This is such a beautiful book. But there are so many—hundreds, probably. Why another?
Well, you’ve just hit the nail on the head, right there: This is a beautiful book. As soon as you see it, you realize it’s not simply a book, and certainly not a book like any other. This is a collector’s item unlike any of the other books on Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee’s family and the publishers worked together to make sure of that. I’ve seen a few reviews of the book already and they all seem to agree that it’s not a book you simply read, it’s one you experience. And I can’t take any credit for that. I just wrote the words.
But I think the words do important work, too: They set out some key facts about Bruce Lee’s life and significance, rather than repeating myths and legends.
It’s subtitled “The Official Story.” What makes it “official”?
It’s official in that it was commissioned and overseen by the guardians of Bruce Lee’s legacy–his own family. In other words, this is not just a storybook about Bruce Lee. It’s the story of Bruce Lee. True, there are others, but none that work in quite the same way as this book–narrative plus unseen photos and facsimiles of memorabilia, etc., which make it a great experience.
How did it come about?
I believe Shannon Lee wanted to see a book like this. I was honored to be asked. I’d like to think she asked me because she likes my other writing on Bruce Lee, but that’s really for an academic audience, so I suspect she suggested me because she saw me in Pete McCormack’s excellent recent documentary about Bruce Lee, I Am Bruce Lee. Anyway, I know most of the facts and fictions about Bruce Lee, and the publishers were given access to the Lee family archives of photos and memorabilia.
Keep reading this interview at Examiner.com!
Bruce Lee is remembered not only as the martial artist who inspired people to better themselves physically and mentally but also as an actor, a writer, a director, a teacher, and a philosopher. Authorized by Bruce Lee Enterprises, The Treasures of Bruce Lee tells this unique man’s story – his aspirations, his family life, his passion for martial arts – as never before, through painstaking research, never-before-seen memorabilia, and rare, unpublished photographs. It includes 5 posters and 15 removable facsimile items from the Bruce Lee Archives, including handwritten poems, membership cards, and Lee’s illustrations and notes on all aspects of martial arts.
The following is an excerpt of an interview onMilwaukee.com did with John Kruth, author of Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison (Backbeat Books). Visit onMilwaukee.com to read the full interview.
Let’s talk some more about Orbison. Had anyone written a book about him before? If not, that seems almost hard to believe. If so, what did you aim to do differently?
This is the first time I’ve written a book about someone that has already had a book, in this case two, previously written about them. I don’t want to be a jerk but the first one I read was so poorly written that it actually inspired me to take up the mantle and set things right for the man. The second book, “Dark Star,” by Ellis Amburn is quite good. He’s a fine historian who wrote for Newsweek. But I felt he didn’t delve into the music the way I would have liked, which left an opening for me. Being a songwriter and a singer – and I say that in all humility in the same breath as mentioning Roy Orbison, I feel I have an unusual gift/ability to get to the core of what it’s all about, compared to someone who hasn’t had the experience of performing, arranging and living the music.
Did you learn anything that came as a surprise to you?
Surprises? How great and how lame some of the MGM tracks were. Check out the album “Hank Williams The Roy Orbison Way.” I’d never heard it before, and most of the musicians I interviewed didn’t even recall recording it. It’s wild. It sounds like a Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra production. They took Hank to Vegas with that one. But the story of his life fascinated me, the way he was able to overcome incredible tragedies and managed to continue creating in spite of the devastating cards that fate dealt him. Ultimately, Roy was a sonic alchemist who turned pain into beauty.
How much time did you spend writing the book?
Keep reading this interview on onMilwaukee.com!
Orbison’s singing has inspired everyone who has heard it, from Springsteen to k. d. lang, and laid the very foundation for goth. While fascinating from a pop culture standpoint, it is Orbison’s life’s journey that makes a great story that has yet to be told to its fullest. Rhapsody in Black doesn’t shy away from or trivialize the personal pain, alienation, and tragic events that shaped Orbison’s singular personality and music. Roy Orbison wasn’t merely a singer but a sonic alchemist who, in the end, transformed unfathomable human misery into transcendent melody and platinum records. Rhapsody in Black: The Life and Music of Roy Orbison contains new interviews with over 20 people who worked closely with Orbison throughout his life.
