BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS by Buddy Killen

BY THE SEAT OF MY PANTS

My Life in Country Music
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Country boy from dirt poverty makes millions as a Nashville publisher/producer/writer. Those hoping for another howitzer of a tell-all tale like Scott Faragher's Music City Babylon (1992) will be disappointed with Killen's soft-spoken approach. Born in 1932 in Florence, Alabama, Killen grows up in a one-room shack with seven siblings, all of whom have to spend their summers chopping cotton in order to survive. The sole family entertainment is singing and playing music together and, by age 19, the talented author is working out of Nashville, at first singing and writing and then touring on the road. At this point, the narrative descends into tedious descriptions of an interminable string of bean-eating nights of second-tier performers and forgotten hopefuls. But Killen's story picks up when he puts a $50 reel-to-reel tape recorder on his car seat and starts talent-scouting and publishing. When, 35 years later, he decides to sell his publishing company, Tree, CBS gives him $40 million for it and he remains CEO. Killen indulges in some gossip here and there in his text, but by today's standards, hardly sensational: e.g., that the group Exile took so many stimulants that they fired Killen as their manager; that country- star Joe Tex, with whom the author wrote four #1 hits, got started on drugs by a woman who gave him angel dust, and that he was found dead in his swimming pool only four years later (Killen's grief for his friend's early death seems genuine). Best for country-music buffs and scholars, particularly with its descriptions of the Nashville growth years in the 50's and 60's. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen)

Pub Date: June 21st, 1993
ISBN: 0-671-79540-6
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1993




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