Make Some Noise

Below is an excerpt from Make Some Noise: Become the Ultimate DJ by Scott Binder, published by Hal Leonard just last month.

What is DJ’ing?

With the recent developments in technology, DJ’ing has turned its attention to the computer generation. This has opened up a world of possibilities and is changing the culture right before our eyes, Of course, there are a lot of traditionalists who believe that the art form of DJ’ing is being lost in the technology, but I disagree. It’s simply providing yet another platform for the craft to evolve and expand. True, mixing records is a craft that takes much longer to perfect than mixing on a computer-based system, but I believe that the computer system provides opportunities for DJs to incorporate instruments, drum machines, synthesizers, and any other controller one sees fit. This opens a world to DJs truly creating a live show. Even if a DJ has no intention of including live elements or controllers into their sets, I have no problem with the computer-based mixing systems. Sure, one can incorporate live instrumentation on the traditional setups. I am one of those who do that. But technology makes this possibility even easier. After all, there is much more to DJ’ing than beatmatching and mixing. Does this mean I personally would DJ on a computer-based program without playing an instrument? No, but I think that if we resist change we are closing ourselves off to what lies on the other side as we sift through the ever-changing landscape of the music world.

To become an ultimate DJ, one must master all levels of DJ’ing. And in my opinion, DJ’ing consists of these elements: mixing and beatmatching, programming amazing sets, incorporating live instrumentation, and crowd interaction. If you master these elements, you will separate yourself form 99 percent of the DJs out there. Sometimes good DJs excel at mixing but completely lose sight of their crowd. Other DJs are great at connecting with people on the dance floor but lack proficiency at mixing or programming their sets. It doesn’t mean a DJ is necessarily bad if he or she doesn’t master all levels of DJ’ing. A good DJ is pretty good at most of the facets of DJ’ing but isn’t a master of any of them. Is it a bad thing to be a good DJ? Not at all, but being great means mastering as many levels of the craft as possible. Modern DJs are at their best when they are turning their shows into true live performance, and mastering all of the levels illustrated in this book will help you do that.

Make Some Noise

There are books on how to become a DJ, books that talk about beatmatching, mashups, how to perform in nightclubs – even one that claims it can teach you everything in two hours. Make Some Noise is a complete DJ book that has been created on the cutting edge and goes beyond any current book on the subject. Yes, it teaches the basics, but it goes beyond the how-to, discussing DJing while playing with a live instrument as well as goal setting, marketing, and choosing your music genre.

The book also features a collection of one-page spotlights from some of the biggest DJs in the world, providing you with the opportunity to learn from the best of the best. These DJs include Infected Mushroom (1,073,271 likes on Facebook), Judge Jules (102,871 likes), R3hab (413,237 likes), Todd Terry (22,733 likes), DJ Chus (57,076 likes), Max Graham (180,293 likes), Umek (1,612,019 likes), Bingo Players (293,612 likes), and Prok & Fitch (22,663 likes).

Make Some Noise blends together practical advice and tools for learning the craft, along with an inspirational message that will help encourage you in regard to your own dreams and aspirations about becoming a DJ.

ASCAP’s 100th Anniversary

Hal Leonard is proud to release two books in conjunction with ASCAP’s centennial: A Friend in the Music Business: The ASCAP Storyby Bruce Pollock, and The ASCAP Centennial Songbook. Below is Quincy Jones’s foreword to A Friend in the Music Business, “Why ASCAP Matters.”

I first joined ASCAP in 1955. I had previously spent a lot of time in France, and I knew about SACEM (Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Éditeurs de Musique), the French equivalent of ASCAP. I heard the United States had their own version of it, so that’s why I became a member. Also, many other composers and songwriters that I was familiar with were members too, like Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

For nearly 60 years, I’ve worked as a producer, arranger, songwriter, and composer in almost every musical style – including pop, jazz, R&B, rock ’n’ roll, and classical – and in all media forms, including records, film, and TV. It’s been an amazing journey. And through it all, ASCAP has always been there for me, making sure I received fair compensation for my work, thereby ensuring I could continue to work and grow as a creative artist. This has always been their main role – to be the champion for all their member songwriters and composers.

