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Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 1:23 am
by john poole
It appears that Joel Selvin's long theatened Bert Berns biography “Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues” is finally due for US publication next month

http://shorefire.com/releases/entry/one ... evealed-in
http://joelselvin.com/index.html

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 11:35 am
by NormanD
Much delayed by the sound of it. His widow, Ilene Berns, is allegedly quite litigious. Detailed legal scanning of the author's text might have taken time.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:17 pm
by NormanD
Just read this http://www.playbill.com/news/article/18 ... y?tsrc=hph
Opening off-Broadway, July 21st. Closing....?

Sounds like yet one more jukebox musical.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2014 10:05 am
by NormanD
Have just started Joel Selvin's book. The intro alone intends to make it an attractive read: his drive to beat his life-shortening heart condition.... the mafia links...... the internal industry animosities and personal hatreds of him ("I don't know where he's buried. But if I did I would piss on his grave" - Jerry Wexler).

Fortunately, the age of the Albert Goldman-type biography seems to be over, so there's none of that irritating writing that places events in a narrative present, and dribbles over lurid details of bad behaviour. The discography alone is very good - a list (complete?) of all his production work, with all the session details. It's answered or confirmed a few of the questions posed here in the past, like 'who was playing 12 string on this one?'

So far: highly promising, and recommended.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 12:10 am
by john poole
Along with the book, musical, and t-shirt, it seems that a documentary will be released later this year -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-rY0kSkOdU
Nice to see Brenda Reid of the Exciters in the trailer.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 11:40 am
by Garth Cartwright
Just finished. Thank you, Norman! Interesting to read in Acknowledgements that Selvin's interest in Berns was spurred by reading Charlie's Sound Of The City. Charlie once told me that Peter Guralnick told him it was SOTC that spurred him to write his books. Amazing how influential Charlie was!

Selvin has done a lot of research on a man who had a brief career - 1960-67 being his hit making record man days - which means the author pads out a lot of the early part of the book with info on other record men/artists/DJs/songwriters etc. I already know quite a lot about Atlantic, Lieber & Stoller, the Brill Building songwriters etc so at times I skimmed. But that is not to say the book is boring - by detailing Berns' contemporaries Selvin creates a picture of a now vanished world and how the east coast R&B business took shape. The book lacks an afterword telling what happened to Bang after his death. I know Van Morrison has said he has never received a cent for Brown Eyed Girl even tho it is constantly in adverts, movies etc. I imagine Berns' widow threatened legal action if details of his or Neil Diamond's actions to reclaim royalties were included.

Berns comes across as the archetypal hustler with a great passion for R&B and a natural talent to make great records. He may not have treated his artists fairly re royalties but he helped them to make great records. His enthusiasm for the company of mobsters is less palatable - especially seeing he was a rich kid and not someone who grew up on the streets - but nothing new in tough guys holding an attraction (I heard David Bailey intvd on Elms show the other day and he reminisced fondly on the Krays - then complained about everything else. The ultimate grouchy old man!). I wonder if the musical is any good? I imagine it's inspired by the success of Jersey Boys. I wonder what story they tell with it?

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:00 pm
by NormanD
Yes, fully agree with all of that, Garth - particularly the lack of a post-script, and the litigious nature (apparently) of Mrs Berns. Biggest revelation (a bit mundane, admittedly) is the fact that Bert Berns wore a wig. And that he was named (Bertrand Russell) after the philosopher.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:44 pm
by Garth Cartwright
The 2 Ace Bert Berns Story CDs make for a superb soundtrack to the book - many of the songs mentioned as amongst his best productions are here with excellent sleeve notes. I think there might be a Volume 3 soon on the way (perhaps to go with the musical?). Interesting how much the author dislikes Jerry Wexler who comes across as even more dishonest and unpleasant than Morris Levy. I believe Charlie was charmed by Wexler but later admitted that he should not have taken his stories at face value. Berns certainly had energy and vision and a real feeling for a song - a Record Man through and through!

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:03 pm
by john poole
Garth Cartwright wrote:Interesting how much the author dislikes Jerry Wexler who comes across as even more dishonest and unpleasant than Morris Levy. I believe Charlie was charmed by Wexler but later admitted that he should not have taken his stories at face value.

I was suprised at some of the comments made about Jerry Wexler in the book, he was certainly hot tempered and could hold a grudge (he had probably mellowed somewhat by the time Charlie met him) but no other accounts I have read describe him quite as poisonously as Joel Selvin does. An excellent book of course, after the many years we had to wait to read it.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 5:05 pm
by NormanD
And he played an old Levin nylon guitar, like what I've got. He couldn't have been all bad.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2016 11:24 am
by john poole
“Bang! The Bert Berns Story”, the documentary directed by his son Brett, first mentioned here by CG way back in 2008 has at last received a premiere at SXSW in Austin in February so I remain hopeful that we can get to see it someday soon.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czzIqBhpsSw
http://twitchfilm.com/2016/03/sxsw-2016 ... egend.html
The trailer is extremely brief - if only some of those I sit through in the cinema were so short.

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Oct 12, 2016 4:20 pm
by NormanD
It's finally here - in London, at least.

The UK premiere is Sunday Nov 6th at the Picturehouse, Shaftesbury Avenue, London.

I'll likely go along UNLESS The Picture House staff at The Ritzy, Brixton (currently in dispute with The Picturehouse group over broken promises over Living Wage agreements) request not to, as part of any action.

https://www.picturehouses.com/cinema/Pi ... tory-qanda

Re: Bert Berns Biography

PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 8:14 pm
by john poole
A longer (2 minutes) trailer for the film -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgynAk4SQ-Y