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Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business

3.36  ·  Rating Details  ·  286 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
A giant of the music industry grants an all-access pass to the world of rock and roll, with mesmerizing stories of thirty-five years spent working with legends from Led Zeppelin, to Stevie Nicks, to Nirvana.

Danny Goldberg has been a hugely influential figure in the world of rock and roll. He did PR for Led Zeppelin; he managed the career of Nirvana; he ran Atlantic Records
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 18th 2008 by Gotham (first published August 23rd 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 578)
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Hannah Jo Parker
Feb 12, 2009 Hannah Jo Parker rated it it was ok
Really 1 and 1/2 stars. This book frustrated the heck out of me. The author was very involved in some fascinating aspects of the business side of the rock world, but his stories about that experience are completely unsatisfying.

Here's a particularly galling example, from page 225:

"On April 8, I was back at Atlantic's New York office. I was in a meeting with Stevie Nicks to discuss her next solo album when Rosemary called. She was driving to Exodus to tell Courtney that Kurt had been found dead i
Jan 14, 2016 V rated it liked it
Interesting stories written by a long time insider in the music business. I admit I did not read every chapter, only the ones about artists and events that intrigued me. I especially liked the chapter about Stevie Nicks. The Nirvana chapter (perhaps the longest one in the book) was also very well written. No sensationalism bedroom or drug tales...mostly business dealings and behind the scenes relationships between managers, publicists, engineers and artists. I read so much about the mu ...more
Apr 15, 2016 Steve rated it really liked it
Ever since reading "Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga" as a teenager, I 19ve been a bit of a geek about 1Cinside rock and roll 1D books. Goldberg 19s memoir fits that bill perfectly. From his early start writing reviews during the late 1860 19s transition from folk to rock through his time working PR for Led Zeppelin to his close connection to the life and tragic death of Kurt Cobain, this is a fascinating view of the inner workings of what makes the music business tick. One thing I espe ...more
Nov 30, 2008 Erin rated it it was ok
This book was disappointing because he regurgitated the same stories and rhetoric as discussed in his earlier book "Dispatches from the Culture Wars." He is also one hell of a name dropper.
Sep 19, 2009 Davida rated it liked it
Yet another fast-reading memoir with not very good writing but some good stories, especially about the famous musicians he worked with, including Kurt and Courtney, Patti Smith, Led Zeppelin, and Stevie Nicks. Reading this book inspired me to listen to Warren Zevon, who I had only listened to a little bit before.

Some tidbits I enjoyed:

He mentions rock journalist Al Aronowitz, who was present when Dylan gave the Beatles their first joint. I did not know he did that!

Scottish blues singer (compare
Paul Lyons
Jun 21, 2013 Paul Lyons rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 09, 2009 Maya rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir-2009
This book took me a little while to get into; in the beginning, a combination of name-drop soup and poor copyediting (in the first section, Atlantic founder Ahmet Ertegun is variously referred to three or four times as "Ahmet" and "Ertegun" even before he's introduced by his full name--even though I knew who he was referring to, it was enough of a stumbling block that I noticed it) makes for heavy sledding. After a while, however, the narrative got a little more cohesive and entertaining. Goldbe ...more
Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount)
I really enjoyed this book. It was fun to read about the backsides of so many successful musicians' stories, and enlightening to see how even among these stars success only came after the right combination of luck, hard work and perfect timing, an even the 'greatest' of them had massive failures that make mine pale by comparison. My favorite side of this book was the industry side, which may not appeal so much to everyone, but for folks like me trying to develop a career that supports music and ...more
Mar 02, 2015 Megan rated it liked it
It was just okay. I would give this 1.5 stars if the part about Cobain had been left out. This guy really wanted to write about business... so he leaves a lot to desire for those who want to hear about the musicians.
Steve Rabideau
Apr 04, 2015 Steve Rabideau rated it really liked it
I see the book is getting some harsh reviews, but I actually thought it was decent. I really wasn't expecting much considering I got it on the discount shelf and it was written by a music executive and not an artist. But to be honest his point of view was different and interesting, and it was decent. Not as compelling as a lot of rock bio's, but at under 300 pages, was definitely worth the read if you wanted a little insight into the business end of the music industry.
Feb 08, 2009 Laren rated it liked it
Shelves: music-industry
This is the story of one man's journey in the music business and how it changed from the sixties through the nineties. From his accidental start as a music critic, he went to PR man for Led Zeppelin, to managing Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt and Nirvana, and ultimately ended up the top dog at 4 different major labels before starting his own indie label. There is no focus on major lessons learned or sordid stories of celebrities so if that's what you are after this book is not for you. But it is qui ...more
May 06, 2009 Julia rated it liked it
There's a lot of names dropped - too many for the casual reader. Most of us won't care who started what avant garde pop culture magazine in the late 60s or the different heads of A&R at different labels. However, there's lots of other interesting stuff to read. I particularly enjoyed reading about Goldberg's take on the music industry in general, and working working with Kurt Cobain in particular.

I read this book while playing a weekend of classical orchestral music. I was playing Shostakovi
Jan 17, 2009 Trina rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, music, 2009-books
Bumping into Geniuses was good in that Goldberg worked with many of my favorite musicians: Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Tom Petty, Jackson Browne, etc. I also liked that there was no glorification of drug use for creativity or of drug users, particularly in the discussions of Kurt Cobain's death.

The section on Warren Zevon had me crying a bit, just because his talented wasn't as recognized and he didn't achieve it until he was terminally ill (and afterward) or maybe it's more that he didn't
May 15, 2009 Randine rated it really liked it
Goldberg knows everyone I've loved in music - he's been there through it all. At about the time Bob came out with 'Blood on the Tracks', Goldberg, Cameron Crowe, Jimmy Page and Robert Plant all ditched a party to go see 'Young Frankenstein' at a local theater. Great little stories like that throughout the book.