But in today’s music business, there is a proliferation of piracy everywhere in the world. Songwriters and music industry professionals are challenged to stave off this epidemic, because the means for producing, replicating, and disseminating intellectual property such as music is so quick, easy, and accessible to everyone. In this climate, the challenge is, how do songwriters and composers continue to be properly compensated for their work? The solutions are not easy to find, but if we don’t discover them, there aren’t going to be songwriters to write the great songs of the future. That’s why ASCAP is absolutely as essential now as it ever was and maybe even more so. It’s a game-changing time throughout the business, with people reluctant to pay for various uses of music. That’s why it’s important for ASCAP to persevere – to make every effort to work with the entire music industry, as well as legislative bodies, in making sure songwriters continue to be treated fairly in terms of appropriate compensation. So far, for the first 100 years of their existence, they’ve done a great job; they’ve consistently worked very hard to represent us at every turn, whenever there’s been a challenge to our right to make a living from our creative work. ASCAP has their hands full, but they keep working at it and finding solutions. As songwriters, we certainly need them. They are essential to our existence.

I talk to young songwriters all the time. I tell them don’t forget God’s rules, and that’s to have humility with your creativity and grace with your success. Start with that. That’s very important. Then I tell them join ASCAP and you’ll get protected from piracy, because ASCAP is a rights protection organization. I tell them ASCAP will champion your right to earn a living based on your creative work, and what’s more, will collect revenue on your behalf for that work.

Right now, as a society, we are not respecting the rights of songwriters – that they need to be compensated for their intellectual property, which is their songs and compositions. The world is running outside the boundaries of the concept of intellectual property rights, and we’ve got to get back in them, because it’s about respect for people’s property and the morality of not just stealing it because it is so easy to do. But even though the business is in trouble, young songwriters are creating great music. Music and water will be the last things to disappear from this planet. People can’t live without music. So we’ll need ASCAP to be doing their job until the very end.

I was so honored when I received the ASCAP Founders Award in 2013. Some incredible musicians have been recipients of this prestigious honor. ASCAP has an amazing legacy and a long heritage of nurturing and supporting the creative process. That’s why I try to do as many ASCAP events as my schedule permits. We all need to do our part to keep ASCAP visible and in the public’s eye, so everyone knows how important it is that they are there.

I was elected to be on the board of ASCAP, but at the time I was in the middle of an incredibly heavy workload, especially working with Michael Jackson and all my other endeavors in the ’80s. So I wrote a long letter to ASCAP recommending that Marilyn Bergman take my place on the board – which she did, and not surprisingly, she later became an awesome president and chairman of ASCAP for a period of fifteen years, until 2009. (Currently, Paul Williams has taken the reins and is continuing to do a wonderful job). I’ve known Marilyn and Alan Bergman since we were next-door neighbors and worked together on the songs for In the Heat of the Night in 1967. She’s like family. I knew she’d be right for the board because I knew her soul, her mind, and her God-given gifts. She definitely has a leader’s mind. She’s brilliant. You can hear it in her lyrics.

If you want to know what ASCAP’s mission is and always has been, just read the first few lines of “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?” with music by Michel Legrand and lyrics by Marilyn and Alan Bergman:

How do you keep the music playing?

How do you make it last?

How do you keep the song from fading too fast?

 Quincy Jones

A Friend in the Music Business

On February 13, 1914, a group of the nation’s most distinguished and popular songwriters gathered together in New York City to support the mission of ASCAP, a new organization for publishers and songwriters. A few years later, ASCAP received its mandate from the Supreme Court to collect royalties for the public performance of copyrighted material. Over the course of the next century, ASCAP has been as prominent a force for the advancement and nurture and financial well-being of songwriters as any record label or publishing outfit one would care to name. With a responsive board of directors made up entirely of songwriter/composer and publisher members, ASCAP has defended creators’ rights at every turn against those who would seek to devalue music. Today, with copyright under renewed assault, its mission is as resonant and vital as ever, along with its relatively new role as a nurturer of the young artists who represent the future of music.

Award-winning music writer Bruce Pollock explores the growth and changes within this complex society and its relationship to emerging technologies, in the context of 100 years of an ever-evolving music business, to see how ASCAP has become, for those who hope to make a living making music, now more than ever, “a friend in the music business.”

Listen: Randy Poe on WSM Radio

The Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. You can catch Randy Poe talking about Buck Owens on WSM Radio on our podcast!


Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City – racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life.

With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country.

Buck ‘Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens – from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.

Click here to watch a video extra on YouTube for Buck ‘Em.

Bruce Swedien Recording Method

Tomorrow marks the start of the 2014 NAMM show in Anaheim, California, lasting until January 26th. What could be more apt than a few words from Quincy Jones in The Bruce Swedien Recording Method? You can also check out Bruce Swedien’s website here.

