig with 378 home runs (after the 1935 season)…that is a difference of 336 home runs. That is domination.

Ruth had an agent by the name of Christy Walsh. Walsh was basically the first sports agent of his day. He created a highly successful syndicate of ghostwriters for baseball’s biggest stars, coining the term “ghost writer” in the process. Walsh, in many ways, was a pioneer in the public relations field. The relationship between the two was interesting to read about.

The Babe made 70 grand a season playing for the Yankees and at least the same on advertising and barnstorming across the nation in small towns bringing baseball to towns that never would have seen Major League Baseball in the offseason. He was still grossly underpaid for the money he brought into the Yankees. When he would play, the crowds would increase dramatically.

Although black players were stupidly not allowed to play in the Major Leagues at that time, Babe and Lou Gerhig’s teams played black teams in towns all around in the offseason.

If you have interest in Babe Ruth I would recommend this book and Robert Creamer’s book Babe Ruth: The Legend Comes to Life.

“I swing big, with everything I’ve got. I hit big or I miss big. I like to live as big as I can.” – Babe Ruth

 

 

Careless Love…The Unmaking of Elvis Book

Hanspostcard recommended Last Train to Memphis and this sequel Careless Love The Unmaking of Elvis Presley… and both are excellent recommendations for anyone who wants to learn about Elvis. This one begins where the other left off with Elvis going to Germany in the Army and ends…at the end.

Guralnick covers everything here. Elvis’s gradual distaste of the movies he was making, the great comeback special, Las Vegas, the Richard Milhous Nixon meeting, two concert documentaries, recording good music again, Aloha from Hawaii, the freefall, and then death. In between these events, we see the girls, his buddies the Memphis Mafia, the drugs, the paranoia, his search for something more, and his huge generosity.

I always wondered why he didn’t try to blend in a little more and not be so noticeable…but he loved so much being Elvis Presley. Once he was in a restaurant and no one was noticing him…he walked by a couple of women near the bathroom and gave them a smile just so they knew. He also loved making people happy by being over-generous. If you were in the right place at the right time you could end up with a car or a diamond ring.

He was raised well by his parents and seemed like a good person. He could show flashes of anger at people around, have jealousy, even a Christ complex at times, unpredictable and living in denial about his drug problem. In other words…he was human and that is what I like about the book. It’s not elevating him too high nor turning him into a parody of himself.

The book also goes into his manager “Colonel” Tom Parker who at one point was getting 50 percent of what Elvis was earning. He could have done much better than Parker but Elvis was loyal and in some ways insecure. If you want to know about Elvis…get Last Train to Memphis and this one…Careless Love.

Here is a fan-made “trailer” of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

Last Train to Memphis…book by Peter Guralnick

I’ve read numerous books about The Beatles and other rock stars but never one on Elvis. This book is detailed pretty well and you get to know Elvis, his friends, and family up until 1958 and after his mother’s death. Peter Guralnick does a very good job not dwelling too long in one place. He keeps the story moving at a good pace. Guralnick is very even-handed and does not sensationalize his life.

Peter does have a second book called “Careless Love” I will start reading soon that covers the rest of Elvis’s life when things come unraveled.

I grew up listening to Elvis. I was never a huge fan. He was a great entertainer and interrupter of other people’s songs. He helped open the door to blues. soul and rock music for the masses like The Beatles and Stones did later.

You meet some very interesting and historical characters. Sam Phillips who first signed Elvis to Sun Records, Dewey Phillips (famous Memphis DJ) who first played “It’s All Right” on the radio, Hank Snow, and many others. Elvis wasn’t an overnight sensation but his success just continued to grow until it was uncontrollable. He covers the tours and tv appearances.

I’ve never thought too much of Colonel Tom Parker and this book didn’t help. Keeping Elvis separated from anyone who could influence him and caring more about his investment than the person.

Even at this early stage, I started feeling sorry for Elvis because of the isolation of not being able to go out in public without causing a scandal or being chased. He did have some close relationships with girls that were broken up because of the situation Elvis was in.

The part that disappointed me was that Elvis seemed to neglect his band. Scotty Moore and Bill Black were put on salary and could not work for anyone else. Scotty has blamed it on some RCA execs and Parker. They were with Elvis through the lean times and Scotty even managed them at the beginning. Scotty’s guitar help develop Elvis’s sound at the beginning.

