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.

About Michael Goldberg

Michael Goldberg is a distinguished pioneer in the online music space; Newsweek magazine called him an ‘Internet visionary.’ In 1994 he founded Addicted To Noise (ATN), the highly influential music web site. He was a senior vice-president and editor in chief at SonicNet from March 1997 through May 2000. In 1997, Addicted To Noise won Webby awards for best music site in 1998 and 1999, and also won Yahoo Internet Life! awards for three years running as best music site in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Prior to starting Addicted To Noise, Goldberg was an editor and senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine for 10 years. His writing has also appeared in Wired, Esquire, Vibe, Details, Downbeat, NME and numerous other publications. Michael has had three novels published that comprise the "Freak Scene Dream trilogy": "True Love Scars," "The Flowers Lied" and "Untitled" which can be ordered here. His new book, "Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey," can be pre-ordered from HoZac Books. In November Backbeat Books will publish "Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg," which can be be pre-ordered here.

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