Bruce Swedien – I call him “Svensk,” which means “Swedish man” – is the best! Nobody can touch what he created with the Acusonic Recording Process, using SMPTE to sync the multitrack recorders together, and using stereo pairs of tracks to build a sound that still can’t be beat. I’ve traveled around the world several times, and everywhere I go they play the music we recorded together. And every time it’s played in the clubs, the dance floor is packed! When you record the music right, with the perfect balance, a solid foundation, and just the right amount of reverb, people can’t reproduce it. They can try, but there’s a musical and emotional component that we were able to create together that was magical.

There is no one who matches Svensk’s innate sense of balance and musicality. He has always been able to find the musical blend that brings a song to life, and his mixes have set the standard for all who have followed. Since the first session we did together in Chicago at Universal Studios with Dinah Washington, Bruce and I have enjoyed making some incredible music. From that first session with Dinah and then another with the Count Basie Orchestra to The Wiz, Off the Wall, Thriller, Bad, Back on the Block, Q’s Jook Joint, and everything in between, Svensk has been my friend, my engineer, and my musical colleague. When we all started working together on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall, we were ready – ready to create something so special that it would make a profound mark on the music industry and world culture. Bruce had grown up listening to some of the best and most well-structured and well-balanced music in one of the best concert halls; I had been studying and honing my craft since I was a young teenager hanging around the Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, and Dizzy Gillespie Orchestras; Rod Temperton had discovered how to write great music and lyrics that would connect with music fans all over the world; and Michael had grown to be possibly the best and most professional singer I had ever seen. We had all the bases covered and were ready to go. And that’s just what we did!

If you’re going to make great music, you have to be able to maintain focus until the creative flow has found its course. Bruce, Rod, and I worked for days at a time, literally 24 hours a day, finding just the right direction for the music – finding the very best ways to communicate the music’s heart and soul. Many times, during the Thriller album, we worked five straight days and nights, but that’s how it had to be. That’s what it took and we all loved it. They’d be taking the studio assistants out on stretchers, but we were so focused on the fantastic music we were laying down that we hardly noticed the time.

For someone who wants to learn how to record great music, there’s no one better to emulate than Bruce Swedien. Pay attention to how he records music, but just as important, pay attention to why he records music and to the care and love that go into how he works. Making great recordings is about so much more than technical concerns, and Bruce has always known that. I truly believe that his part in the music we did together was irreplaceable.

Bruce, you’re absolutely the best – there’s no one better. You’re my musical soul mate, my close friend, and my brother – min vän och min bror. I love you, man!

The Bruce Swedien Recording Method is an incredibly timely and timeless reference for anyone interested in capturing and mixing the best possible music recordings. From the Michael Jackson albums (Off the WallThrillerBadDangerousInvincible, and HIStory), to many Quincy Jones hits (The DudeBack on the BlockQ’s Jook Joint, and many more), to classic greats from Count Basie, Duke Ellington, the Brothers Johnson, and Natalie Cole, Bruce Swedien’s impact on popular music has been undeniable. Engineers at all levels still use Swedien’s recordings as a standard by which they judge the sonic validity of their own work.

In The Bruce Swedien Recording Method, Swedien explains many of the techniques he has used to get award-winning drum, bass, guitar, keyboard, vocal, string, and brass sounds. On the accompanying DVD-ROM, he further reveals what he looks for in a recording and the steps he takes to imprint his characteristic world-class sonic signature on the music he mixes.

Throughout this book, Swedien consistently pinpoints the most important considerations in the recording process, with such insights as: You don’t listen to the equipment, you listen through the equipment… Nobody ever walked out of the studio whistling the console… The sound has to be so good to start with that it gives you goosebumps – the list goes on and on!

Shell Shocked Named Shindig’s Best Book of 2013

Howard Kaylan and Jeff Tamarkin’s Shell Shocked – My Life With the Turtles, Flo and Eddie, and Frank Zappa, etc. has been named Shindig! magazine’s Best Book of 2013, and we have the award to prove it. Below is the review that ran in the August 2013 issue of Shindig! Go to Shindig’s website for more info.


Just in case you’re in a hurry, here’s your bullet point: Best Rock ’n’ Roll Memoir Ever. In fact, I could probably say “music bios in general” and still be right about that. (Remember: my opinion completely outranks yours. But I’m only here to help.)

It’s always been a bit annoying to contemplate the way Serious Music Fans dismissed The Turtles as just another fluffy pop group, until the day that Kaylan and Volman (and Jim Pons) became fixtures in Frank Zappa’s band. But the ’70s were way more polarised than younger folks think they were – mainly due to our own revisionism. “Oh, yes, I always loved The Dave Clark Five, The Monkees and The Turtles”. The hell you did, old man. You’re lying through your replacement teeth. You were one of the King Crimson fans who were sneering at me (or worse!) for still loving those bands in 1974.

