Flying Saucers Rock ′n′ Roll

Conversations with Unjustly Obscure Rock 'n' Soul Eccentrics

Flying Saucers Rock ′n′ Roll

Refiguring American Music

More about this series

Book Pages: 320 Illustrations: 74 illustrations Published: August 2011

American Studies, Cultural Studies, Music > Popular Music

For nearly twenty years, the much-beloved music magazine Roctober has featured work by some of the best underground cartoonists, exhaustive examinations of made-up genres such as “robot rock,” and an ongoing exploration of everything Sammy Davis Jr. ever sang, said, or did. But the heart of the magazine has always been the lengthy conversations with overlooked or forgotten artists. Flying Saucers Rock ’n’ Roll gathers the most compelling of these interviews. Eccentric, important artists—including the rockabilly icon Billy Lee Riley, the jazz musician and activist Oscar Brown Jr., the “Outlaw Country” singer David Allan Coe, and the pioneer rock ’n’ roll group the Treniers—give the most in-depth interviews of their lengthy careers. Obscure musicians, such as the Armenian-language novelty artist Guy Chookoorian and the frustrated interstellar glam act Zolar X, reveal fascinating lives lived at rock’s margins. Roctober’s legendarily dedicated writers convey telling anecdotes in the fervent, captivating prose that has long been appreciated by music enthusiasts. Along with the entertaining interviews, Flying Saucers Rock ’n’ Roll features more than sixty images from the pages of Roctober and ten illustrations created for the book by the underground rock ’n’ roll artist King Merinuk.

Steve Albini
Ben Austen
Jake Austen
John Battles
Ken Burke
Mike Maltese
King Merinuk
Ken Mottet
Jonathan Poletti
James Porter
"Colonel" Dan Sorenson
Jacqueline Stewart


“A pop culture junkie, with a jones for weird and off-beat stuff, Austen is an archaeologist of the sublime and the silly, the divine and the demented, from the phosphene glow of teen dance shows and American Idol to the hidden and musty corners of rock and roll’s bargain basement.” — Marc Campbell, Dangerous Minds

“By the end of each [chapter], I wanted to check out the interviewee’s music and I felt like I had an unprecedented, candid glimpse into their lives, both as musicians and as people. . . . Even when uncomfortable and thorny subjects are brought up—sexism, racism, wife-beating—the insights unearthed are thought-provoking. Humans making music are often a messy, flawed bunch and there’s some awesome shit tackled in those grey areas.” — Todd Taylor, Razorcake

“Complete with photographs and contextual bios, each interview details the trials and tribulations of pioneering musicians often toiling away in the shadows of rock ’n’ roll history. VERDICT Serving as both a brief history of Roctober and an anthology, this collection of interviews will be welcome by fans of the zine and will appeal to serious rock ’n’ roll readers.” — Joshua Finnell, Library Journal

“Duke University Press has done a great service by publishing Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll. . . . The obscure and marginal need to have their say and something said about them. . . . Pick up Austen’s collection if you love to explore the strange by-ways of rock music, and to experience some outstanding rock-crit writing. Indeed, consider subscribing to Roctober. You’ll learn even more of the strange world of the almost-almost famous.” — W. Scott Poole, Popmatters

“Nicely—even elegantly—written, well edited, and consisting of material not published elsewhere, this is an entertainingly rare gem of a book. Bravo to Jake Austen and his contributors for taking the high road throughout, and presenting these fragile personalities with the dignity and respect they deserve.” — Michael Cala, New York Journal of Books

“The riveting pieces are by Austen and other Roctober contributors, whose unbridled enthusiasm for their subjects makes the book hard to put down (plus there’s an enthusiastic foreword by longtime fan Steve Albini).” — Cara Jepsen, Illinois Entertainer

“To give you a solid example to express my enjoyment level of this book, I read the nearly 300 pages in three days. Couldn’t put it down . . . . I am hoping this is actually the first part in a series of ‘Best ofs…’, and perhaps next time we can read more about the Black Lone Ranger?” — Robert Barry Francos, FFanzeen

“Jake Austen has the brains of a world-class scholar driven to illuminate previously obscure but vital arcana, the soul of a historian eager to bring the past roaring back to life, and the heart of a furious but funny rock ’n’ roll hell-raiser. As the majordomo of Roctober, fronting a posse of like-minded and equally passionate fellow travelers, he has picked up the mantle of that first-generation rock-critic giant Nick Tosches and at long last given us his answer to Unsung Heroes of Rock ’n’ Roll. Yes, Flying Saucers Rock ’n’ Roll really is a book worthy of being mentioned in that company, and it’s a must for any serious rock reader’s bookshelf.” — Jim DeRogatis, critic, author, educator, and co-host of Sound Opinions—the world’s only rock ’n’ roll talk show

“With an awe-inspiringly integrated and thoroughly unassuming knowledge of all the nooks, crannies, and hidden corners of American popular culture, there’s no more appropriate cheerleader for musical humanity than Jake Austen, a polymath force of nature who’s been amazing me for twenty years. If any of the rest of us had just a hundredth of the energy, enthusiasm, and big-heartedness that Jake seems to show with every project he undertakes, the world would be a much better place—and a lot more fun.” — Chris Ware, cartoonist and author of Jimmy Corrigan—The Smartest Kid on Earth


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jake Austen is an independent music writer and the editor of Roctober magazine. He is the author of TV-a-Go-Go: Rock on TV from American Bandstand to American Idol, the editor of A Friendly Game of Poker: 52 Takes on the Neighborhood Game, and a founder and co-host of the cult-favorite dance show Chic-a-Go-Go, which airs on Chicago Access Network Television (CAN-TV).

Table of Contents Back to Top
List of Figures ix

Foreword / Steve Albini xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction. Hi Yo, Silver! / Jake Austin 1

Oscar Brown Jr. / James Porter 11

David Allan Coe / Jake Austen (Interview conducted by Jake Austen, James Porter, and Bosco) 31

Guy Chookoorian / Jake Austen 63

Sugar Pie DeSanto / James Porter 113

Billy Lee Riley / Ken Burke 128

The Treniers / John Battles (Interview conducted by John Battles, Jake Austen, Mike Maltese, ken Mottet, and Dan Sorenson) 190

Sam the Sham / James Porter 209

The Good Rats / Jake Austen (Interview conducted by Jake Austen, Jacqueline Stewart, and Ben Austen) 226

Zolar X / Jonathan Poletti 246

Appendix. Suggested Listening, Viewing, Surfing 277

Contributors 281

Index 283

Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-4849-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-4837-5
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