Tim Sommer has had a remarkable life in the music industry. He became a rock journalist at the age of 16 writing for Trouser Press and then as the New York correspondent for Sounds Magazine in the UK. He was the first American to interview U2 and Henry Rollins called him out in print for a negative review Tim once wrote. He hosted an influential hard core punk radio show on WNYU and then learned how to play bass and became a recording artist in the art rock band Hugo Largo, working with Michael Stipe and Brian Eno. He’s worked at MTV and in the mid-90s he became, because of his background, perhaps the most unlikely of A&R people to sign Hootie & the Blowfish.
With the release of Only Wanna Be With You, The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish, Tim can now add author to his resume. His background and relationship with the band made him uniquely qualified to write this book. Here is some of what I learned after reading the book: before they ever had a record deal, Hootie & the Blowfish were making close to one million dollars a year as a cover band; if they could be any other band in the world, they would be REM; once signed to Atlantic they were victimized by label politics; their 25th Anniversary tour in 2019 was more lucrative than when the band was in their heyday; and Darius Rucker finally speaks out about his experience as a black man in America. This music biography is unlike any other I’ve ever read before as Tim is able to write from the perspective of an outsider as well as an insider and a music historian. After reading his book, I told Tim that it could have been subtitled, How To Make It In The Music Business and Not Die Trying.
The first time I heard the name Hootie & the Blowfish was over a dinner I shared with Tim in Toronto a few months before the release of the band's major label debut. He had recently signed them to Atlantic Records and he explained that almost no one at the label believed in Hootie and then he laid out how the plan for how the record was going to break - and it did, big time, just like he said. If you’re interested in insider stories, you’ll really dig this one and stick around for Tim's thoughts on the responsibility of music journalism - lessons he learned from his own experiences.
If you enjoyed this episode and want to read Only Wanna Be With You, The Inside Story of Hootie & the Blowfish, you can buy it HERE from Amazon.com. You can also read some of Tim's more recent entertaining and sometimes controversial musings in Rock and Roll Globe HERE.
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