Jim Peterik Still Has That Eye of the Tiger

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Photo by Lynne Peters
Survivor co-founder Jim Peterik, who has developed a fondness for purple hair dye, today.
An answering-machine message not only changed Jim Peterik's life forever, but led to the creation of one of the '80s biggest anthems that can still be heard all over the place some three decades later.

"When I played the message, I thought someone was pranking me, because our road manager, Sal, did a pretty good impression of Sylvester Stallone," Peterik says today.

But no, it was legit: the actor/director was putting together Rocky III and needed a blood-pumping song to start the movie off after his original choice, Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," proved unattainable.

"The message was like 'Yo, Jim, that's a nice answering machine message you got there!" Peterik says with his own impression. "I really like that song you have called 'Poor Man's Son.' It's got a street sound, and I want that for my movie!"


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When the U.S. Caught Beatlemania, Larry Kane Was There

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Larry Kane
Larry Kane (center) with Paul McCartney and John Lennon aboard the Beatles' airplane on the 1964 U.S. tour.
Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour That Changed the World
By Larry Kane
Backbeat Books, 272 pp. (w/CD), $24.99

"What's your problem, man? Why are you dressed like a fag-ass?"

It was an inauspicious and unexpected question/accusation directed at Larry Kane, a fresh-faced 21-year-old radio news reporter from Miami. It was also the shocked journalist's first encounter with John Lennon, a member of the new pop group from England called the Beatles. Kane had been assigned to travel with them, covering the band's first U.S. tour.

The fact that Lennon was just taking the mickey out of the conservatively-dressed Kane at a reception, he got later. And as the only U.S. journalist to tour with the group on both their 1964 and 1965 jaunts, he saw and heard incidents and events that don't appear in any other tome on the Fab Four.


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Dream Weaver Gary Wright Was Best Friends With a Beatle

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Rob Shanahan/Tarcher Books
Gary Wright, Your Friendly Neighborhood Dream Weaver
There aren't many more concrete instances of one singer being so clearly connected to one song in the classic rock canon than Gary Wright with "Dream Weaver." The 1976 single, recorded with all synthesizers, reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart, has been a constant presence on radio and in movies (from Wayne's World to Toy Story 3), and is easily Wright's best-known number.

In fact, "The Dream Weaver" has also become a nom de plume for Wright, the URL of his official Web site, and the title of his upcoming autobiography, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, and My Friendship with George Harrison (Tarcher, 256 pp., $26.95). But the song, about God and inspired by Wright's intense devotion to Hindu religion and teachings, almost never made it on the album that would eventually bear the same name.

"It was the last song I put on the record, and I thought it was a nice little thing, but didn't put any credence in it," Wright says today. "I didn't think it would be [a hit]. But it took on a life of its own. And I feel very blessed and fortunate that I was able to have written a song that reached that kind of status."


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Joe Perry Walks His Way in New Memoir

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copyright Ross Haflin/Simon & Schuster
Joe Perry tells his life story - before and after the grey streak - in "ROCKS."
While they may not be blood brothers, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, singer and guitarist for Aerosmith, respectively, might as well be for the relationship they've had for more than 45 years.

It's a love/hate story that Perry details extensively, along with his own life, in his new autobiography written with David Ritz, ROCKS: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith (432 pp., $27.99, Simon & Schuster). And, if you've been following the saga of the "Toxic Twins" today, the future of one of America's greatest hard-rock bands is still in flux.

At the time that we recently spoke with Perry, just days before publication, neither Tyler nor any other band member had seen a copy of the book.


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Soul Brother No. 1 Was a Complicated Dad, Says New Book

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Chicago Review Press
Dr. Yamma Brown, whose Father was the Godfather. Got that?
James Brown was, of course, the Godfather of Soul and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. But all that he worked to grab those titles over decades seemed to come crashing down through much of the '80s and '90s.

That's when he derailed into years of drug and domestic abuse, erratic behavior, weapons charges, a carousel of women, and questionable business deals. His name became more a punch line for comedians than a pillar for music writers, the low point being a crazy-looking mug shot and an actual stint in a South Carolina prison (remember the "Free James Brown" T-shirts?).

But his crash and burn was no laughing matter to some members of his family, especially daughter Yamma.


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Revisiting Johnny Winter's Hell-Raising Memoir

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Photo courtesy of Kid Logic Media
Johnny Winter, third from left, with John Belushi, Muddy Waters and Dan Aykroyd
Raisin' Cain; The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter
By Mary Lou Sullivan
Backbeat Books, 384 pp., $24.99

As is the case when any musician dies, widespread interest in his or her career and catalog shoots up in the immediate aftermath. And that has certainly been the case with blazing blues singer/guitarist Johnny Winter, who passed away in July at the age of 70 while on the road in Switzerland.

