Desperados: The Roots of Country Rock

John Einarsen, Author Cooper Square Publishers $19.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8154-1065-2
Experimental young longhairs in 1960s Southern California brought about the birth of country rock, rife with complications as it was. Musicians dug the sound of groups like Poco, the Dillards, Buffalo Springfield and the Byrds, but scaredy-cat rock execs often deemed them too countrified for the mainstream, while Nashville scoffed at the rock 'n' roll carpetbaggers. Finally, in 1971, when Linda Ronstadt's backing band reinvented itself as the Eagles, country rock became legit. Interestingly, as biographer and music historian Einarson notes in the first full genre history, The Eagles' Greatest Hits surpassed Michael Jackson's Thriller as the bestselling record of all time. Drawing from more than 60 exclusive interviews, Einarson (Neil Young: Don't Be Denied) masterfully weaves flavorful, revealing quotes from country-rock originators like Chris Hillman, Randy Meisner and Jim Messina into this engaging, up-close look at the passions, chemistry, conflicts and politics that shaped the genre from 1963 to 1973. Without airbrushing the pioneers, he profiles legends like brilliant, irresponsible Gram Parsons, who died at 26, and also praises the unsung. He documents curveballs like the British Invasion, which caused many country rockers to either resign or redesign, as well as landmark collaborations somewhere an entire album's worth of unreleased Johnny Cash/Bob Dylan tracks gathers dust. Einarson gives glimpses into what might've been: The Band considered being called The Honkies or The Crackers, and both Stephen Stills and Charles Manson reportedly auditioned for the Monkees. Music lovers and historians will widen their trivia repertoire with this book and its discography, and they'll appreciate the tribute paid to those who rocked country-style before it was cool. 16 pages b&w photos; index not seen by PW. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/15/2001
Release date: 01/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 276 pages - 978-1-55082-215-1
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