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Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City Paperback – June 25, 2013

4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly, 5/20/13

“[A] spirited oral history…Fans will find a trove of gnarly lore on unjustly (and not unjustly) neglected bands here—and an atmospheric portrait of the Wild Midwest frontier that spawned them.”

JeffreyMorgan.info, 5/12/13

“Hands down without a doubt nothing less than simply the all time greatest heavyweight champion Detroit rock ’n’ roll oral history book about Detroit rock ’n’ roll oral history that has ever been written, let alone published.”

Record Collector, June 2013

“This book is for anyone who thinks that New York, Los Angeles and possibly Nashville are America’s only musical capitals. After reading Detroit Rock City, you’ll be convinced that Michigan’s automotive metropolis has always outdone any other US hub…Great job, Miller.”

Under the Radar, Spring 2013

“Wildly memorable.”

Bookgasm.com, 5/23/13

“Those who remember these times will find it fun to relive.”

BackstageAxxess.com, 6/413

“A must read. The brutally honest, first-hand accounts of the Detroit rock scene will hold you captive as you relive these crazy times.”

Under the Radar, July 2013

“Wildly memorable.”

Austin Chronicle, 6/21/13

“With its scriptlike format, Detroit Rock City…makes you feel like you were in the scrum.”

PopMatters.com, 6/17/13

“Not every local music scene has a history like Detroit’s but most of them deserve a book like Miller’s––thorough, frightening, and funny.”

John Shelton Ivany Top 21

“This is the book that gives life to Detroit’s legend of loud.”

Wall Street Journal, 7/7/13

“[Detroit Rock City portrays] a dysfunctional Detroit scene that, like a negative image, shows what is needed to make great, lasting art by depicting its opposite. That makes the book worth reading, if in a perverse way.”

Yahoo! Music, 6/25/13

“There are a tremendous number of colorful stories and pieces of mythology to be had in any recounting of Detroit’s rock ’n’ roll history—and many of them are here. Kudos to Miller for doing all the legwork in compiling them.”

Houston Press (Get Lit blog), 7/10/13

“’It's the best rock and roll city ever,’ Alice Cooper says in the book of Detroit. And…Miller's book makes the case for the Motor City.” 

A Traverse City Record Eagle Bestseller, 7/14/13

RockBookShow.com, 7/17/13

Detroit Rock City finally gives Detroit the history book it deserves.”

Classic Rock (UK), August 2013

“[A] monumental rock history… Miller more than ris[es] to his challenge to emerge triumphant and defiant with Detroit rock’s consummate chronicle.”

Hollywood Reporter, 7/23/13

“In typical Detroit fashion, [Detroit Rock City is] both grand and overreaching, flawed yet beautiful, and strangely defiant by virtue of its mere existence.”

Boston Globe, 7/25/13

“This book is not for the squeamish. But if you truly love rock ’n’ roll, you’ll enjoy the ride.”

iSpy Magazine, July 2013

“Electrifying and expansively curated.”

Ugly-Things.com, 2013

“The anecdotes shared by the MC5’s Wayne Kramer and the band’s legendary manager John Sinclair are alone worth the price of the book.”

The Aquarian Weekly, 12/18/2014

“[A] thoroughly enjoyable romp through the history of the city’s amazing rock history…The stories in Detroit Rock City alone make for an hilarious ride, but it is the determination of both a city now in deep decline, and once embroiled in class, race and ideological turmoil that leap from its pages…Detroit Rock City also takes an in-depth look at the most important element of the Detroit scene, its inhabitants.”

Nominated for 2014 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections

b>NewBooksInPopMusic.com, 3/17/14
“Based on dozens of interviews with veteran promoters, leading musicians, and uberfans, Miller’s insightful conversations trace the evolution of the city’s scene from its blues-rock beginnings through its current rock-rap incarnations. Along the way Miller demonstrates that while Detroit’s rock community never got the respect it deserved from its New York and Los Angeles counterparts, no metropolis did more to make American rock music loud, heavy, and primal. ”

ScannerZine.com, 4/30/15
“Just like the city itself, it is gritty, brutally honest, compelling, hilarious, drug-laden and, in equal parts, uplifting and depressing…A superbly enjoyable read for anyone who has an interest in Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review, 7/17/13
“The book reads like sitting at a big round table discussion, chatting with the people who shaped it, worked it, and partied through it, from Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Iggy Pop, through the top musical venues of the day, to when Kid Rock still rapped…Steve Miller lets the story flow from the proverbial horse’s mouth, laying out the dialogue into a coherent whole, but largely letting his interviewees tell the story of Detroit rock in their own words.”

My Big Honkin Blog, 7/21/13
“Interesting and often entertaining.”

American Profile (website), 7/28/13
“Diehard rockologists will appreciate the depth and detail of Miller’s excavation, and even casual fans will enjoy reading the story of one of America’s great musical cities in the actual words of the folks who made it.”

Slug, 7/31/13
“[Steve Miller] believes Detroit to be the mecca of rock n'roll and he'll prove it.”

A Traverse City Record Eagle Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller, 8/4/13

Curled Up with a Good Book, 8/28/13
“It's a vivid and brutal look at some of the edgiest music to come out of an urban American city. If you weren't there, reading this will get you as close as you've ever been.”