Overall Elvis comes off as a good kid who got the world thrown at him and being his age he took it rather well. He was nearly always gracious to his fans, friends, and family.

If I had to give a rating I would give it 5 stars out of 5… A great book on how he began and it did clear up some myths built around him.

Full Moon

I bought this book in the 1980s and in America was called “Full Moon” and in the UK it was called “Moon the Loon”. It was written by  Chris Trengove and Dougal Butler, Dougal was Keith’s personal assistant. Dougal doesn’t try to justify Moon’s actions, he just tells the stories that are now legendary.

Image result for moon the loon book

The book will have you physically burst out laughing at different parts of it. Keith left a trail of wrecked cars, wrecked drums, wrecked hotel rooms, wrecked nerves, wrecked bars, and many smiles.

Dougal doesn’t try to tell Moon’s life history. If you want Keith’s life get Dear Boy, a terrific and thorough bio on Keith by Tony Fletcher. Full Moon highlights the tales of Mr. Keith John Moon…Patent British Exploding Drummer. It is a very quick read at around 250 pages. The audio version is approximately 9 hours long.

Butler worked for Moon for ten years and was right there during much of the craziness.  He was behind the wheel of Moon’s AC Frua 428 as it flipped end-over-end through a field off Chertsey Lane after Moon decided to grab the shifter and downshift at around 120 mph.

The book also touches on Moon’s long-suffering wife Kim who endured all the craziness she could and finally leaves Keith. He had the ability or curse of not being able to be embarrassed…this a fun book to read. It was originally published in 1981. It was a collector’s item for a long time but it was republished in 2012.

The audiobook format is read by British actor Karl Howman, a friend of both Moon and Butler, who features in some of the book’s stories and is thus well familiar with the subject matter. Karl reads it in a cockney voice and it fits perfectly.

This book will not give you a history of The Who…just some great stories of my favorite drummer.

 

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Where The Wild Things Are

I loved this book as a kid. When I see it I feel like I’m 7 again. The book came out in 1963. I did know some kids that the book really scared but I thought it was great.

An animated film was made in 1975 and a feature-length movie in 2009.

Where The Wild Things Are was written by Maurice Sendak about a boy named Max who “makes mischief” in his house and is sent to bed without supper all while wearing a wolf suit. His room is then transformed into a magic forest and Max sets off in his very own boat to the land of the Wild Things.

Once there he tames the monsters by staring into their yellow eyes without blinking. Knowing they have met their master, they acclaim Max King of all Wild Things and celebrate their wildness together. When Max decides to return to where someone loves him best of all, the wild things try all their wiles to persuade him to stay, but he sails back into the warmth of his own room and finds supper waiting.

When the book came out some were not happy. Many psychologists thought that the book would be very traumatizing for young children. Sendak has said that the book was banned by libraries for a couple of years and then it started to be accepted and take off.

 

Runnin’ Wild by David Stenn

I got this book in the 90s and just reread it yet again. I’ve gone over Clara Bow earlier but I wanted to add more about this book. It is a well researched interesting book on the great silent movie actress. I have huge respect for Clara Bow as an actress and as a person. She was outspoken in a business where very few women were at that time.

David Stenn separates fact from fiction about Clara. In the book, Hollywood Babylon Kenneth Anger makes many unflattering statements about Clara which Stenn proves were false. Was Clara wild at times? Yes but no wilder than many of the other actresses in the 20s and nothing compared to today…She was just honest about it.

Actress Lina Basquette said: “She wasn’t well liked amongst other women in the film colony. Her social presence was taboo, and it was rather silly because God knows Marion Davies and Mary Pickford had plenty to hide. It’s just that they hid it, and Clara didn’t.” Bow knew the truth. “I’m a curiosity in Hollywood,” she said. “I’m a big freak because I’m myself!”

Her mother suffered from mental illness, Clara once woke with her mother standing over her with a knife saying she was going to kill her. Her father abused her and used her all of his life and may have sexually abused her. She made it against all odds to the top. There was a point in the twenties that she was the biggest female star receiving 45,000 fan letters a month.

Paramount would use her to push lightweight films and hardly ever place her in a great film. Because of this practice, she is only known well for a few films. When silent movies evolved into “talkies” Greta Garbo was given two years to prepare for the change…Clara, who was a bigger star was given a matter of weeks. She would appear on the screen and your eyes would stay with her. She did a few sound pictures and was successful but did not enjoy it as much as the silent films.

