Rocking To The Hall Of Fame: A Biographer On North Texas Legend Stevie Ray Vaughan

Craig Hopkins, author of Stevie Ray Vaughan – Day by Day, Night after Night, talks with Rick Holter of KERA News about Vaughan and his recent induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

Layout 1 (Page 1)In a day-by-day format, Craig Hopkins presents an award-winning and unprecedented celebration of Vaughan’s life and music. His Early Years, 1954-1982, the first volume in this set, covers the complete history of the guitar legend’s roots, from his childhood to the eve of his first major record release. The book features rare and intimate photographs from Vaughan’s youth and early days as a budding musician, details about his earliest gigs and unreleased recordings, and a personnel list of his twenty-odd bands over the course of his twenty-five-year career.

The second volume, His Final Years, 1983-1990, covers Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble’s recording career, from their debut release and their performance at Carnegie Hall through their rise to international stardom. Filled with hundreds of photographs and packed with incredible detail, the book takes readers moment by moment through the exciting and sometimes controversial journey to Vaughan’s worldwide success. In addition, the second volume features a special section on Vaughan’s guitars and equipment. Hopkins also documents Vaughan’s ongoing legacy up to the 00333139present day.

Day by Day, Night After Night tells Vaughan’s story from birth to the abrupt and tragic end of his bustling career in 1990, when at the age of thirty-five, only four years into his triumph over the demons of addiction, he died in a helicopter crash minutes after sharing the stage with Eric Clapton and other fellow blues stars. Both volumes are filled with first-hand testimonials from the band members, family, friends and associates who knew him best; stories from the studio and the road; and detailed documentation of tour dates, recordings, broadcasts, publications, collector’s items and more. For fans of this Texas guitar legend and blues music history in general, Stevie Ray Vaughan: Day by Day, Night After Night is the ultimate collector’s item.

“Pro Wrestling FAQ” Trailer

Now available from Backbeat Books: Pro Wrestling FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s Most Entertaining Spectacle

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 multimillion-dollar, multimedia industry of the present day, and all the bizarre, wild, and woolly points in between, Pro Wrestling FAQ delves into the entire history and broad scope of one of popular culture’s most enduring yet ever-changing spectacles.

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, this book will serve as 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.

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Salon.com Interview with Susan Masino

Susan Masino, author of AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Jamie Blaine!

SIMPLE IS BEST: THE SECRET OF

AC/DC’S SUCCESS — A CONVERSATION WITH BIOGRAPHER SUSAN MASINO

AC/DC biographer Susan Masino, also a longtime band friend, is perhaps the only writer to enjoy the honor of an actual shout-out in one of the band’s early tunes. (See below.) If that doesn’t give a biographer cred, nothing does.

Masino’s Let There Be Rock: The Story of AC/DC is the band’s definitive biography, but there’s always more to tell with AC/DC. Her stellar, brand new AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band is jam-packed with even more stories, behind-the-scenes hi-jinx, and tasty bits from the band’s long way to the top. We caught up with Masino to get her take on the secret of AC/DC’s forty-years-and-counting success.

The Weeklings: Dirty Deeds is my favorite AC/DC record. What’s yours?

Susan Masino: Mine is Powerage for several reasons, aside from how brilliant all the songs are. I was in constant contact with Barry Taylor (roadie for the band), while they were in the studio. I actually mailed them copies of the interview I did with them prior December (1977), when they played in Milwaukee, WI. My friend Barry kept bringing up the fact that he “helped” Bon with some of the lyrics. I thought that was nice, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized Bon used my name in the song, “Down Payment Blues.”

The Weeklings: Whoa! You’re Suzy baby?

Susan Masino: Well, I’d like to think I was one of them. I’m sure Bon knew other Suzys, but he also liked to tease Barry about his affection toward me. If he was referring to me, that is the most awesome thing an AC/DC fan can achieve, along with making it onto the Jumbo Tron when they played Milwaukee in 2010.

The Weeklings: You go back with the band over thirty years. Give us a quick primer to your history with AC/DC.

Susan Masino: I was lucky enough to meet AC/DC on the first leg of their first U.S. It was August 16, 1977, and I was writing for a local paper here in Madison, WI. I was sent to the club to help out the promoter, and fell in love with the band. I became friends with Barry and he wrote and called me every week for the next three years. He left the band in 1980, right before Bon’s death, and I stayed in touch with the band over the past 38 years, seeing them on tour and writing two books about them.

