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Bill Bruford The Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 2009
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Library Binding, Deluxe Edition
Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
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Top Customer Reviews
I was probably more excited about this book, than any other in recent memory; not only by virtue of being an enormous fan of his various projects over the years, but also because he has been the most reliably erudite and witty interviewee in the history of rock and jazz.
For anyone remotely familiar with Bill's umistakably dry and sardonic wit, there will be little doubt after a single chapter that no ghost writer lurks underneath. This book is the closest thing admirerers of Mr. B will ever get to their ultimate fantasy-namely sitting across a cafe table from Bill with a good cup of coffee and getting him to answer all those questions you've had for ages, that you would never have the courage to actually pose, knowing full-well that you'd receive well-deserved eye twinkle and thinly veiled contempuous barb for your temerity. In other words, reading this book, in some ways, is rather like playing a car racing game on the Xbox..you get much of the satisfaction without the risk of plunging your noggin into a thinly padded steering wheel at 80 miles an hour.
There are so many terriffic antecdotes here, with so many quotable quotes, you may want to read it with a yellow hi-lighter in reach. Very seldom have I laughed so well and been so thoroughly entertained, while learning so much I wanted to know.
Keep in mind, at only 300+ pages, the read is disappointingly brief, and many episodes in a great career, seem to be glossed-over far too quickly, considering their enormous import. The Yes and KC years take-up probably no more than 20-or-so pages each (although not covered in strictly chronological order) which, in almost any other circumstance would leave you feeling dissatisfied.Read more ›
So what is this book then? Is it really an autobiography? Well, yes and no. Bruford writes about his entire career arc, but not in the conventional birth-school-work-death order. Instead, like his drumming, he isn't content to just stick to the beat. The man has a million stories, racked up over 40+ years of albums, touring, hopping around from group to group, and finally becoming his own bandleader/businessman/do-everything guy. Many of his vignettes are hilarious; others convey the long and lonely road that all touring musicians face.
But the thing that strikes me most is how good of a writer that Bill is. It's common knowledge that he's very witty, and is often regarded as the smartest one in the band (whatever band that it is). But the fact is, his writing style is highly entertaining. If he ever decides to retire from drumming (oh wait, he just did!), Bill could easily have a second career in writing...and, in fact, I hope he does a lot more of it if he's so inclined.
About that "smartest one in the band" comment above: Some have labeled Bruford as arrogant, detached, and so on...but if you read his actual words, as set forth in this book, you'll understand why he's chosen the paths that he has in his career. Bruford has carefully collected all sorts of observations over the years, cataloged them, and released it all in this book.Read more ›
The book's chapters are set-up as answers to "frequently asked questions" he has been dealing with his entire career. Throughout, there is a personal, measured, fair-minded humanity that interjects all subjects be it his ambivalent relationship with Robert Fripp, his restained loathing of Chris Squire or the trials and tribulations on the road and in the recording studio. This book is a must read for all prog rockers. Finally, the quality of the book in terms of paper choice and binding reflect the sincerity and humility of one of this era's greatest musical artists.
Now that he's written an autobiography, it may be possible to drop the qualifier. Bruford might be the most articulate and intelligent person in music.
That's probably an overstatement, of course, but music covers a lot of different types of intelligence. "Bill Bruford : The Autobiography" certainly takes its place as one of the smartest and most thoughtful books in the bookstore, especially in the entertainment and arts section.
Bruford is best-known, perhaps, for what he did at the start of his 40-year career. He was a drummer for the original Yes, putting out five albums that went a long way toward defining progressive rock. You can still hear "Roundabout" from the "Fragile" album playing on classic rock radio stations every so often. Yes sold lots of albums back then and filled plenty of hockey rinks. Then, just like that, Bruford took the unheard-of step of walking away. He says now that he thought he had done the group had done its best work on its last album, "Close to the Edge," didn't particularly like the slow, creative process with that set of individuals, and bought his way out.
Bruford jumped to King Crimson, which came and went over the years on the whim of founder Robert Fripp. When that band split up, Bruford went off to go in a variety of directions, mostly jazz-related. He's best known for his own band, Earthworks.
In one of his books, actor Alan Alda wrote that he had taken a back-end payment plan when he started working on "MASH," which turned out to be far more lucrative than anyone could have imagined.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bruford's obviously spent a lot of time thinking about his career and what it meant. The reader follows him from being a founder-member of Yes, through adventurous on-the-edge... Read morePublished on April 15, 2014 by Tracy Deaton
This is not as much an autobiography as it is a well-thought/argued discussion of the music industry. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by Jim
Bill's a very clever, funny guy. He played a crucial part of progressive rock history, he was an important member of Yes and also of King Crimson. Read morePublished on December 25, 2013 by Uri Breitman
Like several other commenters, I am a long time fan of Mr. Bruford and looked forward to reading his autobiography. Read morePublished on November 22, 2013 by Book Reader
I find this biography and Patti Smith's book "Just Kids" to be among my favorite biographies/memoirs written by a musician. Read morePublished on October 31, 2013 by ReneB
Overall I enjoyed it but I guess I was looking for a lot more anecdotes about thr recording of the great classic albums with King Crimson and Yes and the subsequent tours. Read morePublished on October 5, 2013 by Robert F. Smith
Bill Bruford has long been one of my musical inspirations. I've only seen him perform in person once, 41 years ago with YES when they were touring to promote the Fragile album, but... Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by Bennett McLeod
Not your typical rock star type autobiography, but then Bruford isn't your typical rock star. In fact, post Yes, not a rock star at all. Read morePublished on August 4, 2013 by rom
Enjoyable read, fun rock star exploits, more refined writer than most rock bios.
Never cared much for his band, but he has an interesting take on defining for one's self what... Read more