From the Land of Band Box Records

Pop & R&B Books – Part 1

December 10, 2016

Pop Pages 1960’s through 1999

Well thought out and researched books on the topics of rock ‘n’ roll/pop music didn’t firmly emerge for the record collecting public until well into the 1970’s and then, the pickings were lean.

Charlie Gillett


“The Sound of the City – The Rise of Rock and Roll” (1970) was one the first rock and roll history books that I got my hands on.  Charlie Gillett was a British radio announcer and rock/r&b enthusiast.  His “Sound of the Cithy” covered a diverse range of developments from rural to urban sectors across the U.S. into a very interesting and ground breaking narrative.  The book was actually a development from Gillet’s pursuit of a Masters Degree.  In the mid 1990’s, Gillet revised and expanded “The Sound of the City”.  I have not read that update.

gillette-01I obtained his book sometime late in 1971 while still serving out my enlistment with the Air Force Security Police upon my return to the U.S. from Vietnam.  My wife, small son and I were living in the small town of Merced, California about eight miles north of the Strategic Air Command training base of Castle (long since closed).

Getting your hands on anything Rock-Informative in Merced was pretty much out of the question, especially on my government paycheck, but there was a news stand/shop in Merced where I started picking up the monthly issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

I never got into the “Teen Zines” from the 1960’s such as “Teen Life”, “16 Magazine, “Teen”, “Tiger Beat” and all the spin-off teen specials.  The pictorial content was okay but the text was just plain silly (but fun I suppose).

teen-mag-07 teen-mag-06 teen-mag-05 teen-mag-04 teen-mag-03 teen-mag-02 teen-mag-01

I remember in 1972 in Merced, making an attempt to compile a list of rock and roll artists who had already passed away.  I thought I might be able to put together some sort of publication.  Research was difficult and so after a time I ended up with a meager listing of about 30 or so musicians, incomplete with very sparse details relating to their demise.

The first part of multiple installments presenting books from the 1960’s thru 1999  – Visit the Pop Publications Page for the permanent page with ongoing additions

1966 Rock and Roll Books

The Boss Band Book – Inside Information on the Boss Bands of Colorado by I.D. Magazine: Extracted biographies and ads from the 1960’s music scene in Denver – Bios are presented for obscurities such as “Maul and the Cutups”, “The Status Seekers”, “Mother’s Children” and others.  More well knowns are here too – “The Moonrakers”, “The Fogcutters”, Boenzee Cryque” etc.


1970 Rock and Roll Books

This comprehensive study of the rise of rock and roll from 1954 to 1971 has now been expanded with close to 100 illustrations as well as a new introduction

The Sound of the City The Rise of Rock & Roll by Charlie Gillett


1972 Rock and Roll Books

It’s Too Late to Stop Now – A Rock and Roll Journal – Jon Landau


1976 Rock and Roll Books

Rolling Stone’s The History of Rock and Roll by Jim Miller (editor): First published 1976 (476 pages)


1979 Rock and Roll Books

Just Around Midnight Rock and Roll and the Racial Imagination – Jack Hamilton

“When Jimi Hendrix died, the idea of a black man playing lead guitar in a rock band seemed exotic. Yet ten years earlier, Chuck Berry had stood among the most influential rock and roll performers. Why did rock and roll become white? Jack Hamilton challenges the racial categories that distort standard histories of rock music and the 60s revolution.”


1982 Rock and Roll Books

Surf’s Up – The Beach Boys on Record 1961-1981


1984 Rock and Roll Books

Rock Archives – Michael Ochs


1987 Rock and Roll Books

“Chuck Berry – The Autobiography”: First published 1987 by Isaleee Publishing (346 pages)  – Chuck Berry worked on this volume for many years before finally wrapping it up and putting it out there – Written without a ghost writer – Very well done!


1988 Rock and Roll Books

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock’n’roll as Literature and Literature as Rock ‘N’roll – Lester Bangs

“Vintage presents the paperback edition of the wild and brilliant writings of Lester Bangs–the most outrageous and popular rock critic of the 1970s–edited and with an introduction by the reigning dean of rack critics, Greil Marcus. Advertising in Rolling Stone and other major publications.”


1989 Rock and Roll Books

Shake, Rattle and Roll – Lee Cotten & Thomas Schultheisis


1990 Rock and Roll Books

“Sound and Glory – The Incredible Story of Bill Halley, the Father of Rock n’ Roll and the Music That Shook The World”: First Published by Dyne Publishing 1990 by John W. Haley and John von Hoelle (250 pages) – Bill’s story dispels any conception that he and the Comets weren’t the real deal. They pioneered where no one had ventured before against so many critics – some vicious – some dangerous – Bill Haley and the Comets were truly the world’s first rock and roll band!


1991 Rock and Roll Books

Stone Alone – The Story of a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band – Bill Wyman & Ray Coleman

“For 25 years Bill Wyman has been “the silent Stone”, the quiet bass player in the “World’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”. This autobiography-of-a-band is a note-by-note rendition of the Stones’ tumultuous early years, based on Wyman’s own meticulously kept diaries. 32 pages of photographs.”


Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and the Post-War Rock’n’Roll Revolution – Charles Shaar Murray

“Called by Entertainment Weekly “The best book on Hendrix”, Crosstown Traffic rode their A-list for over two months and won the prestigious Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award. Roots-savvy British critic Charles Shaar Murray assesses the lifework of guitarist Jimi Hendrix in the context of black musical tradition, social history, and the upheaval of the 1960’s”


The Birth of Rock & Roll – Hal Leonard

“The first volume explores rock’s rhythm and blues roots and its earliest tunes – from ‘Rocket ’88’ and ‘Shake, Rattle And Roll’ to the major hits of Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, and more.”


The Worst Rock and Roll Records – Jimmy Guterman & Owen O’Donnell

“Anyone who really loves rock and roll has a taste for the ridiculous as well as the sublime. Here is the first book that explores rock’s soft white underbelly. And the results are hilarious, outrageous… and highly informative. For through its analysis of the boring, silly, and truly bad sides of rock and roll, a revisionist history of rock and roll emerges…”


1992 Rock & Roll Books

The Art of Rock and Roll – Charles T. Brown

“A non-technical exploration of the history and theory of Rock and Roll from its origins to the present. This book discusses the basic historical changes in each decade as related to music. The book analyzes compositions using an easy chart style and offers a representative selection of listening assignments.”


Good Rockin’ Tonight: Sun Records and the Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll – Colin Escott & Martin Hawkins

“he history, in words and pictures, of the Sun Record Company – the label which launched artists such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. This book contains many anecdotes and previously unpublished photographs”


The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock and Roll: The Definitive History of the Most Important Artists and Their Music – Anthony DeCurtis, Rolling Stone Magazine & James Henke

“Here is the ultimate illustrated history of rock & roll–the most important artists and their music, fully revised and updated for the 1990s. Here are eye-opening portraits and critical assessments of Elvis and Chuck Berry, the Beatles and the Stones, Michael Jackson and Madonna. Discographies on every important performer.”


1994 Rock & Roll Books

Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Times – Joel Selvin

“Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” was the rallying cry for a movement in the late ’60s and early ’70s that changed American culture forever. Drawing on more than 200 interviews with all the major players, including Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick, Steve Miller, and David Crosby, Selvin has assembled the first complete history of the era–a virtual “Psychedelic Babylon”


Dissonant Identities: The Rock N Roll Scene in Austin, Texas – Barry Shank

“A fascinating analysis of the music scene in Austin, Texas”


Hollywood Rock: A Guide to Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Movies – Marshall Crenshaw


The Sex Revolts: Gender, Rebellion, and Rock ‘n’ Roll – Simon Reynolds

“This study analyzes song lyrics to describe how women have traditionally been depicted in rock ‘n’ roll. The authors argue that male songwriters have either exploited or worshipped women, and that these perceptions will only change when women take control and write the words themselves.”


1995 Rock and Roll Books

The Grand Ole Opry – History of Country Music by Paul Kingsbury: Published by Opryland USA Inc., 1995 (258 pages) – Another pictorial and historical treat focusing on all of the pioneers up through the country progression – Kingsbury documents many of the early country radio shows from around the country beyond the Opry.


1996 Rock and Roll Books

Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island – Greil Marcus


Country: The Twisted Roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll – Nick Tosches

“Celebrating the dark origins of our most American music, Country reveals a wild shadowland of history that encompasses blackface minstrels and yodeling cowboys; honky-tonk hell and rockabilly heaven;”


1997 Rock and Roll Books

The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce – Fred Goodman

“This hard-nosed history of the rock-music business concentrates particularly on the rise of the manipulative, calculating and utterly ruthless, billionaire music business Svengali, David Geffen.”


