Sunday, December 31, 2006

ROCKIN's first year began at Billetproof

September 16, 2006. I remember that day well . . . when Brent Rector, ROCKIN's book designer, showed me the very first copy which had been airlifted from China to his Sacramento, CA studio so he could check to see that all was well.

This was at Billetproof, in Antioch, CA, where the rat rods ruled. It was also the day I met James Hetfield from Metallica and put ROCKIN' in his hands as well.

So, as we exit ROCKIN's first calendar year and begin the next, here are a few moments from that day

~ the book itself, atop the pinstriped rear lid of Brent's '59 Cadillac
~ the first promo flyer, slipped onto the windshield of a fantastic Greyhound bus
~ the flyer on the bench seat of a participant's car, ready to point the way

It's been a gas. Ever onward!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

ROCKIN' event of the year

Drum roll and rimshots please!

The numero uno ROCKIN' event of the year was the booksigning (photos here by David Glossner, the book's associate producer who flew in from Rochester, NY to help me coordinate the festivities) at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles with Mike Ness, Big Slice (Snoop's celebrated car customizer), ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, and the hundreds of Mike Ness fans. That's Mike's wife Christine, an accomplished photographer herself.

Mike, Slice, and BFG . . . you rock! Here's to a healthy, prosperous New Year, full of the joys of pursuing one's dreams and ultimately accomplishment.

Friday, December 29, 2006

ROCKIN' II, the sequel

watch out, baby, 'cause here I come!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

big thanks to ROCKIN' radio throughout the US

Yesterday I taped a nationwide syndicated broadcast hosted by longtime SF Bay Area radio personality Paul Wells, aka "the Lobster." That's Paul pictured here. It will air in many markets the first week in January, including KFOX (San Jose, CA), WNRQ (Nashville, TN), WRFQ (Charleston, SC), WYNY (Memphis, TN), KFXS (Rapid City, SD), to name just a few. You can check out the complete roster of stations, and airtimes for the broadcast, at

Radio was very good to ROCKIN'. Among much else, I was on ABC radio nationally (produced by Lucy Tauss), Sirius satellite radio (hosted by Dave Marsh), Bob Long's national Motor Trend Radio (three times), and major morning and drivetime shows at KFOG (San Francisco), WTTS-FM (Indianapolis, IN), WCSX (Detroit, MI), KMCH (Manchester, IA), WBT Newstalk (Charlotte, NC), WFDU (Hackensack, NJ), and KUT (Austin, TX), and that's just a few. Everyone was enthusiastic about ROCKIN' (each DJ had their own personal stories about cars and rock to relate) which made for great radio.

Next up, WBZ-Boston (the Jordan Rich show, for a complete night-time hour) on January 13th, which goes live to 38 states and parts of Canada.

Also can't forget to mention the inspired Wings for Wheels podcast (the new radio, you might say), hosted by David Lifton, which you can access at

Early in the new year you'll see radio coverage about ROCKIN' in connection with the San Francisco Rod, Custom, and Motorcycle Show as well as the Grand National Rod & Custom show in Pomona, CA. Then, as now being planned throughout the entire year, ROCKIN' radio tie-ins to all the Goodguys rod & custome events throughout the US.

Keep those headphones tuned in!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

ROCKIN' thanks to Stainboy, Lindsey Kuhn, and all the other great rock poster artists involved

Stainboy (Greg Reinel) is one of the top rock concert poster artists working today. He drew "Mustang Sally" (page 179) for ROCKIN', and I also included his Nashville Pussy tour poster (page 185) that received boatloads of attention in his hometown of Orlando, FL when he actually posted it on the street. Greg is one of the truly great rockers I've been fortunate to hang with.

The picture of him in his green machine was taken in Ohio, in front of artist Mike Martin's house (Mike did the inspired skull-engine piece which is full page 42). Stainboy, happily married to Erin, also can be a travelin' man, logging tens of thousands of miles in a year depending on where the two major rock poster conventions are, and if his band, Nutrajet, is on the road as well.

