Writer, screenwriter, and playwright. Previously worked as an editor in the London office of Rolling Stone during the 1970s.
The Spiritual Supermarket, Saturday Review Press (New York, NY), 1975.
Haymon's Crowd (novel), Summit Books (New York, NY), 1978.
Temple (novel), Summit Books (New York, NY), 1982.
(With Bill Graham) Bill Graham Presents: My Life inside Rock and Out, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.
Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.
Timothy Leary (biography), Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2006.
Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2006.
Robert Greenfield has written fiction, biographies, and articles, as well as having served as an associate editor in the London office of Rolling Stone. He has a particular interest in pop culture and its icons. His book chronicling the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour, S.T.P.: A Journey through America with the Rolling Stones, is considered to be a classic. Green-field followed the volume up with a second book on the Stones, Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones. This volume serves as a prequel, analyzing the two years prior to the tour previously chronicled when the Stones were recording the titular two-disc album. It was a period of high tension for the group, who were ensconced for the summer at a mansion that band member Keith Richards had rented in the south of France. They wrote and recorded the album, but there was a great deal of discord, stemming from Richards's struggle to stay off drugs and Mick Jagger's relationship with his then-new wife, Bianca. In addition, the mansion was not well suited for its duties as a make-shift recording studio, and the heat made it nearly impossible to keep the instruments in tune. Greenfield addresses these concerns, but also focuses on the Stones' entourage, and their influence on the progress of the album. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews wrote: "There's much sleaze to be found in these pages, but precious little about how the Stones forged their rock-'n'-roll art." Dave Valencia, writing for Library Journal, remarked: "Greenfield purposefully avoids focusing on the music itself, which he regards as generally overrated."
In Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia, Greenfield writes about another legend of rock and roll, the lead member of the Grateful Dead band. Greenfield relied heavily on the stories and accounts of Garcia's friends, family, and fellow Grateful Dead members in piecing together this picture of the late rock star. Instead of combining the information into a narrative format, Greenfield retains the integrity of the individual interviews, presenting them as testimonials. Where he was unable to gain access to people, he fills in the gaps with material gleaned from older interviews. Paul Verna, in a review for Billboard, called Greenfield's effort a "fascinating exploration into the life of late legend Jerry Garcia." He remarked: "Admirably, Greenfield makes no effort to reconcile conflicting accounts. He stands aside and lets the participants speak for themselves, editorializing only by providing his own occasional quotes where appropriate."
Timothy Leary looks at the life of the eccentric psychedelic guru and promoter of LSD who influenced a generation of young people intent on dropping out of mainstream culture. The book details Leary's career, including a prison break and his exile in Algiers, and analyzes his belief system and his copious drug use. John Baron wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times: "Author Greenfield should win multiple Nobel Prizes for unearthing all this and keeping it straight. His portrait of Leary is honest but quietly damning." Donna Seaman, in a review for Booklist, wrote: "Greenfield's cornerstone portrait of the acidhead who would be king brilliantly illuminates the paradoxes of the psychedelic age." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked: "Greenfield is levelheaded when discussing Leary's uneasy relationship with politics, nor does he soft-pedal Leary's betrayals of friends and colleagues." Writing for Harper's, John Leonard called Greenfield's effort a "relentless, remorseless, exasperating, and exhaustive biography." A contributor for Publishers Weekly found the book to be "a highly detailed and decidedly ugly portrayal of a pathologically selfish, narcissistic yet complex man."
Greenfield's fiction also addresses nuances of culture, though he turns from popular subjects to those of ethnicity and heritage. His novel, Temple, tells the story of Paulie Bindle, who quits his job at a Harvard bookstore to return to his Jewish roots in New York, only to find that the links to his ethnicity as he remembers them have begun to fade. A reviewer for Time wrote of Greenfield: "He manages that most difficult recipe: a blend of acrimony, humor, regret and hope. Soothing it's not; memorable it is."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Billboard, August 17, 1996, Paul Verna, review of Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia, p. 78.
Biography, summer, 2006, Luc Sante, review of Timothy Leary, p. 528.
Booklist, August, 1996, Mike Tribby, review of Dark Star, p. 1871; April 15, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Timothy Leary, p. 8; June 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Timothy Leary, p. 30.
California Bookwatch, July, 2006, review of Timothy Leary.
Chicago Sun-Times, June 18, 2006, John Barron, review of Timothy Leary.
Entertainment Weekly, November 6, 1992, David Browne, review of Bill Graham Presents: My Life inside Rock and Out, p. 62.
Harper's, July, 2006, John Leonard, review of Timothy Leary, p. 81.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2006, review of Timothy Leary, p. 334; August 15, 2006, review of Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones, p. 821.
Library Journal, April 15, 2006, Mary Ann Hughes, review of Timothy Leary, p. 94; September 1, 2006, Dave Valencia, review of Exile on Main Street, p. 148.
New York Times Book Review, June 25, 2006, Luc Sante, review of Timothy Leary, p. 1.
Publishers Weekly, August 24, 1992, review of Bill Graham Presents, p. 71; June 24, 1996, review of Dark Star, p. 40; April 3, 2006, review of Timothy Leary, p. 52; September 4, 2006, review of Exile on Main Street, p. 48.
Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of Timothy Leary.
Time, March 21, 1983, review of Temple, p. 81.
Music Box Online,http://www.musicbox-online.com/ (November 20, 2006), Douglas Heselgrave, review of Timothy Leary; John Metzger, review of Dark Star.
New Yorker Online,http://www.newyorker.com/ (June 19, 2006), Louis Menand, "Acid Redux."
New York Observer Online,http://www.observer.com/ (November 20, 2006), Ann Marlowe, "A Long, Strange Trip: Leary's Circus Chronicled."
Perseus Books Web site,http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/ (November 20, 2006), author bio.
Pop Matters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (October 23, 2006), Zeth Lundy, review of Exile on Main Street.
Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (November 20, 2006), author biography.*