Kenny Aronoff, author of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!, sat down with SALON.com sharing his journey from his love for the Beatles to working with John Mellencamp, plus his mantra to “work hard and rock harder.”
Kenny Aronoff is one of the most famous and hardest working rock ‘n’ roll drummers performing today. After four decades behind the kit playing with John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi, and many others, as house drummer for the Kennedy Center Honors, and alongside Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on the Beatles CBS special The Night That Changed America, Aronoff is listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” and remains one of the most in-demand live and session drummers in the music business working today.
You got to work your butt off in anything. That’s what the book is about.
In Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll! The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business, Aronoff answers these questions and more, painting the portrait of an artist, instructor, and businessman who never followed the norm, always followed his heart, and never settled for anything short of excellence.
You have to go through a lot of experience to understand how to solve problems to see the problems before they come because they’re going to come.
Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll! takes readers on Aronoff’s amazing journey from the small New England town where he watched the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 to performing alongside Paul and Ringo on a television special 50 years later. Along the way it chronicles an uncommon career in which the excesses of the rock ’n’ roll life are always tempered by his core personal and professional values.
I’ll never be as great as I want to be, but I’m willing to spend the rest of my life trying to be as great as I can be.
Check out the video here.
Kenny Aronoff, one of Rolling Stones’, ‘Top 100 Drummers of All Time,’ can now add author to his repertoire with the release of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll! In the whirlwind of press surrounding this release, he sat down with Tim Barnicle and Harry Hill of the ‘How I Got Here’ podcast. The trio discussed Aronoff’s early years, career, and new venture as an author and speaker. Take a listen below.
Playing felt good spiritually, emotionally, physically; every which way….It was just an organic thing. I was just naturally drawn to the energy of the drums.
Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll!, with a foreword by Rush drummer Neil Peart, and researched and developed with Jake Brown, takes readers on Aronoff’s amazing journey from the small New England town where he watched the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 to performing alongside Paul and Ringo on a television special 50 years later. Along the way it chronicles an uncommon career in which the excesses of the rock ’n’ roll life are always tempered by his core personal and professional values.
The interview took listeners on a journey of what to expect in the book from his love for the Beatles to his early career of playing in a bar at the age of 13 with his twin brother. He’s one of the hardest workers for a reason having explained how he worked endlessly to reach his goals. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about fame. It was about accomplishing not only what he set out to do, but ultimately staking his claim in rock & roll and beyond.
I spread myself al over the map my entire career and I got teased for it. Classical people teased me about playing rock. The rock people teased me about played classical….That means I am different and I will pledge to follow my own beat, my own muse, my own thing.
“Staying the course” has never been enough for Aronoff, who has consistently embraced his own uniqueness while charting his life’s path. This has included taking his music career into every genre imaginable and branching beyond the stage and studio to build a second career as a business speaker.
Writing the book took four years and then what came of it was a speaking career that I’m really pushing….It’s really an inspirational evening with Kenny Aronoff where you’re entertained, but I’m talking about how to be successful and stay successful.
In Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll!, Aronoff paints the portrait of an artist, instructor, and businessman who never followed the norm, always followed his heart, and never settled for anything short of excellence.
There’s definitely a little bit of fear in me. I told my mom when I was 11 I was going to do this for the rest of my life. Now that I’m 63, I’m still saying I’m going to do this for the rest of my life. I want that choice.
Maynard James Keenan along with Sarah Jensen took a moment with Mark Rotella of Publisher’s Weekly to discuss their joint effort and latest Backbeat Books release, A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, for the PW LitCast. The PW LitCast are conversations between Publisher’s Weekly editors and authors of new fiction and nonfiction books. Take a listen below.
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents the outtakes, the scenes of disappointment and triumph, and the events that led him to take one step after the next, to change direction, to explore sometimes surprising opportunities.
The interview covered an array of topics including: how the book came to be, the relationship between Maynard and Sarah, the writing process, hesitations, Maynard’s wine venture, and more.
Maynard had contemplated writing a biography 7 years ago, but he put the idea on the back burner because it just didn’t feel right. The point of biography is to inspire readers, not air dirty laundry.
Most journalists are very sensationalists. They’ll try to latch on to the things that are gonna, you know, be click bait; gain headlines. Just kind of further their own career rather than tell a story.
-Maynard James Keenan
Included throughout are passages in Keenan’s own words, often humorous anecdotes that illuminate the narrative. There is also commentary by his family members, friends, instructors, and industry colleagues. The book also features a foreword by Alex Grey, an American visionary artist and longtime friend of Keenan, who has designed Tool’s album and stage art.
