The Grateful Dead's Journey Is Far From Over

Categories: books

Don LaVange via Flickr
The cover art of the Grateful Dead's Winterland 1973: The Complete Recordings three-LP set
By: Bob Ruggiero

No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead
By Peter Richardson
St. Martin's, 384 pp., $26.99

With 2015 marking the 50th anniversary of their formation, expect a lot of attention paid this year to the musical and cultural legacy of the Grateful Dead. The four surviving members of the classic lineup (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart) have announced a "that's all, folks!" series of final shows under the banner of "Fare Thee Well" July 3-5 at Chicago's Soldier Field.

According to a published report, the band has already received requests for 350,000 tickets even though the capacity for all shows is just under 200,000 -- and that's just from their in-house mail order service. Phish's Trey Anastasio will fill in on guitar and vocals for the late Jerry Garcia, and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards) and previous Dead compatriot Bruce Hornsby (piano) will augment the lineup.

Author Peter Richardson's No Simple Highway mainly looks and the musical, social, and political influences that surrounded the group, as well as its own unique models of traveling, touring and community which developed (and were not always successful) over the course of decades.

More »

What Were '80s Skinheads Really Like?

Categories: books

Derek Ridgers
Skinheads in Chelsea
The boots, the grimaces, the shiny baldness and bad intentions are all hallmarks of the skinheads we know and loathe in OC. We've also laughed at plenty of the ass beatings they've endured over the years on their plummet to near-extinction behind the Orange Curtain. But tracing the origins of this culture of white power stupidity dates back to the decrepit back alleys, town squares, and clubs of London and nearby coastal towns in the late '70s. No longer were skinheads a subset of working class youth obsessed with Jamaican culture and soul music. It had become a movement fully infected by Nazi ideology, fueled by rhetoric and a sharp hatred of minorities, homosexuals and foreigners. Despite the need to portray some clench-fisted standoff with society, it appears many of these little fuckers were quite the attention whores.

More »

Excerpts From New Rock Memoir I Killed Pink Floyd's Pig

Categories: books

Beau Phillips
Beau Phillips (left) with Robert Plant
Beau Phillips was a radio programmer at Seattle radio station KISW from 1978 to 1996, and was head of marketing at MTV for a few years. During this time, he was around some of the biggest names in music, when the biz was at its financial apex.

Phillips just self-published a memoir called I Killed Pink Floyd's Pig, which looks back on his career and "all the wildness that went on backstage," as Sammy Hagar says in the book's forward.

More »

Five Rap Songs The Would Make Great Children's Books

Categories: books

Recently, the worlds of rap classics and children's literature collided with the online release of "Regulate: the Children's Book." The debut project of the "HipHopChildrensBooks" Tumblr, it's the brainchild of rapper and Soulcrate Music member Wes Eisenhauer who brought Warren G and Nate Dogg's storybook-style rhyme slingin' into the style of an actual storybook, thanks to artist Mark Wagner. Inspired by this innovation, which can be read for free here, we at the Weekly came up with five rap songs we also hope get the children's book treatment.

More »

Do Zines Belong in OC's Public Libraries?

Categories: books

Thumbnail image for libraryzine1.jpg.jpg
Sarah Bennett
Ziba Perez Zehdar
In 2012, Ziba Perez Zehdar re-discovered zines, those little anti-authoritarian pieces of self-published paper long printed by everyone from science fiction fans to early LGBT activists to punk rockers and the Riotgrrrls. The first L.A. Zine Fest happened in February of that year and even though it had been more than ten years since Zehdar's high school friend last turned poetry, photos and even crossword puzzles from other members of their crew into a photocopied and hand-stapled scrapbook called Luna and Tuna, she bought a vendor table for them anyway.

"I told her 'For your birthday, I got us a booth at L.A. Zine Fest and you're going to make a new Luna and Tuna for it,'" Zehdar, who is now an Adult Services Librarian with the Orange County Public library system, remembers.

More »

Author Craig Lewis Explains Why Punk Rock is a Haven For the Mentally Unstable

Max Braverman
Craig Lewis

Many authors speak in front of live audiences in hopes of selling books. Craig Lewis, however, has a different agenda.

The 40-year-old's lecture Saturday night at TKO Records in Huntington Beach will address issues regarding mental health, but in a way many are unfamiliar with. You see, Lewis -- like Sheena -- is a punk rocker.

