Bordowitz, Hank 1959–
Bordowitz, Hank 1959–
(Dr. Rock, C. Benjamin Issakson)
Born May 22, 1959, in New York, NY; son of Eli (an educator) and Frankie (an educator) Bordowitz; married Caren Pichel, August 30, 1981; children: Michael, Laurence, William. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: Rutgers University, B.A., 1989; Thomas Edison State College, M.A., 2006. Politics: Liberal. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Camping, baseball, music, computers, golf.
Journalist, editor, and writer. WEVD, engineer, 1978-79; Record World, writer, editor, and chart researcher, 1979; Cannings Recording Studio, engineer, producer, and musician, 1978-81; Ben El Distributors/Crazy Eddie's Records, manager, 1981-84; Publishers Packaging Corp., managing editor of Concert Shots, Metal Mania, and Rock Scene, and senior editor of Rock Fever, Focalpoint, Heavy Metal Hall of Fame, Hot Metal, and Creem Specials, all 1985-90; Fama, writer and copy editor, 1992-94; Wizard: Guide to Comics, Congers, NY, managing editor, 1994; Interactive Quarterly, Montclair, NJ, editor, 1995-96; Sheet Music, Bedford, NY, editor, 1996-97; writer, educator, publicist, and music business consultant, 1997—; Bernard M. Baruch College of the City University of New York, instructor, entertainment business department, 1997—; Music Choice, programming consultant, 1998-2005; MCY.com, director of editorial content, 2000-01; Ramapo College of the State of New Jersey, adjunct professor, 2004—.
National Association of Recorded Arts and Sciences, B'nai B'rith (vice president of Music Entertainment Media Unit, 1998—), Authors Guild, Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association.
Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Schirmer Books (New York, NY), 1998.
(Compiler and editor) The U2 Reader: A Quarter Century of Commentary, Criticism, and Reviews, foreword by John Swenson, Schirmer Books (New York, NY), 2003.
(Editor and author of introduction) Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright: The Bob Marley Reader, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2004.
The Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Turning Points in Rock and Roll: The Key Events that Affected Popular Music in the Latter Half of the 20th Century, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Noise of the World: Non-Western Artists in Their Own Words, Soft Skull Press (Brooklyn, NY), 2004.
Billy Joel: The Life & Times of an Angry Young Man, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Business: Why So Much Music You Hear Sucks, Chicago Review Press (Chicago, IL), 2006.
Contributor of foreword to Peanuts Illustrated Songbook Hal Leonard Books (Milwaukee, WI), 2001; and to Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. Scriptwriter for television and radio programs, including Rock Quiz, Trivia Quiz, Rock Today, Metalshop, and The CBS Morning Show. Television credits also include TV-1 News, Finland, and Spike and Company Do It A Cappella, Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
Contributor to Music Producers, Hal Leonard Books, 1992; Behind the Hits, Warner Books, 1986; The Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide, Straight Arrow, 1999; Musichound World Essential Album Guide, Visible Ink, 1999; Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Thomson Gale, 2001; The Outlaw Bible of American Essays, Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006; and Best Music Writing of 2006, Da Capo Press, 2006.
Contributor of articles and reviews to more than sixty periodicals, including BMI Music World, Guitar Player, High Fidelity, High Times, Jazz Review, Jewish Monthly, Playboy, Sing Out!, Spin, and USA Weekend. Editor, Interactive Trader and Interactive Quarterly Digizine, 1995-96. Some writings appear under the pseudonyms C. Benjamin Issakson and Dr. Rock.
Hank Bordowitz once told CA: "One of my primary passions, since before I can remember, has been music. According to my parents, I was singing long before I could talk. During school, I was also developing a talent for writing, to the point that, in third grade, the boy who sat behind me stole a work in progress, signed his name to it, and turned it in as his own. When I couldn't find the paper, I started a new one. I got an ‘A.’ He got a ‘B-.’
"Through school, these twin passions battled like a schizophrenic hydra. I learned how to play the guitar and worked in bands through high school, dabbling in rock and jazz. I also wrote extemporanea for the school newspapers. I wrote songs for the bands. I wrote Byzantine essays for my classes that caused the dean of boys to force me to learn how to type. (I was going to take auto shop. It made me a mechanic's patsy for life.)
"At Rutgers, I studied music with the likes of Kenny Baron and Dan Goode, while majoring in journalism and spending more time at the campus radio station than in class. I met my wife during one of my regular programs. I also started writing professionally, doing record reviews for local papers.
"After interning at the late, lamented Record World magazine, I graduated and started seeking work in the music business. As luck would have it, the bottom had fallen out of the business that year, and no one was hiring. I went to work for a retail record chain, recorded ‘demos,’ got signed for a hot minute to Ze Records, and continued to write. Retail meant low pay and long hours. My record never got released. I, however, continued to build a coterie of places that would publish my work and pay me for it.
"On quitting retail for a job that didn't materialize, I went to various places looking for radio work. At several they told me they didn't have work for engineers or announcers, but they did need writers. Finally someone suggested that, if I looked for writing markets with the passion I used seeking out full-time work, I could probably do well as a writer.
"This led to a couple of years of hand-to-mouth freelancing. During this time, a friend called me and told me to get in touch with Cherry Lane Publishing, as they were starting a book line and looking for writers. I chatted with the editor up there, and he told me to come up with a proposal of four chapters and an outline for whatever band I wanted to do. Seeing no books on Creedence Clearwater Revival, I chose them, producing the four chapters and an outline during a week of intensive research at the Lincoln Center Library. Shortly after I turned in the proposal, the book line idea was dropped, but I continued to poke at the outline.