Lindsey Kuhn, shown here with Stainboy, heads up the SWAMP company in Denver and is top-dog-printer (and poster artist) in the skate industry. His Kills poster (page 105) continues to confound me--in a great way--years after having first seen it at Flatstock at SXSW. It's the essence of being behind the wheel, with a great desert vista ahead and all around.

Many of you know I'm the author of THE ART OF ROCK and later, with Dennis King, of ART OF MODERN ROCK. So I've been surrounded by poster artists for the better part of three decades. ROCKIN' benefited from these relationships, giving me the ability to explain songs, moods, and attitudes about cars and rock by way of these inspired and necessarily oblique viewpoints.

The full list of the artists involved is in the acknowledgments page. So I just want to say, once more, big thanks to each and every one who went over the edge for ROCKIN'.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

ROCKIN' '06_thanks #1 (Darrell Mayabb)

What a fine year it's been. So I'm gonna say thanks to a number of people in the next couple of blogs, beginning with Darrell Mayabb.

Darrell did the book's front jacket. He also was very kind to so beautifully remarque a number of books for friends of friends, as shown here.

Also here, a photo of Darrell with Bob Larivee and Don Garlits, at the '06 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Larivee's name is synonymous with the Autorama circuit over many decades, and more recently he has headed up the Art and Heritage display and sales program at SEMA. Don Garlits has been a personal hero of mine since I began assembling plastic kits in high school.

Friendship is indeed the word. Friends, cars, rock & roll, and a great book to tie it all together. Thank you Darrell.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Wishing you a ROCKIN' Christmas Holiday

Finally . . . the holiday is upon us. Christmas morning all across the land. Generosity and good tidings fill the living room. There's Willie Nelson in the background singing "Pretty Paper," followed by the honey-ed voice of Aaron Neville (also giving us pause to think of our friends in New Orleans). And under the tree?

Snoop DeVille!

I wish you all the joy of the '06 holiday, and I'm glad so many of you'll have the opportunity to tuck into ROCKIN' DOWN THE HIGHWAY. The pleasure is all mine.

And for everyone reading this blog . . . let me know what you think of the book, especially the memories it has for you, listening to great rock & roll, rockin' down the highway.

And, to be sure, RIP James Brown. GET UP OFFA THAT THANG!!

Peace out.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

ROCKIN' at Mickey's, Holiday week '06

Here ya go . . . three wiseguys, archivists and heavy diggers all, who collaborated on ROCKIN'. Paul "Four Speeds" Getchell, yours truly, and the inestimable Mickey McGowan, whom you read about in an earlier blog.

We were gathered a few days ago at Mickey's legendary home for his annual holiday party, a house chock full of 10,000 surprises, such as the windowsill of canned snow and the hundred-and-one Santas.

Mickey and his wife Finnlandia brought ROCKIN' to a family gathering in Salt Lake City, where it was ooohed and aaaahed upon. I imagine that will be happening many thousand times tomorrow morning, and that is a wonderful, wonderful feeling for an author.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Many ROCKIN' thanks to Michael Lederman and the Crystal Group

Michael Lederman is founder and president of the Crystal Group, one of the top rock & roll and pop culture merchandise sales companies in the nation. He and his key associate, Amy Bierly, have contributed hugely to the success of the Petersen Automotive Museum by carefully stocking their merch shop with the finest themed garments. These include my PHANTOM line (created with the Ames Bros. Design Group and produced by Mike Taylor's Headline Entertainment) and more recently Mike Ness' BLACK KAT CUSTOM line. Many in the crowd at the ROCKIN' booksigning were wearing PHANTOM and BLACK KAT.

