WOULDN'T IT BE NICE

MY OWN STORY

An express train to hell and back with the leader of the Beach Boys. Wilson begins with his darkest days, in November 1982. Then, weighing over 340 pounds, smoking six packs of cigarettes and snorting five grams of coke a day, failing to bathe for weeks at a time, ``I stank. I was dirty...I was insane.'' How did the founder of ``America's band'' reach this bottom? According to the equally frank life-review that follows, father Murry Wilson, a would-be but talentless composer, had a lot to do with it, taking out his frustrations on his sensitive son (born in 1942) through mind- twisting beatings and ridicule. And then there were the drugs and the relentless pressure to produce hit tunes; by the late 60's, Wilson, wealthy and renowned for such songs as ``Good Vibrations'' and ``I Get Around,'' was drifting into a paranoid schizophrenia that would envelop him for 15 years. Salvation finally came in the person of Eugene Landy, an unorthodox psychologist who took Wilson by the hand in 1983 and turned his life around through a rigorous program of diet, exercise, and therapy. Wilson devotes nearly half of his text to his resurrection, and it's an inspiring story (although recent moves by the other Beach Boys to sever him from Landy—for reasons Wilson ascribes to greed and jealousy—find the self-admittedly ``brain-damaged'' author unsure about his mental future). Most readers, though, will find of even greater interest Wilson's detailing of his early encounters with the Beatles, Elvis, and other rock luminaries; of his stormy relationship with the other Beach Boys; of his now-dead brother Dennis's ties to Charlie Manson; and, in a recurrent motif that illuminates his troubled tale, of how he goes about composing his exquisite music. A bold and genuinely affecting account by a founding father of rock 'n' roll: a must for popular-music fans. (Fifty-plus b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-018313-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1991

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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