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Like A Rolling Stone: The Strange Life of A Tribute Band Hardcover – April 22, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the spring of 2005, freelance writer Kurutz began a year of hanging out with tribute bands, a type of cover group he rates somewhere between lounge and wedding singers that is dedicated to replicating the music, sound and appearance of a more famous act. Kurutz dates the tribute phenomenon to the 1977 Broadway play Beatlemania and explores a still thriving musical subculture by chronicling the personnel and fortunes of Sticky Fingers and the Blushing Brides, two rival Rolling Stones imitators with decades of experience. Kurutz gets an insider's view of the groups' efforts to balance their limited resources, personal lives and the road pressures of performing at casinos, frat houses and out-of-the-way bars against the real joys of playing rock and roll and pretending to be rock superstars. From exaggerated accents and remarkable libraries of bootleg tapes to descriptions of the Keithiest Keith Richards (Kurutz writes, I had assumed it was impossible to recreate the withered visage of Keith Richards), this curious debut convincingly captures the bands' histories and successes, the players' conceits and stresses. While a lack of urgency causes the narrative to stall at times, Kurutz does bring to his book energy and insight. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Advance Praise for Like a Rolling Stone

“With the shrewd eye of an anthropologist and the enthusiasm of a fan, Steve Kurutz chronicles the rivalries, absurdities, and occasional ecstasies of bands who engage in the sincerest form of flattery. Like a Rolling Stone shines a generous and affectionate light into one of the murkier corners of rock and roll.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children, The Abstinence Teacher, and The Wishbones

“As far as describing the history and current status of the classic-going-on-ancient rock and roll tribute world, Steven Kurutz makes Herodotus look like a slacker. But what’s most exciting is his portrait of the tribute world itself. It’s fascinatingly wild and competitive and more than a little insane, and Kurutz eventually makes it seem a lot like the non-tribute world, where we are all trying to show up on time and remember the words, trying to be a little like somebody, and, frankly, hoping to continue to rock and roll or maybe just roll.”

—Robert Sullivan, author of The Meadowlands and Cross Country

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Archetype; First Edition edition (April 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385518900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385518901
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,413,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on December 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I deeply enjoyed this book. The subject, Tribute Bands, could seem a bit off-putting. But it's the company of the writer that makes the project work. He's loose, humane and charmingly open about his own attractions to rock and the stardom fantasy. In the Stones-alike band Sticky Fingers and especially in the Mick-figure, Glen Carroll, he's got wonderful material. He handles it with kindness, intelligence and good will. He's got Whitman-like generosity--democratic good vibes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Towne on June 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Yes, rock and roll, much like the priesthood, tends to weed out all but the most hardy and dedicated. If you have ever taken a serious whack at the game, then you owe it to yourself to read this book. You'll laugh, you'll cry... Well, okay, you won't cry, but you'll certainly identify with the ups and downs, triumphs, failures, dysfunctions, stresses, joys, and fiascoes that are a part of that life. And if you threw in the towel a long time ago, you might just pat yourself on the back.

There are a lot of books about famous rock bands, but not too many that describe what it's like to be an average working musician, whether in a tribute band or not. The "tribute band" aspect lends an extra degree of absurdity to the whole business, especially today, when rock seems to be going through another one of its periodic death throes. (Believe it or not, a lot of us thought rock died around 1975. Shortly thereafter, disco was declared dead. Then punk also kicked the bucket. Remarkably, they all keep going.)

Among musicians there has always been a divide between the "cover band" types and the "original" types. This is even more pronounced when it comes to "tribute bands." There are those who find the concept repulsive, while others take a pragmatic view: "Hey, if you can play music and make money, why not? Beats digging ditches."

Well, maybe not. Rock and roll is sometimes incredibly hard work. A passage from the book summarizes things: "The members of Sticky Fingers and the Blushing Brides faced near poverty, small crowds, exhausting cross-country drives, and indifference from their peers and the world at large, in exchange for a few dollars and the chance to be onstage for a few hours.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on May 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Kurutz loves his rock and roll, and LIKE A ROLLING STONE revels in the good ol' days when rock was king and musicians drank and did drugs like there was no tomorrow. His affection for rock shows through in every line, and before you know it you're right there in the van with Sticky Fingers, the east coast's most popular Stones tribute band. In one way or another it's been around since the 1970s, and its present leader, Glen Carroll, is an irresistible subject, sort of like the Falstaff of the tribute world. Yes, he drinks too much and yes, he's a liar, and no, he's not really a good singer, but Kurutz' writing is so persuasive I wanted the book to come with a DVD so I could see Sticky Fingers in action at one of the rundown nightclubs or frat houses they're booked to entertain in.

Sometimes it's life at the top, but more often Sticky Fingers' erratic financing make for tensions within the band. All of this is really intriguing, but the problem is of course, that it's really not enough material to make a book out of, and one gets the feeling Kurutz did all this research and then halfway through realized he had enough for a great magazine article, but that he was going to have to add more storylines if he wanted to get a book out of it. Thus we go back in time and meet with the original tribute band, the Broadway cast of "Beatlemania." Thus we go on the road with a second Stones tribute band, the damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't Blushing Brides from Canada. Thus we are introduced to other sorts of tribute bands including some with real success stories, Dark Star Orchestra (DSO) which does the Grateful Dead, and ZoSo, the "ultimate Led Zeppelin experience.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jones Taylor Wood on April 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book over the weekend and could not put it down until I was finished. Author Steven Kurutz captures "the sights, the sounds, the smells, of a hard-working rock band on the road" to quote "This Is Spinal Tap", with both hilarious and sometimes pathetic outcomes.

In the book, Kurutz travels cross country with two leading Stones trib bands, Sticky Fingers and Blushing Brides, and in documenting the highs and (very) lows, he manages to capture the humanity in what is becoming a dying industry - Live Music.

While reading this book one realizes that both Maurice Raymond and Glen Carroll (the Brides' and Fingers' Micks, respectively) are doing their thing not only because they crave the attention of being a faux Mick Jagger, but because they genuinely love the music of the Rolling Stones, even if it is being played to a handful of people in a dive bar.

And that being said, which is more rock and roll to you: A drunk singer shouting over too loud guitars to 50 sweaty drunks, or 100,000 people at the EnormoDome who paid $300 to watch the Stones on the JumboTron?

I choose the former.

If you're gonna buy one book on rock and roll this year, this is it!
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