By any measuring stick, Rufus Thomas made a gigantic contribution to American music. He has long deserved a full biography. Thanks to Matthew Ruddick, that biography is now in your hands. --Rob Bowman, Grammy Award-winning author of Soulsville, U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records
Matthew's book gets behind the hamming and flamboyance of Rufus Thomas and presents the artist, his roots and how he became one of the most fascinating and funky Southern soul artists of the 1960s and '70s.
It’s clear that it’s been painstakingly researched and includes input and quotes from a wide range of people associated with Rufus Thomas. Having listened to a lot of R&B, soul and funk music over the years, I really enjoyed getting to know more about the development of the genre in America and many of the leading characters. A first class read!
The book combines some of the best qualities of saxophonist Art Pepper's unflinching autobiography, Straight Life (Schirmer Books, 1979), and Ian Carr's scholarly musical biography Miles Davis (Quartet, 1982). It is a compelling and authoritative page-turner in the highest rank of jazz biographies.
The success of a jazz biography can be measured by the degree to which it leads the reader to revisit the subject's recordings and, perhaps, hear some of them in a new light. In that, and in the way Ruddick deals with Baker's lifestyle, without either romanticizing or sitting in judgment on it, or shying away from the damaged lives it left in its wake, Funny Valentine: The Story of Chet Baker is as good as it gets.