cover image Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll

Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll

Lenny Kaye. Ecco, $28.99 (512p) ISBN 978-0-06-244920-7

Kaye (You Call It Madness), longtime guitarist of the Patti Smith Group, delivers his magnum opus, a rollicking tour through rock and roll history. He traces rock’s “geographic and temporal journey” by looking at key moments in different locations—from Memphis to Liverpool and London—where, he writes, “elements of chance, cunning, inspired personalities... and bystanders” transformed the genre. He whisks readers back to Alan Freed’s “raucous” 1952 Moondog Coronation Ball in Cleveland, which pumped out “original r&b hits before they [were] made over by white artists”; highlights the many British Beat groups spawned by the Cavern Club in Liverpool in 1962; drifts through San Francisco’s Summer of Love in 1967, when the Grateful Dead played to a sea of spectators hopped up on “cotton candy, corn dogs, [and] LSD”; and explores the evolution of sounds in the 1990s in the “bucolic fishing town” of Bergen, Norway, “the nexus of black metal’s most notorious incidents.” Touching on a dizzying array of famous and obscure musicians, bars, and clubs—and injecting the narrative with his own vivid memories of playing in such legendary places as Manhattan’s CBGB—Kaye brilliantly captures the ecstasy of what it was like to be there, or, as he puts it, “the had-to-be of there.” This memorable history is electrifying. (Jan.)