As for Maynard’s relationship with Sarah? The two have known each other for over 30 years as Maynard was best friends with her younger brother back in high school. He ended up asking her to write the biography one night at dinner as they were catching up.
If you know Maynard My initial reaction was total shock because were talking about a whole bunch of other things… It felt like everything I had ever done in my life had led to that moment. All the writing I had done. Everything I had learned about publishing. It just was like, okay, here we go.
The writing was so organic between them as they understood each other. The two were able to bond over the fact they both enjoyed storytelling and this interview gave further insight to that.
A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents Maynard James Keenan’s story as a metaphor for the reader’s own evolution and an encouragement to follow our dreams, hold fast to individual integrity, and work ceaselessly to fulfill our creative potential.
The following is an excerpt from UFO FAQ by David J. Hogan discussing Incubi and Succubi
Alien abduction inevitably encourages conjecture about extraterrestrial interest in human sexual behavior. Ordinary criminal abduction is an intimate crime: abductors manhandle their victims, deprive them of their liberty, and force them to submit to an unsympathetic agenda. Alien abduction heightens the intimacy factor, particularly insofar as the victim endures confinement to a small, peculiar area (a ship) and is at the mercy of “strange” captors with an interest in the design and functions of the human body.
In this, sexual study and abuse during alien abduction exists in the realm of the scarily fabulous, rather like those regularly reported outbreaks of shrinking and disappearing male genitals in Africa and Asia. Societies the world over preserve venerable tales of rapacious ghosts, goblins, and demons. But the awfulness of alien abduction is unimaginable to those that have avoided it. The shock forces some victims into mortified silence, but moves others to shout warnings. As tales of alien sexual terror spread, the numbers of reported incidents rise. Many among the general public scoff at such claims, and sometimes, even sympathetic sources have their fill of alien sex, and go for all-out sendup, as Fortean Times magazine did in May 1999, by devoting its cover to “ALIEN SEX: Probing Close Encounters of the Intimate Kind.” An illustrated sidebar discusses “Alien Voyeurs.” A call-out deck on one page reads “For a three year period[,] they stretched his penis each night.”
Abductees often report that sexual abuse happened while their minds were in an induced twilight state, or during sleep. A scenario in which a human intruder enters a bedroom through an unlocked window and ravages a sleeping victim is familiar enough, and justifiably distressing to contemplate, for it combines rape with “night terrors.” The Nightmare, a famed 1781 painting by John Henry Fuseli, conflates all of that into the mythic incubus that has (or is about to) sexually abuse a sleeping woman in her bedchamber. Fuseli’s blocky, humpbacked incubus is perched on the midsection of an unconscious young woman who epitomizes the Western feminine ideal of long limbs, golden hair, and creamy skin. (Le Cauchemar [The Nightmare], a marble sculpture completed by Eug.ne Thivier in 1894, brings the incubus/sleeping nude situation to unnerving dimensionality. And Reynold Brown’s poster art for a 1964 horror film, The Night Walker, directly references Fuseli.)
A similarly unwelcome sense of the sexually preoccupied “other” dominates numberless depictions of succubi, the female counterparts of incubi. Like an incubus the succubus dedicates herself to forced sexual intercourse. The victim is male, and he’s no more pleased about the violation than the victim of an incubus.
Whether incubus or succubus, these are creatures with frightening, distinctly nonhuman faces and bodies. Batlike wings are common accessories; likewise elongated ears, fangs, goats’ or rams’ horns, hooves instead of feet, and sometimes a tail. (Incubi/succubi images from the late 20th century and after are usually blends of Outsider Art and the pin-up aesthetic, with succubi in traditional girlie poses.) Whatever the gender of violator and victim, the incubus/succubus depictions are akin to scenarios of sexualized alien abduction. And whether mythic or UFO-based, the situations reflect the common fear of sleep, and the even more frightening phenomenon of sleep paralysis, by which the victim can neither awaken nor resist.
Rape is an unconscionable violation. In some quarters, this kind of alien behavior is explained in the blunt terms of breeding (either as experimentation or as part of a vast, concerted effort to create a human-alien hybrid race). To some other observers, though, the alien violations suggest some not-unreasonable questions.
Are sexually aggressive aliens plain criminals? Practical jokers? Imps of the perverse? Shape-shifters? (To clarify: just how does alien equipment adapt itself to human bodies?)
Might extraterrestrials have long ago inspired the incubus and succubus figures of folklore and dreams?
