Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City

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by Steve Miller

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The definitive account of rock in the city that has produced louder, prouder, more in-your-face rock than anywhere else on Earth

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The definitive account of rock in the city that has produced louder, prouder, more in-your-face rock than anywhere else on Earth

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
It’s not all Motown and rap—Detroit has contributed its share of rockers, vividly chronicled in this spirited oral history. Journalist Miller (Commando: The Johnny Ramone Autobiography) follows the rock scene in Motor City, its suburbs, and its satellite college town of Ann Arbor, from Ted Nugent and Bob Seger in the 1960s through the White Stripes and Kid Rock in the aughties; the presiding genius is Ann Arborite Iggy Pop, whose spitting, head-smashing, crowd-diving stage antics were the basis for punk rock’s etiquette and ethos. The reminiscences are standard rock soap opera fare, but harder edged: the drug use is more driven, the clubs grungier, the resentment of major labels more bitter, the groupies more heartless, the gunplay more casual, the attitude more defiant—“I had a straight razor in my boot, and I just, like, shook it in his face,” recalls one woman bassist—and the iconic rock mood of besieged apocalyptic rebellion more authentic against the city’s grim backdrop of bloody race riots and postindustrial collapse. Fans will find a trove of gnarly lore on unjustly (and not unjustly) neglected bands here—and an atmospheric portrait of the Wild Midwest frontier that spawned them. Photos. Agent: David Patterson, Foundry Literary + Media. (July)
From the Publisher

Publishers Weekly, 5/20/13

“[A] spirited oral history…Fans will find a trove of gnarly lore on unjustly (and not unjustly) neglected bands here—and an atmospheric portrait of the Wild Midwest frontier that spawned them.”, 5/12/13

“Hands down without a doubt nothing less than simply the all time greatest heavyweight champion Detroit rock ’n’ roll oral history book about Detroit rock ’n’ roll oral history that has ever been written, let alone published.”

Record Collector, June 2013

“This book is for anyone who thinks that New York, Los Angeles and possibly Nashville are America’s only musical capitals. After reading Detroit Rock City, you’ll be convinced that Michigan’s automotive metropolis has always outdone any other US hub…Great job, Miller.”

Under the Radar, Spring 2013

“Wildly memorable.”, 5/23/13

“Those who remember these times will find it fun to relive.”, 6/413

“A must read. The brutally honest, first-hand accounts of the Detroit rock scene will hold you captive as you relive these crazy times.”

Under the Radar, July 2013

“Wildly memorable.”

Austin Chronicle, 6/21/13

“With its scriptlike format, Detroit Rock City…makes you feel like you were in the scrum.”, 6/17/13

“Not every local music scene has a history like Detroit’s but most of them deserve a book like Miller’s––thorough, frightening, and funny.”

John Shelton Ivany Top 21

“This is the book that gives life to Detroit’s legend of loud.”

Wall Street Journal, 7/7/13

“[Detroit Rock City portrays] a dysfunctional Detroit scene that, like a negative image, shows what is needed to make great, lasting art by depicting its opposite. That makes the book worth reading, if in a perverse way.”

Yahoo! Music, 6/25/13

“There are a tremendous number of colorful stories and pieces of mythology to be had in any recounting of Detroit’s rock ’n’ roll history—and many of them are here. Kudos to Miller for doing all the legwork in compiling them.”

Houston Press (Get Lit blog), 7/10/13

“’It's the best rock and roll city ever,’ Alice Cooper says in the book of Detroit. And…Miller's book makes the case for the Motor City.” 

A Traverse City Record Eagle Bestseller, 7/14/13, 7/17/13

Detroit Rock City finally gives Detroit the history book it deserves.”

Classic Rock (UK), August 2013

“[A] monumental rock history… Miller more than ris[es] to his challenge to emerge triumphant and defiant with Detroit rock’s consummate chronicle.”

Hollywood Reporter, 7/23/13

“In typical Detroit fashion, [Detroit Rock City is] both grand and overreaching, flawed yet beautiful, and strangely defiant by virtue of its mere existence.”

Boston Globe, 7/25/13

“This book is not for the squeamish. But if you truly love rock ’n’ roll, you’ll enjoy the ride.”

iSpy Magazine, July 2013

“Electrifying and expansively curated.”, 2013

“The anecdotes shared by the MC5’s Wayne Kramer and the band’s legendary manager John Sinclair are alone worth the price of the book.”

The Aquarian Weekly, 12/18/2014

“[A] thoroughly enjoyable romp through the history of the city’s amazing rock history…The stories in Detroit Rock City alone make for an hilarious ride, but it is the determination of both a city now in deep decline, and once embroiled in class, race and ideological turmoil that leap from its pages…Detroit Rock City also takes an in-depth look at the most important element of the Detroit scene, its inhabitants.”

Nominated for 2014 Award for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research by the Association for Recorded Sound Collections, 3/17/14
“Based on dozens of interviews with veteran promoters, leading musicians, and uberfans, Miller’s insightful conversations trace the evolution of the city’s scene from its blues-rock beginnings through its current rock-rap incarnations. Along the way Miller demonstrates that while Detroit’s rock community never got the respect it deserved from its New York and Los Angeles counterparts, no metropolis did more to make American rock music loud, heavy, and primal. ”, 4/30/15
“Just like the city itself, it is gritty, brutally honest, compelling, hilarious, drug-laden and, in equal parts, uplifting and depressing…A superbly enjoyable read for anyone who has an interest in Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review, 7/17/13
“The book reads like sitting at a big round table discussion, chatting with the people who shaped it, worked it, and partied through it, from Bob Seger, Ted Nugent, and Iggy Pop, through the top musical venues of the day, to when Kid Rock still rapped…Steve Miller lets the story flow from the proverbial horse’s mouth, laying out the dialogue into a coherent whole, but largely letting his interviewees tell the story of Detroit rock in their own words.”

My Big Honkin Blog, 7/21/13
“Interesting and often entertaining.”

American Profile (website), 7/28/13
“Diehard rockologists will appreciate the depth and detail of Miller’s excavation, and even casual fans will enjoy reading the story of one of America’s great musical cities in the actual words of the folks who made it.”

Slug, 7/31/13
“[Steve Miller] believes Detroit to be the mecca of rock n'roll and he'll prove it.”

A Traverse City Record Eagle Paperback Nonfiction Bestseller, 8/4/13

Curled Up with a Good Book, 8/28/13
“It's a vivid and brutal look at some of the edgiest music to come out of an urban American city. If you weren't there, reading this will get you as close as you've ever been.”

Internet Review of Books, 10/12/13
“If you were a proto-punker, a Strat-O-Matic-er, a behind-the-scenes hipster, jammer, punter, guy or doll that made the scene in Bookie's Club 870, or the Eastown Theater, the City Club, or any of the other venues of vicissitude—if you dug Ted Nugent, Dick Wagner, James Williamson, et al—this book will take you back to those times when your ears still could hear crickets singing their songs, and your mother warning you to not stay out too late.”

Boston Globe, 11/28/13
“This down and dirty oral history…spans 35 years and covers a wide range of artists from the Motor City.”

Stuff I Like blog, 10/3/13
“Compelling reading. Using nicely woven oral histories, the vital, against-all-odds story of rock in Detroit/Ann Arbor from the mid-‘60s days of Bob Seger and the MC-5 through the punk era in the ‘80s, comes alive on the pages…Whether you were around Detroit’s music scene in those days or not, you’ll enjoy the deep exploration Miller takes the reader. He brings out honesty, candor and insight with so many luminaries.”

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Da Capo Press
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