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So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star: How I Machine-Gunned a Roomful of Record Executives and Other True Tales from a Drummer's Life Paperback – 10 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; Reprint edition (10 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767914716
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767914710
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 817,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Kelleher on 27 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
Painfully self absorbed musical nobody writes painfully self absorbed memoir of the business side of his band's semi-success. He's about as rock and roll as a teabag and going on this semi-readable ego trip, he sees music only as something to make a person famous.

Read if: you want to hate music.
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Format: Paperback
Having played in numerous amateur bands myself, I am always interested in the stories of bands that go beyond the amateur stage to "make it" in the music business. This book one of the best i've read in this genre especially as it is written open and honestly by a band member. It is very detailed and well written and moves fast. You can feel the excitement as the band goes from nothing to something then the frustrations as they slip back out of the spotlight. The writer is the drummer so it is also interesting to see things from the drummer's viewpoint, especially for people like myself who play one of the other instruments (guitar).

I put "make it" in quotes above as this book made me reflect on what this really means. Here it meant getting a record deal, having some hits, playing loads of gigs and festivals often to thousands of fans and seeing the world. The book shows what a relatively short period of exhileration this can be but it is encouraging to me that it does end on a positive of strong friendships and the fun of the ride.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Thomson on 1 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
I don't usually leave reviews of items that I buy, however as a serious music fan, I had to leave one regarding Jacob Slichters (the Semisonic drummer) account of his experience of being in an aspiring, then hugely successful, then failing rock n' roll band. His account is so easy to read and highly believable, and is probably more in tune with most other bands experience than the idiology of a rock n' roll band as portrayed by The Rolling Stones.
He portrays his aspirations, fears, highs and lows and every other roller coaster of emotions as a stuggling musician working in an office by day and jamming in his basement at night, to signing a record deal and touring the world with his band and the constant struggles with record companies and radio stations that hinder up and coming bands.
It's just great read, BUY IT!!!

Along with Mark Oliver Everetts (Eels) "Things The Grandchildren Should Know", this book is the best and most honest discription of the crazy and insane business that is, music.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 77 reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I didn't want to get to "closing time" 18 July 2004
By R. Banfield - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Like most music fans, I knew "Closing Time" but not any other Semisonic songs. Having read this book, I now understand why. Slichter's clear explanations of the machinations of the music industry (percentage points, independent promoters, Soundscan A&R guys) gave me great insight into what actually goes on behind the scenes of our favorite songs. He chronicles the signing process, the video making process, and what it's like to go on tour (even down to a detailed explanation of the tour bus) and why some songs "hit" and some miss. The book is neither gossipy (he meets Prince but doesn't give lots of details) or boring - Slichter is a Harvard graduate and writes very well. I wish he had given us an epilogue, telling what he and his bandmates are doing now, and what happened to Coco. It also would have been fun to see a "money count" detailing just how much was spent on the band and how much they actually made back. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in going into the music business.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Required Reading Before Starting In The Music Biz 22 Aug. 2004
By D. Sean Brickell - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Let me testify about the truth, humor, and saddness. Having worked promotions for a two well-known international record labels, Mr. Slichter's brilliant book is no fantasy but a realistic explanation of the music biz. His observations are spot-on about radio, recording, promotions, merchandising, retail, concert promoters, and fans.

The book should be required reading for any band hoping to get a record deal. Chances are they won't make a lot of money, but they sure-as-hell will spend a lot. And the expenses aren't even for the supposedly fun things like 5-star hotels, private Gulfstream jets, vintage Cristel and parties with supermodels. Oh no, the cash flows out to independent promotions, recording costs, and dozens of other "necessities."

The book shows how a band can "ship" millions of "units" (as opposed to selling records) and still wind up losing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr. Slichter also proves something about the wisdom of everyone in the recording process. If they actually knew how to score a hit, every song would be one. Truth: there is no real formula for a hit record, and even less of one to determine which songs really sell at retail once they do manage to get on radio, MTV or VH1.

Touring for a starting band can be a grisly existence. What we have here is a handbook for survival -- or at least an outline of how to cope with life on the road during a band's early days. Every band that gets a record contract probably imagines it'll be the next Led Zeppelin once the tour dates and cash start adding up. Surprize!

Mr. Slichter ought to be remembered far longer for his book than for any of his notable accomplishments in Semisonic. He's witty. He's accurate. He's definitely been there.

Most of all, Mr. Slichter's highly readable. Stylistically imagine a kinder and gentler Hunter S. Thompson, one who can write about life's wicked twists and ugly personalities without the vengence and vitriol.

Long live rock! Long live Jacob Slichter!!
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating, Amusing 14 Dec. 2004
By Michael P. McCullough - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I had heard the author speaking on NPR and was glad when my brother gave me this book.

Jake Slichter is erudite (how many rock drummers are Harvard graduates?) and has a real knack for telling interesting stories. He is a true writer: a shy, sensitive individual who might not have said the right thing at the party but can go home afterwards and write well about the situation.

The story of Semisonic's semi-rise and semi-decline is a compelling story, and the behind the scenes look into the mainstream music industry is amazing. And not only that it has actually made me appreciate music more - ever since I've read this book I pay a lot more attention to the drumming while listening to rock music!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A true pleasure to read, Funny and insightful. 1 Aug. 2004
By Dan T. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I heard the mention for this book on the Howard Stern show and picked it up. I normally don't sit for a whole weekend reading, but I blazed through this in about a day and a half because I couldn't put it down. The synopsis doesn't do the content justice, there are so many interesting things about the music industry revealed here in humorous and subtle (and not so subtle) detail that you just start reading and hunger for more. My favorite thing about this book is that it shows just how much trouble the music industry has gotten itself into, not because of the evil internet, but because of the ineptitude of the people making the choices that make or break their very own commodity... the artists.

Good for Jake, I'm glad he got this book published because he's a hard worker and a great artist. I have 10 times the respect for Semisonic than I ever did now, and I alraedy owned all three of their albums on MCA. Pop in their CD and enjoy this great book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Superb book! Well-written, funny, and informative 17 Aug. 2004
By Rufus T. Firefly - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What a great book! Slichter tells his story both with wickedly sly humor that will make you laugh out loud and with a self-effacing style that makes you feel connected to him. There is no rock-star preening to be found; this is a book by a smart, humble, and hilarious guy who goes through his fifteen minutes of Semisonic fame with wide open eyes.

I liked most how Slichter brought me right into the middle of the action. It could easily have been me in his place, I felt, just because he comes across as being so human, as such an Everyman. You feel like you are with him every step of the way on his rise from dead-end day jobs and musical dreams to rock stardom. As he progesses, you get to see the good, the bad, and the downright ugly of the music and radio industries and how they *really* work, something most people don't know (I didn't). You feel the thrills and the disappointments that Slichter feels. You share his astonishment at the byzantine workings of the system. And from cover to cover, you will laugh out loud as he takes you on the roller coaster ride of modern rock and roll.

I highly recommend this book, and not just to music fans. You don't need to know (or care, for that matter) about the music Semisonic played to appreciate the fantastic writing, and anyone with a general interest in music of any kind will be fascinated by all the dirty exposed inner guts of the music business. This one has my full and hearty recommendation!
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