Michael's pride and joy (besides his family) is his blown '37 DeSoto, portrayed on page 58. He brought the beast over to the Petersen so the crowd could be entertained with Mike Ness' music (via the car's state-of-the-art video screens) while they waited to go through the autographing line. The fact that the DeSoto was on the museum floor alongside Billy F Gibbons' CadZZilla and Chili Catallo's Silver Sapphire (known to the world as the Little Deuce Coupe was just . . . huge. A great honor.

Many of you know my life's work has been to bring rock & roll to the people, in part by way of merchandise created by companies including Winterland Productions, Sony Signatures, and Signatures Network. Crystal Group has been my right hand team for nearly 25 years. So I was proud to involve Michael and Amy in the ROCKIN' booksigning and here's my shout-out to them.

FYI, Michael is wearing a Throttlers shirt, from the PHANTOM line.

ps. here's what Michael had to say about the car itself:

"It's a '37 DeSoto coupe--the last year a rumble seat was offered in this car or in cars by any other manufacturer. It's been chopped and channeled, and sports a bored-out 440 Mopar big block. Depending on how much blower boost I run on the street, it can get nearly 750 horsepower.

"The car was originally built in '89 (and appeared that year in Street Rodder). I bought it because I'd never seen anything like it before. I'd been a street rod aficionado for quite some time, and always told myself if something unique came along I would pull the trigger.

"I purchased the DeSoto a little over three years ago, drove it for a week, and then proceeded to take it totally apart. Although it had all the cool things a hot rod could possibly have had in '89, you can imagine the advancements that came afterwards over the next 15 years. So . . . everything was upgraded down to the last nut and bolt, and now it's state-of-the-art by today's standards.

"The single most unique aspect is the audo and video capabilities. It has two 15-inch LCD flat screens in the rumble seat and two 5-inch LCD screens in the sunvisors. It has two DVD players that can play any number of combinations on the screens, so it's a great show tool for rock merchandising."

Thanks Michael for the update!

A Holiday shout-out to two ROCKIN' friends

Two people who made ROCKIN' a successful adventure are George Barris and Pamela Springsteen, shown here following a photoshoot at Barris Kustom City headquarters.

Barris is of course one of the great California customizers, but he's also known for 'saving everything'. I was really touched when he allowed me to plumb his legendary archives, and that's where I found the photos of him with Marvin Gaye, and with John and Yoko (page 79). We also spoke at great length, right after Pam had completed her work that day.

Pam spoke about her art in the book, specifically about the high-desert-highway shoot with her brother (see page 159). It was a generous moment in bookmaking, one that evolves out of respect for a lifetime's worth of work (both of ours) and a newly-found friendship.

George is getting on in years so we want to be sure to honor his accomplishments--and one place where we'll be doing so will be at the Grand National hot rod and custom show in Pomona, CA in late January. More on this in upcoming blogs.

Happy Holidays Pam and George!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Eleanor Grosch, Philadelphia's new ROCKIN' artist

One of ROCKIN's accomplishments was to introduce all-new art about rock and cars. Eleanor Grosch was commissioned to create the Chapter Five full page opener, a take on Little Feat's "Let It Roll." The key phrase in the song was, "Ooooooh, she's like a smooth stretch of highway."

Eleanor is one of the top new graphic artists in America; her studio's in Philadelphia but she has roots in Florida. She began by teaching, then gravitated to rock posters, and you can see her work on (click on 'designers'). Then the shoe company, Keds, discovered her. Now she's bound for glory!

What I like about Eleanor's art is that it's imbued with thought but also naturally spontaneous. She approaches her work like a jazz musician might, improvising and riffing. If you're ever in Austin, TX around the time of SXSW, check out her booth at Flatstock, the twice-yearly gathering of rock & roll concert poster artists from all over the world. Or, her own website,, where you'll see her t-shirts, mugs, stationery, and fine art prints.

Merlis, himself

and here he be.

Bob Merlis, ROCKIN's ace publicist and car guy

Bob Merlis, among many other stellar aspects, is one of the best-dressed men in show biz. His name is synonymous with Warner Bros. Records, where he became SVP-Worldwide Corporate Communications. Now he heads up Merlis For Hire, a small, independent PR company with a very select client roster (ZZ Top, John Mellencamp, Percy Sledge, and others). He is da man.

