Category Archives: Music

The Whole World In a Song: An Interview with Critic Greil Marcus on Bob Dylan, His New Dylan Book, the Role of the Critic and Much More

Greil Marcus by Michael Goldberg

Greil Marcus in his office, September 16, 2022. Photograph by Michael Goldberg

By Michael Goldberg

Greil Marcus writing or talking about Bob Dylan is the holy grail. He is the leading authority on Dylan, and the best known and most respected rock critic in the U.S. (and probably the world). His first in-depth book about rock music, “Mystery Train” (the title coming from one of Elvis’ Sun Records recordings), published in 1975, established him as a leading authority on rock music, and his stature has only grown since then.

David Cantwell wrote in a December 2015 profile of Marcus published in the New Yorker, that nearly as soon as “Mystery Train” was published it was “short-listed as ‘the best’ or ‘the finest’ or ‘most compelling’ book ever written about popular music…”

After the book was first published, Frank Rich wrote in the Village Voice, “‘Mystery Train’ is determinedly and proudly in the tradition of such ground-breaking works of American cultural criticism as Leslie Fiedler’s ‘Love and Death in the American Novel,’ D.H. Lawrence’s ‘Studies in Classic American Literature’ and F.O. Matthiessen’s ‘American Renaissance’ (the first two of which Marcus draws from in his work); as his predecessors sought to understand Poe’s nightmares or the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock in terms of our most substantial national myths, so Marcus attempts to place such songs as Randy Newman’s “Sail Away,” The Band’s “Across the Great Divide,” and Elvis Presley’s early efforts for Sam Phillips at Sun Records into the same broad cultural context.”

Although “Mystery Train” might have seemed to some to be about a handful of musicians—Harmonica Frank, Robert Johnson, The Band, Sly Stone, Randy Newman and Elvis Presley—the book is about much more than that. As Marcus states in the intro, the book is “an attempt to broaden the context in which the music is heard; to deal with rock ’n’ roll not as youth culture, or counterculture, but simply as American culture. … [These musicians] share unique musical and public personalities, enough ambition to make even their failures interesting, and a lack of critical commentary extensive or committed enough to do their work justice. In their music and in their careers, they share a range and a depth that seem to crystalize naturally in visions and versions of America: its possibilities, limits, openings, traps. Their stories are hardly the whole story, but they can tell us how much the story matters.” This was the beginning of where Greil Marcus would go for the next 47 years, finding America, and so much more, within a handful of songs, sometimes a single song.

Born during the summer of 1945 in San Francisco, Marcus grew up in Menlo Park, a suburb south of the city; he attended U.C. Berkeley, where he earned an undergraduate degree in American studies. He saw Bob Dylan for the first time in 1963, when Joan Baez brought the determinedly scruffy singer/songwriter onstage at a show that took place in “a field in New Jersey.” One of the songs Dylan sang that day was “With God on Our Side” and, as Marcus told me during our interview, he was “absolutely stunned.” It was the beginning of an obsession with Dylan and his music.

 In 1968 Marcus wrote a review of an album by the Who, and, unsolicited, sent it to Rolling Stone, the rock magazine that had begun a year earlier; two weeks later it was published in the record reviews section. Soon he was on-staff and spent a year as Rolling Stone’s record reviews editor; he lost the job due to a dispute with publisher/editor-in-chief Jann Wenner over Bob Dylan’s Self Portrait; Marcus infamously began his review of the album this way: “What is this shit?”

Over the years Marcus wrote for Creem, the Village Voice, New West, Artforum, Interview, the Wire, Salon, The Believer and many other publications including the New York Times and the New Yorker. He has written 19 books and edited another six. Perhaps his most remarkable book (and a favorite of mine) is “Lipstick Traces,” which he spent nine years researching and writing; as Andy Beckett wrote in The Independent, “‘Lipstick Traces’ began as a book about the Sex Pistols; then expanded crazily back in time to Paris in 1968, Dada in 1917, the French Revolution, and ultimately to libertarian heresies in the Middle Ages. Marcus found himself writing ‘a secret history of the 20th century,’ a search for the origins and story of the nihilistic impulse that the Sex Pistols had stumbled upon.” 

Original cover of “Lipstick Traces.”

