Blog Archives

New from Backbeat: The SG Guitar Book!

The SG Guitar Book is the perfect book for guitar enthusiasts! Tony Bacon, author of the most thorough and readable guitar books out there, tells the story of how the SG came to be.  Do you own an SG? Tell us your story in the comments section!


Gretsch, Sg coverTo many vintage guitar fans, it seems inconceivable that Gibson dumped the Sunburst Les Paul in 1960 and, during the following year, introduced a completely new design, the one that we know now as the SG (“solid guitar”). Back at the start of the 60s, this made perfectly good business sense to the managers at Gibson. Sales of Les Paul models were faltering, and the company decided to blow a breath of fresh air through its solid body electric guitar line.
The company described the result as an “ultra-thin, hand-contoured, double-cutaway body.” The modernistic amalgam of bevels and points and angles was a radical departure, and this new book tells the story of all the SG models that followed: the Junior, Special, Standard, Custom, and more.
All the stories are here of the classic Standards, Specials, Juniors, double-necks, Customs, and TVs, and also the lesser-known SGs, such as the Tributes, the Deluxe, the Supreme, and the Diablo, as well as related guitars like the Melody Maker and signature models for guitarists from Robby Krieger to Jimmy Page.
There are interviews with and stories about Gibson personnel through the years, and all the major SG players, including Pete Townshend, Frank Zappa, Eric Clapton, Angus Young, George Harrison, Gary Rossington, Tony Iommi, and Derek Trucks.
In the tradition of Tony Bacon’s bestselling series of guitar books, The SG Guitar Book is three great volumes in one package: a collection of drool-worthy pictures of the coolest guitars; a gripping story from the earliest prototypes to the latest exploits; and a detailed collector’s database of every production SG model ever made.

James Campion Speaks with journalist Ken Sharp!

In this exclusive interview excerpt, New York Times bestselling author and journalist Ken Sharp discusses KISS’s pre-Destroyer days with Shout It Out Loud author James Campion! Watch the video below to hear more, and let us know what are your thoughts on KISS’s pre-Destroyer days.


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandising, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

As Campion writes in his introduction, “Destroyer is the indisputable KISS mission statement—the realization of a dream that stridently reflects the extraordinary time from which it was fashioned. Destroyer is ’70s rock: loud, yes, and decadent, you bet, but mostly it is pompous, weird, and fantastical….It is a cartoon fantasy’s parody of excess. Its message is fun and doom all rolled up in a thunderous package of melodramatic farce.”

Shout It Out Loud is the story of how an underground rock and roll oddity became a cultural phenomenon.

Happy Birthday to Robert Plant!

Today is Robert Plant’s 67th birthday! While best known lead singer for Led Zeppelin, that wasn’t all that defined him. Two years after Led Zeppelin broke up, Plant went solo and has maintained an unbroken career ever since.  Author Dave Thompson’s book, Robert Plant The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin, shines a light on Plant’s solo career.  Below is an excerpt of the book, check it out!


00120813 It is a rare talent indeed, then, that can sustain the initial impetus and spread
it over much more than four albums; a rarer one still that can keep it going
for four decades; and even Robert Plant will admit that there have been
times throughout his solo career when the roar of the crowd became more
of a murmur, and the plaudits that once popped like corks were suddenly
plopping instead.
On those occasions, it would have been the easiest thing in the world to
make a few phone calls, rehearse a few songs, reprise an old band name . . .
and once, that is precisely what he did. But when the headlines announced
back in 2012 that Robert Plant was re-forming the group he used to play
with, it was a revamped Strange Sensation that roared out of the garage,
and the slate was swept clean overnight.
Whether at the helm of Led Zeppelin, where it was generally Plant’s
lyrics that set the mood of the music; alone with his own band; or drifting through the welter of side projects that have occupied him throughout the intervening years, Plant has rarely stood still for any longer than he needed to—and on the occasions he has, he just leapt a little further the next time around. But it is not the dilettante shuffling of rock’s other shapeshifting skipjacks that sustains him. A straight line drawn from Plant’s first recording will always lead to his latest, no matter how many technical, sonic, or cultural advances might separate the sessions, and no matter what caliber of musician he may choose to work with next.

To read more about Robert Plant, you can buy the book here.

Anthrax’s Scott Ian speaks with author James Campion!

In researching his upcoming book, Shout It Out Loud, James Campion sat down with Scott Ian of Anthrax. In this exclusive interview excerpt Ian reminisces about KISS’s Destroyer and his obsession with the intro to Detroit Rock City. To hear more about what he had to say click on the link below and let us know your favorite KISS song!


