Out now: My latest book, Won't Get Fooled
Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia, details the
Who's amazing and peculiar journey in the years during which they
struggled to follow up Tommy with
a yet bigger and better rock opera. One of those projects, Lifehouse, was never completed,
though many of its songs formed the bulk of their 1971 album Who's Next. The other, Quadrophenia, was as down-to-earth
as the multimedia Lifehouse was
futuristic; issued as a double album in 1973, it eventually became
esteemed as one of the Who's finest achievements, despite unavoidable
initial unfavorable comparisons to Tommy.
Drawing on material from several dozen interviews and mountains of rare
archival coverage and recordings, it's the definitive account of this
fascinating period in the Who's career, which saw both some of their
greatest triumphs and, in Lifehouse,
rock's most spectacular failure. Notes MOJO's four-star review of the
book, "Unterberger digs deep and deeper still through obscure press
cuttings and his own interviews with engineers, producers and fans to
make sense of it all. He does a grand job."
Light/White Heat: The
Velvet Underground Day-By-Day (now available on Jawbone
Press), is by far the most comprehensive book on the Velvet Underground
ever published. The 368-page volume details the group's recording
sessions, record releases, concerts, press reviews, and other major
events shaping their career with both thorough detail and critical
insight. Drawing on about 100 interviews and exhaustive research
through documents and recordings rarely or never accessed, it unearths
stories that have seldom been told, and eyewitness accounts that have
seldom seen print, from figures ranging from band members to managers,
producers, record executives, journalists, concert promoters, and fans.
The July 2009 issue of MOJO magazine
hails it as "an impressive means to reflect on the conundrum of what
could be the ultimate cult band...detailed and anecdote-packed"; Uncut magazine chose it as #4 in
its list of the ten best music books of 2009.
Underground Day-By-Day includes not only basic
facts, but also many behind-the-scenes stories as to how their songs
were written and recorded; how their strikingly original stage shows
were devised; how the band were perceived by reviewers at the time of
their 1965-70 heyday, not just in retrospect; and how the group as a
whole underwent a most improbable, incessantly unpredictable evolution
from the most avant-garde of bohemian origins into a highly accessible,
yet still boldly creative, rock band by the time Lou Reed left the
group he'd co-founded with John Cale in early 1965. Along
the way, many unreleased concert and studio
recordings are vividly described; many obscure and unlikely concerts
delineated; and many myths that have grown up around this most
legendary of all cult bands untangled and dissected.
Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day also
features more than 100 illustrations, including reproductions of rarely
or never seen photos, concert posters, letters, and other
assorted documents and memorabilia. It's the ultimate history of the
band that did more than any other to break down barriers between rock
music and the avant-garde, incorporating electronic innovations,
experimental instrumentation and improvisation, and lyrics detailing
the realities of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll with greater skill and
daring than anyone else. Also available in French as White
Light/White Heat: Le Velvet Underground Au Jour Le Jour (on
Le Mot Et Le Reste) and in Czech as White
Light/White Heat: Velvet Underground Den Po Dni (on Volvox
Also, I wrote the 13,000-word liner notes to
super-deluxe edition of The Velvet
Underground & Nico, released in October 2012.
Rock history courses: From November 1 to December 13, I'll be teaching a seven-week non-credit community education course on the British Invasion at the Kentfield, California campus of the College of Marin. Meeting on Tuesday nights (Thursday night, November 10 on election week) from 7:10pm-9:30pm during that time, it will cover British rock from 1963 to 1970 -- the British Invasion, led by the Beatles, that overtook first the UK music scene, then spread to the US and around the world. Over the next half-dozen or so years, its musical and cultural impact was enormous, as bands like the Rolling Stones, Kinks, Who, Animals, Yardbirds, Them with Van Morrison, Cream, Bee Gees, Traffic, and Led Zeppelin changed the landscape of popular music and youth culture. Using rare video clips and recordings, the course will document the astonishingly rapid transformation of British rock, from Merseybeat and mod to psychedelia, prog rock, and hard rock. Registration is available (for course #2298) through the College of Marin Community Education website.Events: On Wednesday, November 16 from 6:30pm-8:30pm, I'll show vintage clips of David Bowie, spanning the prime of his career, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s at the Park Branch of the San Francisco Library on 1833 Page Street. During this time Bowie evolved through a series of surprising styles, from the folk-rock/psychedelia of "Space Oddity" and his rise to glam superstardom in the Ziggy Stardust era to his exploration of blue-eyed soul and electronic rock. Admission is free.