The Weeklings: Some lumped AC/DC in as punk when they first began and you mention that Bon might have been influential to the early punk movement.

Susan Masino: I know during their first tour of the UK, the Sex Pistols were on their way up and the band claimed that once they (the Pistols) saw AC/DC, they started dressing like Bon with the cut off denim jackets. AC/DC hated being called a punk band, and didn’t care for the music themselves at all.

The Weeklings: Is there any band that AC/DC didn’t blow off the stage?

Susan Masino: Absolutely not! To be fair, when they were opening for bands like Aerosmith, UFO, and Cheap Trick, I chose to stay backstage after the band was done playing. Once you saw AC/DC live, you were good.

Read the rest of the interview here!

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The History of Canadian Rock ‘N’ Roll

Backbeat Books recently published The History of Canadian Rock ‘N’ Roll by Bob Mersereau. The book presents a streamlined, informative trip through the country’s rich history and depth of talent, from the 1950s to today, covering such topics as: Toronto’s club scene, the folk rock and psychedelic rock of the 1960s, Canadian artists who hit major stardom in the United States, the challenges and reform of the Canadian broadcasting system, the huge hits of the 1970s, Canadian artists’ presence all over the pop charts in the 1990s, and Canada’s indie-rock renaissance of the 2000s.

Check out the Foreword of this new Backbeat Books release, written by Neil Peart!

Foreword

A Life in Canadian Rock

It must have been the summer of 1964, so I was going on twelve. A group of four or five families from our neighborhood was living in a ragtag cluster of tents at Morgan’s Point, on the Ontario shore of Lake Erie. We were all camping there together for a few weeks that summer, while our dads commuted to St. Catharines for work. It was a boyhood ambience of sunburns, mosquito bites, campfires, a warm, shallow lake with a threatened undertow, playing coureurs de bois in the woods, and a first kiss under the sumacs.

One evening some of us kids were gathered outside the dance pavilion. We were too young to go in, and couldn’t have paid anyway (to have a quarter of your own was a big deal then), but stood nearby to listen. Who can now imagine such a remote time, pre-everything, when a man could remember the first time he ever heard rock music?

(And if that makes me “old,” I’m comfortable with it—proud of it. If a youngster tells me he was born in any later decade, my only response is sympathy: “You missed so much.”)

According to the posters, they were called The Morticians. They were pictured in long-tailed suits and top hats, and the battered hearse they and their gear traveled in was parked outside. My first impression of live rock music was that it was loud—surprise. They probably had a bunch of fifty-watt amps, but I’d only ever heard Dad’s hi-fi, the car radio’s single speaker, and the little transistor pressed up to my ear at night. The guitars were brash, jangly and warmly, voices echoey and unintelligible, something low was rumbling the walls, and I couldn’t understand why the drums sounded so metallic—not knowing what cymbals were. But the drumming sure galvanized my attention.

So did the noise . . . 

It was the time of the British Invasion, and soon there were rock bands everywhere—in every dance hall, and in every second garage. In those years I often spent school holidays with my Blackwell grandparents in Georgetown, Ontario. By an accident of familial timing, my uncle Richard was just a year older than me, so more like a cousin. He played drums in a band called The Outcasts, emulating the “blue-eyed soul” trend that was everything in nearby Toronto.

Even as I took up playing drums myself (well, practice pad and magazines on the bed for the first year), the musical education that was being delivered to me in little old St. Catharines was, in retrospect, astounding.

It is probably safe to say, from this twenty-first-century vantage point, that there was no better decade in which to be a kid than the ’50s, and no better decade to be a teenager—especially an inspiring musician—than the ’60s. Discuss . . . 

(If you missed it, see above sympathy.)

It was not radio or television or even word of mouth that introduced me to the music I came to love—it was cover bands. While I very much appreciated the R&B that influenced the “Toronto sound,” and played it in some of my earliest bands (still identifiable in my playing today), the first music that really electrified me was the “second wave” of the British Invasion. That was when rock ‘n’ roll became rock, I guess—edgy, aggressive-sounding bands like The Who, The Kinks, and The Hollies. I did not hear that kind of music on Top-40 radio, not then, but I heard it played by Graeme and the Wafers. They were a mod-style band from the Prairies who took up residence in the Niagara Peninsula one summer—and rocked my world.