In the introduction to the book you give a great account of how you first began to pursue the music of Hendrix. What inspired you to write the book?
Frankly I was asked by Robert Rodriguez the FAQ Series Editor if I was interested in possibly writing a book for Backbeat. He had seen a piece I wrote about The Clash at my old website and contacted me. At the time, I didn’t know he meant a book for his FAQ series and so – 9 being my favorite number – I sent him a list of 9 music related titles on subjects that I thought would make good books and that I could write better than anybody.
I can’t remember all of them but I do remember suggesting The Clash in America, which would solely focus on The Clash’s concerts and recording sessions in America as well as their cultural impact on the country they had been bored with, and Jimi Hendrix: The Posthumous Years. I believe that as timeless as the three Jimi Hendrix Experience studio albums are, that it his posthumous recordings that have really contributed to his enduring fame. We had some back and forth discussions and that resulted in me writing Jimi Hendrix FAQ: All There’s Left to Know about the Voodoo Child.
Was there anything that surprised you in your research?
I was dismayed by his neglected childhood, by how many of his tales were really tall, and how isolated he was at the time of his death. But wanting to stress the positive let me say that what was really a discovery was how truly talented the Band of Gypsys was. That’s Jimi’s all black trio that included Buddy Miles on drums and vocals and Jimi’s army buddy Billy Cox on bass and vocals. Their legacy rests almost entirely on four concerts played on two consecutive nights after a few weeks rehearsal. Now they had been playing together at recording sessions since May 21, 1969 – a few of which are on the new People, Hell and Angels collection – but their performances at Bill Graham’s Fillmore East still stand out.
For example, “Machine Gun” is one of Jimi’s Top Ten iconic songs and that comes from these concerts. And the contributions of Jimi’s fellow gypsys to that song are profound. Billy’s ominous bass line and Buddy’s rat-a-tat-tat drumming really contribute to the song’s mood. And the notable thing that most people don’t realize is they played “Machine Gun” at all four concerts and all four are worth hearing. The one that’s readily available on Band of Gypsys is even arguably not the best version. Others include snatches of “Star Spangled Banner” during Jimi’s solos and I think Jimi didn’t want to release those versions because then it would make “Machine Gun” an anti-Vietnam War song and not the anti-war song that he wanted it to be. (All four versions are available on 2 Nights at the Fillmore, a 6-CD collection.)
Keep reading this interview on Music Tomes!
A modest man but highly competitive musician, Hendrix set the stage for many of the most significant musical movements to emerge between 1970 and 1999, including heavy metal, fusion, glam rock, and rap. Voodoo bluesman, sonic producer, the lyricist that out-Dylaned Dylan: these are what snatch our attention 40 years after his death, as do his “aw, shucks” smile in photos and the raw sexuality of his concert performances. It’s hard to find the man under all the falsehoods told by friends, business associates, and even Jimi himself. Jimi Hendrix FAQ attempts to present the facts in a fast-moving, fan-friendly read.
Tom DeMichael is the author of James Bond FAQ, and today, we’re celebrating Daniel Craig’s birthday! Below is an excerpt of an interview with Tom on Out of the Past. Check out their website for the full interview.
Which are your least favorite Bond movies? Why?
As I mentioned in my book, I find the 1967 version of Casino Royale to be intolerable – but as I also noted, it’s not considered to be an “official” Bond film. Of the 23 Bond films produced by Eon Productions, my choice for least favorite Bond film would be a tossup between Moonraker and A View to A Kill. Moonraker, because I think Michael Lonsdale – despite his normally fine abilities as an actor – completely underplayed his role of Hugo Drax. Plus, the whole scene with Jaws and his newly-found girlfriend Dolly saving Bond and Holly Goodhead aboard a space shuttle makes me want to turn off the whole film at that point. A View to A Kill forces us to believe that Tanya Roberts is a geologist, villainous May Day is stronger than Oddjob – a character portrayed by a former Olympic weightlifter, and that Roger Moore – bless him – could still be a sexy and action-packed 007 at the age of 58. Both films suffered from a weak script and a general lack of creative direction and inspiration.
