12 books have been named finalists for the 12th Annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards, it was announced recently by award sponsors BMI, Rolling Stone magazine and New York University. The awards, founded in 1989 by the late Bob Rolontz, are presented annually to the top three music books that best exemplify the standard of passionate writing and scholarship set by the late Ralph J. Gleason, co-founder of Rolling Stone. The winning titles will be revealed at a cocktail reception on September 21 at New York’s Sony Club.
The 12 nominees are: Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley by David Browne (HarperCollins), Can't You Hear Me Callin': The Life of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass by Richard D. Smith (Little, Brown and Company), The Brothers by Art, Aaron, Charles & Cyril Neville and David Ritz (Little, Brown and Company), Spinning Blues Into Gold: The Chess Brothers and the Legendary Chess Records by Nadine Cohodas (St. Martin's Press), Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams - The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins (Little, Brown and Company), Station to Station: The Secret History of Rock 'N' Roll on Television by Marc Weingarten (Pocket Books), Jazz: A History of America's Music by Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns (Knopf), Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic by Jim DeRogatis (Broadway Books/Random House), Myself When I Am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus by Gene Santoro (Oxford University Press), Classic Country: Legends of Country Music by Charles K. Wolfe (Routledge), Boogie Man: The Adventures of John Lee Hooker in the American Twentieth Century by Charles Shaar Murray (St. Martin's Press) and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan by Howard Sounes (Grove Press).
Previous Gleason Book Award winners include authors David Ritz, who has had three of his books earn first or second place in 1994, 1996 and 1997; Gary Giddins, 1999's second place winner; Charles K. Wolfe, 1999's third place winner; and Charles Shaar Murray, 1991's third place winner.
The three winning books will share $5,000 funded by Rolling Stone and performing rights organization BMI: first prize is $2,500, second prize is $1,500 and third prize is $1,000. The selection committee, which reviewed more than 80 titles submitted by each book’s publisher, includes BMI's Pat Baird, Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, authors Chet Flippo and Nelson George, Rolling Stone Press's Holly George-Warren, NYU music professor Dr. John Gilbert, New York Daily News music editor David Hinckley and Spin editor Alan Light.