Everybody Had an Ocean: Music and Mayhem in 1960s Los Angeles


William McKeen - 2017
    Tambourine Man” by the Byrds, and “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys, a song that magnificently summarized the joy and beauty of the era in three and a half minutes.But there was a dark flip side to the fun fun fun of the music, a nexus between naive young musicians and the hangers-on who exploited the decade’s peace, love, and flowers ethos, all fueled by sex, drugs, and overnight success. One surf music superstar unwittingly subsidized the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra Jr. The transplanted Texas singer Bobby Fuller might have been murdered by the Mob in what is still an unsolved case. And after hearing Charlie Manson sing, Neil Young recommended him to the president of Warner Bros. Records. Manson’s ultimate rejection by the music industry likely led to the infamous murders that shocked a nation.Everybody Had an Ocean chronicles the migration of the rock ’n’ roll business to Southern California and how the artists flourished there. The cast of characters is astonishing—Brian and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, eccentric producer Phil Spector, Cass Elliot, Sam Cooke, Ike and Tina Turner, Joni Mitchell, and scores of others—and their stories form a modern epic of the battles between innocence and cynicism, joy and terror. You’ll never hear that beautiful music in quite the same way.

I Loved Her in the Movies: Working with the Legendary Actresses of Hollywood


Robert J. Wagner - 2016
    During that time he became acquainted, both professionally and socially, with the remarkable women who were the greatest screen personalities of their day. I Loved Her in the Movies is his intimate and revealing account of the charisma of these women on film, why they became stars, and how their specific emotional and dramatic chemistries affected the choices they made as actresses as well as the choices they made as women.Among Wagner’s subjects are Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Gloria Swanson, Norma Shearer, Loretta Young, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne, Rosalind Russell, Dorothy Lamour, Debra Paget, Jean Peters, Linda Darnell, Betty Hutton, Raquel Welch, Glenn Close, and the two actresses whom he ultimately married, Natalie Wood and Jill St. John. In addition to offering perceptive commentary on these women, Wagner also examines topics such as the strange alchemy of the camera—how it can transform the attractive into the stunning, and vice versa—and how the introduction of color brought a new erotic charge to movies, one that enabled these actresses to become aggressively sexual beings in a way that that black and white films had only hinted at.Like Wagner’s two previous bestsellers, I Loved Her in the Movies will be a privileged look behind the scenes at some of the most well-known women in show business as well as an insightful look at the sexual and romantic attraction that created their magic.

Desilu


Coyne S. Sanders - 1993
    But off camera the situation couldn't have been less comic, with backstage battles, oversized egos, drinking, philandering, and the demands of phenomenal success undermining what was once a storybook romance.With exclusive access to family members (including daughter Lucie Arnaz) and rare photographs, Desilu is the first candid, inside account of a celebrated, complex, passionate, but ultimately tragic relationship -- as well as a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Desilu Studios, the Golden Age of Television's most powerful production empire.

Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro


Michele Kort - 2002
    With her groundbreaking honest and passionate lyrics, her unusual and innovative rhythms and melody, Nyro's influence is still felt by singers and songwriters today.Beginning with her childhood and teen years in the Bronx, and ending with her untimely death from ovarian cancer in 1997, Soul Picnic details how Nyro was "discovered" as a prodigious eighteen-year-old songwriter, had her songs covered with great success by other singers (most famously, the Fifth Dimension, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Three Dog Night, and Barbra Streisand), and created her own remarkable albums, such as Eli and the Thirteen Confession and New York Tendaberry. It also tells how a young David Geffen, as her agent and then manager, helped boost her career, but how she ultimately rejected both Geffen and the glare of stardom for a quieter rural life. Nyro was a very private person, and Michele Kort has uncovered aspects of her life offstage never previously revealed, including a romance with famed rock musician Jackson Browne and the love affair that led to the birth of her son, Gil. It also fleshes out her long, loving relationship with painter Maria Desiderio.Kort features Laura Nyro's music, the making of each of her albums, the musical influences that informed her work, and the important legacy she has left behind. She interviewed nearly all of the producers and arrangers Nyro worked with, and many of the musicians who played on her albums. The book also includes a discography of both Nyro's recordings and many covers of her songs by well-known artists.With passion and style, acclaimed journalist Michele Kort has seamlessly joined thorough research with oral history in this beautifully rendered biography of an important, often-overlooked music icon.