The bands I saw at high schools, the roller rink, and the Castle (“A Knight Club for Teenagers”) included local heroes like The Modbeats, The Evil, The Ragged Edges, The Veltones (still remember their mournful single on CHOW radio from their hometown of Welland, “Just Another Face in the Crowd”), and dozens more, plus so many truly excellent bands from Toronto.

A few records trickled out from there, too, and we all liked the singles and albums by Mandala and The Ugly Ducklings. (One of my earliest conversations with bandmate Alex was about that album Somewhere Outside—including “Gaslight,” a single that ought to have been a huge hit everywhere—and Alex laughed when I played the staggered drum figure that opened “Just in Case You Wonder.”)

And the drummers! Anyone trying to lay down funky beats for those blue-eyed-soul bands simply had to have more chops that a surf-rock drummer. So they were all at least good, and some were masters whose playing still echoes in this eternal youngster’s inner transistor. Whitney Glan with Mandala, Skip Prokop with Lighthouse, Graham Lear with George Olliver’s Natural Gas, Danny Taylor with Nucleus, Dave Cairns with Leigh Ashford, and many more—all playing in my hometown on a weekly basis. Every drummer did a solo—it was simply expected—so even just standing in the audience, no young drummer ever had it so good.

Further afield, it was an adolescent thrill to see The Guess Who at a county fair in Caledonia, then again at the psychedelic youth pavilion called “Time Being” (1967, of course, the Summer of Love—still not fifteen, I was a little young for all that, but sure wanted to be part of it!) at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The next time I saw The Guess Who was at a pop festival at Brock University in 1969, with Mashmakhan (Jerry Mercer another great drummer) and a number of local bands—including my first band with a handful of original songs, J.R. Flood. In front of ten thousand people, I played a drum solo in Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” just as Michael Shrieve had done at Woodstock, and it received a life-affirming reaction.

My head didn’t swell, but my ambition did. . . . 

In later years I would be privileged to become part of the history of Canadian rock, achieving unimagined success and accolades with my bandmates (“the Guys at Work”) Alex and Geddy.

Even that road was illuminated by touring with other Canadian bands—crossing paths early on with The Stampeders, April Wine, the great Downchild Blues Band, as we all struggled as opening acts and playing rock clubs around the U.S.

This book spotlights the pivotal role played by Ronnie Hawkins in early Canadian rock, and he had his part in Rush’s history, too. Our Moving Pictures album was written in the summer of 1980 at his farm near Peterborough—the same farm that hosted John and Yoko a decade earlier.

When Rush started to headline, we were able to bring other Canadian bands, like Max Webster and FM, on our U.S. tours. We even brought Max on a European tour—but even then they never caught on in the way we, as fans, expected they would. That “divide” remains a mystery—why so many great bands, from the ’60s and up through the ’70s and ’80s, failed to make that connection with American (or European) audiences. (That is to say, even when they had the opportunity.)

The Tragically Hip are another puzzling example. As a longtime fan of theirs, singing their praises, I sometimes describe them to unaware Americans as “the Canadian Pearl Jam.” In some aspects, notably lyrics and arguably songwriting in general, The Hip are the superior in that comparison—but again, by and large, Americans didn’t “get” them. I don’t get that.

Seeing them play at the House of Blues in West Hollywood one time in the early 200s, I had rarely seen an audience more engaged with a band’s songs. But alas, there weren’t as many in that audience as there might have been. . . .

The rest of the story can be left to the book you are about to commence reading. It is enough to say that the history Bob has researched so lovingly, and woven so deftly into an entertaining story, reflects a vitality, a creativity, and a power that is profoundly worth celebrating. It begins at a time when the only native rock was . . . the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains. . . . 

Neil Peart, 2015

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Fashion Times Interview with Natasha Scharf

Natasha Scharf, author of The Art of Gothic, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Fashion Times. Read the rest of the interview here!

Fashion Times: What inspired you to write this book?

Natasha Scharf: “The reason why I started to write ‘The Art of Goth’ is partly because there had never been a book done like this before and partly because there’s such a huge amount of creativity associated with goth that I just thought there needed to be a book like this. The book is actually primarily about music and then there’s the fashion element alongside it. Obviously fashion is a big part of goth, so that’s why it was represented.

Fashion Times: Describe the goth aesthetic. 

