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Is Steve Katz a Rock Star?

by Steve Katz


“Steve Katz’s book opens the door on a magical time when the counterculture—and the transformations of youth in New York, and California, and all of America—were flowering. He was there: a cocky musician on the brink of group stardom, the besotted lover of a folk-rock goddess, an ironic hipster (fresh from his parents’ house in Queens) in a coolly glamorous world. With a light touch and a wry intimacy, he adds to an important history: our own.”

Sheila Weller, author of the best-selling Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon—and the Journey of a Generation 

“I love love love Steve Katz’s new book Blood, Sweat and My Rock ’n’ Roll Years—a dizzying, delicious, head-spinning, heart-wrenching tale of the Sixties and what even those of us who were there might have missed— stories of the great band he was part of, a band that tore up the charts while the music rolled up the avenues of the world. Touring, the treasures and torments, faces and voices—Joni in the dark and light, Al Kooper in the day and night, Mimi in the morning at Judy’s house, Danny Kalb in the aftermath of Monterey, Janis Joplin in profile. It is a great ride, both for those who were there and never saw the other side of the story, and for those who weren’t and want to know what really happened in the Cafe Wha?, The Gaslight, and The Bitter End in New York, plus Monterey Pop and the Woodstock that happenedoff-stage. Great book, great read, great life.”

Judy Collins, singer, writer, and survivor of the Sixties 

“My friend Steve Katz was a nice Jewish boy who became a big star. Happily he is now a nice Jewish gentleman who lived the rock-n-roll lifestyle and lived to tell the tale in this wickedly funny insight into the decadent days of the music world of the Sixties and Seventies. I was there—it’s all true!”

Terry Ellis, co-founder of Chrysalis Records 


Legendary guitarist Katz is or at least was definitely a rock star: a pioneer of the blues-rock genre with his early 1960s band, the Blues Project; a founder in the late 1960s of the groundbreaking and hugely popular jazz-rock big band Blood, Sweat & Tears; and the producer of Lou Reed’s best-selling and still-influential live LP Rock ‘n’ Roll Animal (as well as its follow-up Sally Can’t Dance, Reed’s only top-10 album). Katz engagingly recounts fascinating stories in an insightful, intelligent, sometimes wistful and sometimes funny style that makes this one of the few rock memoirs worth reading from beginning to end. Highlights include his early days getting lessons from blues guitar genius Rev. Gary Davis in a “little clapboard shanty” in the South Bronx; the birth of Blood, Sweat & Tears despite Katz’s contentious relationship with co-founder and Dylan collaborator Al Kooper (“Al never liked my guitar playing and I never liked his voice”); the phenomenal success—with Kooper’s replacement singer, David Clayton-Thomas of BS&T’s second self-titled LP with hits such as “Spinning Wheel”; and later, “David’s transformation from soul singer to slinger of schmaltz.” Katz also reveals that the audience sound on Reed’s live LP was lost and then replaced by the audience track from a John Denver live LP, a priceless story for all Reed fans or detractors. –  PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, MAY, 2015