The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney


Richard A. Lertzman - 2015
    “I had all I ever wanted, from Lana Turner and Joan Crawford to every starlet in Hollywood, and then some. They were mine to have. Ava [Gardner] was the best. I screwed up my life. I pissed away millions. I was #1, the biggest star in the world.” Mickey Rooney began his career almost a century ago as a one-year-old performer in burlesque and stamped his mark in vaudeville, silent films, talking films, Broadway, and television. He acted in his final motion picture just weeks before he died at age ninety-three. He was an iconic presence in movies, the poster boy for American youth in the idyllic small-town 1930s. Yet, by World War II, Mickey Rooney had become frozen in time. A perpetual teenager in an aging body, he was an anachronism by the time he hit his forties. His child-star status haunted him as the gilded safety net of Hollywood fell away, and he was forced to find support anywhere he could, including affairs with beautiful women, multiple marriages, alcohol, and drugs. In The Life and Times of Mickey Rooney, authors Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes present Mickey’s nearly century-long career within the context of America's changing entertainment and social landscape. They chronicle his life story using little-known interviews with the star himself, his children, his former coauthor Roger Kahn, collaborator Arthur Marx, and costar Margaret O’Brien. This Old Hollywood biography presents Mickey Rooney from every angle, revealing the man Laurence Olivier once dubbed “the best there has ever been.”

Dino: Living High in the Dirty Business of Dreams


Nick Tosches - 1992
    He  rubbed shoulders with the mob, the Kennedys, and  Hollywood's biggest stars. He was one of America's  favorite entertainers. But no one really knew him.  Now Nick Tosches reveals the man behind the  image--the dark side of the American dream. It's a  wild, illuminating, sometimes shocking tale of sex,  ambition, heartaches--and a life lived hard, fast,  and without  apologies.

Rat Pack Confidential: Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter, Joey and the Last Great Show Biz Party


Shawn Levy - 1998
    Las Vegas is at its smooth, cool peak. The Strip is a jet-age theme park, and the greatest singer in the history of American popular music summons a group of friends there to make a movie. One is an insouciant singer of Italian songs, ex-partner to the most popular film comedian of the day. One is a short, black, Jewish, one-eyed, singing, dancing wonder. One is an upper-crust British pretty boy turned degenerate B-movie star actor, brother-in-law to an ascendant politician. And one is a stiff-shouldered comic with the quintessential Borscht Belt emcee’s knack for needling one-liners. The architectonically sleek marquee of the Sands Hotel announces their presence simply by listing their names: FRANK SINATRA. DEAN MARTIN. SAMMY DAVIS, JR. PETER LAWFORD. JOEY BISHOP. Around them an entire cast gathers: actors, comics, singers, songwriters, gangsters, politicians, and women, as well as thousands of starstruck everyday folks who fork over pocketfuls of money for the privilege of basking in their presence. They call themselves The Clan. But to an awed world, they are known as The Rat Pack.They had it all. Fame. Gorgeous women. A fabulouse playground of a city and all the money in the world. The backing of fearsome crime lords and the blessing of the President of the United States. But the dark side–over the thin line between pleasure and debauchery, between swinging self-confidence and brutal arrogance–took its toll. In four years, their great ride was over, and showbiz was never the same. Acclaimed Jerry Lewis biographer Shawn Levy has written a dazzling portrait of a time when neon brightness cast sordid shadows. It was Frank’s World, and we just lived in it.