UFO FAQ is an all-inclusive guide to UFO lore – hard science and hoaxes, sightings and abductions, noted UFO proponents and skeptics, and sanctioned research and purported government cover-ups. Readers will meet cultists and explore worldwide UFO “hot spots.” They’ll learn about UFOs in World War II, the Cold War, and the age of terrorism. And they’ll zip along with UFOs in movies, comics, TV, and other popular media.
Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, sat down with Bonnie Wallace of Hollywood Parents Guide for the podcast Hometown to Hollywood. Shelly discussed the songwriting process, being an artist, todays music industry, and more. Listen to the podcast below.
Todays music industry is not what it once was and Shelly Peiken was able to dive deeper into that change and the future for upcoming songwriters. Early in the interview she defined what being a serial songwriter meant:
Somebody that’s just passionate and faithful to just getting up and writing a song everyday and then saying, ‘ok where can we pitch this.’
When it comes to her songwriting she stressed how organic it needed to feel. She wrote a song, ‘Rotten to the Core,’ for Disney Channel’s, Descendants. Bonnie’s daughter, Dove Cameron, starred in the film so there was a personal connection there. Shelly feels that she is a vessel and the connection that she has to her younger self which was the reason she began writing. Making money is always a plus, but it ultimately boils down for her to feel valuable and authentic.
When I wrote my book I thought, you know, it’s not me. It’s the industry and I’ve gotta change the way I’m navigating it and stay in touch with my joy.
What advice did she have for young songwriters? She urged them to be proactive. Find out how they can make a difference. There’s a problem within the industry as far as the streaming epidemic taking away from the compensation of artist and all those that come together to make the music. Young songwriters must be aware and act now to keep ensure the future of being a songwriter. Most importantly, they must continuously tap into their creativity and never be afraid to step outside their comfort zones.
Do everything. Experiment. Test the waters. Write with people who you’re not sure you’re gonna love working with. You might love. Just do everything.
This interview is full of gems that will inspire anyone of any age.
David J. Hogan, author of UFO FAQ, takes a look at a moment in UFO history from September 1964.
September daytime temperatures in Sacramento, California, average about 87 degrees, with nighttime lows of 58. Typical September rainfall there amounts to less than half an inch. In 1964, that splendid weather, plus the allure of the heavily wooded Cisco Grove campground inside nearby Tahoe National Forest, encouraged a local boy, 28-year-old Donald Shrum, and two friends to head out for a late-summer weekend of bow hunting.
Not long after becoming separated from his companions (a common-enough occurrence among hunters), Shrum witnessed a brightly illuminated 150-foot cylindrical UFO—and then spent the long night of September 4-5 treed by a pair of extraterrestrial humanoids. The 4- to 5-foot-tall creatures stared up at Shrum and shook the tree. Shrum hung on tight. When they tried to scale the trunk, Shrum retreated higher into the branches.
Perhaps anxious to get their hands on Shrum and then depart, the aliens brought out a burly, human-shaped robot—dully metallic, with a smooth, helmet-shaped head dominated by two orange glowing eyes and a hinged jaw. The thing had an intimidatingly expansive chest, broad shoulders, and large, articulated hands. Gusset joints at the robot’s shoulders, elbows, and knees allowed enough flexible mobility for some particularly vigorous shakes of the tree.
Hey, who’s hunting who here?
Shrum tightened his grip.
A second robot soon joined the first, and for the remainder of the night Shrum floated in and out of consciousness when vapor emitted from the robots’ mouths drifted up into the branches and knocked him senseless. Shrum was an experienced hunter who knew how to sleep in a tree without falling out, so despite the blackouts, he stayed put. During waking interludes, Shrum notched arrows and fired down at the robots, striking sparks but doing no apparent damage.
Shrum found a pocketful of coins, which he methodically threw at the visitors.
Then the young hunter remembered his matches. He began to peel off his clothes (even his cap), and set each article aflame, dropping them onto his tormentors. By the time he was done, Shrum wore nothing but his socks and underwear, and that 58 degrees began to feel a little chilly.
The vapor periodically came up into the branches, and Shrum continued to pass out and then revive. Finally, as dawn approached, Shrum awoke—hanging from the tree at an odd angle and held in place by his belt. But the belt was with my pants. Did the spacemen finally drag me out of the tree? And if they did, why put me back?
The Air Force has some ideas
In the tradition of many dramatic UFO/ET sightings reported since “flying saucers” became big news in 1947, Shrum’s account was his alone. Nobody but Donald witnessed the immense ship and its aggressive occupants. Disinclined to be laughed at, and fearful of losing his job at Aerojet Engineering, Shrum shared his story with his hunting companions but chose his other confidantes carefully.
