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."
Also out: My
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.
Underground Day-By-Day includes not only basic
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.
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
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. 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 Monday, September 13 from 6pm-7:30pm, I present "George Harrison: The Road to All Things Must Pass, Part 1." In honor of the new five-CD expanded edition of Harrison's first solo album, All Things Must Pass, this looks at George's evolution from lead guitarist and occasional songwriter in the Beatles to solo star with his 1970 debut LP. The first part focuses on his work in the Beatles; the second part, on Monday, September 27 from 6pm-7:30pm, looks at All Things Must Pass itself, a surprise huge hit record shortly after the Beatles split.
The events move to Friday nights in October, starting with "La Bamba: Latinos in Vintage Rock, Pop, and Soul" from 6pm-7:30pm on Friday, October 15. This program spotlights Latino performers from the 1950s through the 1980s, in conjunction with National Hispanic Heritage Month. Santana, Malo, Ritchie Valens, Thee Midniters, the Sir Douglas Quintet, Linda Ronstadt, and Los Lobos are among the featured artists. On Friday, October 29 from 6pm-7:30pm, I'll present "The Golden Age of EPs." EPs, or extended play records. These have a format that includes more songs than most singles, but less than most albums. Much more common in the UK and Europe than the US by the 1960s, there were numerous interesting EP releases and picture sleeves by major British Invasion bands, as well as a few interesting rare EPs in the US, including some by Bay Area groups. This program illustrates and discusses many such EP releases, mostly from the 1960s, with a few from before and after that decade.
In the fall, I'm presenting two programs on vintage music festivals at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. On Wednesday, October 6 from 2pm-3:30pm, "The Woodstock Music Festival: Rare Performances" features clips from the era of performers at that event, including Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Who, and Joan Baez. This free event will be presented online via Zoom, though you need to register for it at https://www.jccsf.org/event/the-woodstock-music-festival-rare-performances.
On Wednesday, November 3 from 2pm-3:30pm, "Great Outdoor Music Festivals: Monterey and More" features uncommon clips from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, along with other festivals from the 1960s and early 1970s like the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals, the Isle of Wight Festival, and Wattstax. The event is free, though it will be determined whether they are presented in person at the Jewish Community Center or online via Zoom. You can register for it at
Courses: From October 19 to November 30, I'll be teaching a seven-week non-credit adult/community education course on San Francisco in Photographs, 1850-2020 on the Kentfield, California campus of the College of Marin. (The course will simultaneously be offered via Zoom for those who wish to access it from home or a remote location.) Meeting on Tuesday nights from 7:10pm-9:30pm, this will present and discuss more than a thousand of the most striking images that document the Bay Area’s history. From the time photography was invented, the San Francisco Bay Area has been the setting for fabulous pictures of its beautiful landscapes and earthshaking social movements. This will cover the evolution of the Bay Area from 1850 to the present, encompassing the region’s architecture, music, political activism, and spectacular natural beauty. Work by some of the most internationally renowned photographers of several eras will be included. Registration (for course 5097 in person, 5098 remote) is now available 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
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
my similarly lengthy (20-page) story on the Belfast Gypsies. Including
Them, they were one of the finest overlooked bands of the British
their sole 1966 album produced by the legendary Kim Fowley. This is the
first comprehensive history of this mysterious group ever to appear,
twisted stranger-than-fiction saga drawn from extensive interviews with
Belfast Gypsies guitarist Ken McLeod, who consulted his original
from the mid-'60s to reconstruct the group's career. Excerpts from my
with Kim Fowley about the Belfast Gypsies also appear in the article;
the full interview, click here.
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
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.
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
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
review "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the Bay
top weekly paper. Also, there is a transcript
of my July 17, 2002 interview on KPFA on "Dead to the World" in
CA discussing Turn! Turn! Turn! on the website of the show's
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 2004 lists: Eight
Miles High was chosen as #3 on Record Collector
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 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
booksellers and chain bookstores throughout North America, as well as
such outlets overseas. To order on-line via amazon.com, click on the
book cover below.