To the uninformed, punk rock is nothing more than Sid Vicious shooting dope and (allegedly) killing his girlfriend Nancy Spungen, but people actively involved in punk understand the genre is more than a deceased Sex Pistol. The culture's do-it-yourself spirit empowers its followers and allows them to be as expressive and individualistic as they choose. Often, Lewis says, punk's open-door policy welcomes artists, misfits, weirdos and anti-authoritarian types. The scene also becomes a sanctuary for people with mental health issues.

Unfortunately, Lewis -- a certified peer specialist -- says mental health is an issue still not fully addressed in his community, which is why he published Better Days: A Mental Health Recovery Workbook and You're Crazy, a collection of 27 essays by punkers addressing their mental health issues and addiction. It's a sentiment that Lewis understands as he was first placed into a psychiatric home at 14 and later spent a decade getting high. Lewis says he's been drug-and-alcohol -free since 2001 and focuses on having good minutes, good hours and good days, which he attributes to his being "healthy now...for the most part."

More »

Chrysalis Records Co-Founder Praised the Specials, Passed on the Sex Pistols (Twice!)

Categories: books

Courtesy of Chris Wright
He's a multi-millionaire, a music industry pioneer, business tycoon and co-founder of one of the most important record labels in history. And though Chris Wright's name probably doesn't ring a bell to you, acts like Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, The Specials and Billy Idol, who owe much of their careers to his label Chrysalis Records, probably do. Wright started the label in 1969 with business partner Terry Ellis (Chris + Ellis= Chrysalis, get it?) and grew it into an empire that provided a portal for dozens of British acts to tour and record in the US in the 70s. In the 80s, he was responsible for launching the careers of American bands like Blondie and Huey Lewis and the News. In1991, he sold the label rights to EMI. Of course, Wright went on to do other things outside the music industry, own soccer and ruby teams as well as a fistful of radio stations and production companies.

He charts his life story in his recently-released autobiography, One Way or Another, in which he details growing up poor on the eastern coastline of England to becoming a full-blown entertainment mogul with plenty of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll along the way. It's rock history through the lens of a top executive who learned on the job and stuck to his music tastes and ethics--almost to a fault (he famously signed Billy Idol after passing on a record deal with Sex Pistols not once, but twice!). His memoirs bare a unique perspective on some of our most beloved rock gods--one that's unflinching, honest and overall pretty memorable. We spent some time with Wright discussing his book, and his involvement with some of the biggest artists in the world.

More »

Jack Grisham of TSOL's Latest Book, 'Code Blue,' Addresses Teenage Angst, Necrophilia

Before we begin our conversation, TSOL frontman/author/OC Weekly columnist Jack Grisham jokingly asks, "Is there anything we have to talk about that I can't talk about with my daughter?"

The topic of the day was Code Blue, Grisham's third and latest book on all the typical issues that arise within the confines of a high school: bullying, the parent-child dynamic, isolation, gossip, death ... and maybe some necrophilia. Presented much like a children's book might be presented--hard cover, full-page illustrations by Scott Aicher, large font presented on an approximate 30-40 pages--Code Blue is based on what might be TSOL's most notorious song of the same name. (Sample lyrics? "I never got along with the girls at my school/Filling me up with all their morals and their rules/They'd pile all their problems on my head I'd rather go out and fuck the dead")

"Well, it's not a bad story," Grisham says with a laugh. "It's a well-written story." 
More »

John Heffron Is Coming to You from the Future.

I've wanted to write a book forever!
John Heffron is one busy mofo. On top of his regular touring across the country, the stand-up comic recently became an author. His new book "I Come to You from the Future" hit Amazon and iBooks with a bang just in time for the holidays and while in the midst of his gig at the Brea Improv this weekend, we talked to Heffron about his new venture into the literary world with his book that offers advice for both men and women. Ehhh hemmm...stocking stuffers anyone?

More »

New KISStory Book Reveals the Band's Early Misadventures

Categories: books

Fin Costello/KISS Catalog Ltd.
Alternate "Alive!" front cover image, Michigan Palace, Detroit, May 15, 1975
By: Bob Ruggiero
Nothin' to Lose: The Making of KISS (1972-1975)
By Ken Sharp with Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons
It Books, 560 pp., $29.99

If a 500-plus page oral history about a band which only covers the period before their first hit sounds like it's over the top, it doesn't when you realize that the band is KISS.

Ken Sharp, who also co-wrote official KISS biography Behind the Mask, conducts more than 200 interviews with band members (including former players Ace Frehley and Peter Criss), managers, promoters, journalists, fans, agents, roadies, club owners, costume designers and just about every musician who either opened for KISS or watched helplessly trying to follow their spectacle.

More »