Academic journal article ARSC Journal

What's Exactly the Matter with Me? Memoirs of a Life in Music

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

What's Exactly the Matter with Me? Memoirs of a Life in Music

Article excerpt

What's Exactly The Matter With Me? Memoirs of a Life in Music. By P.F. Sloan and S.F. Feinberg. London: Jawbone Press, 2014. 319pp (softcover). Photos, Forewords, Afterword, Appendices, Discography, Index. ISBN 978-1-908279-57-6

Sometimes real life is way stranger than fiction. Take the sometimes-otherworldly existence of singer/songwriter P.F. Sloan, a shadowy figure in the history of the '60s L.A. rock scene who finally emerges from the shadows in this fascinating book, which almost reads like a musical Forrest Gump fable. There weren't many West Coast luminaries that young Sloan didn't cross paths with back then, and more than a few come off as a wee bit scary in this page-turner.

Even if you are not familiar with his moniker, you have heard Sloan's compositions, quite a few written in conjunction with Steve Barri: Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," the Turtles' "You Baby," Herman's Hermits' "A Must to Avoid," the Grass Roots' "Where Were You When I Needed You," and "Johnny Rivers'" Secret Agent Man." As Flip Sloan, he made his first platter as a singer in 1959 at age 13 for the R&B-oriented Aladdin label, and he and Barri were prominent as vocalists on the Fantastic Baggys' "Tell 'Em I'm Surfin'." Sloan worked with the Wrecking Crew on a daily basis in the bustling studios of L.A.; there's plenty here about them.

Many big names--Lou Adler, Jay Lasker, John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, David Crosby of the Byrds--don't come off as very nice guys in this manuscript (future Motown honcho Lasker was allegedly an out-and-out monster), Sloan pulling no punches. Other superstars--Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones--are more sympathetically portrayed as they float in and out of Sloan's life. Sometimes it's a wee bit difficult to discern if some of the more bizarre incidents Sloan relates--meeting actor James Dean two years after he died and encountering Elvis Presley in a darkened Hollywood music store, for example, both taking place when Sloan was in his youth--actually happened or are a figment of Sloan's imagination. …

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