About the Author
What's New

Out now: My book Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia details the Who's amazing and peculiar journey in the years during which they struggled to follow up Tommy with a yet bigger and better rock opera. One of those projects, Lifehouse, was never completed, though many of its songs formed the bulk of their 1971 album Who's Next. The other, Quadrophenia, was as down-to-earth as the multimedia Lifehouse was futuristic; issued as a double album in 1973, it eventually became esteemed as one of the Who's finest achievements, despite unavoidable initial unfavorable comparisons to Tommy. Drawing on material from several dozen interviews and mountains of rare archival coverage and recordings, it's the definitive account of this fascinating period in the Who's career, which saw both some of their greatest triumphs and, in Lifehouse, rock's most spectacular failure. Notes MOJO's four-star review of the book, "Unterberger digs deep and deeper still through obscure press cuttings and his own interviews with engineers, producers and fans to make sense of it all. He does a grand job."

I wrote all of the historical essays and picture captions for the new Taschen book San Francisco: Portrait of a City, which tells the history of San Francisco with several hundred photos from 1850 through the present. I also did some of the photo research for the book, which was published in March 2022.

Also out: My 2009 book, White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day (now available on Jawbone Press), is by far the most comprehensive book on the Velvet Underground ever published. The 368-page volume details the group's recording sessions, record releases, concerts, press reviews, and other major events shaping their career with both thorough detail and critical insight. Drawing on about 100 interviews and exhaustive research through documents and recordings rarely or never accessed, it unearths stories that have seldom been told, and eyewitness accounts that have seldom seen print, from figures ranging from band members to managers, producers, record executives, journalists, concert promoters, and fans. The July 2009 issue of MOJO magazine hails it as "an impressive means to reflect on the conundrum of what could be the ultimate cult band...detailed and anecdote-packed"; Uncut magazine chose it as #4 in its list of the ten best music books of 2009.

White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day includes not only basic nuts-and-bolts facts, but also many behind-the-scenes stories as to how their songs were written and recorded; how their strikingly original stage shows were devised; how the band were perceived by reviewers at the time of their 1965-70 heyday, not just in retrospect; and how the group as a whole underwent a most improbable, incessantly unpredictable evolution from the most avant-garde of bohemian origins into a highly accessible, yet still boldly creative, rock band by the time Lou Reed left the group he'd co-founded with John Cale in early 1965. Along the way, many unreleased concert and studio recordings are vividly described; many obscure and unlikely concerts delineated; and many myths that have grown up around this most legendary of all cult bands untangled and dissected.

White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day also features more than 100 illustrations, including reproductions of rarely or never seen photos, concert posters, letters, and other assorted documents and memorabilia. It's the ultimate history of the band that did more than any other to break down barriers between rock music and the avant-garde, incorporating electronic innovations, experimental instrumentation and improvisation, and lyrics detailing the realities of sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll with greater skill and daring than anyone else. Also available in French as White Light/White Heat: Le Velvet Underground Au Jour Le Jour (on Le Mot Et Le Reste) and in Czech as White Light/White Heat: Velvet Underground Den Po Dni (on Volvox Globator). The updated/expanded ebook version, available on Amazon and iTunes, adds more than 40,000 words of additional material.

Also, I wrote the 13,000-word liner notes to the six-CD super-deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico, released in October 2012.

Events: I'm offering informal free online non-credit programs on various subjects through San Francisco Community Living Campaign for the next few months via Zoom. On Monday, May 9 from 6pm-7:30pm, I'll spotlight the music of early rock great Roy Orbison, mostly from his prime in the first half of the 1960s. On Monday, May 23 from 6pm-7:30pm, I'm highlighting performances of the Rolling Stones' numerous non-hit LP tracks and B-sides from the 1960s and early 1970s. On Monday, June 13 from 6pm-7:30pm, I'll present a program on early British folk-rock, including greats like Donovan, Fairport Convention, and Pentangle. On Monday, June 27 from 6pm-7:30pm, it's time for summertime songs by greats like Janis Joplin, Sly Stone, Eddie Cochran, the Lovin' Spoonful, and others. To access the programs, go to https://zoom.us/j/85941543946 at the time listed (all events Pacific Time). A full list of Community Living Campaign events that can be accessed for free online is at https://sfcommunityliving.org/events/.

