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Becoming Almost Famous: My Back Pages in Music, Writing and Life (Book) Paperback – May 1, 2006


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Becoming Almost Famous: My Back Pages in Music, Writing and Life (Book) + Not Fade Away: A Backstage Pass to 20 Years of Rock & Roll
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Backbeat Books (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087930880X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879308803
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,072 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By BossRadioDJ on July 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Ben Fong-Torres' work in "Rolling Stone" since I was a teenager (meaning virtually since he started at RS), and his bi-weekly "Radio Waves" column in the San Francisco Chronicle's Sunday Datebook is the gold standard by which all other media columns are judged. "Becoming Almost Famous" is the latest edition of Ben's Greatest Hits, including his verbal duets with stars running a diverse gamut from Michael Nesmith to Cheech & Chong, and from Joe Cocker to Larry Ching, with the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Janis Joplin, Frank Sinatra and even Olivia Newton-John sitting in for extra measure. "Becoming" includes sterling period pieces: "Janis: The Scene In Larkspur" is a gracious look at Joplin's neighborhood in the days after her death, while "Why Linda Ronstadt Spent Valentine's Day Alone" is a sentimental self interview that reminded me why, even at my advanced age, I still want to be Ben Fong-Torres when I grow up. "Becoming" also gives glimpses of Ben as Disc Jockey, Ben as Brother, Ben as Record Producer, and Ben as The Prototypical Rock Reporter, showing his maturation during the long, strange trip from the 1960s to the 21st Century. I enjoyed every word, and I'm looking forward to the next volume.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Anon E. Mouse on June 7, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a vicarious glimpse into the lives of rock stars of the 60s and 70s. I got just that (McCartney, Dylan, the Stones, CSN&Y), but was surprised at other unexpected gems. Like a hysterical review of the very worst lyrics of the era, including:

"He was saying things that weren't true about her

So I let him have it, in the cafeteria" -- Bobby Vee, `Stayin' In"

And a cross-cultural story as Fong-Torres recounts a visit to his family's ancestral village in China, where inquisitive teens want to know "Who was John Lennon?" and a young woman, when asked what she does for a living, replies "Work".

And Grace Slick's unique rationale for motherhood:

"... it's just a small person, and they expand more than animals do... I like animals, but I thought I'd try a human being because they have more happening... you get an old man you dig... and you want to see what the combination will turn out like."

Rock fan or not, you'll enjoy a diverse collection of tales written with wit, warmth, and humor by a veteran of music journalism.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Heather D. E. Weston on August 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
For any amount that I've read in pop-music/pop-cultural theory books and 1960s/70s cultural history books, I haven't found anything else yet that even comes close to providing both the breadth of knowledge and first-hand/upcloseandpersonal experience that Becoming Almost Famous offers. As an historical researcher and music fan, Ben Fong-Torres's books (both Becoming Almost Famous and his earlier publication Not Fade Away) are invaluable sources of knowledge and entertainment. For someone who wasn't "there" in the 1960s/1970s, reading these stories is an incredibly enriching and exciting experience. I highly recommend this book; whether you're just starting to read about 1960s/70s music history, or you've been there/done that - it's an insightful, exciting read from start to finish
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Hurley VINE VOICE on July 4, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
No matter what your preference in Rock Roll artists, Ben Fong-Torres has interviewed all the big ones from the 60s to present day Sherl Crow. His short but interesting articles were published in Rolling Stone, Parade and various news periodicles. Artists include Mick Jagger, George Harrison, Al Green (twice), Mike Nesmith, Frank Sinatra, Dusty Springfield along with performers such as Steve Martin. There are also event period pieces such as actors visiting China to bicycle through the country as a good will jesture. There are several biographical sections that cover such topics as Fong-Torres' time as a top 40 DJ, his reflections on the movie Almost Famous("Crazy") while meeting the actor that played him and a sensitive tribute to his older brother who was gunned down in a still unsolved shooting in 1972 with a moving connection to the music of Bach. Fong-Torres has a disarming knack of making his interviewed subjects relax and talk with ease about their life providing a interesting reflection on their life or in the case of Paul McCartnet about how he really felt when hearing of John's death. An excellent book to flip through jumping to the selection of interest and due to concise chapters, a great book to read for pure interest or to enlighten your day in short spurts such as at the beach or during short lunch hours.
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