Not Fade Away – Jim Marshall

“The world’s premier music photographer takes us on an electrifying journey through rock history–from the early 1960s to the present. “Not Fade Away” collects the best of Jim Marshall’s photography for the first time–and offers a visual history unprecedented in its intimacy, immediacy, and impact.”



1998 Rock & Roll Books

Grown Up All Wrong: 75 Great Rock and Pop Artists from Vaudeville to Techno – Robert Christgau

“Two generations of American music lovers have grown up listening with Robert Christgau, attuned to his inimitable blend of judgment, acuity, passion, erudition, wit, and “caveat emptor.” His writings, collected here, constitute a virtual encyclopedia of popular music over the past fifty years.”


Night Beat – Mikal Gilmore

‘A definitive collection of profiles, cultural commentary, and reviews from a 20-year career in rock criticism, by the author of “Shot in the Heart”. “A refreshingly inclusive arc of rock history . . . consistently provocative”.–“Kirkus Reviews”.


Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm & Blues, Black Consciousness – Brian Ward

“This richly textured study of some of the most important music and complex political events in America since World War II challenges the belief that white consumption of black music helped reduce racial prejudice. Historian Brian Ward explores the relationship between Rhythm and Blues, black consciousness, and race relations…


Great Pop Things: The Real History of Rock ‘n’ Roll from Elvis to Oasis – Colin B. Morton & Chuck Death

“The comic strips of Colin B. Morton and Chuck Death deliver an irreverent, heartfelt, and devastatingly funny history of rock and roll. Like Monty Python at its best, their version is surreal and ridiculous – yet somehow everything in it rings true. According to Morton and Death, the bass player in Led Zeppelin was Jean-Paul Sartre…


Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock ‘n’ Roll from Southern California – David Reyes & Tom Waldman

“Reyes and Waldman tell the stories of Chicano rock music in Southern California and the musicians who continue to make pop music with a Latin beat.”


It’s Only Rock and Roll: An Anthology of Rock and Roll Short Stories – Janice Eidus and John Kastan

“This Is The First Anthology of fiction ever published that deals exclusively with the intoxicating urgency, iconic power, and even disturbing underside of rock music, arguably the most influential art form of the past fifty years.”


Unknown Legends of Rock ‘n’ Roll: Play Guitar with Happy Traum – Richie Unterberger

“This entertaining book and companion audio CD provide detailed histories of 60 unrecognized pioneers, cult artists, and little-known greats in rock history who made invaluable yet largely overlooked contributions to many styles of rock”


1999 Rock & Roll Books

Center Channel – A Totally Incomplete History of Colorado Music from 1960 to 1999 by The Denver Music Company: Published by Blue Press Publications(pages aren’t numbered and I don’t feel like counting them – but it is a rather small booklet) – A strange but probably necessary publication.


Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977 – James Miller

“Richly anecdotal and always provocative, this sharp, insightful, opinionated book explores the rise–and arrested development–of rock and roll over the last half century.”


Unsung Heroes of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis – Nick Tosches

“The author of “Country” now offers a paean to a forsaken time of relentless excess, sudden ruin, and fierce music–the days of rock ‘n’ roll, long before Elvis came on the scene. 42 illustrations.”


Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And-Rock-N-Roll Generation Saved Hollywood – Peter Biskind

“Based on hundreds of interviews with directors, producers, stars, studio executives, writers, spouses, ex-spouses, and girlfriends, this book tells the full story of the crazy world of the “Directors’ Decade”, one of the most exhilarating periods in film making history.”


Feel Like Going Home: Portraits in Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll – Peter Guralnick

“This is the first volume of Guralnick’s trilogy on American music. It gives vivid portraits of blues legends like Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and also of the Memphis giants – Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich and the Sun record label. The other volumes on this trilogy include “Sweet Soul Music” and “Lost Highway”


Voice Over – William Barlow

“In “Voice Over”, a celebration and history, William Barlow explores the entire landscape of black radio from the early days–when the white public accepted the black-face buffoonery of “The Amos and Andy Show” and “Beluh” as a fair depiction of African-American life–to the rise of personality jocks and the contemporary scene of corporate buyouts.”


The Classic Rock & Roll Reader, William E. Studwell, David Lonergan

“The Classic Rock and Roll Reader: Rock Music from Its Beginnings to the Mid-1970s is chock full of entertaining essays to inform and delight you about an era that shaped our culture and future musical trends.”


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