Which actor will play the next Bond?
Daniel Craig, who has brought to the screen much of the rough and cold demeanor that Ian Fleming’s original James Bond had, is contracted to star in the next two Bond films – known currently as Bond 24 and Bond 25. At 45 right now, Craig would be only near age 50 when that arrangement is completed. Seeing how Roger Moore lasted until age 58 and Sean Connery returned as Bond at age 53 in Never Say Never Again, it’s not unreasonable to think that Daniel Craig could re-up for another tour of duty as Bond toward the end of this decade.
So, considering that Craig is going nowhere in the foreseeable future, the gossip still rages as to who the “next” James Bond will be. Initial thoughts have tagged Robert Pattinson – from the Twilight movies – as a possible candidate, along with actors like Christian Bale and Guy Pearce. Considering the latter two would be 45 and 50 when Craig finishes his shift, they are unlikely. Henry Cavill, only 30, has also been mentioned as a possibility and actually tested for the role of Bond in 2006’s Casino Royale.
Despite their varied abilities, all six actors who have played Bond were relatively unknown, and certainly not A-list performers, when chosen for 007. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan had made their names in television series prior to taking the iconic role, and the rest came to the table with experience ranging from print model, stage performances, and secondary roles in feature films. It’s very likely that next James Bond will come from similar backgrounds.
What is the future of the franchise?
The James Bond film franchise is very unique in the history of cinema. It’s relatively unprecedented for a literary character to be brought to the Silver Screen managed by the same production team for fifty years. Certainly, you have Tarzan and Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan – like Bond, portrayed by different actors over the years – but none of those series were controlled in total by a single creative entity. The Broccoli family members – first Albert, with partner Harry Saltzman until he split in the mid-70s, then stepson Michael G. Wilson and soon after daughter Barbara Broccoli – have maintained the roles of producer since 1962. Today, Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli continue to successfully push the buttons for the franchise. Waiting in the wings is Wilson’s son, Gregg, who has been involved with the Bond films since The World Is Not Enough and was most recently an associate producer on Skyfall. It’s generally assumed that he will take over the executive reins at some point in the future. But Michael Wilson is in his early 70s and Barbara Broccoli is only in her early 50s, so they have many years left before turning over the keys to the 007 offices to Gregg.
In terms of the films themselves, you need only to look at the fact that the most recent Bond film, Skyfall, brought in more than $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales. That doesn’t include Blu-Ray, DVD, on-demand, and all the merchandising. I don’t think there’s any doubt that James Bond will return – for many, many years to come.
Keep reading this interview on Out of the Past!
James Bond FAQ is filled with biographies, synopses, production stories, and images and illustrations seldom seen in print, leaving little else to be said about the world’s favorite secret agent. This book includes a foreword by Eunice Gayson.
Robert Rodriguez is the author of Revolver: How the Beatles Reimagined Rock’n’Roll. He is also the series editor of the FAQ series, as well as the author of the two Fab Four FAQ books. The following is an excerpt of an interview with Music Tomes. Please visit their website for the full interview.
You’ve written extensively on the Beatles. What about the group first captivated you?
I had older brothers who were record buyers back when the Beatles were still recording; I was a little young for all of that. But I remember vividly the Capitol swirl and Apple labels – they stood out among the 45s, in my mind at least.
What grabbed me about the Beatles was their sound, and that didn’t click with me until I first heard the Red and the Blue albums – the 1962-1966and 1967-1970 compilations. That was mind blowing – having the scope of their career laid out on four discs; everything from “She Loves You” to “Strawberry Fields Forever” and beyond. To me, it was like every sound imaginable had been done – and by the same four guys! So those packages were the real gateway for me. Thereafter, catching A Hard Day’s Night and Help! on TV sealed the deal – these guys weren’t just great musicians, but compelling, funny personalities, too.
