As I mentioned on my Facebook post this morning, my right wrist is sore from signing so many books last night at the launch of Lou Gramm’s “Juke Box Hero” at the Monroe Community College Theatre. Like another rocker once sang, “It hurts so good.”
I’ve been blessed to do many booksignings in my time, but none as successful as this one. It clearly speaks to the popularity of Rochester’s own “Juke Box Hero” and the lasting impact of his music. The love for Lou was palpable in that Theatre and it crossed generations as parents who rocked to Lou’s music three decades ago were accompanied by children who have just discovered his classic rock.
I’ve also been blessed to collaborate with good people in some of my recent books. Although they rose to the top of different professions, Lou, major league baseball star Johnny Antonelli and Buffalo Bills legend Steve Tasker took somewhat similar paths. Despite their fame and fortune, they remained true to their humble, small-town roots. They may have left their old neighborhoods, but their old neighborhoods never left them. They never forgot the people nor places that helped them realize their dreams.
I’ve always been fascinated about people’s journeys. I’m intrigued by the circumstances and people that shaped them – for better and worse – along the way. I equate being a ghost writer to being the Sherpa that leads the mountain climbers to the summit and safely back down to base camp.
It’s been about two years since I took Lou to lunch and convinced him that he had a powerful story to tell and that the timing for telling it was right. We’d meet once a week for a few hours and I would ask him to recount specific events and people. Some of the sessions were emotional as I probed difficult subjects. Ultimately, I wanted the book to be an honest recounting of Lou’s life and fortunately Lou agreed.
The goal was not to be one of these salacious, sensational tell-alls, like too many rock memoirs. We definitely delved into the trappings of wealth and fame that can overwhelm a person at a young age. And how life as a rock star isn’t always as glamorous as it might look from the outside. But to have told this in the manner of say a Keith Richards would have been inaccurate and disingenuous. It would not have been true to Lou.
The best compliment I’ve received about the Gramm and Antonelli books is that they are conversational, that the reader feels as if the subject has pulled up a chair and is speaking to them one-on-one. “Here, let me tell you my story.”
People ask me about capturing voice and it is a difficult thing to explain. I think it’s something you develop from hours upon hours of interviewing a person and truly listening to not only what they are saying but how they say it. You learn their phraseology, their personal story-telling technique, and you attempt to tell it in their words, not yours.
I’m proud of the finished product. I’m biased but I think it is a candid, compelling story that Lou tells. Hopefully, it takes readers behind the scenes and into the head of one of rock’s great singers and songwriters.
Ultimately, I see it as a story of dreams and nightmares and redemption.
I’m thankful that it has risen to the third bestselling rock book on amazon.com and that our publisher has just ordered a second printing.
And I’m grateful that Lou trusted me to help him bare his soul and recount a life journey that wound up being inspiring on several levels.