James Brown Was a Complicated Dad, Says New Book

Categories: Books

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 the work he did 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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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, at a time 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.

That includes Joe Walsh trashing a hotel room and Led Zeppelin throwing TVs. Then there's the time Phillips nearly lost Pink Floyd's iconic, promotional, inflatable pig, when it was tied to the KISW building. 

Read about this near-disaster and other highlights from the book below:

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Richard Hell: I'm more at ease now in my own skin

Categories: Books, Interview
richard hell.jpg
Of all the legendary figures and over-the-top characters to come out of New York's '70s punk scene, there were few who were more influential than Richard Hell -- and probably none who were as mercurial. He was a founding member of three groundbreaking bands -- Television, the Heartbreakers, and his own group, the Voidoids -- and played a vital role in transforming CBGB's into one of the world's most famous rock clubs.

In fact, Hell was the definition of punk: dressed in ripped clothes that were held together by clothespins, his shirts scrawled with provocative slogans -- one of them, "Please Kill Me," later immortalized in book form -- and hair done up in a mess of spikes. His style was even the inspiration for the Sex Pistols, and in turn, to most punks that have come since. And the music matched: a bundle of nervy, raw energy that threatened constant self-destruction, summed up by anthems like "Love Comes in Spurts" and "Blank Generation."

Now, almost 30 years since Hell retired from playing music, his career run off the rails by addiction, he's written a memoir, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp, out now through Ecco press. Ahead of his reading this Saturday at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, Gimme Noise chatted with Hell over the phone from his hotel room in San Francisco.

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L.A. Nik turns self-help author with Life is Short, Then You're Dead Forever

screenshot from "Friends in Minneapolis" video
Since L.A. Nik doesn't have a full-time job, he has to dabble in everything. Now the "Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark" has a book with his name on the front to add to the list of sort-of professions.

See Also:
- L.A. Nik releases "video" for his "Friends in Minneapolis" single
- L.A. Nik explains Letterman connection, drops "Friends in Minneapolis" single
- Mayor Rybak offers perfect rejoinder to L.A. Nik on Facebook

The title, Life is Short, Then You're Dead Forever: A Realistic Self-Help Book, wastes no time telling Nik's prospective readers what they're in for: a healthy dose of how Nik's experiences can help his audience "live life to the fullest," as the author says in a press release. "Realistic, straightforward advice on how to live your life without regret -- like me."

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Five Minnesota albums deserving of a 33 1/3 book

Categories: Books
God Loves Slug, and perhaps so would 33 1/3 readers.
The 33 1/3 pitches are open again! For music obsessives, this long-running series of short books devoted to iconic albums has been a great resource for amusement and exhaustive reporting.

Two personal favorites from the series are Carl Wilson's tome about Celine Dion's Let's Talk About Love and Christopher Weingarten's take on Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. But there are titles concerning the Beastie Boys, Fleetwood Mac, Radiohead, and a few with local ties. Prince's Sign "O" the Times  is explored by Michaelangelo Matos and the Replacements' Let it Be is explored by Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy. (And, Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited by Mark Polizzotti, we suppose.)

Now, they're taking some more proposals until April 30, and here are five Minnesota albums that would be a fascinating read.

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Will Hermes in Minneapolis to read from 'Love Goes To Buildings On Fire'

Categories: Books, Interview
Hermes, Will.jpg
Photo By Adam Weiss
Will Hermes is currently a senior critic for Rolling Stone, as well as being a regular contributor to NPR's "All Things Considered," but he has a distinguished history with the Twin Cities music scene as well. Mr. Hermes began writing for the City Pages in the early '90s, and became the Arts & Music editor in '93, a position he still looks back on with deep affection. He is in town tonight to read from his illuminating new book, Love Goes To Buildings On Fire, which is a comprehensive and fascinating study of the New York music scene between the years 1973-77. We were able to ask Mr. Hermes a few questions about both his book and his long love affair with music in advance of his reading tonight at 7 p.m. at the Minneapolis Central Library.

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2009 Twin Cities Book Festival Schedule

Categories: Books
books fest 500.jpg
(Photo by Wonderlane)

Looking for something to do this Saturday? You should check out the Twin Cities Book Festival. The ninth annual event looks pretty awesome. They have a Pulitzer prize-winner who once worked as a counterintelligence officer, a naturalist that has an animal sex pheromone named after her, and a xenolinguist who once worked for Gene Roddenberry. Check out the complete schedule for this free event after the jump.
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2010 Saint Paul Almanac launch party tonight

Categories: Books
saint paul daytime pretty.jpg
(photo by cliff1066)

What does St. Paul have that Minneapolis doesn't? The capital city has its own almanac, for starters. Now in its fourth year, this annual publication features essays, poems, reviews, stories, and even a limerick or two. Come celebrate the Almanac tonight.

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Twin Cities Book Festival announces guest authors

Categories: Books


Minnesota's literary event of the year, the Twin Cities Book Festival, will celebrate its ninth year in October, and the fair's organizers say you can expect to rub padded elbows with some heavy-hitters from the lit world.

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Dessa announces book reading at the Guthrie

Categories: Books
Dessa Darling.jpg

Fans of Doomtree's Dessa Darling would do well to check out the rapper's new book of poetry and prose, Spiral Bound. After reading the book over the weekend, I wholeheartedly agree with fellow Gimme Noise contributor David Hansen, who recently wrote that Spiral Bound is "a dominantly dazzling literary debut."

Dessa will officially release the book at the Guthrie Theater on February 7 at an event hosted by Mpls/St. Paul Magazine's Steve Marsh, who will lend his self-described "signature blend of careening intellectualism, dry humor, and earnest curiosity" to the event. In addition to a live Q&A between Marsh and Dessa, the night will include performances by acclaimed singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith and appearances by writers John Jodzio and Shane Hawley.More »