The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style by Nelson George (Morrow 2014)
Soul Train ran in syndication on American television from 1971 to 2006. That’s thirty-five years of “love, peace and soul” that left an undeniable mark on the American collective culture. Primarily using the voices of the people who appeared on the program, Nelson George tells the story of this dance show’s impact, the stories behind memorable appearances by Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Barry White, as well as white stars Elton John and David Bowie, and many others. George interviews many of the celebrated Soul Train dancers as well, and talks to those who worked with Don Cornelius, the show’s late visionary creator. This book tells the story of the innovative, culturally influential program that featured one-of-a-kind superstar performances, outrageous fashions, hip dances, and the iconic Soul Train dance line.
“The definitive book on ‘Soul Train’” — New York Times Book Review
“George’s in-depth look at a revered TV show is one of those rare music-centric books that will transcend its subject’s core fan base. Even those with just a casual interest in Soul Train will be happy to take this trip.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Gil Scott Heron: Pieces Of A Man by Marcus Baram (St. Martin’s Press 2014)
THE MESSENGER is the first biography of the late Gil Scott-Heron, a musical legend, considered to be the godfather of hip-hop for his pioneering style of rapping poetry over jazz-funk beats in the early ‘70s. His lyrics touched on politics, racism, mass media and relationships with poignant honesty and a sarcastic edge. By refusing to compromise his music, his lyrics or his attitude, he always remained the great outsider – exalted by his devoted fans yet overlooked by the mainstream. Though his influence has been pervasive and his life story tracked the ups and downs of the black experience in America over the last six decades, Gil Scott-Heron’s full story has never been told.
” Controversial and enigmatic, the tragic trajectory of Scott-Heron’s life and career is expertly examined in this testament to one of the last great radical artists.” —Kirkus
A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man by Holly George-Warren (Viking)
Alex Chilton’s story is rags to riches in reverse, beginning with teenage rock stardom and heading downward. Following stints leading 60s sensation the Box Tops (“The Letter”) and pioneering 70s popsters Big Star (“the ultimate American pop band”—Time), Chilton became a dishwasher. Yet he rose again in the 80s as a solo artist, producer, and trendsetter, coinventing the indie-rock genre. By the 90s, acolytes from R.E.M. to Jeff Buckley embodied Chilton’s legacy, ushering him back to the spotlight before his untimely death in 2010.
In the career-spanning and revelatory A Man Called Destruction, longtime Chilton acquaintance Holly George-Warren has interviewed more than 100 bandmates, friends, and family members to flesh out a man who presided over—and influenced—four decades of American musical history, rendered here with new perspective through the adventures of a true iconoclast.
“This book is the very definition of a labor of love. Every page of it is infused with Holly George-Warren’s affection for and deep understanding of Alex Chilton and his groundbreaking work. Even its most candid moments are presented with empathy and a profound respect. Chilton could be thorny and difficult character — he is fortunate to have found a biographer eager to untangle the knots of his character and to find the sweet heart beating within.”
~ Rolling Stone
“A Man Called Destruction is also the only thing about this criminally under-appreciated band you’ll ever need to read. It does more than all the articles, books, documentary films, and cover albums with liner notes written by famous fanboys about how important and life-changing Big Star’s recordings were combined…Nobody has done such a great job telling his story before. This is what makes Holly George-Warren’s achievement such an important one, and A Man Called Destruction one of the most important books on the life and work of a musician to come out this year.”
“A thoroughly reported biography illuminating the life and work of one of the more mystifying and influential cult figures in rock…. Chilton receives the biography he deserves.”
~Kirkus Reviews (starred)