Walk, Don’t Run: A Rockin’ and Rollin’ Memoir

A Rockin’ and Rollin’ Memoir Made on the 1960s Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Includes a soundtrack: the original album the boys recorded, digitally remastered for your listening (and rocking) pleasure! May 2016 “Indie Groundbreaking Book” by Independent Publisher.

ISBN: 9780984816262
Author: Steven Jae Johnson   
Format: Paperback (5.25 x 8), ebook (epub), soundtrack (high-quality mp3)
Page Count: 260
Publish Date: August 2015
List Price: $15
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Listen to One of the Tunes You Get with the Soundtrack When You Get the Book!

 

“An epic story of show-biz dreams.”
—Mike Foley

“It’s this generation’s American Graffiti — it’s Happy Days slammed into Resurrection Boulevard.”
—Rick Marcelli

“Johnson’s memory for the adventures we shared breaking into show business is seamless.”
—Edward James Olmos

“Like a front-row seat to the action when rock ‘n’ roll was still young and exciting!”
—Jason Liller

Kids, This Is Rock ‘N’ Roll: A Rockin’ and Rollin’ Memoir Made on the 1960s Sunset Strip in Hollywood

Here is a story that is glamorous, inspiring, and gritty — a marvelous fusion of the ups, downs, and in-betweens of life and music and passion in 1960s Hollywood, California, the place where dreams are made and chased and, sometimes, die.

When Steven “Rusty” Johnson, Eddie Olmos, and Joey Zagarino met in high school in 1962, the sky was the limit and rock ‘n’ roll stardom was a record deal away. These three friends forged a life-long friendship that would take them through triumph and tragedy, victory and defeat, success and failure — all in the pursuit of reaching the rock ‘n’ roll dream.

This is not only the story of three dreamers, it is a true tale that shows that success — and life — is about taking it from the top, catching a good groove, and taking it one beat at a time.

SOUNDTRACK INCLUDED WITH BOOK AND EBOOK!

Walk, Don’t Run: A Rockin’ and Rollin’ Memoir is about passion and dreams — and music. That’s why this incredible book comes complete with an incredible soundtrack! Yes, when you get the book, you’ll also get the album that The Pacific Ocean recorded, featuring Edward James Olmos singin’ and screamin’ on vocals while Steven “Rusty” Johnson pounds away on the drums. Every track has been digitally remastered in high-quality mp3 format and beautifully tagged so that it’s ready to be transferred to your favorite music device. “Purgatory” is a riveting and exciting album that will take you back to a time when the music was loud, the cars were fast, and dreams were a record deal away.

Track List of Album: 16 Tons • Road to Hell • My Shrink • Subterranean Homesick Blues • Track of My Tears • I Can’t Stand It • I Wanna Testify • 99 1⁄2 • Mickey’s Monkey

(If you purchased the book or ebook elsewhere, please visit www.WalkDontRunTheBook.com to claim your soundtrack. You’re going to love it!)

“An epic story of show-biz dreams.”
—Mike Foley

“It’s this generation’s American Graffiti — it’s Happy Days slammed into Resurrection Boulevard.”
—Rick Marcelli

“Johnson’s memory for the adventures we shared breaking into show business is seamless.”
—Edward James Olmos

“Like a front-row seat to the action when rock ‘n’ roll was still young and exciting!”
—Jason Liller

Independent Publisher: INDIE GROUNDBREAKING BOOK

New Memoir Captures the Excitement and Heart of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream

BY CRAIG MANNING / MAY 2016

It’s always tough to recognize the most important moments of your life while they’re happening. Life-defining milestones can come along when you least expect them and change your path completely. That was certainly the case for Steven Jae Johnson, who was minding his own business on the front lawn of his high school when one Joey Zagarino sauntered up and recruited him to be in a band. A minute later, the frontman of a “rival” band, Eddie Olmos, strolled by to congratulate Johnson—or “Rusty,” his nickname—on the new gig. Just like that, Rusty’s life changed forever.

Getting recruited to sing and play drums in a high school rock ‘n’ roll band in the early 1960s might not seem like a huge moment. After all, the things that most of us do in our high school years only define a small segment of our lives, before we move on to the strange and confusing world of adulthood. For Steven Rae Johnson, though, getting asked to join the Upsets kick-starts a life story of music, dreams, brushes with fame, and unbreakable friendship. The event also serves as the first and most pivotal scene in Walk, Don’t Run, Johnson’s memoir and this month’s indie groundbreaking book.