On Wednesday, June 1 from 1pm-2:30pm, I'll present a program on Tim Buckley
at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco at 3200 California Street. One of the finest singers of the late 1960s and early 1970s, Buckley’s astonishing multi-octave voice graced numerous adventurous styles in his brief lifetime. This event follows his growth from folk singer through jazz-rock and experimental rock with clips spanning 1967 to 1974. There will also be some footage of his son Jeff Buckley and the 1980s cover of “Song of the Siren” by This Mortal Coil that helped bring Tim’s music to a future generation. Admission is free. Please register in advance if you want to attend, at https://www.jccsf.org/event/tim-buckley-folk-rock-legend-of-the-60s-and-70s/. This will be presented only in person, and not through Zoom. For this event also note, as per the Jewish Community Center website: "Safety is paramount and we appreciate your patience and cooperation as we follow San Francisco’s healthy and safety requirements. All staff have been vaccinated and we welcome fully vaccinated patrons to our programs. If you’re not vaccinated, don’t forget your mask – you’ll need to keep it on start to finish." Vaccination status will be checked before atttendees enter the event.

On Tuesday, June 21 from noon-1:30pm Pacific Time,
through the the main branch of the San Francisco Library, I'll present a free Zoom program on the Velvet Underground. This will spotlight the music from their 1966-1970 heday, some of which was revived by a 1972 concert in which Lou Reed, John Cale, and Nico reunite in Paris. You can register for the event at https://sfpl.org/events/2022/06/21/presentation-velvet-underground.

Courses:
On Tuesday nights from 7:10-9:30pm from June 14 to July 26 at the College of Marin at 835 College Avenue in Kentfield, CA, I'm teaching a non-credit seven-week adult education course on "The Golden Age of San Francisco Bay Area Rock: The Summer of Love" (the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, for the most part). This will be conducted in person, but simultaneously transmitted by Zoom for students who prefer to log into the class remotely. The roots and heyday of the San Francisco Sound will be explored in depth via both common and rare audiovisual material by greats like Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and Santana. It will also investigate how the Bay Area's unique counterculture, promoters such as Bill Graham, and venues like the Fillmore created a scene in which experimental and idiosyncratic rock music could flower. The course will also detail its roots in folk-rock; the integration of jazz, ethnic, blues, and avant-garde influences into psychedelic rock; and how San Francisco rock continued to evolve in the 1970s. Registration is available (for course #7663951/5352 in person, and #7663951/5353 by Zoom) through the College of Marin Community Education website.

Blog: I've started a blog where I post about various topics, including vintage rock music, biking and hiking in the San Francisco Bay Area, socially responsible living, and baseball. Go to Folkrocks to check it out.

I've also written numerous rock history articles for the PleaseKillMe.com website since mid-2018, including stories on Van Morrison's August 1968 live Boston tape, briefly released in late 2018 on iTunes; the expanded DVD version of the Sympathy for the Devil film, including interview material from cinematographer Tony Richmond; a lengthy interview with the Velvet Underground's Doug Yule; an interview with Yardbirds drummer Jim McCarty about his recent memoir; an overview of Joe Boyd's Witchseason production company, responsible for the production/management of top British folk-rockers Fairport Convention, Nick Drake, the Incredible String Band, and others, including interview material with Boyd and several Witchseason artists; an interview with producer John Simon (the Band, Big Brother & the Holding Company) about his recent memoir; an overview of the recent eight-CD Dutch Nuggets box set of 1960s Dutch rock, including an interview with the set's annotator, Ugly Things magazine editor/publisher Mike Stax; recently excavated 1967 recordings by Gene Clark; a long interview with the Lovin' Spoonful's Steve Boone; the reissue compilation of Bob Seger's mid-1960s singles; an interview with Student Teachers drummer Laura Davis-Chanin about her memoir; late-'60s David Bowie demos released for the first time fifty years later; and God's Children, the early 1970s Latino soul-rock-pop band with former Thee Midniters singer Willie Garcia.

