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YOU ONLY ROCK ONCE by Jerry Blavat


My Life in Music

by Jerry Blavat

Pub Date: Aug. 23rd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7624-4215-7
Publisher: Running Press

A longtime disk jockey spins a stack of memories about rock, the mob and surviving the music business.

Blavat spent the ’60s crafting a fast-talking, larger-than-life radio persona that attracted hordes of teens to the record hops he hosted around Philadelphia. A sworn enemy of bubblegum and pop, he nicknamed himself the “Geator”—a portmanteau of “alligator” and “heater”—and assembled playlists stuffed with pugnacious rock ’n’ roll. (He once played the Beatles on air just to field angry phone calls, showing a friend how much he’d encouraged his fans to dislike them.) Experienced, successful and now apparently eager to boast a little, Blavat spends the early chapters of his debut memoir tracking his rise from hardscrabble Jewish-Italian stock and how music provided a way out. He became a star dancer on the American Bandstand, a local program before Dick Clark took it national; before he was out of his teens, he’d road-managed Danny and the Juniors and launched his DJ career. Fame got him plenty of attention, both in the music industry and with women—Blavat’s not shy about cataloging his sexual conquests. The author’s equally interested in paying homage to the A-listers he hung out with, and the book is larded with genial remembrances of Frank Sinatra, Joan Crawford and Sammy Davis Jr. In the ’80s and ’90s, Blavat’s acquaintances with mob types attracted the scrutiny of investigators; he was never charged with a crime, but he is compelled to clear his name regardless. That candor is admirable, but his narcissism, combined with his generally plodding prose style, saps much of the youthful energy of the early chapters.

Blavat has an excellent perspective on four decades of the music industry, though his remembrances too often drift into self-hagiography.