This is the third installment in David Hewitt’s guest blog series chronicling his legendary career working with some of the biggest names in music. In this post David takes a look at a number of good books about the music industry. If you missed his last post, you can read it here.
Book Recommendations – Part One
This last year has been difficult for all of us who live in the realm of music. So many great personalities have played their last show… It seems like there is a Frank Zappa lyric for every occasion: “Elvis has just left the building, those are his footprints right there!”
My local bookshop, Farley’s, in New Hope, PA., has a great section for music-related books that just keeps growing. (Yes, they do have a resident cat.) I’m also fortunate to have a great library system here in Bucks County. You can do searches online, request that books be sent from the surrounding 18 branches and even request that they purchase a book you recommend. Support your local library so they don’t defund that too!
So, I have been incessantly reading all the music-related biographies that have appeared to tell the stories of this “Golden Era” of music that we have been so privileged to live through.
Below are a few that I would recommend.
Many of you will already know about the AES guys’ “A-List” books, but I will start with them in case you want the publishing information. Please scroll down if you already know these first few books, because there are some other interesting finds.
Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles
By Geoff Emerick and Howard Massey
Gotham Books, 2006
I would rate this book as the most interesting of the biographies, not just because the Beatles are still the most famous band in the world, but because they and their engineers changed the way music was played and recorded forever. The book is a well-written autobiography of engineer Geoff Emerick with emphasis, of course, on the Beatles, with a few other bands mentioned.
Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with the Rolling Stones, the Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, the Faces …
By Glyn Johns
Blue Rider Press, 2014
Glyn Johns is an exceptional figure in music of this period, and his biography can stand next to those of the artists he worked with. I toured with Glyn on the Who’s “Final Tour” in 1982 and can verify that! Many of my friends and cohorts have read and recommend this book.
Never a Dull Moment: 1971 – The Year That Rock Exploded
By David Hepworth
Henry Holt, 2016
David Hepworth is a music journalist, writer and broadcaster who was there in England to witness and write about that golden era of rock and roll. In retrospect, it was mostly British bands that dominated the charts and led the charge of what is now “classic rock.”
I found Hepworth’s writing and in-depth coverage of that seminal year very intriguing and informative. I started my work in a recording studio that year and thought his stories very convincing and credible. Due to his background in music publishing, he was able to include many interesting color and black and white photos.
Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music
By Phil Ramone with Charles Granata
What can I say, Phil was the master… You must read this one to appreciate how one man can contribute so much to so many! Packed with history-making tales of music and mayhem as Ramone becomes one of the greatest producers of the era. He enriched so many lives, we all miss him terribly.
I gave my autographed copy to my son, Ryan Hewitt, who once worked for Phil at Sony Studios and Phil’s own studio.
Never Say No To a Rock Star: In the Studio with Dylan, Sinatra, Jagger, and More …
By Glenn Berger
Schaffner Press, 2016
Berger’s book starts in 1973 as he joins the fabled New York City recording studio A&R, owned by the legendary producer and engineer Phil Ramone. This was the same year I joined the equally fabled Record Plant Studios just two blocks down the street. I thought his telling of the crazy, creative, often brutal stories of studio life with the stars and staff to be so true to life! It’s a wonderful sampling of how fast and furious life in the music business was in that golden era.
Hitmaker: The Man and His Music
By Tommy Mottola
Grand Central Publishing, 2013
Anyone who was in the record business from the early 1970s on through today knows who Tommy Mottola is. This autobiography is a fascinating tour of his life from year one. I know, I know, so many of these bios by the super-ego players are just endless rants of “then I invented etc., etc.,” but like the old saying: “It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”
Tommy did it all and then some. I’m kind of biased, because I met him early on when he gave up singing to start with Chappell Publishing and signed Hall & Oates. I worked with him periodically, recording live shows all the way up to him becoming CEO of Sony Music Worldwide
Highly recommended record business history.
Turn off the screen and read a book!
– David Hewitt
Check back soon for part two of David’s book recommendations.