In Ugly Things: Issue #49 (Winter 2018) of the (mostly) 1960s rock-centered magazine Ugly Things has my lengthy interviews with original Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones and Manfred Mann bassist/guitarist Tom McGuinness. Issue #44 (Spring 2017) has my similarly lengthy interview with Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean. Issue #42 (Summer 2016) has my longinterview with original Yardbirds bassist (and, through mid-1966, musical director) Paul Samwell-Smith. Issue #38 (Fall/Winter 2014) has my 16-page interview with Kinks guitarist Dave Davies. The article also includes an extensive sidebar of information about the Kinks' 1960s career that I unearthed on my visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Library and Archives in spring 2014.

Also in Ugly Things, issue #31 (Spring 2011) and issue #32 (Fall/Winter 2011) have my mammoth (30,000-word) two-part interview with Billy Harrison, guitarist for the great mid-1960s band Them, Van Morrison's first group. Issue #25 has my huge (30-page) story on the Music Machine, one of the greatest garage-psychedelic groups of the 1960s, and the group that had more depth and quality to their original repertoire than perhaps any other '60s band who are known primarily for one hit single ("Talk Talk," in the Music Machine's case). The article is based around lengthy interviews with two original members (bassist Keith Olsen and guitarist Mark Landon) who have rarely spoken about their experiences in the group, as well as two members of the second Music Machine lineup  (keyboardist Harry Garfield and guitarist Alan Wisdom) who have never before discussed their stint in the band.

Issue #23 (Summer 2005) has my similarly lengthy (20-page) story on the Belfast Gypsies. Including ex-members of Them, they were one of the finest overlooked bands of the British Invasion, their sole 1966 album produced by the legendary Kim Fowley. This is the first comprehensive history of this mysterious group ever to appear, the twisted stranger-than-fiction saga drawn from extensive interviews with Belfast Gypsies guitarist Ken McLeod, who consulted his original diaries from the mid-'60s to reconstruct the group's career. Excerpts from my interview with Kim Fowley about the Belfast Gypsies also appear in the article; for the full interview, click here.

Flashback magazine: I have numerous articles and reviews in the first eight issues of the new rock history magazine Flashback, which is now out and available. My full-length articles are on the band Montage (a vehicle for chief Left Banke member Michael Brown after he left the group), the resurgence of vinyl in the reissue market,  archiving rock magazines of the 1960s and 1970s, and the recent rock memoir boom. Also I did lengthy reviews of the John Fahey box set, the Kinks BBC box set, the Phil Ochs documentary DVD, the Graham Bond box set (with a sidebar interview with compiler/Bond friend/Cream lyricist Pete Brown), and the book dedicated to Syd Barrett's artwork, among other items, sometimes with interviews with the people involved. Ordering/availability information is on the magazine's website, www.flashbackmag.com.

In Record Collector: The April and May 2013 issues of the British monthly magazine Record Collector have my two-part article on the most interesting rare San Francisco Bay Area rock records of the 1960s. The September 2014 issue has my story on recently discovered 1969-1971 Bob Dylan acetates. The November 2017 issue has my five-page article on Dion's mid-1960s folk-rock phase, based on a recent first-hand interview with Dion himself. The December 2017 issue has my story on Television guitarist Richard Lloyd, whom I interviewed about his new memoir. The June 2018 issue had my 10,000-word story on the Beatles' The White Album, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the record's release in late 1968. The May 2019 issue has my 10,000-word story on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones in 1969.

The March 2011 issue of Record Collector has my lengthy article on the recently discovered Tim Buckley demos, from late 1965 and mid-1966, that were issued on the bonus disc on Rhino Handmade's deluxe edition of his self-titled debut album. I interviewed Larry Beckett (frequent Buckley songwriting collaborator, and drummer on the 1965 demos), Jim Fielder (bassist on the 1965 demos), and Elektra Records president Jac Holzman for the piece.

Also, the May 2010 issue of Record Collector has my story on The T.A.M.I. Show, the legendary 1964 rock concert film featuring James Brown, the Rolling Stones, the Beach Boys, the Miracles, the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, Chuck Berry, and others; I interviewed director Steve Binder for the article. The September 2007 issue has my feature on Fairport Convention's original woman singer, Judy Dyble, drawing from an extensive recent interview with her. The August 2005 issue has my 20-page article on the top 25 overlooked American folk-rock albums, with in-depth analysis of each LP and new first-hand interview material with some of the artists.