Many rock ‘n’ roll memoirs or biographies spend a good deal of time on exposition in the form of early life details. We read about artists before they were artists, learning about their parents, their siblings, their childhoods, and everything that happened before they ever sang a note or strummed a guitar chord. This kind of information can be illuminating, but it can also feel sort of like the previews you have to sit through before your film starts to play at the movie theater. Johnson wisely chooses to skip all of the pleasantries and dive right in with his first day as a member of the Upsets. That choice proves to be a pattern throughout the book, too, as Johnson frequently breezes through the exposition and scene-setting to focus squarely on the action and significant events. It’s a smart authorial decision that makes Walk, Don’t Run a zippy and effortlessly entertaining read.

Indeed, instead of concerning itself with the usual excavations of fact that so often push biographies to being 100 or 200 pages longer than they need to be, Walk, Don’t Run reads more like fiction than memoir. Action-driven paragraphs trade off with Johnson’s best approximations of the conversations he shared with friends, bandmates, and famous musicians over the years. Instead of surveying the scene decades after the fact, Johnson’s writing puts you right in the scene. As a result, the book captures not only the day-to-day goings-on of life in the 1960s, but also the special bonds you form with people when you make music together.

Those special bonds are ultimately what Walk, Don’t Run is all about. Sure, there are other themes at work, too: the trial and error that goes into making your dreams come true; the sacrifices you make when you set your eyes on stardom; the way everything looks so much simpler when you’re young and full of zeal. In fact, some of the very best parts of Walk, Don’t Run are about youth and how, when you’re young—and especially when you’re young and playing rock ‘n’ roll—you feel invincible. I can’t recall a book—fiction or fact—that so perfectly encompasses the feeling of adrenaline and excitement that courses through you when you’re on stage and the house lights are about to come up. As for an early scene where Rusty, Joey, and a pair of their bandmates end up on the run from the cops after a drunk driving incident, it reminds you of the stupid things you do when you’re young—and how off-the-wall hilarious they seem as the years continue to drift by.

Still, the heart and soul of Walk, Don’t Run is brotherhood. In one scene, when they’re not sure they’ll ever see each other, Rusty and Joey slice their thumbs open with a pocket knife and leave their blood on the same piano key—”blood brothers in music forever.” Later, Eddie becomes a part of the cadre. Together, these three take an incredible journey of music and shared passion—a journey that takes them to the stages of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, to the front room of Frank Zappa’s house, and even to the control room of a recording studio, to help Mick Jagger and Keith Richards craft Exile on Main St. (For the rock ‘n’ roll fans out there, Joey Zagarino is the “Joe” who’s “got a cough” referenced in the Rolling Stones’ “Torn and Frayed.”)

From their early verve for music and the promise of a record deal to their misadventures behind the wheels of classic cars, all the way to the crushing tragedy that serves as the book’s climactic moment, Rusty, Joey, and Eddie live out their lives like the characters of a Springsteen song. With Johnson’s infectious writing style and his palpable love for both his music and his friends, Walk, Don’t Run is a song you’ll want to experience for yourself—probably more than once.

Walk, Don’t Run is available in paperback and eBook formats from Amazon.com. You can also buy the book directly from its publisher, Kallisti Publishing. Purchases of the book come with a free download of the “soundtrack,” which features a set of songs that Rusty and Eddie recorded in 1968. The soundtrack is available at walkdontrunthebook.com.

Independent Publisher (Craig Manning)

Big Al’s Books and Pals Book Blog: “Walk, Don’t Run is a read you should enjoy.”

One of the quotes plugging this book calls it “this generation’s American Graffiti” and also calls it “Happy Days slammed into Resurrection Boulevard.” That comparison is helpful in many ways except for the obvious difference, that unlike the movie and TV shows, this story is real.

It is the story of a group of kids, growing from teen to young adults, finding their way in the world. You’ll find both humorous and inspiring sections. The characters, although real in the book, are also fun people you wouldn’t mind hanging out with. It even has a larger than life character like “The Fonz” in Eddie Olmos, better known today as actor Eddie James Olmos.

If you’re into memoirs or biographies of rock bands and musicians, Walk, Don’t Run is a read you should enjoy. I did. If you have a thing for the 60s, you’ll find something to like as well.

