34574679“Everybody thinks how great it must have been in the ‘60’s. Well, let me tell you – it was! I don’t think there will ever be anything quite like it again!”

In his most recent book – “Almost Famous: Journey to the Summer of Love”, Alan Lee Brackett candidly presents the ’60s exactly as they were: care-free, sweet, innocent but sinful, colorfully crazy, madly beautiful. And I loved them! I think this is the most realistic and comprehensive book I’ve read by now about the ’60s and, in some way, filled the gaps I had about this decade I didn’t had the chance to experience. Putting the pieces of the puzzle all together, I can get the overall feel of the sixties, the real truth behind of the soft-spoken autobiographies and the censored books that were meant to look good!

The big advantage of this book is that Alan Lee Brackett himself wrote his memoirs and not a ghost writer as practiced in the industry. I enjoyed his frank language, good sense of humor, sincere vibes and openness. He had his share of everything and now he tells his stories with humor and authenticity. I liked the fact that he is not shy or prude, describing every experience to the tiniest detail. It feels like you’re out with him, having a drink, and you have this vivid conversation about his life as a musician in the ’60s. Music, sex, weed, psychedelics… he covers them all. If you want to see this picture of the ’60s painted in realistic colors, try his biography.

If you want to read all about the famous artists back then, inside infos and backstage vibes, also try his book. He met “almost” everyone: Elvis, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, The Beach Boys and the list could go on and on. He was “almost” famous with The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, but definitely living the dream.

“Elvis was in Los Angeles auditioning for a new drummer for some reason and I took a friend of mine, Pete MacQueen, to audition. This was probably the best experience I had with Elvis. I actually sat down at the piano with him and we sang oldies but goodies together. It was just like I had done a million times with other friends all during my life.”

Jim Morrison “lived right behind the Canyon Store and I stopped by and visited with him on numerous occasions. (…) At his house, we would have long conversations. He was really into the psychology of the teeny-bopper and wanted to understand exactly what they wanted and to be able to deliver that to them. He was basically shy and soft-spoken and very intelligent. The sad thing was that what he figured out that the teeny-bopper wanted was something he felt he could not give them without the aid of alcohol.”

He pursued music since he was little: “My musical education, like many others, centered for years around the church. I went to the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara and didn’t miss a Sunday school for over 10 years in a row. They gave me a Bible for that. My social life as a teenager in Santa Barbara centered around the church groups. (…) We learned harmony and music from the hymns and spirituals but quickly adapted them to rock and roll and folk.(…) My Mother was a fine pianist and had given lessons. She gave me lessons but was wise enough to not be so strict as to stop me from experimenting instead of doing scales.”

He played in his first band in Junior High – The Rockets – and continued with The Royal Blues, The Enchantments, The Headliners, The Hillside Singers… “It was in highschool that I first started writing songs. The first one I called “I Don’t Get Enough” and was quickly censored by my Mom and I was forced to change the lyrics and thus the whole vibe of the song. So, instead of being the first punk songwriter the song ended up being really ordinary and was renamed “Because You’re You”. Oh, well. Instead of saying how horny I was and wasn’t getting enough, it turned out saying how I missed her and it was all “because you’re you”. Here’s just an example of his funny side.

But a detail marked me:

“I have a bad-quality tape of this gig and you can tell we were good but the most amazing thing is that we were doing folk songs with a drummer and electric guitar and also doing early rock songs. Sometimes I would play the piano and Mike would sing. Then we would switch to a folk song with banjo, guitar, drums and vocals. This was in 1961, years before Dylan “went electric” and shocked the world. We were probably the first folk-rock group! But we didn’t make it big enough to matter.”

I could say this detail captured best the essence of this book: the ’60s were a gamble after all, gambling love, luck, joy and, in the end, your life. I think that, despite being “almost” famous, Alan Lee Brackett was truly and fully a lucky man.

The book is available on Amazon in paperback format or Kindle version.

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