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandising, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

As Campion writes in his introduction, “Destroyer is the indisputable KISS mission statement—the realization of a dream that stridently reflects the extraordinary time from which it was fashioned. Destroyer is ’70s rock: loud, yes, and decadent, you bet, but mostly it is pompous, weird, and fantastical….It is a cartoon fantasy’s parody of excess. Its message is fun and doom all rolled up in a thunderous package of melodramatic farce.”

Shout It Out Loud is the story of how an underground rock and roll oddity became a cultural phenomenon.

Dave Thompson on The Tony Basilio Show on WJBE 99.7 FM

Dave Thompson, author of Hearts of Darkness, spoke with Tony Basilio on 99.7 FM, Knoxville, Tennessee’s very own Tony Basilio Show. They spoke about all things James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Cat Stevens and how they launched the age of the singer-songwriter in the 1970s.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00333163Hearts of Darkness is the story of a generation’s coming of age through the experiences of its three most atypical pop stars. James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Cat Stevens could never have been considered your typical late-sixties songwriters – self-absorbed and self-composed, all three eschewed the traditional means of delivering their songs, instead turning its process inward. The result was a body of work that stands among the most profoundly personal art ever to translate into an international language, and a sequence of songs – from “Sweet Baby James” and “Carolina in My Mind,” to “Jamaica Say You Will” and “These Days,” to “Peace Train” and “Wild World” – that remain archetypes not only of what the critics called the singer-songwriter movement, but of the human condition itself.

Author Dave Thompson, himself a legend among rock biographers, takes on his subjects with his usual brio and candor, leaving no stone unturned in his quest to shine a light on the dark side of this profoundly earnest era in popular music. Penetrating, pointed, and laced with vivid insight and detail, Hearts of Darkness is the story of rock when it no longer felt the need to roll.

Brian Solomon Visits with J.R. on The Ross Report!

Brian Solomon, author of Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle, recently spoke with WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross of The Ross Report. They spoke about all things wrestling, including the many years Ross and Solomon worked with one another at the WWE. Listen to the podcast on the link below, and visit The Ross Report to hear more of Jim Ross’s podcasts.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00126963

Sport? Entertainment? Art form? Perhaps a bit of all three, with a certain intangible extra something thrown in for good measure, making professional wrestling a truly unique entity unto itself. From its origins in carnivals and sideshow attractions of the 19th century, right up to the multi million-dollar, multimedia industry of the present day, and all the bizarre, wild, and woolly points in between, Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle by Brian Solomon delves into the entire history and broad scope of one of popular culture’s most enduring yet ever-changing spectacles.

Pro Wrestling FAQ is the second book from the Backbeat Books FAQ series to look beyond the world of music and into the wider world of pop culture. Soccer FAQ will be published in March. Future Pop Culture FAQ titles include Cocktails FAQ, Dracula FAQ, The Beat Generation FAQ, and Haunted America FAQ.

With chapters devoted to the many fascinating eras in the history of the business, as well as capsule biographies of some its most memorable and important figures, Pro Wrestling FAQ is the ultimate one-volume reference guide for both long-time wrestling nuts and initiates to the grappling phenomenon.

Revisit the legendary 1911 “Match of the Century” pitting World Champion Frank Gotch against archrival George Hackenschmidt, “the Russian Lion”; experience wrestling’s TV golden age in the 1950s, a time of such colorful personages as Gorgeous George and Antonino Rocca; relive the glory days of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, when WWF impresario Vince McMahon took the business mainstream; and get the lowdown on recent favorites, such as John Cena, CM Punk, and others who have taken the business boldly into the 21st century.

Solomon also takes time to explore the roots of professional wrestling in Mexico and Japan; the vital role of the wrestling manager; as well as the referees, commentators, and ring announcers, whose contributions must never be overlooked.

If you’ve ever called yourself a fan of the most popular form of sports/entertainment/ performance art that has ever existed, Pro Wrestling FAQ is the book for you!

Happy Birthday to Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson!

Today, Ian Anderson turns 68 years old! To celebrate the life and career of the man who brought the flute to rock and roll, here is an excerpt from Prog Rock FAQ: All Thats Left to Know About Rock’s Most Progressive Music, published last fall by Backbeat Books, in which author Will Romano writes about Anderson, Jethro Tull, and their album, Aqualung.


 

00118349We know that the Tull head honcho himself has said that Aqualung is not a concept record; in fact, Ian Anderson has long maintained that it was the public’s interpretation, or misinterpretation, of the origins of this record that inspired him to write the concept album spoof Thick as a Brick. So, why the debate and discussion about whether Aqualung is a concept record? For one thing, there are still lingering doubts as to whether we should be taking Anderson’s word for it, or making up our minds. Anderson has said that the making of Aqualung was the first time he undertook a conscious effort to write material with serious subject matters, a fact that seemingly has offered conspiracy theorists plenty of fodder for the rumor mill.