While a student at Columbia University in NYC, Merlis booked artists to play on campus, including The Byrds, Mitch Ryder, Martha & The Vandellas, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Youngbloods, Simon & Garfunkel, and, most memorably, the Grateful Dead. He then spent thirty years with Warners, from his 20s to his 50s, working for legends like Stan Cornyn, Lenny Waronker, and Mo Ostin. He will tell you it was an amazing time.

His MO was to put people square-up in the spotlight. He resisted joining in the photos himself. And so, over the years he gained the respect of artists, managers, press people, and talent bookers. He also serves as Exhibits Development Director for the Petersen Automotive Museum, where he was curator for the original The Cars and Guitars of Rock 'n Roll exhibit. He co-founded Memphis International Records (an inde blues and roots-oriented label) and is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee. He's also co-author of HEART & SOUL (a celebration of black music style from 1930 - 1975), which was a nominee for the Ralph J. Gleason Award for Best Music Book of 1998.

Merlis is a car guy. A Studebaker guy, actually. As an automotive journalist, he's a frequent contributor to Automobile Magazine. In January, you'll read about ROCKIN' in Automobile, in editor Jean Jenning's closing column--one more example of Bob setting up something for his client (in this case, me), and then standing away from the klieg lights. Merlis also arranged, then shepherded, my photo-op with Jay Leno.

Early on, when Motorbooks hired Bob to handle key publicity for ROCKIN' (the year before he'd handled that work for Billy F Gibbons' book ROCK & ROLL GEARHEAD), I met with Bob in his Los Angeles office. He looked at me across his desk, sweetly but sternly and said, "Y'know, I should have written this book." That was a high compliment indeed. In the end, I don't think he'd have wanted to, because it took nearly two and a half years to accomplish. A great experience to be sure, but no question a very big dig.

One of Bob's most endearing qualities is his tremendous curiosity as a industry professional--underscoring the ambition he brings to his work--and as a journalist. My favorite snapshot I took of him is when he spontaneously discovered a most unusual vehicle, a sort of post-office-like van, perched unexpectedly atop a car-trailer, around the corner from his office.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Joel Bernstein pronounces ROCKIN' well and good

Joel Bernstein, you read earlier, is not only a top-notch photographer but also is the archivist for Neil Young, C-S-N, Joni Mitchell, and has worked on many Bruce Springsteen projects as well. The latest David Crosby multi-CD set is a great example of his fine work. Joel also took the buddy-in-the-passenger-seat photos of Springsteen with his GMC pickup on the side of the Garden State Parkway in NJ (one of ROCKIN's highlights) shown on pages 122-123.

Many people, upon reading my earlier Neil Young blog and noting those never-before-published Bruce photos in particular, have asked me . . . so, this Bernstein, nice guy? And did he like ROCKIN' as well?

Here he is in his living room, eyeballing the book for the first time, and "yes."

ROCKIN' with my good friends at Cinderblock

David Bischoff, facilities manager at Cinderblock, invited me down to autograph copies of ROCKIN' for the staff. Cinderblock is a cutting-edge rock & roll garment, retail/tour merchandise, and licensing company which has on its roster bands like Green Day. This year they moved to a great new building near the Oakland airport, giving them all the space necessary to operate and grow . . . and they are growing!

Many of my friends from the original Winterland Productions, and then Sony Signatures, and then Signatures Network have gone on to work at Cinderblock. The energy and enthusiasm for what they do reminds me every time why I got into rock merchandising in the first place. And Cinderblock's Jeffrey Bischoff is a fine leader of men and women in this business.