She retired and married Rex Bell (a part time cowboy actor) and moved to Nevada in the 1930s to have and raise a couple of children. One of her children, Rex Bell Jr. had this to say about the book.

“A lot of crap biographies have been written about mom, but the one that is accurate is ‘Clara Bow, Runnin’ Wild’ by David Stenn,” Bell said, noting that he first learned his mother was abused as a child from that book that was supported by medical records.

Clara was in the first movie that won an Oscar… Wings … The other movie she is known for is It made in 1927. She was soon known as The IT Girl.

I recommend this book highly. Clara Bow had a hard life growing up in Brooklyn and against all odds turned into one of the biggest stars of the 20s. She was honest to a fault and herself to the end.

Where Clara, Rex, and their children lived…The Walking Box Ranch.

Let The Good Times Roll: Kenney Jones The Autobiography

The audio version is 12 hours and it went by fast… I will get the hard copy of this book.

Kenney Jones was the drummer of three of England’s most influential bands – The Small Faces, The Faces and for a few years The Who. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Kenney keeps the book interesting from his childhood, teen years, swinging London, the Swinging Seventies, up til now.

I never knew much about the Small Faces and Faces and this book answered some questions I had about both bands.  He gave much more information than Roger Daltrey did in his book about Jone’s tenure as the drummer of the Who and their difficulties. Personally, I don’t think Kenney was the right drummer for the Who but then again…I don’t think anyone could have taken Moon’s place. He does give an interesting perspective on it though.

I didn’t’ realize that Keith Moon and Kenney were as close as they were.  Kenney had played with the Who before in sound checks when the Small Faces and Who were touring with each other and Moon couldn’t be found. After Moon died a few strange things happened to Kenney right before Bill Curbishley (The Who’s Manager) called to see if he would join. The strange events helped him make the decision.

He goes over his career thoroughly and he doesn’t leave any gaps. He also talks about being in the band “The Law” with Paul Rodgers and now he is with The Jones Gang that had a #21 hit with Angel in 2005. He also owns a Polo club, is working on an animation of Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake, and fighting for the control of the Small Faces music which was lost a long time ago. He doesn’t need the money he just wants it put right.

Near the end, he sums up the three big bands he was involved in… The Small Faces were the most creative, The Faces were the most fun, and The Who were the most exciting and professional. You can tell though that his love is with the Small Faces and he does wonder how far they could have gone if they would have had decent management. He said they never realized how good of a band they were.

I cannot recommend this book enough.

 

Thanks A Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story Roger Daltrey

I just finished the audio version of this book. I’m a huge Who fan and I was looking forward to it. It was nice to hear the book narrated by Roger himself. It’s a solid book but I have only one complaint that I will get into below.

The positive about the book is you find out more about the different personalities of the Who and the reason they fought. Pete the artist, John the dark one, Keith the lunatic, and Roger blue-collar man of the band. We all knew those descriptions before but Roger tries to explain how it worked and didn’t work as a band. If you want to know The Who’s impact on rock music and culture go to Pete Townshend. If you want to get straight to the point with just the highlights…Roger is your man.

Roger is grounded, avoided most of the pitfalls in his profession,  hard-working, and loves interpreting Pete’s music to the world. He goes into how he changed his singing style with Pete’s writing. How he became Tommy and the mod in Quadrophenia. He hits the highlights of The Who and his life without the Who in the 80s and part of the 90s.

The strongest part of this book is about his childhood and his collection of relatives. Roger seems very approachable, likable, and down to earth. Roger was the one constant in the band that you didn’t have worry about his on tour activities. He does talk about the high points of the Who and his acting career.

My biggest complaint is the book is too short. You get the impression that he didn’t think that anyone would want to hear any details whatsoever.  He does give you some good stories but touches a subject and quickly leaves. It’s almost a cliff notes version as he didn’t dwell in any period long.

It is a quick and enjoyable read but leaves you wanting more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beatles Forever

I bought this book 1978 when I was 11 and it changed me. I recommend anyone picking this book up anywhere you can. Any beginning Beatles fan or an older one will like this book. Nicholas Schaffner touches on their history without treating them like Saints. The photos of the collectibles are worth the book.

He covers how the Beatles impacted our culture and some of the changes that took place. He covers the craziness of Beatlemania to the gradual maturing of The Beatles. Nicholas highlights each Beatle along with following the band as a whole.