You’ve also written two books in the FAQ series on the Beatles. With so much written about the band, what is the ultimate goal of these books?
I imagined that, like myself, there were a lot of fans that were hungry for a single volume work that was neither a deeply scholarly analysis, nor an colorful series of superficial anecdotes. Or worse yet, trivia. Something that, furthermore, contextualized the Beatles’ achievements by placing them into the times in which they created.
At the same time, I thought it be great if somebody could deconstruct their story, so that you could zero in on exactly what aspect or another that you wanted to learn about. So the first FAQ was created as a way to present a ton of information broken down by facet, that invited readers to pick up the book at any point and begin reading where there interests lie, and let the history take them where they wanted to go.
No one else did it, so I stepped up!
The Beatles are a well-covered subject, but creating a narrative that got to the good stuff with immediacy was the goal. It didn’t feel like anyone had really covered their solo years as an integrated entity, hence 2.0. In a way, covering such a massive amount of ground with the two FAQs was easier to accomplish, with all the quantifiable milestones along the way, than Revolver, which was a narrowly focused topic.
But I wanted to challenge myself as a writer and researcher, and hopefully, bring something new to the table. So while the FAQs were straightforward reporting with some opinion thrown in, Revolverwas intended as a conversation starter, something to get people to re-examine their long-held opinions and see the Beatles’ work with fresh eyes.
Can you give us a sneak peek at some of the upcoming titles in the series?
We have a pretty well-developed “wish list” of titles that we are tracking down just the right writers for. But ones that are signed and sealed include The Twilight Zone, Star Wars, Film Noir and Doctor Who, on the TV/film side of things. With music, we have upcoming titles on The Who, Miles Davis, Jimmy Buffett and Hendrix.
Keep reading this interview on Music Tomes.
The making of Revolver – hunkered down in Abbey Road with George Martin – is in itself a great Beatles story, but would be nothing if the results weren’t so impactful. More than evenSgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds, Revolver fed directly into the rock ‘n’ roll zeitgeist, and its influence could be heard everywhere: from the psychedelic San Francisco sound (Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead); to the first wave of post-blues hard rock (Sabbath, Zeppelin); through movie soundtracks and pretty much everything that followed it – including every generation of guitar-based pop music and even heavy metal. More than any record before or after, Revolverwas the game-changer, and this is, finally, the detailed telling of its storied recording and enormous impact.
So I know that there are a lot of books and online guides to arranging a cappella, so why did you decide to write the “definitive” guide?
Well, a lot of people have said a few things here and there, but I don’t feel as though there’s a book that’s been written that really fully explains the process, the thinking, the style of contemporary a cappella. And there was no way to do this in a small way. I have written blogs in the past twenty years on casa.org [the website for the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America], so I’ve put lots and lots of information out there, but that’s different from it being in one place. I have for many years taught basic arranging, intermediate and advanced arranging to different people. But working with a classroom of people at SoJam [an a cappella festival] or at a particular event is different from giving them something that people anywhere around the world – because it’s going to be available for digital download – would be able to use. So, for ten years, this has been a dream of mine. Ten actual years of compiling some blog entries and putting things in order, and the chapters increased.
I think around the beginning of the year when Dylan Bell posted somewhere on casa.org, “Oh, I’m going to be writing an arranging book and I’m just getting started,” I dropped him an email immediately, and I was like, “Dude, I’m well into this book, but I’m so busy with “Pitch Perfect” and “The Sing-Off” or whatever, and I can’t get this done! Would you want to partner?” And he said, “I don’t know. Let me see what you’ve written.” So I sent him 200 pages, and he was like, “Whoa! Okay! I see that you’ve got a lot written here.” But of course, he’s very experienced and very talented and has a lot to add as well. So he said, “Let me go through your stuff, slowly and methodically, and expand upon it and see if we can get one big master work going.”So it was this back and forth process. The two of us were never in a room at the same time. The two of us were probably never in the same state at the same time, possibly never in the same country at the same time. That’s modern publishing for you.
