Three Book Recommendations for KeenerFans

First things first. Where have we been? As many of you know, Steve and I maintain this shrine in tribute to our all time favorite radio station in our spare time. Over the last couple of years, there hasn’t been a lot of it.

Steve is fully invested in his live as Director of Michigan Public Media, along with his growing family. I joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association on New Year’s Day, 2010 and have been living a whirlwind ever since. That’s the short version. For the backstory, jump over to

But enough of that! Back to the music!

Long time Detroit rock journalist Susan Whitall has written a fascinating book about the life of one of the most under-appreciated, yet most influential R&B artists to emerge from the Motor City. Fever: Little Willie John’s Fast Life, Mysterious Death and the Birth of Soul, is a terrific read. As the publisher notes, “Willie John lived for a fleeting 30 years, but his dynamic and daring sound left an indelible mark on the history of music. His deep blues, rollicking rock ‘n’ roll and swinging ballads inspired a generation of musicians, forming the basis for what we now know as soul music.” If there ever was a seminal influence for the Motown sound, Willie John was it. Susan tells the tale with her legendary attention to detail, mixed with a page-turner prose that will make this one hard to put down once you start it.

Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles is written by someone who was in the control room when the magic was happening. And beyond the influence of the more well known George Martin, Geoff Emerick was the engineer who actually had to translate the band’s ideas into sound, inventing new techniques along the way that have become standard practice today. His story of how the Sgt. Pepper album came to be is, alone, worth the price of purchase. Aside from  the technical stuff that us broadcast engineers will totally love, Geoff describes the Beatles’ creative process and gives us a fascinating portrait of John, Paul, George and Ringo as the human beings they were; four young men caught in the maelstrom of superstardom with all the ego and insecurity that comes with it.

Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 , will take any Keenerfan vividly back in time to what turned out to be a pivotal moment in the history of rock and roll. David Browne tells a story we all thought we knew well with detail and nuance that sheds a whole new light on the little events that had a huge impact on the direction of popular music and culture. Bands were breaking up and being born. Multi-track recording and FM radio came into their own, ushering in a whole new level of creativity. And events outside of the music world conspired to influence the art form in a way that would fundamentally change everyone involved. Grab the Keener hit list from that year. Pull out your 45s and let the memories wash over you.

Got a favorite rock n roll book? Tell us about it. Write to

Jan 16th, 2012 | Posted in Keener
  1. Frank Hartge
    Jan 16th, 2012 at 15:45 | #1

    So glad to see new content on this great site! If my memory serves me, this coming June 1st will mark the tenth anniversary of the launch of, right?

    Congratulations in advance!

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