Marcus wrote a monthly column, “Real Life Rock,” for New West magazine from 1978 into 1983; that column combined an essay with a top ten at the end. Three years later, Marcus was asked to take the top ten and turn it into a 700-word column for the Village Voice, which he titled, “Real Life Rock Top Ten.” The column “had room for anything,” Marcus wrote in his introduction to “Real Life Rock,” a book that collects every column he wrote from 1986 through September 2014 (a second book, “More Real Life Rock,” was published earlier this year), “music, movies, fiction, critical theory, ads, television shows, remarks overheard waiting in line, news items, contributions from correspondents… treating the column as a forum or a good site for gossip, or the everyday conversation it has always wanted to be.”

Over time, the “Real Life Rock Top Ten” moved to Salon, The Believer, Interview, Rolling Stone and some other publications. Most recently, Marcus wrote it for The Los Angeles Review of Books, where it was published until February 2022; he was about to move it to Substack when he became ill; he has been recovering for many months and the future of the column was up in the air when I spoke to him in mid-September.

Folk Music

His most recent book, “Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs” (Yale University Press), was published on October 1, 2022. It’s the fourth book Marcus has written about Dylan, the others being “The Old Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes,” “Like a Rolling Stone: Bob Dylan at the Crossroads,” and “Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings, 1968-2010.” Additionally, a third of his book “Three Songs, Three Singers, Three Nations” is devoted to Dylan’s “Ballad of Hollis Brown.” “Folk Music” is unlike any other book about Bob Dylan, and other than Dylan’s own memoir, “Chronicles,” it gets as close as may be possible to who Dylan the singer, songwriter, recording artist and performer is, and what can be found within his recorded… Continued at Rhythms Magazine.

Rock Critics/ Historians at Litquake: Greil Marcus, Ben Fong-Torres, Michael Goldberg, Sylvie Simmons, Joel Selvin, Nadine Condon and Rickey Vincent

Rock critics at Litquake

On Friday October 21, 2022, a group of rock critics and music historians will read from their recent books at a Litquake event at the Make-Out Room in San Francisco. The evening will begin at 7:30 pm and end around 10:30 and there is a $15 charge. Appearing are Greil Marcus, Michael Goldberg (that’s me), Sylvia Simmons, Ben Fong-Torres, Joel Selvin, Rickey Vincent and Nadine Condon. The authors’ books will be available. Greil Marcus will be reading from his excellent new book about Bob Dylan, “Folk Music: A Bob Dylan Biography in Seven Songs.”

The bios as they appear on the Litquake website:

Greil Marcus is an author, music journalist, and cultural critic. He is notable for producing scholarly and literary essays that place rock music in a broader framework of culture. Marcus was born in San Francisco, and earned an undergraduate degree in American Studies from UC Berkeley, where he also did graduate work in political science. He has been a rock critic and columnist for Rolling Stone (where he was the reviews editor, at $30 a week), and other publications, including CreemThe Village Voice, and Artforum. Marcus is the author of Mystery Train, Lipstick Traces, and Invisible Republic, among many others.

Ben Fong-Torres is an American rock journalist, author, and broadcaster best known for his association with Rolling Stone magazine and The San Francisco Chronicle. He has published 11 books, on subjects ranging from a history of Top 40 radio, to Gram Parsons, The Doors, Grateful Dead, The Eagles, and Little Feat, among others. He has also worked in radio since the 1970s, and is currently a DJ and program director for the online station MoonaliceRadio.com. The award-winning documentary about his life and career, Like a Rolling Stone: The Life and Times of Ben Fong-Torres (2021) is now streaming on Netflix.

Sylvie Simmons is an award-winning author and one of the foremost music journalists working today. Born in London, she moved to Los Angeles in the late ’70s to write about rock music for magazines such as SoundsCreemKerrang!, and MOJO. She is the author of acclaimed fiction and nonfiction books, including bestselling biographies of Leonard Cohen (I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen); Serge Gainsbourg (A Fistful of Gitanes); and, most recently, Debbie Harry’s Face It. She is also a singer-songwriter and recording artist; her most recent album is Blue On Blue (Compass Records, 2020). She has lived at various times in England, the United States, and France, and currently lives in San Francisco.

Writer and photographer Michael Goldberg has been interviewing and photographing musicians since he was 17. He was a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for a decade. His writing has appeared in EsquireNew Musical ExpressCreemDownBeatNew York RockerTrouser PressMusicianNew WestVibeNew TimesThe San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. He has had three novels published: True Love ScarsThe Flowers Lied, and Untitled. In May 2022, Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey was published. Coming Nov. 1: Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg.

