Originally published in 1988, Joe Smith's oral history of popular music is a fascinating book to just skip around in. Two hundred musicians, singers, producers, songwriters and other record industry folks share their thoughts within these 429 pages. There's also over 200 b&w photograph repros.
Just a sample of what's to be found here:
MIKE NESMITH dismisses the Monkees as actors forced to become a real band after their vocals w/backing studio musicians unexpectedly hit big. Mike prefers to talk of Jimi Hendrix, and recalls how his trio was practically booed off the stage when they were opening act on the first Monkees concert tour.
GEORGE MARTIN tells word-for-word stories he's repeated over the years.
JOHN FOGERTY admits to killing Creedence Clearwater Revival after just six years because his ability to write new songs dried up.
Lyricist SAMMY CAHN's great life lesson: "Do something for the joy of doing it and pray you won't be punished." He and 'Julie' Styne wrote "Let it Snow" on the hottest day of the summer.
ELLA FITZGERALD reveals that she often ruined a take with Louis Armstrong because seeing Satchmo's socks rolled down to the ankle always made her laugh.
DONNA SUMMER's career began in a German production of HAIR. After some of her Giorgio Moroder demos led to chart success in Holland, Donna came up with the phrase, "Love to love you, baby." American stardom soon followed, yet Boston-born Summer says she feels like a foreigner in the States.
BONES HOWE, engineer for indie producer Lou Adler, explains how they created the first "go-go" record, by overdubbing a studioful of exuberant high school girls onto Johnny Rivers' cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." Howe also says the Mamas & Papas' original name was the Magic Circle.
One of HERB ALPERT's earliest successes was composing with Lou Adler the Sam Cooke hit, "Wonderful World." Royalties from a minor West Coast single, "Tell it to the Birds" were used to finance "The Lonely Bull." An international hit, this song was the seed that grew into A&M Records, a company that Alpert and partner Jerry Moss had never even considered starting.
DION (Di Mucci) says Buddy Holly invited him to fly on the tour plane (with Big Bopper and Richie Valens) as a way to lower the price per person, but "I didn't go because I was cheap." That fatal 1959 crash made Dion ponder the meaning of his life and the future.
ARTIE SHAW claims that in 1938 he was earning the equivalent of 600K (in 1988 dollars) every week, but being forced to play "Begin the Beguine" every night was making him crazy. After he quit playing in the mid-1950s, Shaw never again touched the clarinet.
Sprinkled throughout the book are comments by Joe Smith. His final entry concerns celebrities who didn't participate, or troubles he had with some who did. Col. Tom Parker wanted 25K for ten minutes, or 2.5K for each Elvis anecdote. Frank Sinatra, a long-time Smith acquaintance, was a big disappointment. Chuck Berry didn't want to give away material he was planning to use in his own book. Johnnie Ray blew ff an appointment, left Joe to sit in his Mercedes outside Ray's home.
Preface / Artie Shaw / Tex Beneke / Lionel Hampton / Art Lund / Sammy Cahn / Woody Herman / Charlie Barnet / Ella Fitzgerald / Lou Levy / Billy May / Sy Oliver / Buddy Rich / Milt Gabler / Maxine Andrews / Sammy Kaye / Herb Jeffries / Sammy Fain / Ray Anthony / Paul Weston / Jo Stafford / Jack Leonard / Al Gallico / Les Brown / Peggy Lee / Mitch Miller / Margaret Whiting / Frankie Laine / Stan Getz / Dave Brubeck / Patti Page / Henry Mancini / Ed Ames / Harry Belafonte / Phyllis McGuire / Bob Thiele / Rosemary Clooney / Ray Ellis / Carmen MacRae / Les Baxter / Johnnie Ray / Ruth Brown / Ahmet Ertegun / Ray Charles / Quincy Jones / Jerry Wexler / Les Paul / Tony Bennett / Barbra Streisand / Joe Smith / Bo Diddley / Little Richard / Jerry Lee Lewis / Roy Orbison / James Brown / Dick Clark / Hank Ballard / Paul Robi / Pat Boone / Del Shannon / Marshall Chess / Phil Everly / Dion / Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller / Ben E. King / Barry Mann / Gerry Goffin / Duane Eddy / Al Bennett / Little Anthony / Artie Ripp / Jimmie Haskell / Tom Jones / Bob Marcucci / Fabian / Jeff Barry / Ellie Greenwich / George "Shadow" Morton / B.B. King / Harold Leventhal / Pete Seeger / Joan Baez / John Stewart / Mary Travers / Peter Yarrow / Bob Dylan / Smokey Robinson / Mary Wilson / Lamont Dozier / Levi Stubbs / Eddie Kendricks / Martha Reeves / Mike Love / Dean Torrence / Herb Alpert / Lester Sill / Neil Diamond / Bob Crewe / Frankie Valli / Bobby Vinton / Cubby Checker / Brooks Arthur / Paul McCartney / George Martin / Dave Clark / Mick Jagger / Mickie Most / Peter Noone / Tony Stanton Smith / Cliff Richard / Peter Asher / Roger Daltrey / Donovan / Mark Lindsay / Michael Nesmith / Johnny Rivers / Lou Adler / Country Joe McDonald / Bill Graham / Paul Kantner / Al Schmidt / Jann Wenner / Joe Smith / Jerry Garcia / Mickey Hart / Robbie Robertson / John Fogerty / Robby Kreiger / Paul Rothchild / John Sebastian / Clive Davis / George Harrison / Yoko Ono / Booker T. Jones / Isaac Hayes / Al Green / Al Kooper / Van Morrison / Alice Cooper / Robert Hilburn / Russ Regan / Elton John / Paul Simon / Lou Rawls / Jac Holzman / Judy Collins / Bill Medley / Jimmy Webb / Graham Nash / Stephen Stills / Joe Cocker / Linda Ronstadt / David Geffen / Joni Mitchell / James Taylor / Carly Simon / Jackson Browne / Valerie Simpson / Nick Ashford / Ry Cooder / Randy Newman / Teddy Pendergrass / Kenny Gamble / Richard Carpenter / Al Jarreau / Kenny Rogers / David Gates / Herbie Hancock / George Benson / Walter Yetnikoff / Bob Seger / Robert Plant / Chris Wright / Ian Anderson / Rod Stewart / Joe Smith / Don Henley / Glenn Frey / Irving Azoff / David Bowie / Roger Waters / Richard Branson / Robert Lamm / Olivia Newton-John / Justin Hayward / Jon Anderson / Chris Squire / Gene Simmons / Paul Stanley / Dan Fogelberg / Michael McDonald / Lionel Ritchie / Natalie Cole / Richard Perry / Peter Frampton / Barry White / Don McLean / Boz Scaggs / Leo Sayer / Donna Summer / Tommy Mottola / Lindsey Buckingham / Christine McVie / Anita Pointer / Michael Chapman / Tom Petty / Tina Turner / Steven Tyler / Joe Perry / Pat Benatar / Dee Snider / Robert Palmer / John Cougar Mellencamp / Phil Ramone / Billy Joel / Phil Collins / Sting / George Michael / Bono / David Lee Roth / Joe Smith