Quarry – September 9!

June 28th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

The first of eight episodes of QUARRY will be on Cinemax on September 9 at 10 p.m. (I assume that’s eastern time).

Obviously this has been a long time coming, but I think the wait will have been worth it. Already the series has resulted in Hard Case Crime reissuing the first five books, with a new book coming in October (QUARRY IN THE BLACK), a four-issue comic book series early next year, and another novel (QUARRY ON TARGET) that I will write later this year.

The news about the series and its debut is all over the Internet – probably a couple of dozen write-ups. Here are several that should serve to catch you up.

The Early Word has something of a publishing slant. Collider has advance images, and Den of Geek is nicely opinionated.

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A big Kindle sale is coming up later this week, featuring assorted titles of mine in the Mystery, Thriller & Suspense category. Each book will be $1.99. The sale begins July 1 and runs through July 31.

Here are the specific titles:
[Note from Nate: For your convenience, I’ve linked the Amazon logo to each book’s Amazon page, and the text title to each book’s info page on our website.]


Beginning 7/1/2016, go here:

If you go there before that date, the page may not show the new promotion, or it may be empty. If that’s the case, check back on July 1, the official start date.

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The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame discussion continues. Here’s a great comment from Mike Dennis that you may have missed:

I’m on board with Pat Boone, Max. For exactly the reasons you cite. He singlehandedly opened the door for R&B artists who couldn’t get their records played on white radio stations by recording their songs himself. And of course, those R&B artists collected lots of money in songwriting

As far as the 1958-63 (Elvis/Army – Beatles invade US) era is concerned, I’ve thought about that. It was not the most fertile period for rock & roll. Think about 1958. Rock & roll was in danger of disappearing altogether. I’m sure you remember. Radio DJs were breaking records on the air, clergymen from coast to coast were pounding their pulpits over this sinful, new music. It was not a given than the music would survive, rather it was held together by a loose gathering of young artists and the eager teenagers who had fallen under their spell. The adults couldn’t stand it.

Then Elvis entered the Army, Jerry Lee Lewis self-destructed on his disastrous tour of the UK, and Buddy Holly died in February of 1959. That was really the end of the period where this raw, exciting music was being made by mostly young Southern boys, independent of each other, music crafted and honed in the dirt-road joints of the emerging South. The songs, and the artists who recorded them, were a natural outgrowth of a post-World War II America, reflecting (like the film noir that rose during that period) all the alienation that existed in the country at that time.

The songs spoke only to young people, while the artists were generally sex-crazed hillbillies sent out on the road with no adult supervision. Elvis was the King of Rock & Roll. Jerry Lee Lewis was supposed to inherit the throne following his British tour. Holly represented the music’s sensitive side. But with all three of them gone by early 1959, there was a vacuum at the top. The major record companies saw their opening and moved in. They swiftly rounded up a stable of compliant, cute, barely-talented artists who were willing to do what they were told for a shot at stardom. Rock & roll songs were no longer written on the back of napkins or on paper bags, they were written in the Brill Building by calculating, businesslike songwriters whose job it was to turn out hits that had been scrubbed clean of sexuality.

Also, I’m glad you pointed out the role of the Wrecking Crew in the making of so many great records. I would like to note there was a British version of the Wrecking Crew — I’m not sure if they had a slick name like that — that played on most of the British Invasion records. One noteworthy example is the Kinks’ first two records, YOU REALLY GOT ME and ALL DAY AND ALL THE NIGHT. The opening buzzsaw guitar chords were played by Jimmy Page, not Dave Davies as is commonly thought. I met Page in 1966, right after he joined the Yardbirds and he told me all about those sessions. Until then, he was a first-call studio player in London and he and a few other guys played on all the British Invasion records (all, that is, except the Beatles, the Stones, and maybe a couple of others).

That said, I still don’t consider Buffalo Springfield as anything more than a one-hit wonder. Laura Nyro was a great songwriter, as you pointed out, but I don’t think she’s worthy of induction in the R&RHOF. There are artists I would like to see in the Hall, like Johnny Rivers, the Monkees, and the Association, but as long as the Hall is itself not worthy of having them, I’m not going to get too upset over their omission.

Mike, thanks for this articulate, insightful mini-essay. Much of what you say I agree with, but I think you (in a way characteristic of some who highly value Elvis, Jerry Lee and Buddy Holly) underestimate some of what was going on in the between-Elvis-and-the-Beatles years. Some very exciting stuff was happening, on the east coast particularly. You know I am a big Bobby Darin fan – his version of his own “Early in the Morning” is far superior to the rushed Buddy Holly cover, and Darin cut many strong rockers backed by great Atlantic Records session men. I would also cite artists like Bobby Vee and Bobby Rydell (two more of the much-maligned “Bobbys” and neither on a major label) as real rock artists.