It’s fun to see the many collectibles that flooded the market during Beatlemania. It has great pictures and enough content to keep you coming back to it. This book was updated after John Lennon was killed but any version is worth buying.

I’ve been rereading it recently and it holds up today well. Of course, history doesn’t change but more details have come out but overall the book is good. He follows their solo careers with honesty.

One thing to remember it’s not a straight history of the Beatles (it starts with Beatlemania) or a strict discography but more about the impact they had on the world with history and a highlighted discography on the way.

For a casual Beatle fan, you can’t go wrong with Nicholas Schaffner’s The Beatles Forever.

In 1979 my Jr. High School librarian knew I would read anything on baseball or the Beatles so she had me paged to the library and showed me this…theboysfromliverpool.jpg

again by Nicholas Schaffner and it’s great for a beginning Beatles fan. This would be a good starter book on The Beatles for a young teen.

 

 

Al Kooper: Backstage Passes Backstabbing Bastards

This is an autobiography of Al Kooper. Al has worked with many people in the music industry. He was a songwriter, musician, producer, A&R man and everything in between.

His book is well written and Al uses humor all the way through.

A few of his career highlights are helping to form Blood, Sweat, and Tears, playing the organ on “Like a Rolling Stone” (although he didn’t know how to really play organ), organized the Super Sessions with Stephen Stills and Mike Bloomfield, found and signed a band while in Atlanta named Lynyrd Skynyrd. While in Atlanta he started a record label called “Sounds of the South” in conjunction with MCA records.

He goes over working with Lynyrd Skynyrd and how their first three albums were recorded and why they parted company. Another band that he signed was Mose Jones who was going to be his Beatles type group to counterpoint the Lynyrd Skynyrd Stones sound for his label. Mose Jones ended up being ignored my MCA.

There is so much musical history this man was involved in…he makes light of getting called Alice Cooper on many occasions.

In Al Kooper’s words 

Let’s clear the air.
This is not a book by or about Vincent Furnier (né Alice Cooper.) It is a book by and about Al Kooper. If you don’t know who Al Kooper is, that’s fine. But don’t let that stop you from perusing these eye-opening accounts of encounters with Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Gene Pitney, The Royal Teens, Bill Graham, Quincy Jones, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Mike Bloomfield, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, Miles Davis, The Tubes, Nils Lofgren, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and all the other wonderful people I’ve been fortunate enough to cross paths with over the last forty years.

What was really interesting to me is he shared the same manager (Stan Polley) as Badfinger and was able to get out of his clutches with at least some of his money intact. I picked the book up cheap and I really have enjoyed it. I would recommend this to music fans. Many funny stories and he is such a talented musician.

Another quote from Kooper on the Like A Rolling Stone Session… Tom Wilson was the producer who knew Kooper didn’t normally play the organ.

Thirty seconds into the second verse of the playback, Dylan motioned toward Tom Wilson. “Turn the organ up,” he ordered. “Hey, man,” Tom said, “that cat’s not an organ player.” Thanks, Tom. But Dylan wasn’t buying it: “Hey, now don’t tell me who’s an organ player and who’s not. Just turn the organ up.” He actually liked what he heard!

Al Kooper and Bob Dylan

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George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Barbara Bach, and Al Kooper

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Jimi Hendrix and Al Kooper

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Al Kooper…he wanted to set the record straight

alkooperalice.png.

Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live

If you want to know why and how Saturday Night Live came to be…this is the book. It covers the first 10 years of the show but is primarily about the first 5 years and the one terrible year after the classic cast left. It was written by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad and they interviewed practically everyone connected with the show and it is surprising on how objective they are throughout the book.

Working on the show was/is not for the thin-skinned. It was rough and no one was spared…not even the stars at first. The book goes into detail about how the show started a pattern of work that continued through the decades. The troubles the female writers went through trying to do their job. The endless drugs that fueled many of the all-night writing sessions.

The atmosphere could be very sexist, insulting and aggressive. Michael O’Donoghue was the key writer and gave SNL the edge but he could be difficult. When he left the show he was missed. When the original cast, writers, and Lorne Michaels left, Jean Doumanian took over the show for a year. Things didn’t go well, to say the least. The book details the transition then to Dick Ebersol.

The show went from an ensemble show trying new ideas to a star-driven formulaic show under Ebersol. Maybe the show was destined to do that anyway and it would never be the same again.

I’ve read a few books on SNL but as far as the creation and original cast…this is the one to go to.