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Bird Lives!: The High Life & Hard Times of Charlie (Yardbird) Parker
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Bird Lives!: The High Life & Hard Times of Charlie (Yardbird) Parker

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  657 ratings  ·  28 reviews
"The best biography of any jazz musician that we have. Bird Lives! will stand for a long time as a major source of information and illumination not only of the great musician with whom it deals but of the entire jazz life in this society."--Ralph Gleason

"Inspired by great affection and dedication, Bird Lives! provides a vivid and accurate picture not only of the saxophonis
Paperback, 432 pages
Published March 22nd 1996 by Da Capo Press (first published April 1973)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  657 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: artists and jazz lovers
Recommended to Brendan by: russel kiefel
this book tore me apart. whether youre a charlie parker fanatic or not (tho it helps as its about charlie parker) ross russels 79 biography gives us access to the man with a hole in his soul. bird lived and played hard into his early death, his music took off from where armstrong left off, and all those that came after were merely replicating his apocalyptic blues. its a stunning insight into pre and post ww2 america, into the music industry, and into the core of an artist who blew too deep. cha ...more
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Fun, informative and accessible to the non musician; Although it helps to know a little about the scene once the author starts naming others in the business. A great overview of one of the great talents in jazz. A good look into a man who's views and music were years ahead of his contemporaries.
Dwight Penny
Feb 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Another book from the laundry room shelf, I should have read this a long time ago. I claim to love jazz, but I don't play, and I'm no student of it. I was always very fuzzy on Charlie Parker. His blazing fast style can be jarring to the ears, and I have to admit, I never got it. I usually prefer deep textures, a big sound, and long slow tunes I can follow, remember, and hum in the elevator. Bird is relentless, frenetic, (and sometimes a bit wheezy). The whole period of his music, the 40’s and ea ...more
Nov 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
Is it a biography or a biographical novel? Call it 'the story of Charlie Parker's life', in which the author brings together the people in that life like characters in a novel, inventing dialogue, inner thoughts and outward motivations that he couldn't possibly have been privy to. The author knew Parker personally, and interviewed numerous others who had been close to him. Since another book had already quoted extensively from those sources, it seems that this author chose the 'creative non-fict ...more
Aug 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Cary by: It is known as a must read among people interested in the arts
Bird Lives, what can you say? The biography of Charlie Parker. One of the most influencial black musicians of the 30's and one of the creators of bebop & improv jazz. His influence on jazz music is incalculable. If he was alive today he would have the American Lifetime Achievement award like Heston,Dylan, and other great contributers to American art. This is not a book just for musicians. Charlie Parker led an interesting life full of difficulties. Heroin addiction, racial oppression, and s ...more
Sep 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Troubling, very troubling, engaging, painful, great on the music. The author has a knowledge of culture and the history of ideas which helps a lot when placing the whole story into a wider context.
Part biography, part cultural history, and part novel - it is, for all its faults, an enormously important book.
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. The story of Parker's even if it was sad at times was a great read. As with so many artists I often wonder what they would think of today's music. Also, I wonder where they would be now.
Serge Pierro
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: music
The definitive biography on Charlie Parker. Covers a lot of ground, including his famous appetites for music, women, food and drugs. Musicians and non-musicians will come away with something by reading this book.
Oct 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
i revisited this book that i read when i was a young, budding jazz musician. this time around i had to skim it - i simply could not connect with the idiotic tone, which tries too hard to sound like some beatnik snapping his fingers and digging bird.

what a disappointment!
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
Although reprinted since, I first read an out-of-print copy found in a college library. Still the definitive bio of tormented genius Charlie Parker, it attempts to delineate and map the shifting, wavering boundaries between torment and genius.
Jan 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Hard to say what to make of Ross Russell -- he a was a label owner as well as Parker's biographer; employer and eulogist. It's hard to believe he'd be impartial when it came to Bird. But keeping that in mind, it's another valuable look into the life of the bebop pioneer.
Morris Nelms
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
All the bios of Parker are worth reading. Giddens wrote the best one. This one has plenty of information. It's a bit of a potboiler sometimes, and it didn't need to be.
Oct 21, 2009 marked it as to-read
I just ordered this book at the suggestion of a friend who knows music all too well. It's in his blood! I'm excited to read this book. I ordered so both my husband and I can read it.
Dave Finnigan
Jul 12, 2008 rated it liked it
quite technical for the non-musician,but still very good
Feb 21, 2010 added it
Bird Lives!: The High Life and Hard Times of Charlie (Yardbird) Parker by Ross Russell (1996)
Winter Sophia Rose
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brings Bird "Soaring" To Life!
Wickovski Steve
Aug 21, 2012 rated it liked it
A riveting biography of Charlie Parker by his recording company man Ross Russell

Sep 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
best beginning to a biography i have ever read, and almost everything you would want to know about Charlie Parker's life. Awesome read.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Brilliantly evocative of a unique moment in history. For jazz fans buts also social historians and all musicians. Compelling as any fiction.
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sitting-around
i heard this was not the most accurate book but it's good
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: music
The definitive book on jazz legend Charlie Parker.
Nikki Mackenzie
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: music
badly edited but some good information on the life of parker. Definetly recommend to any hard core jazz fans and musicians
I had wanted to read this book since childhood, but never managed to get hold of a copy until the Chandler Park branch of the Detroit Public Library, which had been closed for several years, was re-opened several months ago. One sunny Sunday afternoon many years ago, around 1983 or '84, I was riding in the car with my mother when she decided to stop at a yard sale out in the country, north of Ann Arbor, Michigan. As I was looking through a large box of records, the lady whose yard sale it was ex ...more
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Sep 13, 2013
Mads Hyhne
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Jan 04, 2017
rated it it was ok
Oct 20, 2013
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Jul 22, 2011
rated it really liked it
Jun 17, 2013
Soplanit Papilaja
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Oct 17, 2016
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