On the air: On Thursday, February 11, 2010, I was one of the guest experts speculating about what the Beatles would have sounded like if they had managed to stay together for one more album on WAMU (88.5 FM) in Washington, DC. The program's archived at wamu.org/programs/the_beatles_one_more_album.

I talk about
Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia on this podcast on the website of CKUA in Alberta.

A five-minute excerpt of my radio interview about
The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film with Beatles expert Ken Michaels can be heard at KenMichaelsRadio.com.

On-line: I was interviewed on-line, taking questions from both conference hosts and readers, about Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia from June 23 to July 7 on The Inkwell, the on-line conference that's part of the WELL website. To read the discussion, click on Richie Unterberger, "Won't Get Fooled Again."

For my other interviews about my books on the Inkwell, click on Richie Unterberger, White Light/White Heat (from May-June 2009); Richie Unterberger, "The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film" (from November 2006); Richie Unterberger: "Eight Miles High" (from September-October 2003); and Richie Unterberger, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" (from September-October 2002).

Elsewhere, you can read Derk Richardson's review "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay Area's top weekly paper. Also, there is a transcript of my July 17, 2002 interview on KPFA on "Dead to the World" in Berkeley, CA discussing Turn! Turn! Turn! on the website of the show's host, David Gans.

And, I did an interview for Shindig! magazine about White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day, and about my work in general for Rock the Net!

On the best of 2003 lists: Eight Miles High was chosen as #9 on MOJO magazine's list of the Top Ten books of 2003.

On the best of 2004 lists: Eight Miles High was chosen as #3 on Record Collector magazine's list of the Top Ten books of 2004.

On the best of 2007 lists: The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film won a 2007 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research in the "Best Discography" division of the "Best Research in Recorded Rock Music" category.

On the best of 2009 lists: White Light/White Heat: The Velvet Underground Day-By-Day was chosen as #4 on Uncut magazine's list of the Top Ten music books of 2009.

In MOJO: The Hendrix & the Summer of Love edition of the MOJO Classic series, published in the summer of 2007, has my articles on Big Brother & the Holding Company and George Harrison's visit to Haight-Ashbury in the summer of 1967. The Greatest Album Covers of All Time edition of the MOJO Classic series, published in spring 2007, has my article on psychedelic LP sleeves. Also, the January 2005 issue of MOJO has my lengthy article on Donovan, and the July 2004 issue of MOJO has my lengthy article on the 1972 Wattstax Festival, the largest American soul concert ever staged.

In Oxford American: The 12th annual Oxford American Southern music issue, which came out in late 2010, has my article on Judy Henske & Jerry Yester's 1969 cult psychedelic album Farewell Aldebaran (an entirely different piece than my chapter on Henske and Yester in Unknown Legends of Rock'n'Roll).

Turn! Turn! Turn! influences Johnny Cash?: From the November 2004 MOJO cover story on Johnny Cash, where producer Rick Rubin discusses the last album Johnny Cash recorded, American V: A Hundred Highways:

"Rubin, meanwhile, had been discovering a new fascination with early '60s American folk music. 'I had just read the book Turn! Turn! Turn! [by MOJO's own Richie Unterberger] and I started getting very excited about a bunch of people like Tim Hardin, Joan Baez. I sent Johnny some of these songs. Whether he liked the song or not, it would always spark his memory and he'd say, "That made me think of this other song, and I like this one better." One example of that was the song "Four Strong Winds." Johnny said he remembered the version by Ian and Sylvia."

Author Sylvie Simmons goes on to write:

"I sat and watched Cash record 'Four Strong Winds' in his bedroom in Hendersonville -- a beautiful, vulnerable version. He also recorded Tom Paxton's 'Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound.'"

Book Buying Info:

All of my books are widely available at both independent booksellers and chain bookstores throughout North America, as well as many such outlets overseas. To order on-line via amazon.com, click on the appropriate book cover below.


The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film

Won't Get Fooled Again: The Who from Lifehouse to Quadrophenia

The Unreleased Beatles: Music and Film

Unknown Legends of Rock'n'RollTurn! Turn! Turn!Eight Miles HighUrban Spacemen & Wayfaring StrangersMusic USA

Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience

 

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contents copyright Richie Unterberger , 2000-2010
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