Stars of David: Rock'n'roll's Jewish Stories

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UPNE, 2003 - Biography & Autobiography - 375 pages
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What Grammy-award winning band's Jewish members recite kiddush before their Friday night concerts? What member of a world-famous band blows the shofar at his synagogue on the High Holy Days? What famous rock musician packed his menorah as well as his drum set when preparing to go on world-wide concert tours? How did Judaism's historic affinity with music--the Torah was meant to be sung--translate into some of the best-loved rock 'n' roll songs of the past century?

Inspired by a backstage conversation with David Lee Roth during which the rock star revealed that he first learned to sing preparing for his Bar Mitzvah, Scott R. Benarde spent five years combining his love of Judaism, journalism, and rock 'n' roll investigating the Jewish contribution to rock music from 1953 to the present. Noting that outside of the Christian rock genre the media had rarely (with the exception of Bob Dylan) dealt with a rock star's religion or spirituality, Benarde was determined to find out how Judaism influenced rock music and the people who created it. Jews kvell when they discover that someone famous or accomplished in any field is a member of the tribe, but wouldn't it really be something if these celebrities cared about being Jewish?

Focusing on these musicians, singers, and songwriters, Stars of David offers a highly readable collection of short vignettes that demonstrate the rich strand of Jewish belief and sentiment that underscores the work of many of the best-known rock stars of our time. Among those discussed or interviewed are the legendary songwriting teams of Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller and Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, performers such as Bob Dylan, Melissa Manchester, Janis Ian, Randy Newman, Billy Joel, Kinky Friedman (of the Texas Jewboys), and David Lee Roth, and members of groups such as the Tokens, Jay and the Americans, Country Joe and the Fish, Yes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Bon Jovi, Phish, the Wallflowers and many others.

Benarde reveals how Judaism has played a greater role in rock music than we realize and discovers that many Jewish rockers are more in tune with their Judaism than we would have imagined. Based largely on one-on-one interviews with the artists, the result is a surprisingly personal and introspective consideration of faith, art, and the relationship between pop culture and spirituality. Also revealed is the sheer variety of the Jewish experience in rock 'n' roll: from the deeply religious childhood of some to the late-in-life religious reawakening of others; from the explicit use of scripture in song to the subtle yet resonant religious motifs that influence this most secular genre of music. With entertaining anecdotes and personal revelations enhanced by more than seventy photographs, Stars of David is not so much about how Jewish these artists are but ultimately, how they are Jewish, and how their Jewishness has affected rock 'n' roll.
  

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Stars of David: rock'n'roll's Jewish stories

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Former rock newspaper columnist Benarde, inspired by a chance remark by David Lee Roth that he learned to sing at his Bar Mitzvah, decided to compile 57 brief sketches of Jewish rock'n'rollers. He ... Read full review

Contents

Overture i
1
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller
17
Carol Kaye
23
The Tokens
29
Jay and the Americans
41
Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil
48
Peter Yarrow
56
Bob Dylan
62
LeeOskarofWAR
179
Norman Greenbaum
185
Steve Goodman
197
Kinky Friedman and
203
MikeGarson
209
Mickey Raphael of Willie Nelson
219
Billy Joel
225
MaxWeinberg
236

David Grisman
68
Manfred Mann
78
Lovin Spoonful
84
Michael Bloomfield
95
Barry Goldberg
102
Harvey Brooks
109
The Blues ProjectBlood Sweat
116
Country Joe and the Fish
123
Janis Ian
134
Chuck E Weiss
140
Graham Gouldman of locc
247
David Lee Roth
254
Stan Lynch of Tom Petty and
260
Melissa Manchester 267 l990s and beyond
325
Billy Steinberg 285 MarcCohn
335
David Bryan of Bon Jovi 298 Lisa Loeb
345
Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman of Rami Jaffee of the Wallflowers
356
the Hooters 308 Remedy
363
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About the author (2003)

SCOTT R. BENARDE, who has an M.A. from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, is the former rock music columnist for the Palm Beach Post and the South Florida Sun Sentinel. As a freelance journalist, Benarde has been published in Rolling Stone, Musician, Billboard, Variety, and a host of Jewish publications. He lives with his wife and two children in Delray Beach, Florida.

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