Hit Producer Erik Jacobsen, 49ers Photog Michael Zagaris & Others Attend Goldberg Reading of Wilsey Book + Video

Former Rolling Stone Senior Writer/ Addicted To Noise founder Michael Goldberg (above, photo by Leslie Goldberg) — that’s me — read from his new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” at The Beat Museum in North Beach, San Francisco, on the evening of Saturday, June 18, 2022. A crowd of over 40 people attended the reading, mingling beforehand among historic Beat era artifacts including a painting by Gregory Corso and a 1949 Hudson Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady used to drive across the US and into Mexico, a journey fictionalized in “On the Road.”

A lot of great folks showed up for the reading including novelist Charlie Haas, 49ers photographer Michael Zagaris (below), former John Lee Hooker manager Mike Kapus and record producer Erik Jacobsen (above, photo by Leslie Goldberg), who produced 7 top ten hits for the Lovin’ Spoonful in the mid-60s, discovered and produced Tim Hardin and produced the Chris Isaak international top 10 hit “Wicked Game,” with Jimmy Wilsey’s haunting guitar intro.

Although I had planned to read for about 40 minutes, the audience indicated that they wanted to hear more, so I read for over an hour. You can watch a video by Michael Engle of me reading here.

Top photo of rockin’ audience by Leslie Goldberg; bottom photo by Michael Zagaris

I will be doing an online event at Book Passage on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Former Creem managing editor and music critic Robert Duncan will be questioning me about my Jimmy Wilsey book. More info here. My book on Jimmy Wilsey will be available for purchase at Book Passage online and at the Corte Madera store beginning July 4, 2022.

You can also get my book, which Bill Bentley wrote “is the rock & roll book to read this year,” at the HoZac Books website.

KPFA’s “The Hear and Now” To Feature Michael Goldberg Talking About Jimmy Wilsey

The Hear and Now

Derk Richardson will be interviewing me on his Thursday, June 16, 2022 show, which starts at 10 pm pt. He’ll be asking me about my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey.” The show airs Thursday night but it will be archived so if you miss the original broadcast, you can listen after the fact here. It will take a few days before the show is added to the archive. During the show Richardson will be playing recordings that Jimmy played on, including at least one previously unheard recording. Be sure to check it out.

The San Francisco Chronicle published a great feature on me this week written by James Sullivan. Titled “Writer had a ringside seat at S.F. music scene through Chris Isaak’s guitarist, who died homeless,” Sullivan captures what the book is about and why I wrote it.

“’I didn’t want Jimmy to be forgotten,’ he [Goldberg] says. ‘That’s kind of what happened when he was alive.’

“Goldberg’s new book, ‘Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,’ traces the sound innovator from his childhood, growing up in suburban St. Louis listening to his parents’ country music records, to his arrival in San Francisco to study painting at the Academy of Art College (now the Academy of Art University), just as the punk scene around the Mabuhay Gardens was sprouting. It ends tragically, with homelessness and an underreported death.

“’He was a brilliant creative person,’ Goldberg says. ‘The tone he got, the atmosphere he created was unique.'”

Read the rest of the story here.

You can get my book, which Bill Bentley wrote “is the rock & roll book to read this year,” at the HoZac Books website.

I will be doing a reading/book signing and answering questions about the book at The Beat Museum in San Francisco at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. More info here.

I will also be doing an online event at Book Passage on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Former Creem managing editor and music critic Robert Duncan will be questioning me about my Jimmy Wilsey book. More info here. My book on Jimmy Wilsey will be available for purchase at Book Passage online and at the Corte Madera store beginning July 4, 2022.

Jimmy Wilsey’s Story “Expertly Told,” Writes Bill Kopp + Guitar Radio Show Podcast + Magnet Mag Interview + 8 Questions Podcast

lmusoscribe

In his review of my book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” music journalist and author Bill Kopp writes, “… Wilsey’s life story – one filled with soaring highs (of the good and bad kind) and plummeting lows (albeit only of the bad variety) forms a chilling narrative. And that story is expertly told by longtime music journalist and first-hand observer/participant in the Bay Area’s music scene, Michael Goldberg. Across 400-plus pages, Goldberg’s Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey charts the musician’s life, an ultimately doomed story line that runs from his troubled childhood to his punk years to his time with Isaak and beyond.”

