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I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, by Sylvie SimmonsFor the past thirty-five years, author Sylvie Simmons has imbued the pages of music’s most important print outlets with an engaging style and her incisive views of the industry. The London-born journalist (now based in San Francisco) has written for the likes of SoundsCreemQRolling StoneMusic Life, and MOJO; she’s also had articles appear in The GuardianThe TimesThe IndependentThe San Francisco Chronicle, and other newspapers.

Beyond her proficiency in all things pop, Simmons penned a catalog of pivotal features on the emerging L.A. metal scene in the 1980s; perhaps most notably, she was the first journalist to devote serious attention to then-unknowns Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe.

Nude Funk

By Hank Cherry

Music Bios

The Persuasions have lasted for over forty years as a recording group. But they experienced their golden era in the early Seventies, fostered by Frank Zappa. Zappa’s Straight label released the first Persuasions recording in 1970. As the story goes, Zappa was introduced to them by David Dashev, the band’s manager, over the phone. Despite the tinny audio of telephonics, Zappa was hooked. Long a lover of early doo-wop, he flew the group out to Los Angeles, set up a concert and recorded it. The rest is history, sort of.  The Persuasions never became the household name that the Temptations did,  that Smoky Robinson and the Miracles did, that Zappa himself is, despite years of touring and recording a song that was included in Steven Spielberg’s movie, “E.T.”

 Australian rock titans AC/DC have sold over 200 million albums on the back of a ferocious work ethic, hundreds of world tours and an unimpeachable talent for crafting hook-heavy, fist-pumping anthems. Signing licensing arrangements with pretty much anyone who makes anything, AC/DC’s brand is now as ubiquitous as the Coca-Cola logo.

Music fans know that AC/DC’s odyssey from bar band to Rock and Roll Hall of Famers has been anything but smooth. In 1980, on the eve of outrageous success, the band was felled by the death of their iconic lead singer Bon Scott. That he died just as the band released Highway to Hell, the album that launched them into the commercial stratosphere, seemed bitterly ironic, if not darkly ominous.

 Ch. 6  Why don’t you just give me the finger?

So, as I said, it was my very last day at work. There was this lady who bent pieces of metal on a machine, and I then welded them together. Because she didn’t come in that day, they put me on her machine; otherwise I’d have been standing around with nothing to do. I had never worked it, so I didn’t know how to go about it. It was a big guillotine press with a foot pedal. You pulled this sheet in and put your foot down on the pedal and then this thing came down with a bang and bent the metal.

When Michael “Duff” McKagan sat down to pen his feverishly-anticipated autobiography, he stared into the face of a stunning problem: where to start? With so much ground to cover, Duff’s story bears no shortage of logical starting points.

He could, of course, have taken the conventional route and simply started with his boyhood in Seattle, born into a large Irish-Catholic family, eventually finding his way into the city’s expansive punk rock scene in the 80s.

When is it appropriate for a public figure to release a memoir while they are still well within their prime?

Simple- when the story is ripe.

And when a story begins with a small boy in the deep South dreaming of one day making music, and concludes with the emotionally-pulverizing account of his rented Malibu home burning to the ground, with only his dogs and a lone hard drive salvaged, the story is as ripe as it gets. In between these two poles is an epic journey from a would-be metal god to a pop goddess Svengali.

Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue

By Marc Spitz

(Gotham Books, 2011)

In the smoldering wake of Keith Richards’ 2010 autobiography Life, the silence from Mick Jagger’s camp was deafening. In Life, Richards painted an often-scathing portrait of the Rolling Stones frontman, buttressing popular opinions of himself as the lovable ne’er-do-well and Jagger as petulant, cold and vain.

The singer withheld public rebuttal. In fact, it was Richards who reported Jagger’s terse reply, revealing that Mick dismissed the book as “a bit bitchy.” The fact that Jagger’s response issued from Richards only served to reinforce preconceived notions of the two.

Jagger’s defense has finally arrived, penned by formidable rock journalist Marc Spitz, whose punk rock meditations, and in particular his superb biography of David Bowie (Bowie: A Biography), reveal a style that is fast-moving, irreverent and fun as hell.

Chickenfoot bassist Michael Anthony has never been busier – or happier. With Chickenfoot III’s September 27 release date only days away, the band announced the 2011 Road Test Tour- a five city blitz in support of the album. Between press and rehearsals, the rhythmic icon is officially up to his ass in alligators- and savoring every minute of it. Having spent upwards of thirty years in Van Halen, ending with a less-than-amicable departure, Anthony found a new longterm lease on life when he began jamming with former band mate and good friend Sammy Hagar. They struck gold with Chickenfoot’s 2009 debut, and the forecast for their new album is even better.

 

It is easier to figure out cold fusion than it is to discuss rock and roll journalism without mentioning Mick Wall. He is to music writing what Keith Richards is to the guitar — he didn’t invent it, but he sure as hell made it his own.

Mick Wall began his career writing for a weekly music paper in the late Seventies and a few years later he jumped into a grass roots heavy metal magazine called Kerrang!. He quickly became its most popular writer and now thirty years later, Kerrang! is the biggest music periodical in circulation in the UK, with its own television and radio stations, branded tours, and massive annual awards ceremony.

Like Kerrang!, Mick Wall has also exploded as a force in the arena of rock journalism. He has penned nearly twenty music biographies, tackling a diverse range of subjects from immortal record producer John Peel to the howling tornado that is Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. Rose was so unsettled by Wall’s book that he called him out by name in the song, “Get in the Ring,” from the Use Your Illusion II album.

From galencurry.com:

Galen Curry honed his skills as a musician in the most intuitive way: by playing music whenever and wherever possible. He [has] played in jazz combs, chamber singing groups, wedding bands, and wind ensembles. He has toured the Eastern Seaboard with a rock [outfit] and Eastern Europe with a concert choir. For years, Galen front Upstate New York alt-rock band The Beds and Virginia funk-rock ensemble Ultraviolet Ballet, and it was with these bands that he began to find his voice as a songwriter.

Galen’s musical talents are now focused on a burgeoning solo career. Based out of a vibrant Charlottesville, Virginia, music scene, Galen honors his southern heritage with unmistakably American tunes that supplement his singular tenor with clever lyricism and upbeat rootsy instrumentation, but it is his penchant for heartfelt and rollicking live performances that definitely set him apart from the crowd.

Sometime during the summer I turned thirteen, my neighbor, who was about three years older, began wearing corduroy pants with little flying ducks embroidered on them.

When a friend strikes out in a bold new direction like this, it can be a scary ordeal for everyone around him.  It can also present a number of opportunities.  Realizing that the onset of the mallard-inspired cords would likely usher in the obsolescence of all things non-preppy, I petitioned for and became the grateful beneficiary of a number of his now-unwanted possessions.  Specifically, his copy of The Grateful Dead’s American Beauty.  And most importantly, his copy of the Jim Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman.

My life hasn’t been the same since.