– Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories

Posted By on November 15, 2006

From Cool Cleveland Managing Editor Peter Chakerian

Link :

Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories
Carlo Wolff

Gray & Company

Music fans who grew up in Cleveland hear a lot about the “golden age” of Rock and Roll. Sometimes, it’s downright inescapable: from endless classic rock on the radio, to the glass menagerie at the end of East Ninth, every signpost in town points back to that era. Noted rock critic Carlo Wolff has documented those signposts and paired them with historical perspective and first-person narratives for his new Cleveland rock nostalgia book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories.

This book collects memories of Clevelanders who were entrenched in the music scene: musicians, reporters, jocks, reporters, club owners, and the fans. Some memories seem to meander with ubiquitous zeal; others (including those of PD Minister of Culture Michael Heaton) are spot-on and laugh-out-loud funny. When Heaton leaves the over-attended Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon gig at Blossom, you know he’s not as “invisible” as he thinks he is.

Wolff, who writes about music, pop culture and literature for an impressive list of outlets including Village Voice, Goldmine, and Boston Globe, covers a great deal of territory in one small volume. Rock clubs like the Agora, stations like WIXY and WMMS and emerging bands like Devo and Pere Ubu join launched careers (Meat Loaf) and cherished shows (Coffee Break Concerts, World Series of Rock, Michael Stanley Band at Blossom, etc.) as the beginning of this long, strange, time capsule trip.

Acknowledgements of rock writer Jane Scott are also well done. She gets knocked by one fan as not really being a critic (can’t really argue that), but all have fond reverence for her. Put on the “teen beat” as an afterthought, she ended up experiencing a cultural phenomenon in its entirety. Without Jane, there’s no Jancee Dunn, Edna Gundersen, Lorraine Ali… just like there’s no Madonna without Akron’s Chrissie Hynde. It’s not a stretch at all, people: Cool rock chicks beget cool rock chicks.

Wolff’s best move with Memories is letting the participants speak for themselves. It is great fun to absorb so many voices and unique perspectives and it absolves the author of others’ occasionally fuzzy memories.

Sadly, there’s no postscript for after the mid 1980s in Memories. What about Rock Hall, the Concert for the Hall of Fame, gads of live performances, Alternative Press and the Northeast Ohio natives who continue(d) to add to the cultural landscape? Trent Reznor, the Black Keys, Tracy Chapman, Scott Weiland, Maynard James Keenan, Marilyn Manson… the list goes on.

Perhaps Wolff, one of three principal authors of The Encyclopedia of Record Producers, is planning a Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories II: Back Into Cleveland sequel. Unless Jim Steinman and Meat Loaf make up and get the call first, I’m guessing Wolff’s publisher is already on notice.

Carlo Wolff and other Northeast Ohio rock writers help celebrate the launch of Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories this Saturday, December 2 at Gallery 324 in the Galleria from 4-7PM. Visit for more information.

From Cool Cleveland Managing Editor Peter Chakerian


Leave a Reply

About the author

I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: