A Story of the Music That Shook Up the World
Memphis gave birth to music that changed the world -- Memphis Mayhem is a fascinating history of how music and culture collided to change the state of music forever
"David Less has captured the essence of the Memphis music experience on these pages in no uncertain terms. There's truly no place like Memphis and this is the story of why that is. HAVE MERCY!" -- Billy F Gibbons, ZZ Top
Foreword by renowned music historian Peter Guralnick
Memphis Mayhem weaves the tale of the racial collision that led to a cultural, sociological, and musical revolution. David Less constructs a fascinating narrative of the city that has produced a startling array of talent, including Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Al Green, Otis Redding, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Justin Timberlake, and so many more.
Beginning with the 1870s yellow fever epidemics that created racial imbalance as wealthy whites fled the city, David Less moves from W.C. Handy's codification of blues in 1909 to the mid-century advent of interracial musical acts like Booker T. & the M.G.'s, the birth of punk, and finally to the growth of a music tourism industry.
Memphis Mayhem explores the city's entire musical ecosystem, which includes studios, high school band instructors, clubs, record companies, family bands, pressing plants, instrument factories, and retail record outlets. Lively and comprehensive, this is a provocative story of finding common ground through music and creating a sound that would change the world.
About this Author
David A. Less has studied Memphis music for over 40 years, and has conducted research for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, DownBeat, Blues Revue magazine and the Bulletin for the Society of American Music. He is a third-generation Memphian who still lives in Memphis, Tennessee.
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