Well, check that. He did say something about his adventure to his mother-in-law, who was on the phone to nearby McClelland Air Force Base in a hot minute. Soon after, when two USAF investigators paid Shrum a visit, the young hunter stuck to his account. The Air Force men listened, and instead of making threats—which seems to happen more often in movies than in real life—they made a heroic attempt to convince Shrum that he hadn’t seen aliens and robots at all. No, one investigator explained, You ran into a Boy Scout troop doing a prank.
Shrum ran that through his mind for a long moment. Why would he have spent all night in a tree, lighting his clothes on fire, for a bunch of Boy Scouts?
Doubt must have been painted on Shrum’s face, because the Air Force men quickly tried another tack: It could have been Japanese tourists. We get a lot of them around here. Japanese tourists. They’re pretty curious, you know.
Well, sure, that could be it. The Japanese tourists discovered Shrum up the tree and gathered ’round for some picture-taking. Japanese tourists. In the woods. All night.
Because Shrum suggested no eagerness to spread his story around, the Air Force investigators stopped offering explanations, and wrote Shrum off as harmless. But they did take with them the two arrowheads that Shrum had bounced off the robots’ metallic hides.
The Air Force never returned the arrowheads.
Make mine Marvel
Neither Donald Shrum nor his friends ever tried to profit from his harrowing experience. There is no solid reason to doubt Shrum’s truthfulness. Still, there is this:
The March 1963 issue of Marvel’s Tales of Suspense comic book (#39) introduced a superhero named Iron Man. As conceived by writer-editor Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Don Heck, Iron Man wore a bulky, helmeted iron suit, dull gray in color with gusseted joints and large metallic hands. This so-called “Mark 1” suit—very like the ones described by Shrum—continued through Tales of Suspense #47, cover-dated November 1963 and on sale in late summer, just one year before Shrum’s ordeal.
Submitted here are the cover of ToS #39, and an anonymous artist’s rendering (with Spanish-language notations) of the robots described by Shrum. Could Marvel’s bit of pop culture ephemera have been deep within Shrum’s mind when he embarked on his hunting trip?
If anyone knows for sure, they’re not talking.
Led Zeppelin – who hasn’t heard of them, one of the legendary giants of the Hard Rock genre? Many stories, myths and legends have been told of the band’s history. Probably one of the most featured bands and most written about bands ever!
Music journalist and award-nominated author Marc Roberty sat down with Mark Dean of Spill Magazine to discuss his latest book, Led Zeppelin: Day by Day , along with his writing career.
What would make this book different from other Led Zeppelin books? Roberty discussed the balance he found in creating a book that not only reached fans that had never read a Led Zeppelin book, but for the hard core fans as well. There was a lot of information released in previous books which would seem difficult to create new content, but he was able to add new information that had not been released in addition to correcting incorrect information.
The interview went on to discuss Roberty’s journey in writing this book and others.
My forte is more in the research,and finding stuff that people possibly have not known before. That is really what I enjoy doing. I have done a lot of research of music, films. I try and find old footage or old studio material that to all intents and purposes has disappeared. I try and track things down. That is probably my forte: really to try and get to the bottom of things. Follow the story through to its ending. Sometimes the search carries on. That I do find enjoyable.
Led Zeppelin: Day by Day includes details of all the concerts why band performed with known set lists in addition to reviews of significant hows throughout their career. Recording sessions for each album and session work by individual members are listed chronologically. There are also quotes from recording engineers and staff to give further insight into what it was like to be in the studio with the group.
Mark Roberty has written for the Guitarist, Rolling Stone, Financial Times, and others. In addition to his latest work about Led Zeppelin he has written several books about Eric Clapton along with co-authored the autobiography of Bobby Whitlock.
Learn more by reading the full interview here.
Chuck Gunderson, recently sat down with Publishers Weekly to discuss his limited-edition two-volume set, Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rocked America: The Historic Tours 1964-1966. The timing could not be more perfect with the release of Ron Howard’s, Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. Listen to the podcast by clicking the link below.
Chuck Gunderson is the country’s leading expert on the Beatles’ three North American tours. Over nearly three decades, he has amassed what is arguably the most comprehensive collection of American tour-related memorabilia and artifacts in the world.
Gunderson has taken the tour that changed the concert industry and created an amazing two-volume set. The Fab Four: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Greg Harrison, and Ringo Starr, began their journey in the United States in February 1964 after landing their first #1 hit, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand,’ on the Billboard Hot 100. After their successful and impressive performance on the Ed Sullivan Show with an estimated 73 million viewers, their careers catapulted to another level and the ‘British Invasion’ and ‘Beatlemania’ began.
