Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Detroit Rock City the Uncensored History of Five Decades of Rock and Roll in America's Oldest City

A few months ago I replied to an e-mail about reading a book about Detroit music history and doing a review for the website. I like to read and figured if it was interesting I might learn something that I could pass on to our readers. I didn't think about the e-mail again until one day a book showed up on my doorstep. This book is no ordinary biography written by someone who researched something and is disseminating the information to its readers. Instead, it is the true history of music in Detroit. It is first person accounts from the people that lived and breathed music and it is one of the best books I have read in years.

The book, Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City, was written by Steve Miller. He spent 11 years writing this book and at the end of it all he came to one conclusion, "Detroit is the most influential rock and roll city on Earth”. Miller was 11 years old when he accidentally caught a glimpse of The MC5 sound checking and it changed his life. He grew up listening to The Stooges and thinking Iggy was the biggest bad ass in the world. He used his knowledge and access to get interviews with everyone from Bob Seager, MC5, and Ted Nuggent to Jack White and Andrew W.K., just to name a few. But, he also interviewed the groupies, the roadies, the venue owners, the booking agents, and the scenesters that all came together to put Detroit on the map. He talked to people who worked at and ran venues like Michigan Palace, Bookies, City Club, and the Magic Stick, as well as people who were at some of the legendary shows that were played there.

This book answered a lot of questions that I had and helped me understand why the music scene is where it is today. The funny thing is that even though Detroit is no longer a thriving city, in many ways its music is still thriving. We are one of the only places in the world that you can see a live band play any day of the week. Music defines a lot of the culture of the city and is still the reason that I frequent its streets most nights of the week.

I also learned that Bob Seager really did play at a high school, something I always assumed was urban myth. I discovered the real reasons that MC5 fell apart and why some of the bigger venues had to shut their doors. I would love to tell you about all of this, but this book does a much better job of telling the stories, from first person accounts and recollections. It also answers the question I always was too scared to ask my friend Jason Stollsteimer from the Von Bondies/Hounds Below, “Why the hell did Jack White punch your ass out at the Magic Stick in 2004?" Thank you for that one! I personally always wondered and was not insulting my friend by bringing that up!

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City comes out today. You can pick it up at your local bookstore or order it online here. I suggest this as the summer read for anyone who loves Detroit and the music scene that is still thriving in its city streets. Thank you very much for letting us preview this book, we loved it!


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