Managed Nirvana and Hole and has quite a bit in the book about Kurt. When I read Warren Zevons book he mentioned Goldberg all the time so it's good to read Goldberg write about Zevon.

Ric Kimpel
Aug 21, 2013 Ric Kimpel rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book for the stories. Mr. Goldberg certainly seemed to get some lucky breaks considering the amazing musicians that he worked with.

Though at times the mumbo jumbo of the Music Industry just solidified my distaste for said industry, it did explain it in a way that you could understand how many artists were really ripped off in the past. For that, at least he was honest about, though at times he seemed to be defending it.

All in all a nice read for certain stories about the artists
Feb 06, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! Having done promotions and event planning with local artists, it was really cool to read the industrial life story of someone who's "been there, done that." It was interesting to see that, despite advances in technology, and the "evolution" of the rock scene, a lot of things have not changed. It was awesome to read about the author's metamorphosis from small-scale rock critic to, ultimately, his numerous top-level executive positions in the music industry.
Feb 23, 2009 Anne rated it liked it
I was so excited to get this book. Sadly, it is boring and fatuous. Really a shame because I looked up to Danny Goldberg for a long time. Like so many people in the music business he was in the right place in the right time and not brilliant. I guess he even ultimately acknowledges that with the title. Read only for the shout outs and interesting tidbits about artists. Otherwise, this book is BORING
Jim Butler
Jan 04, 2010 Jim Butler added it
Shelves: music
If you're looking for a comprehensive history of the rock and roll business, then read The Mansion on the Hill. If you're looking for vignettes about the rock and roll business from a guy who has lived it, then this is an interesting read. Think of Mansion on the Hill as the survey course with Goldberg invited to do a guest lecture.

Goldberg bounced around the music business
Mar 17, 2010 Leila rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in the business side of rock and roll.
Finally finished! I sped up once I passed the Zepplin stuff. Tho he doesn't mention the company he owned that I worked for, this is a fascinating look at music management, esp. the rise of Nirvana and Kurt Cobain. Not so much for those interested in the artistry of the music, but great if you enjoy reading about the business (I do), and how to get an artist some attention.
Oct 14, 2008 Nick rated it liked it
Shelves: music, biography, memoir
The story of a rock journalist turned recording executive turned manager of artists. In parts, fairly dry but still an affecting, interesting read, especially if you are interested in the music business, and any of these artists: Patti Smith,
Warren Zevon, Steve Earle, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, Jackson Browne, Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love.
Oct 07, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
I admit that I am a rock and roll junkie. When I saw this book and saw the line up of people I was hooked. I was touched by Warren Zevon. I want to go back and listen to his back catalog and wished that I could go and be a part of that Zeppelin greatness or the Nirvana madness. Read this just to reflect how far we have come in the music world.
Jul 19, 2010 Stan rated it it was ok
Read like a suit's view of the music industry to me, even though Goldberg painfully tries to make it sound as if it's not. In fact, he even dedicates the entire first chapter to his "stret cred." The only things I found interesting were the chapters dealing with Led Zeppelin and Nirvana and, even then, there wasn't a whole lot new.
Jan 02, 2009 Nicky rated it really liked it
This was a lot of fun for me...I worked with Danny Goldberg a bit back in the late '90s, and I loved his insider view of the industry. He is, and always has been, a gracious and interesting man.

If you're at all interested in the history of the music business, this book is great. I read it cover to cover in a couple of hours.
Nick Anaya
Oct 25, 2013 Nick Anaya rated it really liked it
Really great stories throughout the first half. Definitely slowed down towards the end. I felt like it quickly ended on a melencholly tone. Overall though it was a great read in terms of music industry insight. It's a first hand experience of some of the most crucial moments in music history. Impressive and inspiring.
Dec 15, 2008 Brian rated it did not like it
for someone who was so close to the action - publicist and manger for Led Zeppelin and Nirvana, among others - this reads like it was copied from other books. I never got the sense of being on the inside, or behind the scenes. I suppose it's the PR writer in him - all surface, no meat.
Brent Evans
Oct 13, 2011 Brent Evans rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-read
Well, anytime Kurt Cobain is involved . . . I'm excited to read it. I was very into the life lived by Danny Goldberg. In fact, I'm basically jealous. However, I believe it could have a little better written. Great topics and stories - I just wanted them told to me in a different way.
Mark Stalcup
Jan 05, 2010 Mark Stalcup rated it it was ok
Snagged this for a buck at Dollar Tree. It's an interesting read if you like music, but didn't really add much I hadn't learned elsewhere (sometimes from liner notes of the artists) about everybody involved. Did pass a copy on to a band manager, and she may have greater use for it.
Oct 27, 2008 Jeff rated it really liked it
A fascinating story, written with humor and self-deprecation, from a guy who's been in the rock & roll trenches almost from the beginning. There isn't much in the way of "dirt" here, and Goldberg glosses over almost all of his tenure at Artemis, but it's still a very entertaining read.
Jul 31, 2012 Courtney rated it liked it

Good book! interesting! Some of it was a little boring, it went in to a little much detail about some things that were minor in the story, but music fans will enjoy. I learned a lot of new things about some of my favorite bands.
Debated giving it a 4, it was probably a 3 1/2.
Dec 04, 2009 Craig rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have any interest in Led Zeppelin, Stevie Nicks, Kurt Cobain or Warren Zevon, then this is a breezy read. One compelling part was tracking the impact on Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love after Vanity Fair printed that she had done heroin while pregnant.
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