About the Author
What's New

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."

Out recently: My 2009 book, White 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.

White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day includes not only basic nuts-and-bolts 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.

White 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 Globator).

Also, I wrote the 13,000-word liner notes to the six-CD super-deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico, released in October 2012.

Rock history courses: On Saturday afternoons from 1pm-3:30pm from October 11-November 15 (no class November 8), I'm teaching a non-credit five-week course on "The Golden Age of San Francisco Bay Area Rock: The Summer of Love" (the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, for the most part) for City College of San Francisco's continuing education program. Meeting in San Francisco in Room 106 in Building B of Fort Mason, the roots and heyday of the San Francisco Sound will be explored in depth via both common and rare audiovisual material by greats like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Santana. It will also investigate how the Bay Area's unique counterculture, promoters such as Bill Graham, and venues like the Fillmore created a scene in which experimental and idiosyncratic rock music could flower. The course will also detail its roots in folk-rock; the integration of jazz, ethnic, blues, and avant-garde influences into psychedelic rock; and how San Francisco rock continued to evolve in the 1970s. Check the website of the City College of San Francisco Continuing Education Department for information on registration; click on "Fall 2014 Classes," then "Music" in the left-hand column.

From October 28 to December 16 (no class on November 11), 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 from 7pm-9pm 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 #85064) through the College of Marin Community Education website.

Events: To mark the publication of the expanded ebook version of my book Urban Spacemen & Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators & Eccentric Visionaries of '60s Rock, I’m presenting clips of a dozen or so of the artists featured in the book at Oddball Films at 275 Capp Street in San Francisco at 8pm on Thursday, October 23. This will include footage of Arthur Brown, the Pretty Things, the Bonzo Dog Band; the Beau Brummels; Bobby Fuller; Thee Midniters; Tim Buckley, Richard & Mimi Fariña, and others. There’s a $10 suggested donation. RSVP to RSVP@oddballfilm.com or (415) 558-8117; more info on the Oddball Films website.

On Wednesday, December 10 from 6:30pm-8:30pm, I'll be showing rare vintage clips of rock performers, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, from non-English-speaking countries at the
Park Branch of the San Francisco Library on 1833 Page Street. Included will be artists from France (Francoise Hardy, France Gall), Japan (Shonen Knife), Holland (Shocking Blue, Focus, Golden Earring), Denmark (Savage Rose), Sweden (Tages), Germany (the Lords, Can), Uruguay (Los Shakers, Los Mockers), Greece (Aphrodite's Child), and other countries. Admission is free.

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.

Flashback magazine: I have numerous articles and reviews in the first three 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.

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 interviewed 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 Richardson's review "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay Area's top weekly paper. Also, there is a transcript of my July 17, 2002 interview on KPFA on "Dead to the World" in Berkeley, CA discussing Turn! Turn! Turn! on the website of the show's host, David Gans.

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 2003 lists: Eight Miles High was chosen as #9 on MOJO magazine's list of the Top Ten books of 2003.

On the best of 2004 lists: Eight Miles High was chosen as #3 on Record Collector magazine's 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 Ugly Things: Issue #31 (Spring 2011) and Issue #32 (Fall/Winter 2011) of the (mostly) 1960s rock-centered magazine Ugly Things 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.

Also in Ugly Things, 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.

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 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.

In MOJO: The Hendrix & the Summer of Love edition of the MOJO Classic series, published in the summer of 2007, has my articles on Big Brother & the Holding Company and George Harrison's visit to Haight-Ashbury in the summer of 1967. The Greatest Album Covers of All Time edition of the MOJO Classic series, published in spring 2007, has my article on psychedelic LP sleeves. Also, the January 2005 issue of MOJO has my lengthy article on Donovan, and the July 2004 issue of MOJO has my lengthy article on the 1972 Wattstax Festival, the largest American soul concert ever staged.

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 independent booksellers and chain bookstores throughout North America, as well as many such outlets overseas. To order on-line via amazon.com, click on the appropriate book cover below.


The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film

Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia

The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film

Unknown Legends of Rock'n'RollTurn! Turn! Turn!Eight Miles HighUrban Spacemen & Wayfaring StrangersMusic USA

Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience

 

contents copyright Richie Unterberger , 2000-2010
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