Tim Riley

Tim Riley

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Tim Riley writes substack’s free, fortnightly riley rock report newsletter and podcast, which covers rock, pop, and classical. Recent issues feature Chuck Berry biographer RJ Smith, pianist Lars Vogt, and the documentary on the...


Sticky Fingers

Dec 23, 2017
A nearsighted new biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner would have us believe that any narcissistic cokehead could have shepherded innovative work by Hunter S. Thompson, Annie Leibovitz and others just by being in the right place at the right time.

I Am Brian Wilson

Mar 17, 2017
The musician we meet in this book looks back on his mid-’70s Beach Boys caricature with sympathy and dread. As his gentle voice emerges from the pages, a more definitive picture takes shape.

Children of the Stone

Oct 30, 2015
A fierce 8-year-old Palestinian boy, caught in a famous photograph throwing a rock at an Israeli soldier, grows up to become a great classical violist dedicated to bringing music and musical education to Palestinian children (Above, a detail of the cover of "Children of the Stone," a book reviewed by Tim Riley).

Ain’t It Funky

Jun 8, 2012
When Bootsy Collins defected from James Brown's band for George Clinton's, RJ Smith, in his new biography of Brown, gives us the desertion from Brown's point of view: "You could not copyright a beat, a smell, the One. You made it and then a younger man in an ass-length blond wig marked it up and made it new."