You can read the entire review here at Kopp’s Musoscribe website.

Plus a great podcast conversation with me at Guitar Radio Show.

Also, I’m interviewed at Patrick Michael’s cool “8 Questions” Youtube podcast.

And you’ll want to check out this interview with me by Hobart Rowland at Magnet magazine.

You can get my book at the HoZac Books website.

I will be doing a reading/book signing and answering questions about the book at The Beat Museum in San Francisco at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. More info here.

I will also be doing an online event at Book Passage on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Former Creem managing editor and music critic Robert Duncan will be questioning me about my Jimmy Wilsey book. More info here. My book on Jimmy Wilsey will be available for purchase at Book Passage online and at the Corte Madera store beginning July 4, 2022.

Podcasts: Only Three Lads & Sketched Sounds on “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey”

Two podcasts

The Only Three Lads podcast and the Sketched Sounds podcast were nice enough to interview me. If you check them both out, you’ll find in-depth conversations about the great guitarist James Calvin Wilsey, the San Francisco punk scene of the late Seventies, the legendary punk band, the Avengers, Jimmy’s days in Silvertone and working with Chris Isaak and much more. And, of course, we talk about my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of James Calvin Wilsey,” and how I came to write it and how I got to know Jimmy Wilsey during the ’80s and early ’90s.

You can get my book at the HoZac Books website.

I will be doing a reading/book signing and answering questions about the book at The Beat Museum in San Francisco at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. More info here.

I will also be doing an online event at Book Passage on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Former Creem managing editor and music critic Robert Duncan will be questioning me about my Jimmy Wilsey book. More info here. My book on Jimmy Wilsey will be available for purchase at Book Passage online and at the Corte Madera store beginning July 4, 2022.

“Wicked Game”: “This is the rock & roll book to read this year.”

In a wonderful review of my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” in the June 2022 “Bentley’s Bandstand” column at his Americana Highways website, Bill Bentley writes: “This is the rock & roll book to read this year. It is a thrilling, heart-breaking, mind-blowing, cautionary and in the end passionate tale of how a guitarist of infinite ability and absolutely addictive tendencies attains the highest success on the rock & roll merry-go-round, only to flame out in a desperate tale of heroin, homelessness and, in the end, suicidal escapades that killed him. Rock & roll can be the scariest game there is if the person isn’t wired for success. Failure is survivable, but for those not ready for it, success is the killer. …”

You can read the rest of the review here.

You can get my book at the HoZac Books website.

The Sketched Sounds podcast just went live (June 6, 2022). Justin Bieggar interviews me about the Wilsey book, the San Francisco punk scene of the late ’70s and much more. Listen to it here at Spotify if you have Spotify, or listen here.

Last week Howie Klein published an essay that I wrote about how Jimmy Wilsey became a punk musician at his excellent “Down With Tyranny” blog. “My new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books), tells Jimmy’s story, but it also details the San Francisco punk scene that began in December 1976, three months after 19-year-old Jimmy moved to San Francisco. During the summer of 1977 Jimmy became bass player for one of San Francisco’s greatest punk bands, the Avengers, and quickly became one of the stars of the small SF scene.

“Punk was initially not a particular sound, it was a concept, and the concept was this: anyone who wanted to could be in a band and play rock & roll, you didn’t have to know how to play your instrument, you only had to have something to say, and many times not even that was necessary.

“When the established record companies decided punk wasn’t commercial, punk fans like Howie Klein formed their own record companies. The first singles by The Mutants, The Nuns and The Offs were released as singles by Howie’s 415 label, and in the early ’80s, when Jimmy was in Silvertone, Howie told me, he wanted to release Silvertone’s “Blue Hotel” but that didn’t work out. …”

You can read all of “How The Patti Smith Group Inspired James Calvin Wilsey” here.

I will be doing a reading/book signing and answering questions about the book at The Beat Museum in San Francisco at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. More info here.

I will also be doing an online event at Book Passage on Thursday, July 21, 2022. Former Creem managing editor and music critic Robert Duncan will be questioning me about my Jimmy Wilsey book. More info here. My book on Jimmy Wilsey will be available for purchase at Book Passage online and at the Corte Madera store beginning July 4, 2022.

