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Published Date : April 8, 2014
Here Comes the Night: Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues is both a definitive account of the New York rhythm and blues world of the early ‘60s, and the harrowing, ultimately tragic story of songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, whose meteoric career was fueled by his pending doom. His heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a youth, doctors told Berns he would not live to see twenty-one. Although his name is little remembered today, Berns worked alongside all the greats of the era – Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Ahmet Ertegun and Jerry Wexler, Burt Bacharach, Phil Spector, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, anyone who was anyone in New York rhythm and blues. In seven quick years, he went from nobody to the top of the pops – producer of monumental r&b classics, songwriter of “Twist and Shout,” “My Girl Sloopy” and others.
His fury to succeed led Berns to use his Mafia associations to muscle Atlantic Records out of a partnership and intimidate new talents like Neil Diamond and Van Morrison he signed to his record label, only to drop dead of a long expected fatal heart attack, just when he was seeing his grandest plans and life’s ambitions frustrated and foiled.
Joel Selvin has been the San Francisco Chronicle’s pop music critic for thirty six years. He is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author of 12 previous books, including Smartass: The Music Journalism of Joel Selvin, and Summer of Love: The Inside Story of LSD, Rock & Roll, Free Love and High Time in the Wild West.
“[…] an authoritative look at a crucial point in American popular culture. […] if you grew up with the songs, you’ll leave the book happily singing to yourself, though also saddened (this being the blues).” —Mark Levine, Booklist