Then there’s Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and I can’t agree about the Brill Building output – not when we’re talking Bacharch & David, Goffin & King, Mann & Weil, Pompous & Shuman, Greenwich & Barry, Leiber & Stoller. A lot of that was anything but scrubbed of sexuality.

You mention 1958. Rock was not disappearing – not with the Everly Brothers, Ricky Nelson, Danny and the Juniors, the Coasters, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and – oh yeah – a guy named Chuck Berry…all charting. From ‘59 to ‘62, there were many greats and near-greats making hit records: Lloyd Price, Ritchie Valens, Dion and the Belmonts, Freddy Cannon (“Woo!”), Ray Friggin’ Charles, Jackie Wilson, Johnny Cash, Del Shannon (opened for him!), the Shirelles, Gary U.S. Bonds, Joey Dee and the Starlighters, and Gene Pitney. Not chopped liver! And not a major record company artist in the bunch.

The supposed dearth of rock post-Elvis and pre-Beatles strikes me as highly exaggerated. I wonder how many people like me – I’m now the ancient age of 68 – lived through all of these eras of rock and loved every one.

A couple of footnotes. The Buffalo Springfield played at the Masonic Temple in Davenport, Iowa, within a year of when my band the Daybreakers played there, when we opened for the Rascals and Gary Puckett. Buffalo Springfield was amazing and brave – they played extended, very loud solos prefiguring what every band would be doing in a year or two, and alienating much of the Iowa teenage audience. And my God was the fringe on Neil Young’s leather jacket long!

Same venue, same year. Gene Pitney and several other acts, including the Turtles (opened for them twice!), appeared in a kind of caravan-of-stars format. Pitney tore the place up, his vocals just towering. Then half-way through the set, he spoke for the first time, telling the audience in a hoarse voice, almost a whisper, that he apologized for doing so poorly, but he had a bad cold and was fighting laryngitis. Then he sang THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.

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Finally, MS. TREE fans may enjoy this fun, smart podcast in which two comic book experts review (favorably) the story “One Mean Mother.”


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14 Responses to “Quarry – September 9!”

  1. Max Allan Collins says:

    I forgot to mention surf rock above. The Beach Boys were already making a major mark before the Beatles, and the Ventures are worth noting as well

  2. Glen Davis says:

    Just watched The Girl Can’t Help It! made in 1958, starring Jayne Mansfield, but featuring about a dozen rock and roll acts, including Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochrane, and many others. Even The Chuckles were entertaining.

    I think Dick Clark, American Bandstand, and The Philadelphia Sound have a lot to answer for, but they didn’t completely succeed in killing rock and roll.

  3. Max Allan Collins says:

    I disagree about Dick Clark and Bandstand — that TV show really popularized rock ‘n’ roll to my generation. Some of the Philly artists are worthwhile — Rydell of course, and Chubby Checker changed dancing forever…guys only danced to slow songs before that. I’m pretty sure THE TWIST was the biggest selling record of the ’60s. Fabian and Frankie Avalon had major fan mag coverage but really were minor figures when you look at it objectively. Clark put rock on the tube after school and that made a big impact…and his clean-cut persona helped keep parents at bay.

    By the way, Mike Dennis mentions the major labels seeking lightweight pretty boy talent, but none of the Philly guys were on major labels. Darin was on Atco (Atlantic) but it was very much an indie at the time. On the other hand, Elvis was on RCA and Buddy Holly was on Coral, a label of Decca’s. They didn’t get bigger than that.

    I apologize for sounding argumentative, but I think this topic gets over-simplified.

    THE GIRL CAN’T HELP IT is a trip. So great that it’s around in widescreen again. How else can you do Jayne Mansfield justice?

  4. Tim Field says:

    This is off the rock ‘n’ roll topic, but I just finished reading Better Dead (great book!) and noticed that among the 1950’s artists that you referenced in the story were Tony Bennett, Professor Irwin Corey and Herman Wouk – all of whom are alive and kicking (and in the case of Bennett and Wouk – don’t know about Corey- still producing work). Was this a coincidence or deliberate tip of the hat on your part?

  5. Glen Davis says:

    But in the 50’s, early 60’s, many media markets had their own dance party shows, that’s how Wink Martindale got his start, for example. Any of those shows could have gone national, which would have changed the history of rock and roll, as the local acts would have received a different prominence.

    Dick Clark gets a lot of credit, and a lot of blame. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

  6. Max Allan Collins says:

    No argument with anything you say.

    I don’t know the history of how Clark’s show got chosen by ABC (the only network that would have risked an afternoon dance party show) but I seem to recall he wasn’t the first host. What probably elevated Clark (and his show) was that his media market did have a budding music scene including record labels and that he himself was an ambitious, possibly ruthless businessman who made things happen.

  7. Mike Doran says:

    The Dick Clark/BANDSTAND story has been written up extensively, by Clark himself and others.

    The original BANDSTAND host was an older man named Bob Horn; Clark was on staff at the ABC station in Philadelphia, which at the time was one of the network’s stronger affiliates.

