Gleason Book Awards Winners Announced

Posted in News on August 24, 2000

Workin' Man Blues: Country Music in California by Gerald W. Haslam (University of California Press) was awarded first place at the 11th annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards, sponsored by Rolling Stone, BMI and New York University. James Miller's 30 year history of rock music, Flowers in the Dustbin: The Rise of Rock and Roll, 1947-1977 (Simon & Schuster), was awarded second place and Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit by Suzanne E. Smith (Harvard University Press) was awarded third place.

The awards were presented last night during a reception at New York's Sony Club. The ceremony was dedicated to the memory of Gleason Awards Founder and Chairman Robert (Bob) Rolontz who passed away in June.

Third place winner Suzanne Smith (center) is congratulated by Gleason committee member, Spin's Alan Light, who introduced Smith's winning title; Gleason committee member Holly George Warren, Rolling Stone Press; Gleason committee member Dr. John Gilbert, New York University; and BMI's Dr. David Sanjek.

In his book, author Haslam, a former English professor at California State University at Sonoma, traces the history of country music in California and the careers of such well known artists as Gene Autry, Glen Campbell, Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yoakam. Often considered a second cousin to the country music business in Nashville, he illustrates the importance of the music to emerge from the West Coast and the social and economic factors that helped develop it. He wrote the book with his daughter Alexandra Haslam Russell and Richard Chon.

Family members of the late Bob Rolontz, Founder and Chairman of the Gleason Awards, gather after the ceremony dedicated in his honor. Pictured are his daughter Lee, his sister Lela, his wife Sue, and his son Morgan with his fiancee Alison.

Miller's book covers the 30 year history of rock music from its political and cultural roots in Rhythm & Blues in the 40s and 50s to the economics of manufacturing rock stars in the 70s. A former music editor at Newsweek, Miller is the Director of Liberal Studies at the Graduate Faculty of the New School in New York. Two previous books he authored were finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The writers and editors of nominated book Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists enjoy some post ceremony hors d'oeuvres at the Sony Club. (L-r): Chairman Mao, Gabriel Alvarez, Elliot Wilson, Brent Rollins and Sacha Jenkins.

Photos by Eric Miller

Dancing in the Street, named for the Martha Reeves & The Vandellas's hit single, traces the influence of Motown Records on the post war development of Detroit. Author Smith is Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University in Washington, DC.

Second place winner Jim Miller (left) receives his Gleason plaque from BMI's Dr. David Sanjek.

More than 60 books were reviewed by the 9-person committee for the 11th annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards. Founded in 1989 to honor the best books about contemporary music and musicians, the awards are named for San Francisco music critic and Rolling Stone co-founder Ralph J. Gleason.


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