Nowhere with You: The East Coast Anthems of Joel Plaskett, The Emergency and Thrush Hermit


Josh O'Kane - 2016
    And that’s just since the Halifax musician started making records of his own in 1999. For a decade before that, he was one-quarter of Thrush Hermit, a band of scrappy Superchunk disciples who became hard-rock revivalists and one of the last survivors of the ’90s pop “explosion” of major-label interest in Halifax.Canada’s east coast has never been much of a pop-culture mecca. Most musicians from the region who’ve ever made it big moved away. But armed with a stubborn streak and a knack for great songwriting, Plaskett has kept Halifax as his home, building both a career and a music community there. Along the way, he’s earned great respect: when he plays shows in Alberta, east-coast expats literally thank him for staying home.Nowhere with You is the study of how he pulled this off, from the origins of Canada’s east-coast exodus to Plaskett’s anointment as “Halifax’s Rick Rubin.” It’s a story about what happens when you call a city “the new Seattle,” about the lessons you learn playing to empty rooms in Oklahoma, and about defying radio-single expectations with rock operas and triple records. It’s about doing what you want, where you want, no matter how much work it takes.

The Bad and the Beautiful: Hollywood in the Fifties


Sam Kashner - 2002
    "[S]urprisingly vivid accounts" (People) of such public icons as Lana Turner, Rock Hudson, Kim Novak, and Mae West explore the private scandals exploited by tabloids such as Confidential. Highlighting Hollywood's curious religious revival with The Robe, the film industry's exploitation of the potboiler Peyton Place, and the life of anarchic director Nick Ray of the enduring classic Rebel without a Cause, the authors "[give] a compelling sense" (Kirkus Reviews) of the unique obsessions of the era and the city's attempts to reinvent the magic and mystery of its past glories. Guided by the authors' historical savvy and intimate storytelling, we discover a city at a crossroads, attempting to reinvent the magic and mystery of its past glories. Tragic, irreverent, and always entertaining, The Bad and the Beautiful reveals the underground history of this turbulent decade in American film.

Time Out of Mind: The Lives of Bob Dylan


Ian Bell - 2013
    The 1975 album Blood on the Tracks seemed to prove, finally, that an uncertain age had found its poet. Then Dylan faltered. His instincts, formerly unerring, deserted him. in the 1980s, what had once appeared unthinkable came to pass: the “voice of a generation” began to sound irrelevant, a tale told to grandchildren.Yet in the autumn of 1997, something remarkable happened. Having failed to release a single new song in seven long years, Dylan put out the equivalent of two albums in a single package. In the concluding volume of his ground- breaking study, Ian Bell explores the unparalleled second act in a quintessentially american career. It is a tale of redemption, of an act of creative will against the odds, and of a writer who refused to fade away.Time Out of Mind is the story of the latest, perhaps the last, of the many Bob Dylans.

Baby, Let's Play House: Elvis Presley and the Women Who Loved Him


Alanna Nash - 2009
    Called "by far the best study of Presley I have ever read. . . Impressively researched written—and felt" by New York Times bestselling author Philip Norman (author of John Lennon and Shout!) and “the most entertaining Elvis book ever” by New York Times bestselling author Jimmy McDonough (Shakey: Neil Young's Biography), Baby, Let’s Play House is the first-ever Elvis book to focus solely on his complex relationships with women, including celebrities such as Ann-Margret, Linda Thompson, Mary Ann Mobley, Cher, Raquel Welch, Barbara Eden, and Cybill Shepherd. Featuring dozens of exclusive interviews and scores of never-before-seen photos, Baby, Let’s Play House is a must-have collector’s item for fans of The King everywhere.

Elvis


Jerry Hopkins - 1971
    bestseller list, and its sequel was equally popular. Long out of print, both books, along with a wealth of exciting new interviews, are brought together in Elvis to form the most exhaustive account available of the King’s life. Telling the complete story of Presley’s rise and fall, from his poverty-stricken childhood in Tupelo through his musical development and emergence as pop’s first superstar to his decline and death, the book explores Presley’s singular appeal, his far-reaching influence, and his extraordinary legacy. Featuring newly published firsthand interviews with people close to Elvis — including high school teachers, girlfriends, directors, agents, recording engineers, bodyguards, sidemen, karate instructors, medical professionals, and even his personal jeweler — Elvis presents a comprehensive and amazingly intimate look at this cultural icon.