On Wednesday, December 14 from 7pm-8:30pm at the Gershman Y at 401 South Broad Street in Philadelphia, I'll present Visions of the Velvet Underground, discussing the history of the band with rare audiovisual clips and photos. This is in association with the 50th anniversary of the Velvet Underground's first Philadelphia concerts, which took place in Philadelphia's YMHA Auditorium on December 10 and 11 in 1966. Admission is $10.
Blog: I've started a blog where I post about various topics, including vintage rock music, biking and hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area, socially responsible living, and baseball. Go to Folkrocks to check it out.
In Ugly Things: Issue
#42 (Summer 2016) of the
rock-centered magazine Ugly Things has my lengthy interview with original Yardbirds bassist
(and, through mid-1966, musical director) Paul Samwell-Smith. Issue #38
2014) has my lengthy
(16-page) interview with Kinks guitarist Dave Davies. The article also
includes an extensive sidebar of information about the Kinks' 1960s
career that I unearthed on my visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Library and Archives in spring 2014.
Also in Ugly Things, issue #31 (Spring 2011) and issue #32 (Fall/Winter 2011) have my mammoth (30,000-word) two-part interview with Billy Harrison, guitarist for the great mid-1960s band Them, Van Morrison's first group. Issue #25 has my huge (30-page) story on the Music Machine, one of the greatest garage-psychedelic groups of the 1960s, and the group that had more depth and quality to their original repertoire than perhaps any other '60s band who are known primarily for one hit single ("Talk Talk," in the Music Machine's case). The article is based around lengthy interviews with two original members (bassist Keith Olsen and guitarist Mark Landon) who have rarely spoken about their experiences in the group, as well as two members of the second Music Machine lineup (keyboardist Harry Garfield and guitarist Alan Wisdom) who have never before discussed their stint in the band.
Issue #23 (Summer 2005) has my similarly lengthy (20-page) story on the Belfast Gypsies. Including ex-members of Them, they were one of the finest overlooked bands of the British Invasion, their sole 1966 album produced by the legendary Kim Fowley. This is the first comprehensive history of this mysterious group ever to appear, the twisted stranger-than-fiction saga drawn from extensive interviews with Belfast Gypsies guitarist Ken McLeod, who consulted his original diaries from the mid-'60s to reconstruct the group's career. Excerpts from my interview with Kim Fowley about the Belfast Gypsies also appear in the article; for the full interview, click here.Flashback magazine: I have numerous articles and reviews in the first eight issues of the new rock history magazine Flashback, which is now out and available. My full-length articles are on the band Montage (a vehicle for chief Left Banke member Michael Brown after he left the group), the resurgence of vinyl in the reissue market, archiving rock magazines of the 1960s and 1970s, and the recent rock memoir boom. Also I did lengthy reviews of the John Fahey box set, the Kinks BBC box set, the Phil Ochs documentary DVD, the Graham Bond box set (with a sidebar interview with compiler/Bond friend/Cream lyricist Pete Brown), and the book dedicated to Syd Barrett's artwork, among other items, sometimes with interviews with the people involved. Ordering/availability information is on the magazine's website, www.flashbackmag.com.