Pop Matters Reviews “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey —They Love It!

Above image from the Pop Matters website, May 24, 2022.

Poet Marc Zegans’s beautifully written review of my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” was published today at the cool Pop Matters website/online magazine. Writes Zegans, “Goldberg’s meticulously researched biography delivers a deep-hearted and poignant account of the rare and extraordinary creative talent who—following his legendary entry into the music scene as bass player for San Francisco’s primeval punk band, the Avengers—crafted the incomparable yearning two-note opening to Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game.'”

Later in the review: “Worthy of prominent mention in Goldberg’s portrayal of Wilsey’s elusive life between the notes is the book’s method of exposition. Rather than pursuing a single sustained narrative line, Wicked Game operates as a biography by bricolage. Goldberg, Wilsey’s long-time friend with whom his son took guitar lessons, and photographer of the punk scene in which Wilsey came of age, layers intimate reflection and historical inquiry. Chapter titles are drawn from rock lyrics — ‘He Was a Friend of Mine’ (from Jim Carroll’s song ‘People that Died’), ‘Walk on the Wildside’ (following Lou Reed’s genderqueer classic). Goldberg takes a journalistic perspective and assembles richly quoted voices into a remarkable salade composée of this outsider musician’s life.  The author’s method of massing the voices of Wilsey’s contemporaries.”

Meanwhile, a PlanetLP podcast conversation with me went live this morning and it sounds great. It’s “Episode 50: James Wilsey’s Wicked Game.” Just short of 40 minutes of back and forth about Jimmy Wilsey.

And yesterday the important “Down With Tyranny” blog, where Howie Klein for many years has been making astute political observations and providing the facts about the dire straits this country is in, took a brief detour from politics to run an essay I wrote about why I spent three-plus years writing a book about Jimmy Wilsey. There is a contest and two winners will each get a copy of the book. The winners are the two people who donate the most to one of the political campaigns listed on a page that you can link to from the bottom of my essay.

And finally: I’ll be reading from the book and answering questions at The Beat Museum at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. Facebook event page here.

Michael Goldberg is the Featured Writer at Rock’s Backpages

tRock's Backpages cover

This week the very cool music journalism website, Rock’s Backpages, has me on the “cover” as the weeks “Featured Writer.” They highlight some of my articles, which are archived there, including an excerpt from my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books), titled: “Watching the Avengers Absolutely Crush the Pistols.” There’s also a profile of Chris Isaak, a feature on the San Francisco music scene circa 1983 and, if you click on my name, dozens of my stories on these artists and others: Bob Dylan, American Music Club, the Bangles, Robbie Robertson, John Fogerty…

Plus I’m interviewed about the book at the podcast “Frets with DJ Fey.” And I’m interviewed on the “ImmaLetYouFinish” podcast.

I’ll be reading from the book and answering questions at The Beat Museum in SF at 7pm on Saturday June 18, 2022.

You can buy “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books) here.

Rolling Stone Online Publishes Goldberg Book Excerpt on How Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” Became a Hit

Jimmy Wilsey Rolling Stone

Today, Thursday, May 19, 2022, Rolling Stone Online published an extensive excerpt from my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books). The 4000-word excerpt details how Chris Isaak said he wrote the song, how guitarist Jimmy Wilsey came up with the intro riff and other electric guitar parts and how David Lynch and manager/producer Erik Jacobsen contributed to getting the song into the top 10.

The book is based on over seven hours of interviews with the late guitarist, over ten hours of interviews with Isaak (done from 1985 into 1995) and extensive interviews with over 60 of Wilsey’s friends, family members, and music business acquaintances. It includes over 150 images–photos, flyers and record covers.

It can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher, HoZac Books.

I’m donating 25% of my royalties to Jimmy’s song, Waylon Wilsey.

“Wicked Game” at The Beat Museum: Michael Goldberg on Guitarist Jimmy Wilsey + Cool New Reviews

On Saturday June 18, 2022, starting at 7 pm, I’ll be celebrating the publication of my book on Jimmy Wilsey, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” reading excerpts from the book and answering questions, at The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway at Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. Before the reading, beginning at 6 pm, recordings that Jimmy played on, some quite rare, will be playing. The Beat Museum is across the street and down the block from where the Mabuhay Gardens was located (where Jimmy played many shows in the Avengers, and in Silvertone with Chris Isaak as well.)

“Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” tells the story of the brilliant but troubled guitarist who was the “heart and soul” of one of America’s greatest punk bands, the Avengers, and who wrote and played the haunting intro and other guitar parts for the Chris Isaak hit “Wicked Game.” As even Isaak has acknowledged, Wilsey was key to that song becoming a top 10 hit that has been streamed over 350 million times.

Jimmy’s story is tragic. At one point he had a movie star girlfriend, was appearing on ‘The Tonight Show,’ and touring the world with “Wicked Game” a hit in 10 countries, but he became a heroin addict and died homeless nearly three and a half years ago.

I’m donating 25 percent of my royalties to Jimmy’s teenage son Waylon. The publisher is also donating a percentage to Waylon.

Marc Zegans, a superb poet with many books of poetry published, writes: “In addition to telling a complex life story [about Jimmy Wilsey], Michael’s book offers a wonderful inside view of early days of the San Francisco Punk scene and of the internal mechanics of the music industry. It’s also a conceptually grounded exploration of the nature, psychology and ravages of addiction.”

At the cool Australian music site i94 Bar, a reviewer who calls himself JD Stayfree wrote “The World Is Only Going To Break Your Heart,” a heartfelt gonzo exploration into how certain recordings, including those made by Jimmy Wilsey and Chris Isaak, have had an impact on his life. “I will be listening to those Chris Issak/James Calvin Wilsey records for the rest of my life, and I know many of my old garage band hombres will always be listening to the Avengers. I am ever so grateful that this sharp writer, Michael Goldberg, put so much passion and dedication into telling Wilsey’s story—about 400 pages of highs and lows and winning and losing and heartbreak and the whole human drama. Only the lonely love Chris Isaak and James Calvin Wilsey like I do. Greatness to behold. Get the book, you’ll be glad you did.” 

“Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” is based on new and extensive interviews—with over 60 of Jimmy’s friends, family, musicians he played with and other acquaintances—conducted during the past three and a half years. Additionally, Goldberg had four hours of interviews he did with Jimmy himself in 1987 and 1991, access to a three hour interview Jimmy did in 2018, and over ten hours of interviews he did with Chris Isaak from 1982 into 1995. The 414 page book contains over 150 photos and other images—photographers (some of SF’s best rock photographers) include the great avant-garde artist Bruce Conner, Blondie co-founder Chris Stein, Ruby Ray, Chester Simpson, Sue Brisk, Hugh Brown, Marcus Leatherdale, Michael Zagaris, James Stark and others. Flyers are by Avengers singer-songwriter Penelope Houston and Wilsey and others.

Join Michael Goldberg at The Beat Museum for an unforgettable evening.

Check Out the Cover of Michael Goldberg’s Upcoming Book: “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg”

“Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg” collects the best of my music journalism from the past 45+ years. The book includes interviews with Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Flipper, John Fogerty, Neil Young and Rick James, and stories about Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, the Clash, Prince, Michael Jackson, the Flamin’ Groovies, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Laurie Anderson, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Devo, San Francisco punks Crime, the Sex Pistols, Sly Stone, Chris Isaak and more. Plus short takes on Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Talking Heads, Captain Beefheart, Professor Longhair and others. And lots more! Foreword by Greil Marcus.

“Throughout these interviews and essays, Goldberg shows us how consequential music can be. His stance is both as passionate fan and learned critic as he grapples with these artists on their own terms, capturing them at crucial moments, challenging their personas and making the case for their work. He has written a captivating, essential, and personal history of the complications and revelations contained in the ideal of rock & roll authenticity.” – Dana Spiotta, author of Eat the Document, Stone Arabia, and Innocents and Others

Simon Warner wrote about how the cover of the book is based on the original 1953 cover of William Burroughs’ “Junkie” at his “Rock and the Beat Generation” Substack blog. Both covers are reproduced there.

The book will be published in November by Backbeat Books. You can pre-order it right now if you’d like. Michael’s latest book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” can be pre-ordered here.