    What happened was that Horn got caught Doing Something He Shouldn’t with one of his teen regulars; Clark was doing commercials and links, and got an emergency promotion.

    A few years earlier, Clark had performed a similar function for Paul Whiteman’s ABC shows, so the network brass knew his work; when they decided to take BANDSTAND national, Dick Clark was in position to take advantage – and was smart enough to do so in a big way.

    As I said above, Dick Clark wrote this all up in his memoir, ROCK,ROLL, AND REMEMBER (haven’t you read that somewhere along the line? Sometimes you really surprise me, Max …).

    Any the hoo, there it is (heavily digested, but time and space are inexorable).

  8. Paul.Griffith says:

    The biggest-selling singles in the U.S. in the ’60’s:

  9. Max Allan Collins says:

    Where I read that THE TWIST was the #1 one record of the ’60s, I don’t recall. But its impact was second only to the Beatles’ first tune on your list, and anyway #13 for a whole decade ain’t bad. What was really impressive is that the record charted twice, maybe going to number one again (I’m not sure). But the Twist dance craze was the major rock cultural event between Elvis and the Beatles.

    Mike, I’m sure I read Clark’s book. The ROCK, ROLL part took…but the REMEMBER didn’t….

  10. Stephen Mertz says:

    I came in late (as usual) but did someone suggest that Pat Boone was a rock & roll singer?!?!? Perhaps there’s 2 Pat Boones out there because the one I know of was a tool of the white establishment used to keep black first generations rockers in their place and out of the ears of white teenagers while exploiting “the exciting new sound.” The difference between true white rockers like Elvis, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis etc is that their love of black music fueled their rockabilly sound. Pat Boone was a manufactured nothing and is best forgotten except for the roll he (and other white cover artists of his ilk) played in trying to kill rock & roll, not birth it. Watch the clips of him performing “Tutti Fruti.” You think THAT’S rock ‘n roll? Or how about the famous clip (seen in nearly every rock history doc) of ol’ Pat copping to the fact that he had no idea what “Tutti-Fruti” was about (I daresay!) but sang it because the producer told him it would be a hit. Who’s next? Fabian? Sorry to sound argumentative but, well, it’s me….

  11. Max Allan Collins says:

    My writer pal Steve Mertz, typically shy and retiring, speaks the standard take on Boone.

    I get that. He’s more of a pop singer than a rocker, and I am not in particular a fan. But I do remember how big he was: 45 million albums, 38 Top 40 hits, second biggest charting recording artist of the late ’50s, behind only Elvis. The discussion here was whether he belonged in the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame or not. With those stats, how can he not be?

    He was covering records by black artists that weren’t being played on mainstream radio — that weren’t allowed on the air in those days — but in so doing, he presented an admittedly watered-down but popular version that opened the door for Little Richard and the others. Little Richard himself credits Boone with this.

    The point here is that you don’t have to like something for it to have been important. That’s a point I’ve been making about Mickey Spillane for a long time. I will pause here for Steve’s head to explode as he misunderstands, thinking I’m comparing Pat Boone and Mickey Spillane. History isn’t better forgotten. And nobody knows what whap bop a loo bop means because it doesn’t mean anything.

  12. Tom Zappe/St Louis says:

    As a jazz musician, I don’t really have a dog in this Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame entanglement [the Jazz Musician’s Hall of Fame is mostly populated with guys who got screwed by club owners]. Nonetheless, a Venn Diagram with Mickey Spillane and Pat Boone would warrant at least some of my undivided attention until next Tuesday morning.

  13. Mike Doran says:

    The problem I’ve always had with musical “purists” …

    You see, Max, my own musical tastes are far from cut and dried.

    If I hear something and like the sound of it, the type of music doesn’t matter.

    Jazz, big band swing, Dixieland, different kinds of rock (including some of the disapproved types) …

    I get a kick out of some kinds of “elevator music” (I always considered Bert Kaempfert the Mozart of Otis, but that’s just me, I guess …).

    Some classics, like Franz Liszt’s score for FLASH GORDON CONQUERS THE UNIVERSE …

    As far as defining “true Rock singers”, ever heard Vladimir Putin finding his threel on Blueberry Heel?

    All of the foregoing is my modest way of saying that I don’t take all this anywhere nearly as seriously as “purists” do, and most likely am better off for that.

    So how was your week?

  14. Max Allan Collins says:

    Mike, as usual, you manage to put things amusingly into perspective.

    I careen between passionate defenses of artists I like, and a more objective view of the history of popular culture. That’s why I can have a low opinion of Robert B. Parker as a writer and a high opinion of him as an important figure in private eye fiction. It’s why I can defend Pat Boone’s place in rock history when I find him about as compelling as Wink Martindale, who was mentioned above. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize anybody’s opinion — both Mike Dennis and Steve Mertz make their cases well and enthusiastically. I just think personal taste needs to be kept in perspective (there’s that word again) when talking history.