ROUGH MIX by Jimmy Bowen


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 Bowen, a man who made millions of dollars, and seemingly as many enemies, with his ruthless management style (Jerry Lee Lewis purportedly wanted to kill him), describes his life in this candid, if self-aggrandizing, autobiography. Bowen is best known for his role in facilitating the recent resurgence of country music. He started his career as a bass player but quickly found greater success as a producer, working with Frank Sinatra and his ``Rat Pack.'' He displayed what was to become his signature manic drive when he created a hit for Sinatra out of ``Strangers in the Night,'' a song that had already been recorded by another singer and was about to land in stores. Bowen recorded, pressed, and delivered Sinatra's version within a nerve-wracking 24 hours, beat out the competition, and gave Sinatra's career a major mid-1960s boost. Ambition (and a perpetual yearning for new challenges) drove Bowen from one record label to another. He was almost always successful, sometimes spectacularly so. He managed six Nashville divisions--including those of Warner and MCA--in just over a decade. Whenever he took over a label, he would fire and replace much of the staff, update recording techniques (he was an early proponent of digital recording technology), and encourage artists to take responsibility for the direction and production of their music. The book provides wonderful flashes of music history throughout, including Bowen's shrewd assessments of the sprawling, frantic music business and of major rock and country singers. Country music fans will also find interest in the measured jabs aimed at Bowen's business nemesis, Garth Brooks, one of country's biggest stars. Though an unauthorized biography might be more revealing, Bowen is honest enough with his audience to scare: It's like watching a Great White from inside a shark cage--readers will be fascinated, but happy they aren't closer. (8 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 5th, 1997
ISBN: 0-684-80764-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997


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