PERFORMING ARTS

Einstein, Michael Jackson & Me: A Search for Soul in the Power Pits of Rock and Roll

Backbeat: Rowman & Littlefield. Apr. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9781493051670. pap. $27.95. MUSIC
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Bloom (Global Brain) chronicles his career as a press guru for pop, rock, and R&B superstars, occasionally referencing scientific studies to support his claims. If this formula sounds strange, it’s because Bloom has indeed written an unusual book about the arts from the perspective of a scientist. An outsider since childhood, when his intellectual gifts began to shine, Bloom transformed from teenage science geek to proto-hippie to freelance periodical editor, finally winding up in the racket that would make him (sort of) famous—public relations for rock stars. The Howard Bloom Organization would provide media exposure for diverse artists such as ZZ Top, Joan Jett, Michael Jackson, Prince, Billy Joel, and Bob Marley. Along the way, Bloom names names, regales with many a tangent, quotes biologist Niko Tinbergen, and often repeats himself. His explication of the principles that would supposedly guide his work—secular shamanism, imprinting points, and “the gods inside”—ultimately don’t convince. But his affection for his stars rings absolutely true, and he learned early on how to spot talented artists and worked harder than anyone in the business to help realize their success.
VERDICT A lively and soulful rant for music and entertainment readers, if shambolically told.

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