I was thrilled to see Judi Kasper, now one of the production/fulfillment managers at Cinderblock, doing what she did for years at Winterland--get the printed and ticketed merch from the screenprinting machines through the post-production lines and ready for the trucks waiting in the bays. Judi's boss at Winterland was Frankie Vee (Frank Vacanti), whom you met in an earlier blog. Frankie still works for Dell Furano at Signatures Network. Dell, as with promoter Bill Graham, is and forever will be my mentor in the business of rock & roll.

Here's Judi with her hand on Frankie's page in ROCKIN'. The circle remains unbroken.

I brought with me two cases of ROCKIN'. By the time I left, I'd autographed 17 copies. Good readin' at Cinderblock this holiday . . . and good rockin' from me to them . . . and to you too.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

ROCKIN' with Mike Ness' fans at the Petersen

During the three hours Mike Ness and I (along with the other notables) autographed books for his fans at the Petersen Automotive Museum this past Sunday, we met one-to-one with two hundred or more families--parents that brought all their kids, boyfriends with girlfriends, moms with sons . . . all the permutations that make rock & roll so rich in friendships.

It was a huge pleasure meeting everyone. More photos like these will be in blogs coming up. Thanks for comin' down, thanks for buying ROCKIN'.


Neil Young gets ROCKIN' for Christmas

Joel Bernstein is a renowned photographer and archivist closely associated with Joni Mitchell, Bruce Springsteen, Crosby-Stills-Nash, and of course Neil Young. Joel went down to Neil's Christmas party at his ranch in the Santa Cruz Mountains on Sunday . . . while the rest of us were rockin' at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. He brought with him a copy of ROCKIN' that I'd signed for Neil literally the first day when the book magically appeared off the boat from China, where it was printed.

Neil was very pleased to receive the book and was visibly proud to see that Joel's photo of him 'racing away' is indeed the final visual element, on the very last page (see photo here). And, that I devoted a special section to Neil and his cars--and one of his first reactions upon seeing that spread, and Henry Diltz' large photo, was to say to Joel, "hey, that Cadillac's right out front here at the ranch." Neil also laughed when he saw the promo shot of him holding the guitar above his white Biarritz (shot to promote his 1985 "Trans" LP), saying "that's me doing my arm exercises." It's also the shot which Darrell Mayabb used as inspiration for the book's jacket.

Neil and his family displayed the book on the big coffee table for all to see. Here's what Neil had to say, as paraphrased and relayed by Joel:

"Wow. I mean wow. This is so comprehensive! To see Joel's picture there . . . that's really a great, unexpected honor. Please tell everyone at Motorbooks, and tell Grushkin, that you all did a fantastic job on a great subject. I'm going to sit with this one for a long time."

Monday, December 18, 2006

ROCKIN' the Petersen with CadZZilla's Billy F Gibbons

ZZ Top's Billy F Gibbons suddenly entered the picture yesterday afternoon. He'd heard about ROCKIN' from our outside publicist Bob Merlis (who's also Gibbons' press agent), and we'd been dancing around each other for weeks. The Petersen event proved irresistable.

Brent Rector, who was at the opposite end of the signing table from Dean Jeffries, Mike Ness, and me, said he suddenly looked up from a copy he was signing and there was Billy settling into a chair beside him. And so from that point there were stories aplenty, some great belly laughs, and at least half the crowd got their ROCKIN' book signed by Billy.

Later Billy, Brent, and I cruised by CadZZilla, which is part of the Stars / Cars / and Guitars exhibit at the Petersen. Billy still can't quite believe I pried those 'attitudinal' drawings out from designer Larry Erickson's garage and used 'em to create a 6-page spread on what I think is the rocking-ist car of all time.

ROCKIN' the Petersen with Big Slice

Big Slice (who, FYI, also autographs as Bigg Slice) was very kind to spend all of Sunday afternoon at the Petersen signing hundreds of copies of ROCKIN'. This was most generous of him. But he also brought his Father, Big J, who served as unofficial promotions agent to the crowd. The whole scene was a hoot.

Or, as Slice would put it . . . Yo Yo Yo!