San Francisco Chronicle pop music critic Joel Selvin started covering rock shows for the paper shortly after the end of the Civil War. His writing has appeared in a surprising number of other publications that you would think should have known better. He has written more than 20 books covering various aspects of pop music, and his newest is Sly & the Family Stone: An Oral History.

Nadine Condon worked in the local music scene from 1979-89 with the Jefferson Starship/Starship, during the era of “We Built This City.” She then promoted artists like Melissa Etheridge, Steve Miller, and John Mayall, and eventually launched the “Nadine’s Wild Weekend” annual music festival, a legendary San Francisco showcase of “135 bands, 30 shows, 20 clubs, and four nights.” She is the author of Hot Hits Cheap Demos: The Real-World Guide to Music Business Success, and her new memoir is Confessions: Stories to Rock Your Soul. The Bay Area’s “Godmother of Rock” lives in the Sonoma Valley with her husband and two rescue cats, Bret and Bart.

Dr. Rickey Vincent is an author, music scholar, radio host and educator. He is author of the award-winning Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of The One, and Party Music: The Inside Story of the Black Panthers’ Band and How Black Power Transformed Soul Music. He writes and speaks on issues of race, culture, music and politics nationwide. Since 1997 he has hosted The History of Funk on KPFA radio, two hours of the strongest, stankiest, uncut funk anywhere on the airwaves.

It should be a great evening. More info at Litquake.

Coming Soon: “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg”

Addicted To Noise cover

On November 1, 2022, my book, “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg,” will be published by Backbeat Books.

Addicted To Noise collects the best interviews, profiles and essays I’ve written during my 40-plus years as a journalist. From combative interviews with Frank Zappa and Tom Waits to essays on how Jack Kerouac influenced Bob Dylan and the lasting importance of San Francisco’s first punk rock club, as novelist Dana Spiotta wrote, “Goldberg shows us how consequential music can be.”

Contained within these pages: interviews with Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Flipper, John Fogerty, Neil Young and Rick James, and profiles of Robbie Robertson, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, the Clash, Prince, Michael Jackson, the Flamin’ Groovies, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Laurie Anderson, Brian Wilson, the Ramones, George Clinton, the Sex Pistols, Richard Thomson, Gil Scott-Heron, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Devo, San Francisco punks Crime and more. Plus short takes on Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Captain Beefheart, Professor Longhair and others. Also 50+ full page photos of some of the artists.

As Greil Marcus writes in the Foreword, “You can feel the atmosphere: someone has walked into a room with a pencil in his hand—as the words go in perhaps the first song about a music critic, not counting Chuck Berry’s aside about the writers at the rhythm reviews—and suddenly people are relaxed. … He isn’t after your secrets. He doesn’t want to ruin your career to make his. He doesn’t care what you think you need to hide. He actually is interested in why and how you make your music and what you think of it. So people open up, very quickly, and, very quickly, as a reader, you’re not reading something you’ve read before.”

The stories originally appeared in Rolling Stone, Downbeat, Esquire, New Musical Express, California magazine, Addicted To Noise, San Francisco Chronicle, Vibe, Creem, New York Rocker, and more.

You can pre-order “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg” at Amazon, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore.

Back cover blurbs:

“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”

“In Addicted to Noise, Michael Goldberg flies far above the pop/cult cliches of the rock journalist as sweaty fanboy or hyper-analytic smarty pants. The man just dug in and did the work as an informed, respectful, and engaged interviewer. It shows in this compilation of interviews and profiles. Even the wariest artists let him in—backstage, at home and deep in the midnight hour. There’s a piece for every fan’s passion, from Patti Smith to the Beach Boys or James Brown. Whether Goldberg is jousting with a twitchy Van Morrison or giving the riot grrrls of Sleater-Kinney some r-e-s-p-e-c-t, there’s a whole lotta love for the music, too. For the Goldberg and the reader, all those years “on the bus” make for one great ride.” – Gerri Hirshey, author of “Nowhere to Run: The Story of Soul Music” and “We Gotta Get Outta This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock”