The character of Aqualung was based on a photograph of a homeless man, taken by Anderson’s first wife, Jenny, who had been studying photography at the time, and her description of the man. These observations were incorporated into the opening song, “Aqualung.” “The mixture of guilt and compassion, embarrassment and sadness, all of these things are slightly more feminine emotions,” Anderson told me. They found their way into this record, anyway; one that’s dirty, heavy, complicated, mean, and, at times, bordering on sexually perverse (i.e., “Cross Eyed Mary,” “Mother Goose,” the latter being a combination of absurd humor and double entendre).

To read more about Jethro Tull and other progressive rock bands, you can buy the book here.

“Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer” is coming in October!

If the fourth of his videos discussing his new book, Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon, James Campion talks about why he believes Destroyer was worthy of a book of its own and everything he packed into it!


Shout It Out Loud: The Story of Kiss’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Icon

00141630How does an underground oddity become a cultural phenomenon?

For over 40 years, the rock band Kiss has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatricality, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyally rabid fans. But if not for a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, Kiss may have ended up nothing more than a footnote.

Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!, the ensuing lawsuits between its management and its label, the pursuit of the hot, young producer, a grueling musical “boot camp,” the wildly creative studio abandon, the origins behind an iconic cover, the era’s most outlandish tour, and the unlikely string of hit singles.

Extensive research from the period and insights into each song are enhanced by hundreds of archived materials and dozens of interviews surrounding the mid-’70s-era Kiss and its zeitgeist. New interviews with major principals in the making of an outrageously imaginative rock classic animate this engaging tale.

Denise McKinney talks with Patrick Phillips of Pop Culture Tonight!

Denise McKinney, author of Morrissey FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About This Charming Man, visited Pop Culture Tonight to talk with Patrick Phillips about what inspired her to write the book and how she to wanted readers to get a more in depth look at Morrissey. Take a listen on the link below!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00122449No one can argue that Morrissey is one of the best lyricists and charismatic front men in music history. But people love to argue about other things – his mysterious personal life, his pompous attitude, and the history and meaning behind his biggest hits.

Morrissey FAQ will put to rest any questions and doubts about the singer known around the world for his meaningful lyrics and biting wit. Readers will also learn about his passions, his weaknesses, the people who love him, the people who hate him, and the people who want to be him. Not since Elvis have fans been so obsessed with a singer; they fight with each other at concerts, they rush and tackle him onstage, they dress and act like him, and they even build shrines dedicated to him. Liking Morrissey isn’t just liking his music – it’s a way of life.

Morrissey is known for his over-the-top lyrics, his stage antics, his philosophies, and his whining. But after reading this book and digging deeper into the brooding mystique that is Morrissey, you’ll also start whining… for more Moz!

Coming This Fall — Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition!

It’s the ultimate book for Beatles fans, and it’s coming this fall from Backbeat Books!  Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition is a revised and greatly expanded version of Andy Babiuk’s best-selling guide to the instruments and equipment the Fab Four used on stage and in the studio. Can’t wait until fall? Check out a sneak peek of the book only on ISSUU


In 2001, Andy Babiuk wrote Beatles Gear, the first book to tell the full story of how the Beatles made their music, detailing exactly which guitars, drums, amplifiers, and keyboards the Beatles used at the key points of their relatively brief but entirely revolutionary career, from the formation of the Quarrymen skiffle group in the 1950s to the dissolution of the Beatles in 1970.

00333744The book was lauded by fans and critics alike: The Chicago Tribune said it “may be the ultimate specialized study of the Beatles’ equipment.” Library Journal proclaimed it “A fresh, highly readable perspective on the group’s well-documented history.” And, the San Jose Mercury-News called it “the ultimate Beatles fanatic book.”

Fifteen years later, Babiuk once again turns his keen eye to the Fab Four with Beatles Gear – The Ultimate Edition (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $60). Double size of the original and featuring 625 additional photographs, all-new edition provides fresh insights into Beatles history, exploding myths and uncovering dozens of new stories along the way. John, Paul, George and Ringo’s moves from cheap early instruments to the pick of 1960s technology are carefully and entertainingly documented in an easy-to-read narrative, fully illustrated with many previously unseen photographs, a cache of rare memorabilia, and a unique collection of specially photographed actual Beatle instruments.

Here’s a sneak preview of Beatles Gear: The Ultimate Edition.

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