Big Al’s Books and Pals

Midwest Book Review: ‘Walk, Don’t Run’ is “an inherently fascinating read”

Critique: Told with candor, insight, detail, wit, and hard won wisdom, “Walk, Don’t Run: A Rockin and Rollin Memoir” is an inherently fascinating read. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, “Walk, Don’t Run” is very highly recommended for community and academic library American Biography collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that “Walk, Don’t Run” is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Michael Dunford, Reviewer, Midwest Book ReviewMBR Bookwatch: February 2016

OnlineBookClub.org Official Review: Walk, Don’t Run by Steven Jae Johnson

One of the most fun books I’ve read in a very long time!

Walk, Don’t Run by Rusty Johnson is one of the most fun books I’ve read in a very long time. If you are a fan of 60’s era music, particularly what was coming from the West Coast, you do not want to miss this read. Steven “Rusty” Johnson tells the story of trying to make it into the music business at a time when music was so influential. Rusty and his two best friends, Joey Zagarino and Edward James “Eddie” Olmos (yes, that Edward James Olmos) were young high school boys when they first had dreams of making it big. As young as age 15, Rusty and Joey had their own band and Eddie, who had is own band, often teamed up with their band, The Upsets, to sing lead vocals at dance halls and clubs. Heavily influenced by The Beach Boys, Rusty and his friends lived a life of music, “cars, chicks, and surf,” attending school during the day and playing gigs at night. They often kicked off their first set with a favorite song, “Walk, Don’t Run,” which is where the book gets it’s appropriate title.

Johnson does a great job of transporting the reader back in time to when car clubs held dances and car hops served burgers and shakes right to your car. His use of the vernacular of the day (daddy-o) and nonchalant mention of details (like describing his friend’s Kinney’s loafers) makes for a rich backdrop to what starts out as a somewhat typical tale of local boys trying to make good. But Rusty’s story becomes anything but typical. Certain events send Joey to the East coast, so Rusty and Eddie team up and manage to snag a nightly gig at a hoppin’ club on the Sunset Strip. There, they rub elbows with celebrities including Jim Morrison and a pre-fame Genesis. Despite recording some demos and even driving all across the country trying to get radio airplay (Wolfman Jack fans will love this part of the adventure), no album deal is forthcoming. Although the band, Pacific Ocean, continues to struggle to secure a recording deal, it does so well at live shows that the boys are soon asked to join the variety show playing at The Factory in San Francisco.

It’s now 1968, and the string of big stars that pass through the band’s orbit is extraordinary. Milton Berle, Bill Cosby, Kim Novak, Peter Lawford, Jerry Lewis, Paul Newman, and Sammy Davis Jr. all make appearances, but you understand through Johnson’s telling that even these thrilling encounters cannot make up for the band’s inability to become recording stars. While this is all happening, Johnson continues to relate the adventures of Joey, who has made his way into sound recording back east and is rubbing elbows with celebrities of his own, including Jimmy Hendrix. Interesting opportunities also fall into Johnson’s lap, but he makes the decision to stick by his friends and stay the course with the band.

I don’t want to spoil the later events of the story, but suffice it to say that old friends become new again, and more amazing celebrities pop up along the way. The most important thing I learned from reading this book was never smoke a joint given to you by Keith Richards. Although Walk, Don’t Run is clearly a reference to the early band’s favorite kick-off song, I think the author was also talking about the best way to live life, whether seeking fame or not. Johnson is sometimes offered an easier path or an invitation to enjoy some of the less legal spoils of the rock and roll lifestyle, but he seems to accept that neither or those options are right for him. And, although you may not have heard of Rusty Johnson, there’s no doubt that he lead an extraordinary life (even well beyond the years covered by this book).

I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. It’s a fun, easy read, and Johnson has an easy-going writing style that almost makes you feel like he’s sitting across the table, sipping a beer and just talking about his life. I also highly encourage readers to google the band Pacific Ocean to learn some additional things about the events surrounding the group and even to listen to some excerpts from most of the songs off the one album they recorded (which is now out of print). If you grew up during the 60’s, I think you will enjoy this book even more as it transports you back in time and reminds you how things were then. I enjoyed the ride, and I hope you will too, daddy-o.

OnlineBookClub.org



 

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