Friday, September 10, 2004

It Was All Just Rock 'n' Roll


This is only half a book review, because I’m only halfway through it. But I have no doubt the second half will be just as great as the first.

Pat O’Day, for you foreigners, is best known in these parts as the greatest ever disc jockey of the Northwest’s greatest ever radio station, KJR Seattle, Channel 95. He was on the air from 1959 to 1968, after which he continued as general manager for another six years. At the same time, he operated an ever-expanding teen dance circuit that helped promote Northwest bands and brought in a steady stream of national talent. In the late 60’s, when teens wanted to sit rather than dance, he formed Concerts West and took big-name rockers on tour through the rest of the country.

This is his story, in his own words (with an undisclosed amount of help from fine-print collaborator Jim Ojala). His many anecdotes and adventures are wacky, outrageous, incredible, sometimes touching and always interesting. I’ve encountered few nonfiction books that have been this hard to put down.

The photos above give you a sampling of the book’s enormous cast of characters. Hendrix, Elvis, The Who, The Beach Boys, The Raiders, The Beatles, Jerry Lee Lewis, Merrilee Rush, Jan and Dean, Roy Orbison, and so on and so on. If you love rock ‘n’ roll and have even a passing interest in the dance/radio/concert business, this is the book for you.

Its publishing history is a little complicated. The first edition came out in October 1992 and quickly became scarce. By the time I first saw it at Louie Fest 2003, it was into a second printing and selling for $35. Six months later, at an O’Day appreciation event I attended in Tacoma, a new improved Second Edition had been published, and the original was going for $50. At Louie Fest 2004, the Second Edition was still going for $35, and the first for $75. I once saw an online book dealer asking $199 for the first, though I doubt he ever got it.

Luckily for me, being cheap, I found new copies of the first for myself and a couple of friends on eBay for $9.99 each. I don’t see any listed there today, but one of the associated dealers has a buy-it-now “very good” used copy for $11.52.

According to co-author Jim Ojala, the Second Edition, titled It Was All Just Rock ‘n’ Roll II, has 20 pages of new material and over 2000 corrections. 2000 corrections! I find that mind-boggling. In the first third of the book, I caught only a few typos and one factual error. Nearing the middle, the typos picked up speed, sometimes several per page. But it’s still hard to imagine 2000 mistakes. Someday the Second Edition will come out in paperback and I’ll be able to compare the two.

But for now, who cares? I'm having too much fun reading the first.

The official web site is here:
http://www.pat-oday.com/

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