September 24, 2001

Bios on Bing Crosby, Bill Monroe and Neville Brothers Win 12th Annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Aw

Press Release

NEW YORK, September 24, 2001 – Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams, The Early Years 1903-1940 by Gary Giddins was awarded first place at the 12th annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards, sponsored by Rolling Stone, BMI and New York University. Richard D. Smith’s biography of Bill Monroe, Can’t You Hear Me Callin’: The Life of Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass, was awarded second place and The Brothers, an autobiography by Art, Aaron, Charles & Cyril Neville and David Ritz won third place. All three books are published by Little, Brown and Company for the second time in the history of the awards (1995). Both Giddins and Ritz are previous Gleason Award winners.

The awards were presented on Friday, September 21 during an invitation-only cocktail reception at New York’s Sony Club. 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. The ceremony also honored the late Bob Rolontz, founder and chairman of the awards, who sadly lost his long battle with Parkinson’s disease last year.

Giddins, who won second place in 1999 for his book Visions of Jazz, chronicles the extraordinary life of an American cultural icon in his book, Bing Crosby: A Pocketful of Dreams. From Crosby’s early beginnings in Spokane, Washington as a young law student to his rise to the top of the entertainment world, Giddins delivers the definitive biography of one of the world’s most beloved entertainers. A longtime columnist for New York’s Village Voice, Giddins has also written biographies on Louis Armstrong and Charlie Parker.

Through a multitude of in-depth interviews with Bill Monroe’s surviving friends and colleagues, second place author and veteran bluegrass journalist Richard D. Smith expertly depicts the life of the brilliant and complex man universally known as the “Father of Bluegrass” in Can’t You Hear Me Callin’. Smith is also the author of Bluegrass: An Informal Guide and is a regular reviewer for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine.

The Brothers is a candid collection of each of the four Neville brother’s remarkable life story, which author David Ritz has masterfully compiled into a single epic that takes us through the history of American pop music. Currently all living in New Orleans, Art, Aaron, Charles and Cyril Neville have recorded 14 albums together since 1978. David Ritz has previously won three Gleason Awards, the only author to ever do so, for his biographies on B.B. King, Etta James and Jerry Wexler. His other books include biographies on Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson. Also a songwriter, Ritz co-wrote the lyrics to the 80s hit “Sexual Healing.”

More than 80 titles were reviewed by the Gleason Awards committee, which includes BMI’s Pat Baird, Rolling Stone contributing editor Anthony DeCurtis, authors Chet Flippo and Nelson George, former Rolling Stone Press editor and author Holly George-Warren, NYU music professor Dr. John Gilbert, New York Daily News music editor David Hinckley and Spin editor Alan Light. The three winning books, chosen from 12 finalists, 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.

For more information on the history of the awards and a list of past winners, please visit the official Gleason web site at or the news section of Books (eight copies) for the 13th annual Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Awards can be submitted to Dr. John Gilbert at New York University, 35 West 4th Street, Room 777, New York, NY 10003. The submission deadline is May 1, 2002.

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Contact: Pat Baird
BMI Media Relations
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