The Death of Rhythm and Blues

( 2 )


This passionate and provocative book tells the complete story of black music in the last fifty years, and in doing so outlines the perilous position of black culture within white American society. In a fast-paced narrative,  Nelson George’s book chronicles the rise and fall of “race music” and its transformation into the R&B that eventually dominated the airwaves only to find itself diluted and submerged as crossover music.

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The Death of Rhythm and Blues

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This passionate and provocative book tells the complete story of black music in the last fifty years, and in doing so outlines the perilous position of black culture within white American society. In a fast-paced narrative,  Nelson George’s book chronicles the rise and fall of “race music” and its transformation into the R&B that eventually dominated the airwaves only to find itself diluted and submerged as crossover music.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“George has uncovered a lot of fresh information, not just on the artists themselves, but on the booking agents, arrangers, and record men.” —Newsweek

“[George’s] reading of history is not only interdisciplin- ary, it has a musical score.... His accounts of the colorful characters who populate this uncharted realm are often informative and...delightful.” —The Washington Post Book World

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Slicing through the main layers of the world of R & B, George, music critic for Billboard and Playboy , profiles his personal heroes in the recent history of black musicespecially in the evolution of black radio, the growth of independent record labels and the development of retail outlets for R & B records. Here are perceptive summations of the contributions of such star creative performers as Chuck Berry, James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Michael Jackson, as well as of lesser-known musicians, and of the links between black social and economic affairs and the changes in contemporary black culture. Above all, George examines the business of black music and probes the ways in which it has affected the ``symptoms of illness'' in R & B. He is convinced that ``black America's assimilationist obsession is heading it straight toward cultural suicide.'' Photos not seen by PW. (August)
Library Journal
George, music editor at Billboard and contributor to Playboy and the Village Voice , has written a provocative book describing how white society has changed black music. Providing as much a cultural as a musical history, he takes the extreme view that black music has become so assimilated into white culture that it is near destruction. In response, he urges blacks to achieve integration and practical power by becoming more self-sufficient, politically and economically. An important and perceptive book. Daniel J. Lombardo, Jones Lib., Inc., Amherst, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142004081
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 468,703
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Nelson George

Nelson George is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. He has written for Playboy, Billboard, Esquire, the Village Voice, Essence, and many other national magazines, as well as writing and producing television programs and feature films.

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Table of Contents

The Death Of Rhythm & BluesAcknowledgments
Introduction: A Meditation on the Meaning of "Death"

Philosophy, Money, and Music (1900-30)

Dark Voices in the Night (1930-50)

The New Negro (1950-65)

Black Beauty, Black Confusion (1965-70)

Redemption Songs in the Age of Corporations (1971-75)

Crossover: The Death of Rhythm & Blues (1975-79)

Assimilation Triumphs, Retronuevo Rises (1980-87)


Photographs follow pages 80 and 144

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    R & B ------It's on Life Support but It Ain't Dead Yet

    It is sad when a people can be programmed to reject somethiong that is THEIRS.Reject may be too harsh a word....maybe fail to embrace would be more accurate.By 1972 R&B had reached it's peak.Then,by design,DISCO- a programed mish mash of repeated simple beats that white people could dance to rushed on the scene.The commercial cash in at the box office -Saturday Night Fever,the shiny knit clothing and the buy in by many Blacks and the game was over...At least it appeared to be over.The roots of R&B---that country connection....that Muscle Shouls and deep country soul connection IS dead.No more Garnett Mims or Sam and Dave types are being developed.It was by design that all of this occurred.The MURDER of Sam Cooke by people who did not want his publishing accumen to spread to others.They made it look like he was chasing a white woman.I don't believe that. I was 15 y.o. when it happened .I didn't believe it then and I don't believe it now.
    In the 40's,jazz was taken off of the radio. At that time whites were looking to Harlem for a good time. "Bubbling Brown Sugar",the hit Broadway play touched on that theme.
    The powers that be have systematically put a cap on Black music at critical times in our history. This is one of those taboo subjects that,if pursued will end with denial of any intentional wrongdoing.....Just like the record producers didn't really intend to take 90% of the profits from the star performers who just happened to be black.
    This is one of the few books that is willing to take on this sordid piece of history in a truthful ,no holds barred ,call 'em as he sees 'em way.It is good reading if you seek the truth about the music industry the way it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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