Altergate, 2007. ISBN 1934321753.
Reviewed by Robin Edgar
Posted on 08/06/2007
Just looking at the cover of Vinyl Highway by Dee Dee Phelps takes me back to the 60s when I wore white lipstick, loads of eye makeup (my mother told me I looked like I laid 1,000 guys) and danced to rock and roll rhythms of the Beatles, the Beach Boys and, of course, Dick and Dee Dee. Nostalgia aside, Phelps. memoir offers an interesting viewpoint of life during that unforgettable era of conflict and change. In addition to the story of her life as a pop star and her personal struggle to find inner peace, it is a colorful insider's account about the rise of rock and roll and the struggles of the civil rights movement.
A singer/songwriter, known for her appearances on Shindig and the Dick Clark's American Bandstand with hit songs like The Mountain's High and Young and In Love, Phelps hit the big time when she was eighteen and just started college to study journalism. Her personal narrative about trepidations over postponing her education to pursue her singing career reminded me of my own days as a performer in a music group. I could almost smell the bus fumes as she described her not-so-glamorous adventures on the road—riding all day to arrive in just enough time to set up and play, trying to find a place to eat when everyone else was in bed and then crashing for a few hours, only to wake up at 5:00 am and start all over again.
The author invites readers to hitch a ride with her on this rocky ride of stardom. Forced to leave the stability of home to keep her songs on the charts, she describes her mixed emotions about the thrill of the hearing the audience cheers dimmed by frustrations of overt prejudice against fellow black musicians. Surrounded by bright lights and performers and fans, she cannot shake the shadows of loneliness and concern for her future.
Vinyl Highway is an easy read and, if you are from that generation, there's lots of fun nostalgia about the 60s. Whether you grew up during that era or not, it is an eye opener about the give and take of following your dreams.
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