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Bill Bruford The Autobiography Paperback – February 1, 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 70 customer reviews

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About the Author

Bill Bruford's professional musical career began in 1968. He was a guiding light in the British Art Rock movement, recording and touring internationally with Yes and King Crimson from 1968-74. Since then he has worked with many other artists, including Gong, National Health, Genesis and U.K., as well as leading his own bands Bruford and Earthworks.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Jawbone Press (February 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906002231
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906002237
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,582 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
If there was no Bill Bruford, we would have to invent one.

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.
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Bill Bruford has announced his retirement and, seemingly during the same week, published this book. One could read this as "hey, this is gonna be some kind of tell-all, dish-the-dirt backstabber", of the sort issued by many a retired athlete and/or coach. But then again, this is Bruford we're talking about, a man whose name usually appears in conversation with the word "integrity" not far behind.

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.
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As a drummer, Bill Bruford has been an inspiration to me since I was a teenager back in the early 70's. Bill's autobiography is written with the same thoughtfulness and care that has exemplified his career as a musician. He gives a very intelligent analysis and history of the music industry from the heydays of the late 60's-mid 70's to the current situation of corporate cultural totalitarianism.
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.
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While doing interviews, Bill Bruford always came across as one of the most articulate and intelligent people in music.

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.
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