In Record Collector: The April and May
2013 issues of the British monthly magazine Record
Collector have my two-part article on the most interesting
rare San Francisco Bay Area rock records of the 1960s. The September
2014 issue has my story on recently discovered 1969-1971 Bob Dylan
The March 2011 issue of Record Collector has my lengthy article on the recently discovered Tim Buckley demos, from late 1965 and mid-1966, that were issued on the bonus disc on Rhino Handmade's deluxe edition of his self-titled debut album. I interviewed Larry Beckett (frequent Buckley songwriting collaborator, and drummer on the 1965 demos), Jim Fielder (bassist on the 1965 demos), and Elektra Records president Jac Holzman for the piece.Also, the May 2010 issue of Record Collector has my story on The T.A.M.I. Show, the legendary 1964 rock concert film featuring James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Miracles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Chuck Berry, and others; I interviewed director Steve Binder for the article. The September 2007 issue has my feature on Fairport Convention's original woman singer, Judy Dyble, drawing from an extensive recent interview with her. The August 2005 issue has my 20-page article on the top 25 overlooked American folk-rock albums, with in-depth analysis of each LP and new first-hand interview material with some of the artists.
On the air: On Thursday, February 11, 2010, I was one of the guest experts speculating about what the Beatles would have sounded like if they had managed to stay together for one more album on WAMU (88.5 FM) in Washington, DC. The program's archived at wamu.org/programs/the_beatles_one_more_album.
A five-minute excerpt of my radio interview about The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film with Beatles expert Ken Michaels can be heard at KenMichaelsRadio.com.
On-line: I was
on-line, taking questions from both conference hosts and readers,
about Won't Get Fooled
Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia from June 23 to July 7 on The Inkwell, the on-line conference that's part of the WELL website. To
read the discussion, click on Richie
Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again."
For my other interviews about my books on the
Inkwell, click on Richie Unterberger, White
Light/White Heat (from May-June 2009); Richie
Unterberger, "The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" (from
November 2006); Richie
Unterberger: "Eight Miles High" (from September-October 2003); and Richie
Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (from September-October 2002).
Elsewhere, you can read Derk
review "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay
top weekly paper. Also, there is a transcript
of my July 17, 2002 interview on KPFA on "Dead to the World" in
CA discussing Turn! Turn! Turn! on the website of the show's
And, I did an interview for Shindig! magazine about White Light/White Heat: The Velvet
Underground Day-By-Day, and
about my work in general for Rock the Net!
On the best of 2004 lists: Eight
Miles High was chosen as #3 on Record Collector
list of the Top Ten books of 2004.
On the best
of 2007 lists: The Unreleased
Beatles: Music and Film won a 2007 Association for Recorded Sound
Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound
Research in the "Best Discography" division of the "Best Research in
Recorded Rock Music" category.
On the best
of 2009 lists: White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground
Day-By-Day was chosen as #4 on Uncut magazine's list of the Top
Ten music books of 2009.
In Oxford American: The 12th annual Oxford American Southern music issue, which came out in late 2010, has my article on Judy Henske & Jerry Yester's 1969 cult psychedelic album Farewell Aldebaran (an entirely different piece than my chapter on Henske and Yester in Unknown Legends of Rock'n'Roll).
Turn! Turn! Turn! influences Johnny Cash?: From the November 2004 MOJO cover story on Johnny Cash, where producer Rick Rubin discusses the last album Johnny Cash recorded, American V: A Hundred Highways:
"Rubin, meanwhile, had been discovering a new fascination with early '60s American folk music. 'I had just read the book Turn! Turn! Turn! [by MOJO's own Richie Unterberger] and I started getting very excited about a bunch of people like Tim Hardin, Joan Baez. I sent Johnny some of these songs. Whether he liked the song or not, it would always spark his memory and he'd say, "That made me think of this other song, and I like this one better." One example of that was the song "Four Strong Winds." Johnny said he remembered the version by Ian and Sylvia."
Author Sylvie Simmons goes on to write:
"I sat and watched Cash record 'Four Strong Winds' in his bedroom in Hendersonville -- a beautiful, vulnerable version. He also recorded Tom Paxton's 'Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound.'"
Book Buying Info:
All of my books are widely available at both
booksellers and chain bookstores throughout North America, as well as
such outlets overseas. To order on-line via amazon.com, click on the
book cover below.