ROCKIN' the Petersen with Mike Ness

top photo: Mike autographed kids t-shirts, photos, CD inserts, guitars, rare handbills, and of course plenty of copies of ROCKIN'. bottom photo: Mike and ROCKIN' photog Zach Cordner!

One ROCKIN' booksigning event at the Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles

AWESOME day all around.

Over 300 people attended the ROCKIN' booksigning at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon. All the ROCKIN' books at the Museum--over 200 copies--were sold out within hours.

The hero of the day was Mike Ness. Social Distortion fans came from hundreds of miles away to shake his hand, get their photo taken, get their book(s) signed. Mike was gracious and humble throughout, and totally appreciative of everyone who came down. And nearly all the Social D t-shirts worn that afternoon featured cars that Mike's proudest of helping restore, or simply loves for the great designs they are.

Also joining us at the signing table: Big Slice (Snoop's personal car customizer); Dean Jeffries (designer of the MonkeeMobile, among much, much else); artist Dan Quarnstrom (who did the Johnny Reno posters in ROCKIN'); and Brent Rector, the ROCKIN'-est book designer on the planet.

Then, midway thru the event, in strolled Billy F Gibbons from ZZ Top (and CadZZilla fame) who then signed more than a hundred copies himself.

Gotta thank David Myers, the Petersen's director, for hosting the event, and Ray Salim, operations manager and Philip Truong, the merch store manager, for all their tramendous logistical support and enthusiasm.

According to Myers, "this was one of the best events we've ever done. Completely rock & roll! And, gotta do a major shout-out to Mike Ness and his fans."

Ness drove one of two Black Kat cars right onto the Museum floor, as did Slice, who brought the "Angel Dust" Cadillac. And, Michael Lederman, president of the Crystal Group, had his '37 DeSoto there as well, pumping out Social D music and videos on the screens and speakers.

Also wonderful . . . Amy Bierly from Crystal, who worked so closely with Ray and Philip to showcase Mike's Black Kat apparel as well as my own line, PHANTOM (done in collab with the great Ames Bros. Design Group outta Seattle). More on this in future blogs.

And, a special high-five to Shane Trulin from Rebel Waltz, Ness' management company, who helped me engineer the whole affair.

Everyone was snappin' photos, including Mike's wife Christine (who took the photo of Ness that graces the book's foreword). In attendance, photogs Greg Bojorquez, Michael Marks, and Zach Cordner--all whose work is showcased in ROCKIN'. In the next couple blogs, I'll show you some of the hundreds of great folks who showed up.

This was one GREAT day to be ROCKIN' with cars and stars.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

ROCKIN' plumbs the Arhoolie Records vault with the help of founder Chris Strachwitz

Chris Strachwitz, founder of the Arhoolie Records label and the DownHome Music store in El Cerrito, CA, is one of the legends in the roots music recording business. Since the early '60s Chris has traveled the United States in search of long-lost musicans and long-forgotten recordings. Chris kindly offered to help me in the search for 78s from the great bluesmen, and what he turned up in the Arhoolie vault can be seen on page 29--sides from Howlin' Wolf, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker, and others. These include some of the seminal recordings of "Key to the Highway," "Pontiac Blues," "Mr. Highway Man," and "I Asked for Water, She Gave Me Gasoline," to name only a few.

"Mercury Blues" as later put on vinyl by David Lindley and Alan Jackson, was a remake of KC Douglas' "Mercury Boogie," recorded in 1949. Chris spent much personal time getting the rights situation resolved in favor of the Douglas family.

The large photo above has a picture-within-a-picture, that of a younger Chris Strachwitz somewhere in Texas several decades ago, sitting on the ground near his rental car, with a stash of just-unearthed 78s. You can see from Chris' expression that it was one glorious day record hunting.

