Poor Bob, my technical support specialist. He was trying to fix computers in the library and I was following him around asking questions like, "Are you a DEADHEAD?" while the Spanish class was researching Hispanic athletes. We have determined that we are muy simpatico in our musical interests.
Enslow Publishing released a series called Rebels of Rock for 2009 including titles like:
Grateful Dead: "What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been" by Michele C. Hollow ISBN 978-0-7660-3028-2 includes one of my favorite Jerry Garcia quotes: "We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it."*
Judas Priest: "Metal Gods" by Brian J. Bowe ISBN 978-0-7660-3029-9 said to be "the first to popularize wearing leather and metal studs." This sent me on the internet to try to verify whether they were the first or not. So far their claims are looking good.
The publisher’s description says: Each book highlights one classic rock band and describes how the members formed the band, how they wrote the music, any drama they might have encountered, concert tours, the number of albums, band break ups, and where are they now. These books also look at what was going on in the world around them at the time they were famous and at their peak. The books also look at each band’s lasting impact on today’s society.
True middle school books, these titles contain 112 pages of biographical and historical information on each band including timelines, discographies, tour & album information, and mini-biographies of each person who performed with the band. Since some of these bands changed members frequently over their long history, this may be the best source for finding less-biased material than say, a fan’s internet tribute page.
I had a hard time keeping these in the library long enough to review them – especially the KISS title. They are flying off the shelf. Students follow the one returning the book just so they can check it out before anyone else. My only complaint with the KISS book is that the cover doesn’t use their signature lightning bolts for S’s. Come on! Tell me that KISS refused to allow you to use their logo?! They love to see their name everywhere. Read the book and you’ll see how marketing played such an important part in their longevity.
Actually, watch the Dr. Pepper Cherry commercial with Gene Simmons and son and you’ll see what I mean about KISS being able to promote themselves. I love that commercial! That may also explain why I’m suddenly craving Dr. Pepper every time I drive through Taco Bell where my #3 son works. He’s just happy I stopped yelling through the drive-through that I needed a "Dr. Pepper with a KISS of cherry." I had to go to the website just so I could play with the photos and Get Kissed with Dr. Pepper.
KISS has always had that affect on my friends. I remember seeing their first album at my friend Sis Jenkins’ house. Her brothers and father were country music singers, but they owned KISS. Her older brother forced me to listen to Beth over and over and over again. Sing it with me "Beth, I hear you callin’ But I can’t come home right now. Me and the boys are playin’ And we just can’t find the sound. Just a few more hours…" (Lyrics from the LyricsFreak.)
These are very readable titles. As I mentioned earlier, they are perfect for the middle school level. There has been a great deal of interest in them by students I never suspected had heard of KISS, Judas Priest, or Grateful Dead. I can’t wait to see what’s next in the series. Shall we take a poll for the next bands?
* Quote from Blair Jackson, Garcia: An American Life (New york: Viking, 1999), p. 474.