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John Hammond on Record: An Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 1981

4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (February 26, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140057056
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140057058
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,598,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
John Hammond led an incredibly interesting life, and he had the gift of finding natural, raw talent. The autobiography was a great read! He may have spent his life discovering new talent rather than trying to win the "father of the year" award, but for folks interested in music and the life of artists, the book was a memorable, delightful read. I still recall Hammond's description of a young trumpet player who Hammond felt was greatly underrated--Joe Smith. Comparing him to Louis Armstrong, Hammond said, "Joe Smith was greatly underrated. Louis could rouse, excite and audience, but Joe--he could make 'em cry." Hammond's words were memorable,unpretentious and heartfelt. The reader knew how much he loved music and the musicians. This book was one of my all-time favorite reads.
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Format: Hardcover
The history of modern USAmerican music is obscure for many music lovers. As are the roots of Blues, R & B, and Jazz. This autobiography is an essential introduction to our modern musical history. Told from the perspective of John Hammond, Talent and Acquisition specialist for Columbia records, who loved the earliest Blues and Jazz before most USAmericans heard Blues or accepted jazz as real music.

John Hammond built a long career as a "talent scout" and producer out of his personal passion for African-American music. When we say he "discovered talent", what we really mean is he had the influence to turn white audiences on to the talent hidden in Harlem and the Mississippi Delta. From Robert Johnson and Billie Holiday to Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen...imagine the span of the generations...John Hammond persistently hunted for the best unrecognized musicians and brought them to the attention of Columbia Records, Carnegie Hall, and the various media that could make mainstream America pay attention.

John Hammond, a well-motivated giant, had his imperfections. He may have been obsessive to the exclusion of ones he loved. His assumptions about "pure" Blues and Jazz may have been rigid. Indeed he offended some who deserved his respect. But what he did for Blues, Jazz, and Rock & Roll is so significant it's no exaggeration to say his cultural influence was heroic.

This book is an amazing journey through the broad landscape of America's modern musical history. Told by the one person who had the most influence over what USAmericans listen to today.

Douglas Pratt
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in the history of American music should know about John Hammond. Certainly a person of his time, he lived during a period when music meant something and had to be experienced in person. The list of musicians he helped is mind-blowing: Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Teddy Wilson, Lionel Hampton, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and others. The list is truly amazing!

Hammond's stories about these and other musicians would be enough for me, but I also appreciated his telling about his causes for racial equality. His concern and commitment in racial matters nearly equals that of his music pursuits. As a music teacher myself, I have seen over and over how music plays a vital part of social change. In that regard, Hammond knew what he was doing and certainly affected the breakdown of racial barriers.

Information about his personal life is also discussed. It was evenly presented, and he did not "dish" any solicitous dirt like many show business related autobiographies. He alludes to some personal and professional friction with certain people, but in my mind he took the high road and did not use the opportunity to "trash" anybody.

To me, few people have been able to effect pop music like John Hammond. It's hard to imagine our music heritage without one of his findings. In today's field of music entertainment there seems to be little desire to develop talent. Everybody is chasing the next hit or chart position. Unfortunately, music has become a disposable commodity. The true test will be time; as the years accumulate we'll see as a culture who we still listen to and/or use as musical touch points.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Probably a good factual account of many facets of John Hammond's life, but for me it seemed dry and hard to stay interested in.
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