Nowadays, of course, people have come around. Sage music journalists (I know they’re still out there – one of them co-wrote this book) speak reverently of pop music purveyors like The Turtles with the same worshipping tone they use for the ’67 Kinks and Zombies. As well they should. And Kaylan’s book is right on time.

No need to rehash his CV here – you’re reading Shindig! after all. Suffice to say Howard remembers everything, is hiding nothing, and – unlike most “oldies” artists – still has one ear to the ground. He tells his tale in his own voice, and it stays riveting from start to finish. He’s honest about The Drug Years, without falling into the predictable David Crosby/Jimmy Greenspoon grey narrative that reads like Matthew 1 and Luke 3: “Monday – woke up, freebased. Tuesday – woke up, freebased. Wednesday – didn’t wakeup. Thursday…”

No, it’s a great book, and interesting all the way through. Kaylan knows everybody, remember, and he names names. Better even, he’s still out there pounding the road into submission a hundred or so nights every year.

This is a 262-page book. It could have been 500 and I still would have been sorry when it was over.

With any luck, he’s left something for Volman to write about. I’m sitting by the phone, Mark!

If Howard Kaylan had sung only one song, the Turtles’ 1967 No. 1 smash hit “Happy Together,” his place in rock-and-roll history would still be secure. But that recording, named in 1999 by BMI as one of the top 50 songs of the 20th century, with over five million radio plays, is only the tip of a rather eye-opening iceberg. For nearly five decades, Howard Kaylan has been a player in the rock-and-roll revolution. In addition to his years with the Turtles, Kaylan was a core member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and the dynamic duo Flo and Eddie, and part of glam rock history with Marc Bolan and T. Rex. He’s also given street cred and harmonies to everyone from John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen and Alice Cooper to the Ramones and Duran Duran, to name just a few. Howard Kaylan’s life has been a dangerous ride that he is only too happy to report on, naming names and shedding shocking tales of sex, drugs, and creative excess. Shell Shocked will stand alone as not only one of the best-told music-biz memoirs, but one with a truly candid and unmatchable story of rock-and-roll insanity and success from a man who glories in it all.

Happy Birthday, George Martin!


Legendary record producer George Martin is 88 years old today! Enjoy this excerpt from If You Like the Beatles… to celebrate.

When the Beatles first met George Martin, no one could have been a more unlikely candidate to produce their records. At 36, he was nearly twice their ages. From his patrician upbringing to his choice of neckties, the Parlophone Records producer and talent scout had a style and stature that was diametrically opposed to the young Liverpudlian upstarts. But Martin and the erstwhile super group (especially John Lennon) clicked, partly because of a shared passion for the lunacy of the BBC’s The Goon Show.

Martin’s involvement with the Goons wasn’t just as a fan and a devotee; he’d actually produced records for the Goons, including their classic album The Bridge on the River Wye, which spoofed the Academy Award-winning movie The Bridge on the River Kwai. Martin was a friend of Spike Milligan, the show’s creative voice, who he met through Peter Sellers (whose early Parlophone albums Martin also produced). The breakout single from Sellers’ second album was a parody of Lonnie Donegan’s recording of “Puttin’ on the Style,” a nineteenth-century pop song that was in the early repertoire of the skiffle-mad Quarrymen. Later on, Sellers did one of the first covers of “A Hard Day’s Night,” performed in the style of Sir Laurence Olivier as Richard III.

The half-hour wacky weekly Goon Show had been a staple in sophisticated British households since its immaculate conception in 1951 and was a forerunner to an entire new wave of British comedy, inspiring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore to go Beyond the Fringe. (Martin produced their album as well in 1961.)

The affliction with the Goons immediately endeared Martin to John Lennon, who was just entering adolescence at the time the Goons took to the airwaves, and whose view of reality was inalterably shaped by their mind-expanding programs. The myriad sounds rattling around inside Spike Milligan’s mind were accomplished through the insidious use of ingenious sound effects, engineered through a mastery of echo, reverb, multiple edits, and playing with recording tape speeds, all of which would become hallmarks of the Beatles’ studio repertoire, and especially, John Lennon’s mad, unspooling, and acid-soaked creative vision. To be a Goon Show freak turned out to be an absolute requirement for producing the Beatles, as the group grew and changed, and as their studio techniques (and minds) expanded.

