Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins

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Goodbye combines biography with a son's discovery of his father. Gordon Jenkins, one of America's most significant musical figures throughout his 50-year career, collaborated with many of the major talents in postwar pop and jazz. Modest by nature, he rarely spoke of his accomplishments, and there was much to discover when, on account of his father's death in 1984, Bruce Jenkins began his research. Paralleling the story of Gordon Jenkins's personal life is a veritable history of popular music, featuring ...
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Overview

Goodbye combines biography with a son's discovery of his father. Gordon Jenkins, one of America's most significant musical figures throughout his 50-year career, collaborated with many of the major talents in postwar pop and jazz. Modest by nature, he rarely spoke of his accomplishments, and there was much to discover when, on account of his father's death in 1984, Bruce Jenkins began his research. Paralleling the story of Gordon Jenkins's personal life is a veritable history of popular music, featuring luminaries from Irving Berlin to Billie Holiday. This richly anecdotal biography relates a wealth of heretofore untold stories of his encounters with icons like Sinatra, who was uncharacteristically awestruck by him, and Judy Garland, whom only Jenkins could convince to go onstage when she was crippled with anxiety. A concluding chapter documents Jenkins's slow, difficult death from ALS, leaving readers with an unforgettable image of a legend dying with dignity and unexpected good humor.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"a very worthwhile and insightful read...well recommended."
- Gerry Stonestreet, Editor, In Tune Magazine

"Gordon Jenkins was a multitalented genius of music. His son Bruce, has not only written a definative biography of his father, but also given us a marvelous history of an era in American music that will never be duplicated. The last chapter is a profile in courage, of both father and mother, confronting their final years with dignity and humor. I cried when I read it, as I often do when I listen to Jenkins, Sinatra, or Puccini. Goodbye: In Search of Gordon Jenkins is a story that will remain with you long after you have read it."
- Ron Della Chiesa, Host of " Strictly Sinatra" on WPLM Radio, Plymouth, Massachusetts

"Frank Sinatra once told me that he and my father were the two saddest men," writes Jenkins in his biography of his father, Gordon "Gor" Jenkins. As a top-notch composer, arranger, conductor and performer, "Gor" worked with many of the great singers of the 1940s through the 1960s, and is probably best known for the suites "Seven Dreams and Manhattan Tower", as well as Frank Sinatra's hit, "It Was a Very Good Year," which earned Gor a Grammy in 1965. The book reads like a Who's Who of the period, with vignettes spotlighting Gor's work with Nat Cole, Bing Crosby, Benny Goodman, Peggy Lee and many others. Perhaps most surprising is the author's account of his father's obsession with The Weavers, and Jenkins's interview with Pete Seeger provides first hand information on the folk group's 1950 recording sessions, Decca Records's confusion about how to market the group and the controversy over the lyrics for "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena." A highlight of the volume is Jenkins's interview with Sinatra. Jenkins, a San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist, writes in a relaxed, breezy style, and much of the book is quoted material from his interviews with the artists, providing a trove of fresh material for swing, jazz and folk fans."
-Publishers Weekly, December 5, 2005

"The best book for the holiday season written by a baseball writer isn't about baseball. Bruce Jenkins, longtime A's beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and now a general columnist, has written a wonderful memoir about his father, Gordon, the late songwriter, composer and arranger for pop music legends Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee and Louis Armstrong, among others....it's a moving tale about a son's relentless and tireless effort to find out who his famous father really was. The stuff about senior Jenkins' relationship with Sinatra is especially compelling and Bruce was actually able to get one of the last interviews granted by the Chairman."
- Bill Madden, New York Daily News, November 26, 2005

"At last someone has written a definitive book about Gordon Jenkins, one of America's musical giants. Bruce Jenkins' cultural history of his father's fabulous career is a must read. This narrative covers Gordon's career from his early days with Isham Jones up to and including his collaboration with Frank Sinatra. It is unpudownable."
-Van Alexander, arranger and composer, co-writer and arranger of Ella Fitzgerald's "A Tisket, A Tasket" and author of First Chart

"On that sad day I heard of Gordon Jenkins' passing, my initial feeling was one of regret that I'd never spent enough time with this wonderful and talented man. This biography by his son, Bruce Jenkins, truly does him justice. It is beautifully crafted, objective—no small feet for a son writing about his dad—and captures the wisdom, talent, joy, and black sense of humor that was Gordon's."
- Johnny Mandel, composer, performer, arranger; winner of the 1997 ASCAP Henry Mancini Award; known for dozens of songs, Academy-award-winning film scores and the Theme from M*A*S*H

"When Gordon Jenkins walked into a recording session, everything stopped. I never saw it with anybody else. He was the best-equipped musician, orchestrator and conductor that I ever worked with."
- Frank Sinatra, 1990

"In my teenage years, I was obsessed with Gordon Jenkins' music. I was a hopeless romantic, and his was the most romantic I've ever heard."
- Nora Ephron

"My album with Gordon Jenkins is the best I've ever been associated with. I'll hold it up against anybody's. Show me what you got."
- Harry Nilsson, 1988

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781583941263
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books
  • Publication date: 10/10/2005
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce Jenkins has been a member of the San Francisco Chronicle sports staff since 1973 and a columnist since 1989. He has covered twenty-four World Series, fourteen Wimbledons, and many other major events, including the Super Bowl, World Cup soccer, the NBA Finals, the four major golf tournaments, and the U.S. Open tennis championships. He has been twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize by the Chronicle: in 1992 for his columns on the Barcelona Olympics and in 2002 for baseball coverage. He has also won national awards for baseball, basketball, football, and tennis writing.

Born and raised in Malibu, California, Jenkins attended Santa Monica High School and the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated in Journalistic Studies in 1971. He has written three previous books, all published by North Atlantic Books/Frog Ltd.: Life After Saberhagen, a preview of the 1986 baseball season; North Shore Chronicles, about big-wave surfing in Hawaii, and A Good Man, the biography of basketball coaching legend Pete Newell. Jenkins lives in Montara, California, with his wife, sports photographer Martha Jenkins, and their daughter, Molly.

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