Volume 1 of Some Fun Tonight! covers the beginning of their journey in 1964. There were 32 shows, 26 venues, 24 cities, and that was just in 33 days. The group garnered over $1 million, equivalent to $7.5 million in todays industry, which was unheard of at that time. Volume 2 continues their journey throughout 1965 and 1966 ending with their show at Candlestick Park.
There’s a chapter for each tour stop along with chapters for the supporting acts. The images included feature some unpublished, but there is plenty of memorabilia from each city including: tickets, programs, handbills, posters, newspaper ads, contracts, and documents. Gunderson was sure not to shortchange any fans by expanding the book to two volumes instead of one to pack in all the information he had collected over the years.
Some Fun Tonight! captures the heart of the tour with over 800 images over the course of 600 plus pages at the retail value of $160. Gunderson leaves nothing out within this 13 pound box set with accompanying slipcase. Fans young and old will surely be entertained for years to come.
Bob Carlin, author of Banjo An Illustrated History, was on WLRN Radio where he spoke with Michael Stock. He spoke about how the book came to be, his fascination with the banjo, and lots more! Click on the link below to hear the entire interview and let us know what you think!
The banjo is emblematic of American country music, and it is at the core of other important musical movements, including jazz and ragtime. The instrument has been adopted by many cultures and has been ingrained into many musical traditions, from Mento music in the Caribbean and dance music in Ireland. Virtuosos such as Béla Fleck have played Bach, African music, and Christmas tunes on the five-string banjo, and the instrument has had a resurgence in pop music with such acts a Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers.
In Banjo: An Illustrated History (June 2016, Backbeat Books, $35), author, broadcaster, and acclaimed banjoist Bob Carlin offers the first comprehensive, illustrated history of the banjo in its many forms. He traces the story of the instrument from its roots in West Africa to its birth in the Americas, through its coming of age in the Industrial Revolution and beyond.
Banjo: An Illustrated History profiles the most important players and spotlights key luthiers and manufacturers and features 100 “milestone instruments” with in-depth coverage, including model details and beautiful photos. It offers historical context surrounding the banjo through the ages, from its place in Victorian parlors and speakeasies through its role in the folk boom of the 1950s and 1960s to its place in the hands of songwriter John Hartford and comedian Steve Martin.
Folk, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock – the banjo has played an important part in all of these genres. Lavishly illustrated, and thoughtfully written Banjo: An Illustrated History is a must-have for lovers of fretted instruments, aficionados of roots music, and music history buffs.
Author of Led Zeppelin Day by Day, Marc Roberty, asked the big question on every Led Zeppelin fans mind…”Will Led Zeppelin ever reunite?” Visit our performing arts community, backwing.com to get the low down on whether they will ever get back together. Read a preview of the article below!
Will the founding fathers of modern rock ever give their fans the farewell tour now almost four decades overdue? A Led Zep historian considers the prospect.
The mighty Led Zeppelin existed for twelve years between 1968 and 1980. The sudden death of drummer John Bonham effectively signalled the end of the band in their eyes. How could they possibly have carried on without their powerhouse drummer and dear friend?
Of course, this did not stop fans from hoping the band would reform with a new drummer. There has been the odd get–together for charitable appearances, such as Live Aid in 1985 and Atlantic Records 40th Anniversary in 1988. Although these shows were met with mass delirium from eager fans, in reality, both inevitably fell short on the performance side. (Then again, to be fair, this is not the band’s fault: multi-act events with short three- or four-song sets are never hugely successful from a creative perspective.)
By 1994, Robert Plant had distanced himself from the whole “rock singer” tag. After being approached to perform an MTV Unplugged show, he felt uncomfortable flying the Led Zeppelin flag under his own name. A meeting took place between Robert and Jimmy Page where they talked about doing the show together. Much to his surprise, the Led Zeppelin baggage Robert had been carrying around for years had completely dissipated. The men found common ground and decided to do Unplugged together and see if anything came of it (much to the vexation of a miffed John Paul Jones, who was not invited—or even told—of the event!). They did not go out as Led Zeppelin, but rather as Page & Plant. Also, the MTV show was retitled Unledded due to the electric nature of some numbers. A live record and video from the show, which consisted of rearranged Led Zeppelin classics, were hugely successful. A new studio album and a few tours later, it was all over. When all the bad memories of Led Zeppelin playing huge arenas returned, Plant had enough. He told Page he was leaving, as he much preferred playing small clubs and reconnecting with his audience.
Read the article in its entirety HERE