Natasha Scharf: “The goth aesthetic is what I refer to as a dark aesthetic. The goth movement comes originally from the punk movement which was running in the 1970s. So goth as a movement started organically toward the end of the 1970s and early 1980s. In that sense, it was very much stylized by a darker side of music with literary influences and cinematic influences as well. It was playing a lot on the kind of gothic literature and darker themes in general. From that, you started to get an idea of themes emerging. What started off as a darker style of post-punk then became what’s referred to as goth and people started to see a look emerge. The people who were following goth music were dressing in a certain way and they had particular influences. They were perhaps a little more educated that the punks that were around at the time. They’re more interested in literary things, cinematic things and art as well.”

Fashion Times: How did you become an expert on all things goth? 

Natasha Scharf: “I started to get interested in goth pretty much when it first started. There was something about goth that to me was really exciting. It tapped into something that I was fascinated by. It screamed me. There was something mysterious and very hypnotic. I was listening primarily to the music and dressing in a certain way and when I became a journalist in the 1990s, because I was so interested in goth, I just became a goth journalist. That became my specialist area. I did more research, interviewed loads of bands and have been doing so pretty much ever since. It’s become part of my personality.”

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Listen: Susan Masino on WXRX with Stone & Double T

Susan Masino, author of AC/DC FAQ, talks with Stone and Double T if WXRX about AC/DC and her new book!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00120817AC/DC FAQ spans AC/DC’s 40-year career, starting from the band’s inception in 1973. This book covers everything form their early days in Australia to their first tour of England and the United States. It also includes personal experiences, stories, conversations, and interviews by author Susan Masino, who has known the band since 1977.

Featuring 37 chapters, AC/DC FAQ chronicles the personal history of each of the band members, all their albums, tours, and various anecdotes. Rebounding from the tragic loss of their singer Bon Scott in 1980, AC/DC hired Brian Johnson and went on to record Back in Black, which is now one of the top five biggest-selling albums in music history. Taking a seven-year break after their album Stiff Upper Lip, the band came back in the fall of 2008 with a new album, Black Ice, and a tour that ran from 2008 through the summer of 2010. Once again breaking records, AC/DC saw the Black Ice Tour become the second-highest grossing tour in history. True rockers from the very beginning, AC/DC will continue to be heralded as one of the greatest rock and roll bands of all time.

 

Happy Birthday, Angus Young!

Angus Young turns 60 today, and — not coincidentally — today is the official pub date of the latest addition to the Backbeat Books FAQ series: AC/DC FAQ by Susan Masino.  Here’s a tribute to Angus from Susan, who first met AC/DC nearly forty years ago and remains today the biggest fan of “the world’s true rock ‘n’ roll band!”

00120817AC/DC’s diminutive schoolboy guitar player, Angus Young, turns 60 years old today, a milestone birthday for anyone, but, as Angus proved to the world with his performance on the Grammys this year, in his case at least, 60 must be the new 40.

Blazing through the single, “Rock or Bust,” from their new album of the same name, AC/DC flawlessly segued into their classic hit, “Highway To Hell,” with everyone from Katy Perry and Paul McCartney to Blake Shelton and Lady Gaga singing along. Some sporting glowing devil horns, no less!

Joining his big brother Malcolm’s band over 41 years ago, Angus used to run home from class and take off for band rehearsal still dressed in his schoolboy outfit. After trying several wardrobe options in the seventies, the band settled on jeans and black t-shirts, but Angus kept his schoolboy uniform and, armed with his trusty Gibson SG, magically became a force to be reckoned with.

Recording a brand new album in the spring of this year, appearing live on the Grammys for the first time ever, and launching a European summer tour, AC/DC showsno signs of slowing down. When they hit the United Kingdom for the first time back in 1976, a journalist marveled at Angus’ unbridled ability to play his guitar, never missing a note, while in perpetual motion. The writer remarked that seeing the then 21-year-old Angus maintain that pace once he turned 25 would be something to see. What an understatement that was!

It brings to mind one of my all-time favorite Angus Young quotes. Asked back in 1990, after turning 35, if he was getting too old to rock and roll, Angus quickly shot back, “The name’s Young, always has been, always will be.” With that sentiment in mind, I’d like to wish Angus Young the happiest of birthdays, filled with high octane rock and roll. It’s the only kind of music AC/DC will ever play, which will continue to be celebrated by millions of fans for many more birthdays to come.