Monday, December 11, 2006

ROCKIN' at the Petersen with Pennsylvania Bad Boy Jim Altieri

Pennsylvania hard-rocker Jim Altieri makes some of the most wickedly funny, in yer face rock concert posters of anyone working today. You can see a great deal of his work on Click on "designers" and you'll get a hella face full.

I'm happy to say the Petersen Museum noticed Jim's work, placing his David Lee Roth poster in context with the famous California Girls Merc at the Encore! Cars and Guitars of Rock n' Roll II exhibit, which continues through the end of this year.

Unfortunately, while I made sure to snap a photo of the exhibit and include it in ROCKIN', I also managed to crop out--quite inadvertently, I have to say in my own defense, but nonetheless "guilty!" "guilty!"--Jim's poster. So here it is, with abject apologies. Jim, I love ya, babe.

Everyone who buys a copy of ROCKIN' at the Petersen this coming Sunday afternoon, December 17th, gets a free pass to all the exhibits. And I get to autograph it for you, and likely Mike Ness will do so too.

Keep yer fingers crossed: we're hoping Snoop, King Tee, Tom Morello and THE DEMON, and the boyz from West Coast Customs all will be stopping by as well. ROCKIN's art director/book designer Brent Rector will be driving in with me. And Michael Lederman's '37 DeSoto, pictured on page 58, with its videoscreens and banks of speakers, will be front-and-center as well.

See you there!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

ROCKIN' at Lucasfilm with art director Troy Alders

Troy Alders and I made some major bones at Winterland Productions (later to become Sony Signatures, and still later Signatures Network). These companies were--and, in the case of Signatures Network, still is--the largest rock merchandising companies in the world. He was one of the top "art guys," and I was one of the top "sales guys." Frankie Vacanti, whom you met in an earlier blog, was one of top "production guys."

Pretty much every major rock and country band or "name musician" found its way to Winterland and its successors: Springsteen, Madonna, Streisand, Grateful Dead, Lennon, the Beatles, New Kids, Led Zeppelin, KISS, Ozzy, Garth, Reba . . . you name it, we dreamed up the merch, got it approved, took it out on tour, put it in all of America's retail stores, or licensed it out. It was a great, great ride, and the stories Troy and I could tell you, well, hairraising doesn't even come close.

Troy's now one of the art directors for filmmaker George Lucas, actually top art guy in the Licensing Department. Most recently Troy did the impossible, creating comprehensive style guides from (and for) a myriad of Star Wars products. Most impressive!

I stopped by Troy's office at Lucasfilm's new complex at The Presidio in San Francisco--that spectacular post-Army post acreage overlooking the Bay and the Golden Gate. There, Troy took me around, showing me hundreds of enormous, magnificently framed movie posters such as this done for an Elvis flick. Then, Troy purchased a copy of ROCKIN' and one each of the US first edition of ART OF MODERN ROCK (for use with the students he teaches) and the French first edition of AMR (as a treat for himself).

Troy asked me to specially thank--and cite--Brent Rector, ROCKIN's book designer, for "magnificent work, simply magnificent." And so I have.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

ROCKIN' front and center at Green Apple Books, San Francisco

Green Apple Books has become THE independent bookstore in San Francisco for many of us in rock & roll--all thanks to one of the owners, Kevin Hunsanger. Kevin more than supports the arts, he puts authors and rockers in front of the public by creating events combining new book releases and the hottest music.

Kevin and I kinda ran out of time to create an event this Holiday season, mostly because of my commitment to the Petersen Museum event on Dec. 17th in Los Angeles, but he and I will be collaborating on a gearheads-and-rockers event at Thee Parkside club in February. More on that in the New Year.

When I was doing the KFOG morning show last week, I took special care to note, on air, that ROCKIN' was front and center at Green Apple. Here's Kevin, proving once again he's a totally stand-up kinda fella, great friend, rocker to the core, and a great bookseller in the hundred year tradition of great Bay Area booksellers (Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Fred Cody, and Moe Moskowitz are just three luminaries that immediately come to mind).