Thoroughly engaging and delightfully candid autobiography by a popular southern disk jockey, Grand Old Opry emcee, and host of the cable-TV talk-show Nashville Now. Beginning with his childhood in the dirt South, Emery makes it clear that he is telling about his life rather than serving up a ``famous-entertainers-I-know-intimately'' salute. Raised on his grandparents' 20-acre farm (complete with ``running'' cold water from a pump on the sink) outside of McEwen, Tenn. (pop. 635), Emery—with the very capable assistance of Tom Carter—tells of his childhood entrancement with radio. Ordering picture books of the stars who sang on Grand Old Opry, he sat on the floor studying them as the stars performed over the airwaves. At 19, he landed his first job as a radio announcer, at WTPR, a ``thousand- watt `daytimer' '' in Paris, Tenn. Although he realized he was ``about as important as wall paper,'' Emery enthusiastically played and replayed the station's single 78-rpm copy of 1951's hottest record—``Hey Good Lookin','' by Hank Williams. Emery chooses this juncture to note: ``I wanted to be a broadcaster simply because I wanted to be somebody.'' (His current radio show is aired on 440 stations.) The second half of the book is filled with profiles—done by way of anecdotes and stories—of people Emery has known in the country-music business. He is an insider, and his unvarnished takes on, among others, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Keith Whitley (four months before his fatal overdose at age 33) are fresh and interesting. Emery's chapter on Merle Haggard—``the only singer- songwriter in the history of country music whose skills arguably surpass Hank Williams's''—is worth the price of the book. A fine outing for students of American lives and lovers of country music alike.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-535481-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1991

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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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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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