The book is obviously aimed at current or future a cappella arrangers. But do you think that a cappella enthusiasts or non-arrangers would benefit from reading the book as well?
I would hope that non-arrangers would read it and become arrangers. That’s part of what I want to do. For many years in the early days, I was one of the only people doing custom contemporary a cappella arranging, possibly the only person or the only person to say that. But if people wanted arrangements, they called me and that was that. And I had other people working for me, the staff, and we were just this arranging house. Now, there have got to be thousands of people arranging in the contemporary a cappella style. I mean, if you look at there being over a thousand college a cappella groups and each group has one person on average arranging, that’s a thousand people. And I like it better that way. I want everybody to make music, I want people to sing, I want the world to, you know, spread harmony through harmony. So my hope is that the book will get more people arranging, and as a result, more people will sing.
What kinds of feedback have you gotten from readers in the a cappella community, or readers just in general?
I have heard nothing but excitement and positive feedback. In fact, I’ve been kind of amazed that so many people in so many places have been purchasing it. I would say the number one feedback that I’ve heard from anyone is, “When can I get this book? Why is it taking so long to get to me?” The most common email I respond to is that! So that makes me happy. That’s a good problem to have.
A Cappella Arranging is a good textbook – and a “good read” – for every vocal arranger, whether amateur or professional; every vocal music classroom, and any professional recording studio.
Andrew Gerle is the author of The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition. Below is a Q&A that was done with stagenotes.net.
What first sparked your interest in Broadway and Theatre?
I’ve been in love with theater since I was a small child, doing plays and musicals in school growing up, then joining a children’s theater company in Tallahassee. I love music (grew up as a classical pianist) and I love stories, so it’s a perfect combination.
What was your favorite subject in High School and why?
I was a typical music/math geek, so I really liked math classes. It was like doing puzzles. Organic chemistry was also fun, similar puzzle-type activity.
When did you decide to write The Enraged Accompanist’s Guide to the Perfect Audition and why?
I had been toying with the idea for several years before I sat down to write it a few summers ago. I had played so many auditions and had begun to see patterns in the actors that were auditioning, simple pointers that clearly they just weren’t being taught. I love actors, and it frustrated me to see good ones giving bad auditions when I knew they could be doing better and feeling better about the process.
Other than auditioning, what lessons can be taken away from the book for subjects like Public Speaking, Music, Psychology, Social Studies, etc.?
I’ve had a lot of people read the book and see parallels in other disciplines. What I stress is not only the nuts-and-bolts specifics of audition technique for musical theater, but even more importantly, the mindset that leads to a successful audition, and a successful career. When you put too much pressure on a single audition (or speech, or performance, or athletic event), it can really get in your way. The most successful auditions are ones where the actor is simply showing themselves off to their best ability, doing what they do best, not trying to be something they’re not, not trying to please people they’ve never met. Confidence is seductive and leads to a better performance, no matter what the field.
Keep reading this interview on stagenotes.net.
“I am your accompanist. You do not know me. I am the guy who sits behind the upright in the unflattering fluorescent light of the dance studio, a bottle of water on the floor, a half-eaten Power Bar on the bench, and your audition in my hands.”
Award-winning New York theatre composer and pianist Andrew Gerle pulls no punches in this irreverent, fly-on-the-wall guide to everything you’ve never been taught about auditioning for musical theatre. From the unique perspective of the pianist’s bench, he demystifies the audition process, from how to put together your book and speak to an accompanist to the healthiest and savviest ways to approach the audition marketplace and your career. By better understanding the dynamics of professional auditions, you will learn to present yourself in the strongest, most castable way while remaining true to your own special voice – the one that, in the end, will get you the job.