Dunstan Prial – The Producer


The son of a Vanderbilt heiress, John Hammond listened to jazz records with his parents servants, went to Harlem as a teenager, and became a regular in clubs where very few white faces ever appeared. Taking a little family money, Hammond went across racial lines in pre-World War II America and came back with recordings of some of the greatest jazz musicians in history. By age 22, he had convinced Benny Goodman to integrate his band and made his first big discovery: Billie Holiday.

Later, as jazz gave way to pop and rock, Hammond championed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, and Stevie Ray Vaughan in his lifes extraordinary second act.

In Dunstan Prials hands, Hammonds biography is the story of American popular music since the 1930s, a tale of a man at the center of things, with his ears wide open.

Author: Dunstan Prial
Narrator: Ray Porter
Duration: 12 hours 20 minutes
Released: 11 Apr 2002
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Language: English

User Review:

stateroom radiant

For anyone interested in the development of American music in the 20th century, this book is essential reading. John Hammond was a big-hearted, opinionated and fearless advocate for musicians and for the civil rights movement. What this book makes very clear is that Hammond was in the business for the music and the musicians, not for personal gain. Mind you, as a direct descendant of Cornelius Vanderbilt he had the resources to make that choice. The portraits of some of Hammond’s discoveries, Billie Holliday, Bennie Goodman and Bruce Springsteen, are excellent. One negative; there’s some awkward audio editing on the recording. Not a big issue though.