Internet Review of Books, 10/12/13
“If you were a proto-punker, a Strat-O-Matic-er, a behind-the-scenes hipster, jammer, punter, guy or doll that made the scene in Bookie's Club 870, or the Eastown Theater, the City Club, or any of the other venues of vicissitude—if you dug Ted Nugent, Dick Wagner, James Williamson, et al—this book will take you back to those times when your ears still could hear crickets singing their songs, and your mother warning you to not stay out too late.”

Boston Globe, 11/28/13
“This down and dirty oral history…spans 35 years and covers a wide range of artists from the Motor City.”

Stuff I Like blog, 10/3/13
“Compelling reading. Using nicely woven oral histories, the vital, against-all-odds story of rock in Detroit/Ann Arbor from the mid-‘60s days of Bob Seger and the MC-5 through the punk era in the ‘80s, comes alive on the pages…Whether you were around Detroit’s music scene in those days or not, you’ll enjoy the deep exploration Miller takes the reader. He brings out honesty, candor and insight with so many luminaries.”

About the Author

Steve Miller is a journalist and the author of several books including the Edgar-nominated true crime Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender. He is co-editor of Commando: The Johnny Ramone Autobiography and editor of Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine '79-'83.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1St Edition edition (June 25, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030682065X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306820656
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #371,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Suzinne Barrett VINE VOICE on August 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Having long been a fan of Iggy and the Stooges and more recently have gotten hip to the under recognized MC5, this book was a natural choice for me. LOVE oral biography format, and Steve Miller's "Detroit Rock City" ranks among the very best. This book grabbed me on page one. Wish the photos were better (they're horribly printed), and a better job could have been done in identifying the players. Same mistake has happened in two other oral biographies I've read and enjoyed. Why not identify each and every voice, and even better give us a picture, even if it's a small one alongside each contribution? Not everybody knows who these people are. Also, if you were a fan of Creem Magazine, this book is a must read. Would have liked more about Creem and Lester Bangs, but various writers from Creem do contribute, like Dave Marsh and Jann Uhelszki. Creem, located in Detroit, offered the very best of rock journalism and music reviews and regularly blew its competitor Rolling Stone out of the water. Rolling Stone kissed a lot of butt, but Creem instead sported an authentic rock and roll attitude and never did.

Been a fairly serious music fan but even still was not aware of a good amount of the bands accounted for here. Much of the music remained central to Detroit and did not cross over to our other cities. The break out stars of the scene obviously were Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Iggy and the Stooges, Bob Seger and Ted Nugent. Alice Cooper received the most airplay with Mitch Ryder not far behind. Much later on, Bob Seger has his moment in the sun with "Night Moves." One of the best stories, told by producer Bob Ezrin, recounts his trip to Alice Cooper and company's abandoned building rehearsal studio/hideout which reads as something out of a Steven King novel!
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Format: Paperback
"Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock n Roll in America's Loudest City" is by far the most comprehensive book on the subject of Michigan based rock music. Spanning 5 decades of the sounds that were a product of the motor city, not only do we get to hear from the musicians but from promoters, fans, and club owners alike. In short, not just a bunch of singer/song writers telling you how great they are, you get the real dirt from people at every level of the scene that witnessed it firsthand. With coverage of world famous artists (Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper), early and influential bands that never got their due(MC5, The Stooges), through the revered garage scene bands (The Gories, The White Stripes), Detroit Rock City covers more ground than any other book like it. The book has two common criticisms: 1. It's just a bunch of quotes, and 2. There's no coverage of Motown. First, the book is an oral history. Steve Miller doesn't put a spin on anything or even offer his opinion. He merely reports the stories as they were told to him. Regarding the motown critique, the name of the book is Detroit ROCK City. No doubt motown will always have place in the history books of Detroit's music scene, it doesn't necessarily fit alongside the rock n roll landscape which this book's focal point. When's the last time you read a book that covers Alice Cooper, The MC5, Mitch Rider, The Stooges, The Laughing Hyenas, Grand Funk Railroad, The Gories, Brownsville Station, The Detroit Cobras, Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, The White Stripes, and The Dirtbombs AND many more? Never. And without reading Detroit Rock City, you never will.
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Format: Paperback
"Detroit Rock City" provides an insider's look at the city of Detroit and its unrecognized role in the music industry. The excitement begins with the list of interviewees - Iggy Pop, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, and Jack White, to name a few. Every story is captivating and uncensored, everything from drugs to fights to betrayals. Major events are told from several perspectives, allowing the voices of each individual to come through. Band members discuss their beginnings and their eventual breakups over the years. This book reminds all that Detroit wasn't New York or LA, and yet it created some of the best bands during the past 50 years.
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Steve Miller has compiled a tremendous history of the Detroit/Michigan rock scene as told by the participants. Just a few of the highlights:

The early days of the scene and its beginnings in the Ann Arbor area, branching out into the rest of Michigan and the first travels to other U.S. cities.
The Detroit venues become THE places to play for bands, both international and local... the promoters, bartenders, and vendors all give their memories a jolt...
Creem magazine, the players, the places... the ups and downs...
The end of the dominance of the Grande and Easttown, and the rise of Bookies, the Freezer, the City Club, Clutch Cargos, Blondies and other unsavory gathering places for (sometimes) great live bands.
I love the Ballad of John and Larissa...
And finally the rise of St. Andrews and the latest wave of bands now coming directly from Detroit rather than outstate.

A fantastic read! Many thanks to Steve Miller for compiling and editing what must have been a mountain of raw interviews to put together this book! May it sell many many copies!
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