"I got a gig editing a family of hard rock magazines that eventually included Creem magazine special issues. I worked for the company that packaged these magazines for five years, while freelancing on various projects, including Behind the Hits. When the company moved, I hung out my own shingle for a couple of years again before moving on to edit Wizard: Guide to Comics, Interactive Quarterly, and Sheet Music. During my stint with Sheet Music, a former editor advised me to call Schirmer Books. They had a job for which he no longer had the time, and he had recommended me for it. Again I submitted the work, but the publisher put the job on a back burner. The editor asked me if I had anything else I might want to write for him, and I offered him the Creedence Clearwater Revival proposal. He liked it, and I wound up writing Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival."
In 2003, Bordowitz told CA: "After that was done, the same editor assigned me to research and write over 300 essays for the Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians. As that project drew to a close and Bad Moon Rising came ready to hit the book stores, I was asked to become the Director of Editorial content for MCY.com, a major consumer music portal specializing in webcasts. I was ultimately responsible for every word on the site—acquiring the content, overseeing the editorial process, overseeing the proofreading. This site was very content intensive, each featured artist had several pages on the site, artists ranging from Willie Nelson to Pete Townshend to Puff Daddy to Luciano Pavarotti. The site also included the largest opera site on the web, with soundbites and synopses of dozens of operas. Unfortunately it all went crash in the dot-bomb.
"While preparing the site for re-launch, I encountered an old editor who had segued into agenting. My current agent had left the country for the Pacific Rim, so I signed on with him. We brought The U2 Reader to Hal Leonard, and it proved to be the right book at the right time, as Hal Leonard was looking to start a line of "Readers" and U2 was one of the bands they wanted to do. So, I researched, compiled, edited and annotated that. As that drew to a finish, my agent brought me another book, a Bruce Springsteen Scrapbook."
Bordowitz's book on Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising, received good reviews, with Mike Tribby writing in Booklist: "This is must reading for CCR-philes and fans of John Fogerty's subsequent solo career." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the author "provides evenhanded treatment of highly charged issues such as the often bitter sibling rivalry and the band's protracted legal wranglings."
Bordowitz served as editor of Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright: The Bob Marley Reader, which presents a series of essays written by a variety of people, from journalists and academicians to Marley's widow and noted author Alice Walker. Also included are previously published pieces. KaaVonia Hinton, writing in Kliatt, noted that "this book treads lesser-known waters," adding: "Readers will be both entertained and informed." Library Journal contributor Bill Walker wrote: "Generally well written and offering many viewpoints, this collection is a great read."
Noise of the World: Non-Western Artists in Their Own Words is an examination of world music and the various musicians who contribute to it. Based on his past interviews with many musicians who perform in a variety of genres, Bordowitz presents their quotes as statements without the accompanying questions or comments by the author. In addition to well-known performers such as Gloria Estefan, Ravi Shankar, and Paul Simon, who helped popularize world music in America, the author also interviews many lesser known musicians—at least in the United States. Writing in Booklist, Mike Tribby commented: "Great stuff for what the Rastas might call conscious music collections." Library Journal contributor Bill Walker noted that the author's "scope is impressive."
Bordowitz takes on the life of another superstar musician with his book Billy Joel: The Life & Times of an Angry Young Man. The author follows Joel from his youth to his struggling days playing piano bars and sleeping wherever he could. The author also discusses Joel's attempted suicide during this time, as well as his later success and his struggle with alcohol. A Publishers Weekly contributor referred to Billy Joel as "surprisingly intimate." Another reviewer noted in Kirkus Reviews that Bordowitz "also provides a linear history of the artist's songwriting and performances." Dave Valencia, writing in the Library Journal, commented that Bordowitz "offers readers a glimpse of Joel's heretofore elusive personal life."
In Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Business: Why So Much Music You Hear Sucks, Bordowitz examines the music industry and what he sees as its failure to provide the general public with a wide range of notable music. Instead, Bordowitz argues, they promote so-so talent on a gullible public. The author profiles various musicians, as well as record producers and executives. He also provides an in-depth look at how radio stations and record companies are run. A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that Bordowitz's "research is first-rate, and he is consistently able to support his arguments."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Mike Tribby, review of Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival, p. 183; November 15, 2004, Mike Tribby, review of Noise of the World: Non-Western Artists in Their Own Words, p. 540.
Kirkus Reviews, May 1, 2005, review of Billy Joel: The Life & Times of an Angry Young Man, p. 520; October 15, 2006, review of Dirty Little Secrets of the Record Business: Why So Much Music You Hear Sucks, p. 1052.
Kliatt, January, 2005, KaaVonia Hinton, review of Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright: The Bob Marley Reader, p. 28.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Lloyd Jansen, review of Bad Moon Rising, p. 83; June 1, 2003, Heather McCormack, review of The U2 Reader, p. 125; August, 2004, Bill Walker, review of Every Little Thing Gonna Be Alright, p. 83; November 1, 2004, Bill Walker, review of Noise of the World, p. 86; July 1, 2005, Dave Valencia, review of Billy Joel, p. 81.
MBR Bookwatch, September, 2005, Diane C. Donovan, review of Billy Joel.
Publishers Weekly, October 5, 1998, review of Bad Moon Rising, p. 72; May 23, 2005, review of Billy Joel, p. 70.
Hank Bordowitz Home Page, http://www.bordowitz.com (November 30, 2006).
Rock'sBackPageshttp://www.rocksbackpages.com/ (November 30, 2006), "Hank Bordowitz," profile of author.
SFSite,http://www.sfsite.com/ (November 30, 2006), Steven H. Silver, review of Billy Joel.