“Michael Goldberg has his finger on the pulse, his foot to the beat, his hip to the rhythm, and his ears peeled for the cadences of rock & roll’s raucous jibber-jabber in an outrageously entertaining rollercoaster through several decades of pop and punk, funk and blues writing: a bright, breezy, frenetic, and often funny, frolic covering the main streets and backwoods of backstage patter, pulsating performance, and everyday posing. In his wide ranging collection of rock journalism, Goldberg provides close to an A-Z – from Laurie Anderson, Captain Beefheart, the Clash, and Bob Dylan all the way through to Brian Wilson, Neil Young, and Frank Zappa – of the last 40 years or so of the music’s mercurial journey, profiling, and interrogating many of its biggest hitters – James Brown and Tom Waits, Van Morrison and Prince –  yet giving a gallery of more esoteric movers and shakers, like Flipper and Sleater-Kinney, Devo and Townes Van Zandt, space and time. With a byline peppering numerous major newspapers, newsweeklies, and magazines of the era, Goldberg is truly a star turn in a golden age of rock reportage.” – Simon Warner, author of “Text and Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Beats and Rock Culture” and editor of “Kerouac on Record”

In Addicted to Noise, Michael Goldberg writes authoritatively and sensitively about some of music’s most fascinating and, yes, bewildering characters. He takes you right into the lives and minds of Prince, Rick James, Van Morrison, Laurie Anderson, Gil Scott-Heron, John Lee Hooker, Flipper, Sleater-Kinney and several other true originals – and teaches you almost everything you need to know about them. – Barney Hoskyns, Editorial Director, Rock’s Backpages and author of “God is in the Radio: Unbridled Enthusiasms, 1980 – 2020

“All through these pages, you can hear the people Michael Goldberg is talking to and talking about reach the same conclusion. I can trust this guy, they say.” – Greil Marcus, author of “Mystery Train,” “Lipstick Traces” and numerous others.

You can pre-order “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg” at Amazon, IndieBound, Books-A-Million, Barnes & Noble, or at your local bookstore.

Kirkus Reviews “Wicked Game”: “… a Gritty Look at the Guitarist’s Success and Ultimate Downfall”

Kirkus review

Kirkus Reviews just ran an excellent review of my book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey.”

“James Calvin Wilsey may not be a household name, but he’s certainly well known in some circles,” begins the review. “As a guitarist for Chris Isaak, he created a riff that not only helped make the song “Wicked Game” a hit, but also has gone down in history as one of the best rock song openings of all time. Yet Wilsey was a complicated man, and behind the scenes, he was dealing with a drug addiction that would ultimately lead him away from music and into a downward spiral. Music journalist Goldberg captures it all in this book, a gritty look at the guitarist’s success and ultimate downfall. Meticulously reported via hours of interviews with childhood friends, family members, fellow musicians, and the rocker himself, the volume paints a vivid portrait of all sides of Wilsey, a tormented soul who was revered by other performers. Though the author acknowledges a friendship with Wilsey, who died of organ failure at the age of 61 in 2018, Goldberg pulls no punches in his searing biography. And the author knows his subject matter. Consider his description of Silvertone, Isaak’s group that included Wilsey, as “a band that combined ’50s rockabilly with ’60s pop and ’80s punk nihilism—Elvis fronting the Beatles, only with the anxiety of Joy Division.” The book is filled with nuggets like that that show Goldberg’s knowledge of music history and Wilsey’s place in it. …”

You can read the rest of the review at Kirkus Reviews.

If you want to purchase “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” you can get a copy from Book Passage or order from HoZac Books. Also, you might be able to get a copy here. 

And I’ll be doing an online reading/interview at Book Passage starting at 5:30 pm on Thursday, July 21, 2022. It’s free. Former Creem managing editor Robert Duncan, a rock critic and novelist, will interview me after I read briefly from my book.

Twisted Pulp Magazine Runs Michael Goldberg/ Wicked Game Feature

Twisted Pulp cover

The new issue (#19) of Twisted Pulp magazine includes an eight page interview with me (Michael Goldberg) about my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” and my career as a writer. The feature includes cover art from my three novels, “True Love Scars,” “The Flowers Lied,” and “Untitled” (all available from Amazon), as well as the cover of “Wicked Game,” and my upcoming collection of music journalism, “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writing of Michael Goldberg” (to be published by Backbeat Books on November 1, 2022).

Twisted Pulp with ATN cover

You can get the Kindle version of Twisted Pulp here. Soon you will be able to get the print version here.

Goldberg interview

As for my latest book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” you can get a copy from Book Passage or order from HoZac Books. Also, you might be able to get a copy here. Photo of Goldberg by Roni Hoffman.

And I’ll be doing an online reading/interview at Book Passage starting at 5:30 pm on Thursday, July 21, 2022. It’s free. Former Creem managing editor Robert Duncan, a rock critic and novelist, will interview me after I read briefly from my book.

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.