Sheeran


Sean Smith - 2019
    At thirteen, then just a guitarist in a school rock band, today’s most successful solo star decided he would fly far higher than hometown fame. Within a year, he had recorded an album in his bedroom.Bestselling biographer Sean Smith traces the astonishing journey of the shy little English boy with a stammer who, avoiding flashy showmanship, grew up to become a global phenomenon. With compelling new research and interviews, Smith delivers the story of Sheeran’s remarkable parents, who supported their son’s dream long before it seemed achievable; the friends and mentors who encouraged his raw talent; and the lovers who inspired his most famous songs. Smith describes the setbacks Sheeran faced before his fortunes were transformed by Elton John’s management company, a record deal, and a song that changed everything…with some help from Taylor Swift. Now Sheeran has sold 150 million records worldwide, earned $432 million touring in 2018 alone, and broke records with his 2018 UK tour―but still made time to play for just 400 people at a charity night to raise money for the homeless last year. As this captivating book reveals, there’s no one quite like Ed.

Hard Bop: Jazz and Black Music 1955-1965


David H. Rosenthal - 1992
    Everyone's wearing black. And on-stage a tenor is blowing his heart out, a searching, jagged saxophone journey played out against a moody, walking bass and the swish of a drummer's brushes. To a great many listeners--from African American aficionados of the period to a whole new group of fans today--this is the very embodiment of jazz. It is also quintessential hard bop. In this, the first thorough study of the subject, jazz expert and enthusiast David H. Rosenthal vividly examines the roots, traditions, explorations and permutations, personalities and recordings of a climactic period in jazz history. Beginning with hard bop's origins as an amalgam of bebop and R&B, Rosenthal narrates the growth of a movement that embraced the heavy beat and bluesy phrasing of such popular artists as Horace Silver and Cannonball Adderley; the stark, astringent, tormented music of saxophonists Jackie McLean and Tina Brooks; the gentler, more lyrical contributions of trumpeter Art Farmer, pianists Hank Jones and Tommy Flanagan, composers Benny Golson and Gigi Gryce; and such consciously experimental and truly one-of-a-kind players and composers as Andrew Hill, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Charles Mingus. Hard bop welcomed all influences--whether Gospel, the blues, Latin rhythms, or Debussy and Ravel--into its astonishingly creative, hard-swinging orbit. Although its emphasis on expression and downright "badness" over technical virtuosity was unappreciated by critics, hard bop was the music of black neighborhoods and the last jazz movement to attract the most talented young black musicians. Fortunately, records were there to catch it all. The years between 1955 and 1965 are unrivaled in jazz history for the number of milestones on vinyl. Miles Davis's Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus's Mingus Ah Um, Thelonious Monk's Brilliant Corners, Horace Silver's Further Explorations--Rosenthal gives a perceptive cut-by-cut analysis of these and other jazz masterpieces, supplying an essential discography as well. For knowledgeable jazz-lovers and novices alike, Hard Bop is a lively, multi-dimensional, much-needed examination of the artists, the milieus, and above all the sounds of one of America's great musical epochs.

Elvis


Albert Goldman - 1981
    In this book, Goldman drew on more than four years' research into Elvis Presley's life. But for many fans and some critics, his research was undermined by his intense personal dislike of Presley. For instance, Goldman dismissed Presley as a plagiarist who never did anything of note after his first records at Sun Records, insisting that he was inferior as an artist to Little Richard and other early rock'n'roll singers. He also portrayed Presley as nearly insane, using stories that some might see as innocuous (such as Presley taking his friends halfway across the country to buy them peanut-butter sandwiches) to "prove" that the singer had lost his grip on reality. On the other hand, the book includes several newly discovered facts. For instance, in the course of his research, Goldman discovered that Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was not a Southerner but a native of Holland. Parker had successfully covered this up to the degree that Presley himself allegedly never learned of it. (The book is harshest on Parker out of all the figures in Presley's life with whom it deals.) Furthermore, the book critically deals with the singer's weight problems, his diet, his choice of performing costumes, and his sexual appetites and peculiarities. The author even suggests that Presley's promiscuity masked latent homosexuality. Discussing Presley's personal life, Goldman concludes: "Elvis was a pervert, a voyeur." Some critics found comments like these overly biased and judgmental.