Monthly Archives: May 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.