Ever since he came to Parlophone, George Martin had been cutting his teeth on comedy records. His earliest credits include Peter Ustinov’s 1955 LP Mock Mozart, which involved fooling around with tape effects and overdubs. In addition to Beyond the Fringe, Martin recorded David Frost’s satirical TV show That Was the Week That Was. He also directed shows at Peter Cook’s trailblazing nightclub, the Establishment, where Australian jet-setter Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) was known to perform alongside visiting U.S. personages like Lenny Bruce. Martin worked with satirists Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who took on any and all subjects for their comedy songs (much as the droll, Harvard-educated Tom Lehrer did in the U.S.), producing their albums At the Drop of a Hat and its follow up, At the Drop of Another Hat. A rabid fan of the cinema, Martin worked with actress-singer Joan Sims, a regular in twenty-four Carry On films, and produced her two best-known singles: “Hurry Up Gran / Oh Not Again Ken” and “Spring Song/Men.”

Martin’s appreciation for comedy and studio wizardry may have found a kindred spirit in John Lennon, but his classical training (on piano and oboe) and fondness for film scores made an impression on the more tradition-minded Paul McCartney. As a fan of Johnny Dankworth’s 1960 score for Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (another “kitchen sink” drama à la A Taste of Honey), Martin produced Dankworth’s “Experiments with Mice,” jazzy variations on “Three Blind Mice” that hit the Top 10 in the UK in 1956. In 1961 Dankworth wrote the theme for the popular British TV spy series The Avengers. That same year Martin produced Danworth’s first Number One record, a version of the jazz standard “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” performed by a nine-piece trad band called the Temperance Seven, which featured vocalist Paul Macdowell. The Dankworth-Martin association continued in 1976, when Martin produced the album Born on a Friday for Dankworth’s wife, jazz singer Cleo Laine.

If You Like the Beatles…

The Beatles came up in the rock and-and-roll era, when Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley defined cool. Their early shows were big beat bacchanals, the Brit interpretation of that crazy American sound. But it wasn’t long before they were absorbing and creating more and more music – from folk to experimental, to psychedelia and hard rock, quite literally changing music forever and influencing hundreds of great bands in the process.

This is the first book for music lovers that begins with the simple premise, “If you like the Beatles . . . ,” and takes off from there, digging into their influences and everything that came after them, opening up new doors for listeners looking for no-risk discs to expand their collection.

Beginning with the Beatles’ lesser-known roots in rockabilly and Tin Pan Alley, and working through American R&B, the British Invasion, California folk, and the Summer of Love, and to the great pop and rock bands of the ’80s, ’90s, and the 21st century, this is a must-have for anyone who likes the Beatles, which is…everyone.

Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith

Both members of The Monkees have their birthdays today! Happy birthday to Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith. Below is an excerpt from Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear, by Rich Podolsky.

With all the publicity he had received, Kirshner was getting quite a requtation, and his ego swelled a little more once he began guiding the musical career of the Monkees.

In 1965, producer Bob Rafelson approached Bert Schneider with an idea. Rafelson was inspired by the Beatles’ first film, A Hard Day’s Night, which not only featured the group’s songs but showed their happy-go-lucky wackiness as well. He wanted to do a TV series with four actors who would play a wacky American foursome. Schneider agreed and the two formed their own company, Raybert Productions, and sold the show to Screen Gems.

Screen Gems put out a wide casting call and finally settled on Americans Micky Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, and Englishman Davy Jones. The company planned a weekly TV show, which would feature the group’s slapstick antics and a song or two.

For the music, the company relied heavily on Kirshner. And he delivered. He selected and executive-produced all of their songs, several of which were written by Jeff Barry and Neil Diamond, two of the decade’s greatest songwriters. For their first single, Kirschner carefully picked “Last Train to Clarksville,” which was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, who were new in the Kirschner stable.

After “Clarksville” went to No. 1, Kirshner somehow talked Neil Diamond into giving the Monkees “I’m a Believer,” even though he wanted to record it himself. At the time, Diamond was already a successful performer, having struck with “Solitary Man” and “Cherry, Cherry,” the latter reaching No. 6. Talking him into giving up “I’m a Believer” may have been Kirshner’s greatest accomplishment for Screen Gems.

Don Kirshner: The Man with the Golden Ear

In 1958, long before he created and hosted Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, the most dynamic rock-and-roll series in television history, before he developed the Monkees and created the Archies, Don Kirshner was a 23-year-old kid with just a dream in his pocket. Five years later he was the prince of pop music. He did it by building Aldon Music, a song publishing firm, from scratch. This is about how he did it – with teenage discoveries Bobby Darin, Carole King, Neil Sedaka, and more.

