We’re going to kill two birds with one review. Charles Rivers Editors has recently released books on rock stars. The first one that came to my attention was “The Most Influential Rock Stars of the 1960’s: The Lives of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison.” As I read the Lennon and McCartney sections I discovered there was a Charles Rivers Editors stand alone book on Jim Morrison. At first these books seem informative, but as I read further into them a lot of questions started arising in my mind as to the credibility and accuracy of the information presented.
In “The Most Influential Rock Stars of the 1960’s” the Lennon and McCartney sections seemed informative, concise and compact biographies of the two and seemed to jibe with what I already knew about them. The first concern that I had was that Lennon and McCartney sections took up almost half of the book and that the other musicians would get short shrift. That concern was realized as I read the Dylan section. It seemed a rather quick telling of Dylan’s career which is disappointing because Dylan has had a rather rich fifty year career and is a musician I would like to know more about. The section on Jimi Hendrix seemed a fair telling of Hendrix’s story and did include some information that I hadn’t previously known about Hendrix regarding how his military career influenced his unique sound. I’ve never been a huge fan of Janis Joplin’s, but do enjoy some of her songs, and have read a biography of her in the past and I thought this book‘s portrayal of Joplin left a lot to be desired. The exception is the chapter on Joplin’s legacy and I thought that gave a very nice perspective on Joplin’s influence. Then came the section on Jim Morrison which threw into question the credibility of the information I’ve mentioned.
The Jim Morrison section starts off with a fairly standard telling of Morrison’s biography, but then starts adding in a lot of conjecture, conflation of events and outright inaccuracies of Morrison’s life. A few examples, that Jim Morrison told his parents he was dropping out of school to be in a band while he still lived in Florida. May be true or it’s a different interpretation of events or a conflation of events that happened after Morrison had started The Doors. Another is that Jim Morrison refused to appear at Woodstock for fear of being shot. I’ve never seen that in any other Morrison biography, or anything that even suggested that. At the time of Woodstock The Doors were still reeling from the Miami incident and probably would have taken any show offered. Even if true, what mindset or event would lead Morrison to believe he’d be shot at Woodstock? The Doors were appearing at whatever concerts they could book. Altamont didn’t happen until December of ‘69 so there wasn’t any extra-ordinary concerns at festivals for performers’ safety. The Charles River Editors also have Jim Morrison creating a demo of what would become Doors songs in 1963 at Pacific Records, before Morrison even arrived in L.A., before he met Ray Manzare,k and even before he had written the songs! I checked the footnotes cited in the book and found the main source of information was David Dalton’s 1991 biography “Mr. Mojo Rising: Jim Morrison, The Last Holy Fool”, or questionable websites such as rotten.com.
The stand alone biography of Morrison by the Charles Rivers Editors is just the Jim Morrison section “Most Influential Rock Stars” under its own separate cover with an introduction added that comes in at 51 pages. If the Charles Rivers plan is to release separate books on each of the musicians in “Most Influential Rock Stars” as a series, I would advise consumers that there are more reliable biographies on these rock stars.
Both books are available at Amazon.
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