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A sometimes-gritty, sometimes-charming memoir that pays tribute to the American recording industry.

A memoir detailing the 1966 founding of Sire Records and the author’s journey through six decades in the music industry discovering talent like the Talking Heads, the Ramones, Madonna, and many others.

Of all the great music men who emerged from the 1960s record industry—from the Ertegun brothers of Atlantic Records to Warner’s Mo Ostin, Morris Levy, Jerry Wexler, and Berry Gordy—Stein has one of the most nuanced stories. As the author explains, from his late teens, he knew music was his destiny: “I’d lie on my bed, studying the small print on the sleeves: King, Apollo, Mercury, Aladdin, Excelsior, Atlantic, Miracle, Sun, Chess, Vee-Jay, Modern…all these castles and flags from across the land.” After a couple of years working at Billboard magazine, learning the charts and grooming himself as a music journalist, Stein landed with Syd Nathan, the recording legend and founder of King Records, who showed him the “shellac in his veins.” Why merely write about music when you can be making music history—and real money? Convinced, Stein packed it up and did two summer internships with Nathan in Cincinnati, where he learned every function of the King empire. Within years, the author had earned lots of money and enough experience to co-found his own label, Sire Records. With Sire, he spent the next couple of decades signing major acts—e.g., Madonna, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen—and became a pioneer of the new wave, punk, and post-punk genres along the way. Intertwined with behind-the-scenes tales of mayhem and craziness of the 1970s and ’80s, Stein weaves down-to-earth storytelling about his Jewish upbringing in 1950s Brooklyn and his childhood fascination with Coney Island and how it stoked his young imagination, leading to his future life in music.

A sometimes-gritty, sometimes-charming memoir that pays tribute to the American recording industry.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-08101-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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