By 1960, at the ripe old age of 25, Kirshner had built the most powerful publishing house in the business, leading Time magazine to call him “the Man with the Golden Ear.” In five short years he coaxed and guided his teenage prodigies to write more than 200 hits. And they weren’t just hits, as it turned out, but standards – including “On Broadway,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” “Up on the Roof,” “Breaking Up Is Hard to Do,” “I Love How You Love Me,” “Who Put the Bomp,” and “The Locomotion” – songs that have become the soundtrack of a generation. “We weren’t trying to write standards,” said one songwriter. “We were just trying to please Donnie.”

Ableton Grooves

Josh Bess, author of Ableton Grooves, has uploaded some demo drum grooves from his book! Now users can listen to the drum kits they will be programming with Ableton Grooves. Follow Josh Bess on SoundCloud here, or visit his website at

Ableton Grooves will empower you to create realistic-sounding drum grooves using Ableton Live and the Ableton Grooves Drum Racks – specifically created for this book by certified Ableton Live trainer Josh Bess. Each groove is written using MIDI Maps, an original and powerful programming concept introduced for the first time in this book. With MIDI Maps and the MIDI Note Editor, you’ll learn not only how to read the exercises but also how to use them to develop your own creative and musical grooves. Bess presents musical notation alongside the MIDI Maps so that you can understand both the technological and musical sides of what you’re learning and creating.

Ableton Grooves teaches much more than how to map out beats and grooves! It demonstrates concepts that become stepping-stones to a new way of thinking and creating while introducing diverse groove styles. Tips and hints throughout the book and accompanying DVD-ROM reveal several ways you can create something new for yourself.

This book demonstrates how to program many groove styles, while presenting several techniques that add important musical feel and emotion. Included are over 80 standard and diverse dance, rock, metal, funk, R&B, jazz, Latin, and hybrid drum set grooves.

Randy Poe at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Randy Poe, author of Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens, will be giving a talk at the Country Music Hall of Fame about Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound on Saturday, December 7th at 1:30pm. Check it out here! And while you wait, here is an excerpt from Buck ‘Em.

My parents moved out to Bakersfield that same year, so pretty soon most of the folks who had made that original trip from Texas to Arizona ended up in the same town again. The only one who didn’t eventually make the move was my older sister, Mary Ethel. She’d gotten married in Arizona, so she stayed there. My younger sister Dorothy had been a senior in high school when my parents moved to Bakersfield, so she lived with Mary Ethel until she graduated. Then she came on our and moved back in with our parents. A year later, Melvin came to Bakersfield, too. It was where we’d all planned on going back in 1937. It just took us a little longer to get there than we’d thought it would.

When I got to Bakersfield, I found out my Uncle Vernon had been absolutely right about the music scene that was going on. In fact, Bakersfield had been kind of a music hot bed, I guess you’d say, going back quite a few years before I arrived.

Bob Wills had been a regular at the Bakersfield dance halls back in the ’40s. There’d also been a fiddler named Jimmy Thomason who played a big dance at the Beardsley Ballroom every week. He started playing there in ’49, and I guess he would’ve played there forever if the place hadn’t burned down in 1950. I think Jimmy might’ve been about the first resident of Bakersfield who actually got a record contract. He was signed to King Records, a label that put out a bunch of great blue-grass and country stuff in those days. None of Jimmy’s records were chart hits or anything like that, but being a genuine recording artist sure made him a big deal around town. When television finally arrived in Bakersfield, he became a local TV star. He and his wife hosted a bunch of different country performers on The Louise and Jimmy Thomason Show.

There was another place in town called The Rainbow Gardens where everybody went to dance after the Beardsley Ballroom burned down. Outside of the city limits a little ways was a place called the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance. A guy named Ebb Pilling ran the Pumpkin Center. He called himself Cousin Ebb, and he played the banjo in his own band there. Cousin Ebb booked a lot of bands at the Pumpkin, including the Maddox Brothers and Rose. Bonnie and I had seen the Maddox Brothers and Rose back in Mesa when we were teenagers. I remember another Bakersfield guy – Roy Nicols – was the guitar player the night me and Bonnie saw ‘em. Rose and her brothers were the first act I ever got to see that wore really colorful Western-type outfits with rhinestones on ‘em – the kind of things all of us country singers started wearing in the ’60s.

All of these places I’m telling you about – the Beardsley Ballroom, the Rainbow Gardens, and the Pumpkin Center Barn Dance – were great big places with big ol’ dance floors. Most of the music being played at those places during that era was Western Swing. I loved Western Swing. In fact, one of the earliest Western Swing bands was a Texas outfit called the Light Crust Dough Boys. I still remember listening to the Light Crust Dough Boys on the radio when I was real little.

Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City – racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life.

With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country.

Buck ‘Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens – from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.

Click here to watch a video extra on YouTube for Buck ‘Em.

The History of Marshall

Coming soon – The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years, by Michael Doyle and Nick Bowcott. Below is the two-part preface to the book. Enjoy!

So we meet again, twenty years since my last Marshall book, The History of Marshall, was published (1993) and over thirty years since my first, The Sound of Rock (1982). I never dreamed that a book or a company would have such a profound effect on my life that I would be asked to write about it decades later. Such is the power of Marshall.

In 1982, The Sound of Rock was just about the first book ever written on guitar amplifiers – and I was really concerned that I would be writing somewhat selfishly for an audience of one. It was researched in a couple of months, written by hand, typed on a typewriter by my sister, and photographed in black and white with a borrowed (manual-focus) film camera. I recall that the sharp photos were taken in the morning when I was sober, while those that were out of focus where taken in the afternoon after Jim, Ken, and I had enjoyed a few bottles of wine with lunch. Happy days and simpler times!

Back then, information on old amplifiers was extremely rare, and others who shared my enthusiasm for them even rarer. In the decade that followed, new interest was fired up, and vintage Marshalls became well established as part of many guitarists’ armory and many collector’s closets. The advent of the personal computer allowed me to cover a broader picture of the Marshall history than was previously possible, and I was safe in the knowledge that I would be writing for the benefit of an audience other than myself. And so it was that The History of Marshall was published in 1993. I wanted that book to be definitive, and thankfully it was widely received as such – enabling it to survive in print during the biggest revolution of all, the Internet age. Facilitated by digital photography, the web has redefined our access to information, and Marshall’s history is no exception.

However, guitarists are tactile people, and if they can feel the difference in a thousandth of an inch on a string gauge, then presumably they still appreciate the printed word. So we fittingly celebrate the first fifty years of Marshall with that most analog creation – a book.

When I was approached to author The First Fifty Years, I knew my memory was fading, and that fact, combined with my less than expert knowledge of most Marshalls made since 1995, made a co-author a necessity. Enter fellow Marshall nutter, “Grim Reaper” guitarist, and talented writer Nick Bowcott. Without Nick’s involvement, persuasion, and deep Marshall tribal knowledge, this book would never have happened.

My goal this time was to simply produce a book that would put a smile on Jim’s face. Regrettably, that didn’t happen. Jim was ill for many years and passed away in April 2012, aged eighty-eight, during Marshall Amplification’s fiftieth-anniversary year.

With his creation of the Marshall stack, Jim Marshall provided the tools that defined the look, as well as the sound, of rock for generations of guitarists. Inventor, leader, drummer, tap dancer, singer, and music-industry ambassador who contributed generously to many charities close to his heart, Jim Marshall ultimately lived life his way – loud and proud. Personally, he was an inspiration, friend, and mentor. The profound impact he made will live on in the music of the last fifty years and undoubtedly will set the tone for decades to come.

I look forward to hearing and reading about it.


In late 1991, I was both flattered and honored to be asked to demonstrate the then brand-new Marshall JMP-1 Valve MIKI Preamp at the 1992 Winter NAMM show. So, I got together with Andrew Lubman, a sequencing expert from the then USA distributor of Marshall, KORG USA, and we came up with a backing track that seamlessly segued over sixty modern and classic rock riffs while sending the desired program changes to the JMP-1 at the appropriate times. I guess we did a good job, as my NAMM gig quickly turned into a full-time job as USA product specialist/demonstrator for the company.

To say this job was a badge of honor for me would be a gross understatement, as Marshall had always been the “be all and end all” amp for hard rock, as far as I was concerned. From AC/DC to ZZ Top, Accept to Zakk Wylde, the Deftones to Def Leppard, and Slash to Slayer, the Marshall was not only omnipresent sonically but invariably visually as well, especially with acts like Slayer, AC/DC, and Zakk Wylde, who always have a veritable wall of Marshall stacks behind them onstage. Hell, Eddie Van Halen recorded “Eruption” – a game- and life-changing burst of guitar genius using a Marshall. I rest my case. In fact, I was such a Marshall head (awful pun, not intended!) that I didn’t consider myself a serious player until I finally owned a Marshall half stack – a 50-watt JCM800 2204 head and a 1960A 4×12 cabinet, both of which I still have to this very day.

