Peter Guralnick's books include the prize-winning two-volume biography of Elvis Presley, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love. He is a recent inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame. Other books include an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music, Sweet Soul Music, Lost Highway, and Feel Like Going Home; the biographical inquiry Searching for Robert Johnson; the novel, Nighthawk Blues, and Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke. His most recent book is Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll.
When Elvis Presley stepped into a Memphis recording studio with producer Sam Phillips in 1954, they defined rock 'n' roll as we know it. Peter Guralnick already gave us Elvis's story in two landmark books. He now returns with a brilliant, intensely human look at Phillips, the endlessly fascinating figure who also recorded Johnny Cash, B.B King, Howlin' Wolf, and Jerry Lee Lewis. It's a bold, insightful work that tells us in novelistic detail about the obsessions and struggles of the man who presided over the uneasy birth of rock 'n' roll. --Robert Hilburn, author of Johnny Cash The book is a labor of love. Guralnick is passionate about the music, but he doesn't let his passion overinflate his prose, and he seems to know everything about everyone who was part of the Southern music world... It's natural for us to take events that were to a significant extent the product of guesswork, accident, short-term opportunism and good luck...and shape them into a heroic narrative....But a legend is just one of the forms that history takes -- which is why it's good to have Guralnick's book. --Louis Menand, The New Yorker Peter Guralnick isn't just a music writer or a biographer--he's one of the essential chroniclers of American popular culture, and his work illuminates some of the crucial components of our national identity: race, religion, fame, and the big business of having fun, among others. In this epic biography of Sam Phillips, Guralnick bears witness to the birth of rock and roll and the cultural revolution it inspired. It's not only an unforgettable portrait of an eccentric visionary, it's a testament to the power of ordinary people to change the world with nothing more than a beautiful idea and a handful of songs. --Tom Perrotta, author of The Leftovers Mr. Guralnick is a sensitive biographer who has landed upon a perfect topic in Phillips, the brilliant Memphis producer who, in the 1950s, recorded the earliest work of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Howlin' Wolf. This is vital American history, smartly and warmly told. --Dwight Garner, New York Times, Top Books of 2015 Lovingly crafted.... With crisp prose and meticulous detail, Guralnick gives Phillips the same epic treatment he previously employed in acclaimed biographies of Sam Cooke and Elvis Presley.... An astonishing feat.... It is difficult to imagine a more complete or poetic account of his life than this remarkable volume.... 'I didn't set out to revolutionize the world, ' Phillips once told Guralnick in a moment of humility, but in this book [the author] convincingly argues that Phillips did just that. --Charles Hughes, The Washington Post Guralnick wrote definitive biographies of Elvis and now does the same for Phillips, a visionary who gave voice to a rich and diverse culture long marginalized.... Essential reading for music fans. --Ben Segedin, Booklist (starred review) Epic, elegant and crisply told. --Henry L. Carrigan, Jr., BookPage Definitive...With Presley's story at its core, Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock 'n' Roll is in some ways the third volume [to] Guralnick's double-volume Elvis bio. What makes it more illuminating and arguably truer is seeing Elvis in the broader context of Phillips' career, [which was] in many ways a mission to transform [t]his nation's history of bigotry....You may come away born again. --Rolling Stone Acclaimed music historian Guralnick has written landmark accounts of Elvis and the history of American roots music, and he now turns his considerable skills to the life of Sun Records producer Sam Phillips in this delightful and comprehensive volume. Guralnick energetically tells the must-read tale of a Southern boy intent on enacting his vision of freedom and justice through music. --Publishers Weekly (starred review) A monumental biography of the larger-than-life loner who fought for the acceptance of black music and discovered an extraordinary group of poor, country-boy singers whose records would transform American popular culture.... A wonderful story that brings us deep into that moment when America made race music its own and gave rise to the rock sound now heard around the world. --Kirkus Reviews (starred review) A book so thoroughly steeped in its subject that it is almost an autobiography in the third person.... 'This is a book written out of admiration and love, ' Guralnick states frankly in an author's note. As such, it honors Sam Phillips elegantly, by devoting itself to the one subject Phillips seemed to admire and love as much as he did -music: Sam Phillips himself. --David Hajdu, New York Times Book Review Sam Phillips is an epic biography, at once sweeping and personal, in which the gifted writer Peter Guralnick captures the voice and life of a transformational figure in American music. --Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins PRAISE FOR SAM PHILLIPS: THE MAN WHO INVENTED ROCK 'N' ROLL A NEW YORK TIME BESTSELLER & WASHINGTON POST NOTABLE NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR (2015)--- Revelatory . . . A collection that clearly expresses the passion of musical discovery and lasting legacy. --Kirkus Reviews Peter Guralnick's Looking to Get Lost -- a literary masterpiece -- takes the reader on a fantastic journey through the very best of America's musical landscape. His jewel-like personal stories about Skip James, Bill Monroe, Doc Pomus, Solomon Burke, Joe Tex and others are priceless. Looking to Get Lost proves that nobody knows more about rhythm and blues, bluegrass, rockabilly, and soul music than Guralnick. This pulsing jukebox of a memoir and cultural history certifies that mighty claim. --Douglas Brinkley, Author of Cronkite