Ironically, even outside of his demise, the profile of the Beaumont native and former Houstonian was on the rise with the release of a career-spanning box set (True to the Blues), a documentary (Johnny Winter: Down and Dirty) and a now-posthumous "comeback" record, Step Back.

So it's a good chance to look back at Raisin' Cain. First published in 2010, it was the culmination of a rocky road for author Sullivan. Based on scores of hours of first-person interviews Sullivan conducted with Winter -- along with his bandmates, his mother and brother Edgar, friends, lovers and others -- the book took more than two decades to produce. It didn't help that a former manager barred her from access to Winter halfway through the project, while his next one restored the relationship.


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Totally True Tales of Classic-Rock Debauchery!

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Photos courtesy of Beau Phillips
Red Rocker Sammy Hagar (with wild blonde hair) and radio man Beau Phillips (with dark, super-'80s mustache) hanging out.
Come with me now, rock music fan, to visit a bygone time of yore.

Imagine a time when radio station program directors could actually program their radio stations. When artists both on the rise and hugely successful playing in town might drop by the station, hang with the DJs, and play some softball. And when interviews could last days over various illicit substances rather than as a series of phone calls in 15-minute increments with a publicist listening in to interject if the conversation got too "controversial."

This golden time of rock radio lasted roughly from the late '70s to the early '90s, and Beau Phillips lived it firsthand. As a DJ and director at Seattle's KISW radio and, later, VP of Marketing for VH-1, Phillips had plenty of opportunity to study the species rockstarus maximus up close and personal.


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Pop's History in 624 Pages, Plus One Very Loud Who Book

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Photos via Wikipedia (Boston)/Daniel Kramer (Madonna)/Wikipedia (Wizzard)/Robin Harper-Parkwood Entertainment (Beyonce)
Clockwise from top left: Boston, Madonna, Marvin Gaye, Wizzard and Beyonce all figure -- briefly -- in Bob Stanley's The Story of Pop.
Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé
By Bob Stanley
W.W. Norton, 624 pp. $29.95

Well, that's not an ambitious title or anything, now is it? Especially when music journo Stanley (also the co-founder and keyboardist of Saint Etienne) has such a broad definition of "pop" music. This means that the doorstop-sized tome covers everyone from rockabilly to doo-wop to Merseybeat to folk rock. From Motown and psychedelia to soft rock and country and western, punk and New Wave to metal and electropop. From hip-hop and indie to grunge, acid house and R&B. Bill to Beyoncé indeed.

And you know what? Stanley seems to make this roller-coaster ride through pop history work, cramming hundreds of performers and songs into the narrative's whirlwind journey.

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Southern Rock Gets a New Bible in Southbound

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Capricorn Records
Kings of the Hill -- the original lineup of the Allman Brothers Band: Jaimoe Johanson, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts, and Butch Trucks.
While there are plenty of musicians, record collectors and journos who will argue (as only musicians, record collectors and journos can) that all rock is "Southern rock" due to its geographical origins, Southern rock is nonetheless a well-defined genre.

And that genre finally gets its comprehensive Bible in Scott B. Bomar's Southbound: The Illustrated History of Southern Rock (Backbeat Books, 304 pp., $29.99). Insanely detailed with band bios, rare live and publicity photos, and chapters giving the context of Southern rock in both the greater world of music and its '70s heyday, Southbound covers the genre's giants (Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top), mid-level players (Marshall Tucker Band, Atlanta Rhythm Section) and more obscure groups (Cowboy, Grinderswitch).

Recently Rocks Off spoke with Bomar, a researcher and music-industry pro who specializes in reissues, about the book, the bands, and how Southern Rock helped elect a U.S. President.


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Confessions of Bob Dylan's Ex-Joint Roller

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St. Martin's/Photo by Edward Chavez
Victor Maymudes and Bob Dylan, 1964
Another Side of Bob Dylan: A Personal History on the Road and Off the Tracks
By Victor Maymudes, co-written and edited by Jacob Maymudes
St. Martin's Press, 304 pp., $26.99

From 1961 to 1966, Victor Maymudes filled a lot of roles -- both official and not -- for Bob Dylan: friend, confidante, gofer, driver, road manager, interference runner, party buddy, chess and conversation partner, and procurer/carrier of marijuana. And joint roller.

It's that last role even Maymudes' son Jacob says will likely be his lasting legacy, at least in rock history. For on that fateful night of August 28, 1964 at the Delmonico Hotel in New York, it was Maymudes who made the famous Smoke Summit/First Meeting between Dylan and the Beatles possible, after nearly getting sucked away by the teeming crowd of screaming girls and cops around the band.

The New Yorkers, mistakenly thinking that the repetitive chorus "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" went "I get high" instead of the actual "I can't hide," figured the Fabs were already experienced smokers.


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