To be a legit product specialist, I didn’t only have to be knowledgeable of the Marshall offerings at the time, I also had to get intimately acquainted with past products and the company’s illustrious history. My then boss, the one and only Ritchie Fleigler (author of the excellent Hal Leonard book Amps: The Other Half of Rock ‘n’ Roll), got me up to speed on the existing product lineup and then thrust a book in my hand and said, “Read and digest this.” The tome in question? The Sound of Rock, written by Mike Doyle in the early 1980s, and it proved a godsend…my bible, if you will. Also, as luck would have it, at the time Michael worked for KORG as the Californian sales rep for Marshall. We became good friends, and I was fortunate enough to travel with the man on several occasions. It goes without saying that I took every opportunity to pick his Marshall-addled brain. Thanks for that, Mike…please don’t ever change!

Then, in 1993, Michael’s next Hal Leonard book, The History of Marshall: The Illustrated Story of “The Sound of Rock,” was released and instantly became both my new bible and an invaluable reference tool, lofty positions it has held every since. Shortly thereafter, Michael moved to Fender (as did Ritchie), but we remained in touch over the years, and while he flourished at Fender (as did Ritchie), his passion for Marshall and the man behind the brand, Jim, never wavered even for a split second. Oh, yeah, when Ritchie left for pastures afresh, I successfully bagged his job as U.S. product manager for Marshall. Another badge of honor, which afforded me countless hours in the company of the legendary Jim Marshall himself! And I was getting paid while doing so: best gig on the planet. Period.

We now fast forward to the mid-2000s – with Marshall’s fiftieth-anniversary looming on the horizon, myself and Michael had long been talking about updating The History of Marshall together, and, as luck would have it, John Cerullo (a modern-day Job!) of Hal Leonard was also game to revisit the project. So around 2007 we set about doing exactly that. To say this was a privilege for me would, once again, be a vast understatement – to play a small role in updating the book I’ve long heralded as being “the Marshall fan’s bible” was effectively a dream come true. Now, at this point of the proceedings I know what you’re probably thinking: “Isn’t a guy who’s spent the better part of two decades working for Marshall going to be more than a little biased?” Well, here’s the rub. Shortly after taking on the book, I – like Michael and Ritchie before me – headed west and joined Fender!

One of the conditions of my taking this new job, though, was that I could continue working on the Marshall book with Michael (no longer at Fender by this time, he’d been with Guitar Center for quite a while). The fine folk at Fender agreed, and it was while I was there that the vast majority of my contribution was outlined and fleshed out. I am also delighted to report that despite my moving on, my much-valued relationship with Jim Marshall remained intact and I was only too happy to continue attending his birthday bash every year.

After a great three-year spell at Fender, where I worked with the wonderful Jackson, Charvel, and EVH lines, Marshall and KORG parted ways and the Brits asked me to come back and help set up Marshall USA. I accepted and so was able to be back with Jim as the fiftieth-anniversary of his company became a reality. Sadly, while Jim lived into the early part of 2012, ill health prevailed, and he left us to make heaven a louder place several months before the much-heralded Marshal 50th Anniversary Concert at Wemberly Arena. So, it was with heavy heart that the last couple of chapters of this book were written and the intro reworked…

It is safe to say that penning this tome was a labor of love for both myself and Michael…and sheer torture for John! It took longer than expected to get it to where we were truly happy – far longer. It also proved far, far harder than I could have ever imagined, and this is not my first ride into the book writing rodeo. I sincerely hope that our efforts give you the pleasure and insight that both of Michael’s previous books have given me.

This one’s for you, Jim…RIP, my friend, and thank you.


The History of Marshall – The First Fifty Years

From its humble origins in the back of a small music store in London, Marshall Amplification has defined the sound of rock for generations of guitarists around the world.

The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years tells the story of Jim Marshall’s remarkable life and documents the many innovations of Marshall amplifiers, from the famous “stack” to the most current offerings. The book features:

• Hundreds of color photographs throughout, including rare amplifiers and previously unpublished historical documents

• Reprints of vintage catalogs and marketing materials from Marshall and its related brands, including Park and CMI

• Extensive appraisal and history of the Celestion speaker

• History of the Marshall factory locations and the pictorial “factory tour”

The book is also:

• Predominantly full color (similar books are typically – sometimes exclusively – black and white) and includes more historical material than any previous publication

• The first publication to bring the history of the company and its products up to date

The History of Marshall: The First Fifty Years is the definitive account of this fascinating company known as “The Sound of Rock.” It’s absolutely essential reading for musicians, technicians, and collectors alike.