Former Los Angeles rock critic turns spotlight on classic rockers, new book

ST. GEORGE – As the Woodstock Nation grays, its members may forget where they put their car keys, but can still recall every word of The Beatles’ epic “A Day In The Life,” The Rolling Stones’ dark and dangerous “Sympathy for The Devil,” and Bruce Springsteen’s glorious ode to freedom, “Born To Run.”

“The release of a new album by one of your favorites was cause for celebration; a tour coming through town a reason for the rock ‘n’ roll tribe to gather,” said Ed Kociela, whose new book, “It Rocked (Recollections of a reclusive rock critic),” is now available through in print or in ebook form. The book is a compilation of his career as a rock critic at the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner and his experiences as a publicist in the music industry.

Book cover, "It Rocked!" released August 2013 | Image courtesy of Ed Kociela, St. George News
Book cover, “It Rocked!” released August 2013 | Image courtesy of Ed Kociela, St. George News

“The book speaks of the messengers of a generation, the troubadours who roamed the land, six-string in hand, touching our souls and igniting our passions,” he said. “And though the troubadours, the street poets, the artistes of a generation opened their hearts nightly to crowds of adoring fans, there was often a much different persona behind them when they stepped away from the stage and spotlight.

“I was privy to that world, engaging with some of the biggest stars in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. This is my invitation to readers to go backstage, into the studio, hotel rooms, and homes of some of rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars.”

In “It Rocked!” Kociela recalls his first concert — The Animals, at the height of the British Invasion in 1965. He also introduces readers to Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Peter Frampton, Eddie Money, Hall & Oates, Frank Zappa, Journey, Foreigner, KISS, Jimmy Rabbitt, Willie Nelson, The Beach Boys, Mark Lindsay, Steven Tyler, B.B. King, Kenny Rogers, Dottie West, Carlos Santana, Dick Clark, Jackie De Shannon, Tina Turner, Christine McVie, Stevie Nicks, Kiki Dee, Tom Petty, and many others, including, George Harrison, whom Kociela considered a personal friend.

Gavin de Becker, the worldwide authority on security whose company Gavin de Becker and Associates provides security services for governments, corporations, and celebrities — he worked with the Harrison family during George’s final years — gave the chapter on George his endorsement.

“I was impressed by the warmth and deft touch of the chapter on George Harrison. I can understand why the misnamed ‘Quiet Beatle’ was always willing to talk with Ed, and trust him,” de Becker said.

Jimmy Rabbitt, a pioneer of freeform rock ‘n’ roll radio and Outlaw singer-songwriter, knew Kociela from their days in Los Angeles.

“The thing about Ed as a critic is that he comes to have fun (and usually does!),” he said.

’It Rocked!’ remembers the struggles, triumphs, failures; the break-ups, make-ups, shake-ups; light and tragedy; humor and inspiration,” Kociela said. “But, most of all, it remembers the music, which guided a generation through its misguided youth and into a reluctant adulthood.

“I was there for the rise and fall of Peter Frampton; the first shattering break-up of The Beach Boys; the dogged determination of Bruce Springsteen; and the launch of Tom Petty’s career. I raised hell with Eddie Money, drank with Rod Stewart and Keith Moon, and watched Mick Jagger overtaken by stage fright, and, sadly, lost several close friends along the way.

“Still, looking back at those days, all I can say now is ‘it rocked!’ And I have the hearing loss to prove it.”


Ed note: The author of the featured book, Ed Kociela, is a St. George News columnist.


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