A key figure in rhythm and blues looks back on her turbulent past with the help of film journalist Yule (The Man Who ``Framed'' the Beatles, 1994, etc.). Ruth Brown, born in 1928, was the oldest of seven kids, raised in Portsmouth, Va., by her mother, a domestic, and her father, a day laborer. From childhood she harbored dreams of being a professional singer, dreams that her religious but hard-drinking father adamantly opposed. In adolescence, Brown managed to begin a singing career on the sly, even sneaking off to New York, where she won the talent contest at the Apollo Theater's legendary amateur night. But until she met Blanche Calloway (Cab's sister and an ex-bandleader in her own right), who gave her some polish and poise, her career was going nowhere. Calloway hooked her up with Atlantic Records, then a nascent firm specializing in ``race'' records. Atlantic would become known over the next several years as the ``House that Ruth Brown built,'' as she landed one hit R&B number after another. In the meanwhile, she suffered from a succession of faithless husbands, the aftereffects of a car accident that broke both her legs in several places, and finally, a classical '50s suburban marriage that brought her career to a halt for several years. Much of the second half of the book is taken up with her lengthy battle with Atlantic to get a fair share of the money she had helped the company earn in the 1950s, counterposed with her comeback in the 1980s, which was climaxed by a Tony Award for her role in the Broadway show Black and Blue. Brown's ultimately successful battle to win monetary justice for herself and other aging R&B stars and her startling recollections of traveling throught the segregated South lift this above the usual run of show-biz bios. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 1996

ISBN: 1-55611-486-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995

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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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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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