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Me, The Mob, And The Music - By Tommy James with Martin Fitzpatrick

Author: Tommy James with Martin Fitzpatrick
Publisher: Scribner
Review by Michael Sherer
Posted July 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

This compelling book tells the story of how Thomas Jackson, later to be renamed Tommy James, played locally in Niles, Michigan for years until a cover of an obscure song called Hanky Panky in ‘64 was cut. One of a few songs he and his group recorded in a local studio, it was to have huge consequences when two years later a radio DJ in Pittsburgh discovered it and began playing it very frequently. It received a rousing response from listeners and Tommy had a big regional hit on his hands.

Things snowballed from there, with Tommy taking on a manager who negotiated with several record company executives that were quite interested in signing Tommy and the band. While Tommy went overnight from languishing in small town Michigan to being able to mull over these tantalizing offers from several NYC record company honchos, he was suddenly informed that all of them but one was still interested, that being Morris Levy and his Roulette Records. It turns out that Levy was a ruthless and feared figure in the industry and had made it clear to all the other executives that Tommy was HIS artist and they had to back off. Not wanting to deal with Levy’s wrath, they did.


Stick It! - My Life of Sex, Drums, And Rock ‘N’ Roll, by Carmine Appice with Ian Gittins

Author: Carmine Appice
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Review by Michael Sherer
Posted July 25, 2016 at 9:21 pm

This page turning book, written by Carmine with the help of Ian Gittins, tells of the amazing, fifty year plus year journey of one of the most influential, innovative and well known rock drummers of all, and one who has seen and done everything that someone could dream of in living a proverbial rock star life.

Growing up in Borough Park, Brooklyn, a very Jewish and Italian area of NYC, Carmine hung with gangs as a teenager and indulged in some of their hoodlum activities. At least a couple of the other guys wound up going to jail or dying from overdosing. Or were snuffed out from Mafia related reasons upon getting involved with organized crime. Carmine decided that he wasn’t going to go in that doomed direction, and was determined to make it in music instead. After toiling in some other groups trying to make it he joined The Penguins, another local band, after being highly impressed with their musicianship. They changed their name to the much more interesting Vanilla Fudge when a female fan said after a concert that they sounded like a white soul band, like vanilla fudge. They also found an effective manager in Phil Basile, in good part because he was connected to the mob and owned a big and popular club in Long Island to have them be the house band for.


Living Like A Runaway: A Memoir

Author: Lita Ford
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Review by Laura Sorensen
Posted May 1, 2016 at 12:47 pm

A review of Lita Ford’s book “Living Like A Runaway.” Lita tells it straight from the heart, even when it doesn’t reflect well on her. She is not just a talented musician, she’s an icon, a queen, “The Queen of Heavy Metal” as some have said. Her story is one of courage, hope and inspiration. I highly recommend this book to any fan of rock and roll music.


Punks, Poets & Provocateurs: NYC Bad Boys, 1977 - 1982

Author: Marcia Resnick and Victor Bockris
Publisher: Insight Editions
Review by Michael Sherer
Posted February 15, 2016 at 3:32 pm

In 1977, Marcia Resnick, then 26, began photographing the downtown Manhattan cultural scene. Downtown was “where it was at” for a convergence of rock and roll, jazz, film, literature and art that in retrospect stands as as the counterculture’s last hurrah. And what a hurrah it was. Resnick reflects back on this era by musing “The people from the extraordinary New York milieu amongst whom I was living and working had no way of knowing that the years between 1977 and 1982 were enchanted, endangered, and unrepeatable.” It’s these years that the book covers.


All My Friends Are Rock Stars

Author: Theron Moore
Publisher: Mean Machine Press

Review by Jeff Muendel
Posted December 15, 2015 at 10:22 am

Book review of All My Friends Are Rock Stars focused on the local rock’n’roll scene during the late eighties and early nineties in the geographical triangle of Rockford, Illinois; Madison, Wisconsin; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


Terry O’Neill’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Album

Author: Terry O'Neill
Publisher: ACC Editions
Review by Michael Sherer
Posted April 16, 2015 at 4:53 am

Terry O’Neill is one of the world’s most respected and collected photographers. His widely seen work can be found internationally as permanent installments in art galleries and private collections, and is exhibited in over 30 cities.

Some background: Born in 1938 to Irish immigrant parents, O’Neill grew up in the East End of London. His initial ambition was to be a jazz drummer. He played at United States Air Force bases and jazz clubs throughout and around London, eking out a meager living. He then applied for a job as an air steward with the British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC; later to be renamed British Airways). He had hoped to use his off-duty spells in New York City to play in clubs. However, BOAC offered him a position in their technical photography department. O’Neill accepted. This would lead him into the photography world that changed his life.



Author: Susan Masino
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Review by Sal Serio
Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm

There’s probably no one on the planet more qualified to write the ultimate fan’s guide to AC/DC than Madison journalist Susan Masino. Having first met the iconic and diminutive Australian rock group in 1977 during their first tour of the United States, Masino struck up a friendly rapport with the band, which has lasted over the years. Additionally, Masino has developed a professional relationship with AC/DC, having interviewed them a few times, including, perhaps, the only interview with the entire band at once - including Bon Scott - in late 1977. Masino also published the book “Let There Be Rock: The Story Of AC/DC” in 2006.


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