“For the better part of five decades, Bill Bentley and I have been listening to the music of the spheres together, and these visuals are a thrilling roadmap to where we’ve been and, one hopes, where we’re going.” —Billy F Gibbons, ZZ Top
“Within minutes of meeting Bill for the first time back in the early ’80s, we found ourselves talking about Joe Tex’s ‘The Love You Save’ and Roky Erickson’s ‘Don’t Slander Me’ in the same paragraph. I knew right there and then that he’d always be a voice to which I would attend.” —Elvis Costello
“Bill Bentley is that rare breed: a music industry insider who actually knows and loves music. Within these pages lurk fantastic images of everyone from Bob Dylan to the 13th Floor Elevators, many of them previously unseen. Buy this book!” —Jimmy McDonough, author of Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography and Soul Survivor: A Biography of Al Green
“If rock and roll was a planet, Bill Bentley would be the head astronaut and Smithsonian Rock and Roll would be the operator’s manual. This is a trip worth checking out.” —Wayne Coyne, the Flaming Lips
“Bill Bentley is a music mensch.” —Lou Reed
In 2015, Smithsonian Books, an imprint of the venerable national institution, launched a website requesting that rock fans submit photographs that they took of their favorite artists and performers. Of the thousands of submissions, around 300 photos were selected and are here presented as “an index of supreme influence,” which emphasizes importance over popularity and encompasses the history of rock ’n’ roll, from Elvis to the Alabama Shakes, creating a canon of rock. And while the canon is always evolving, it is universally agreed that the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Rolling Stones should be included as well as Chuck Berry, the Velvet Underground, James Brown, and Bob Marley. Of course a collection like this will provoke debate. Some interesting inclusions are Laura Nyro, Nick Drake, and Alejandro Escovedo. Some will question the presence of the J. Geils Band and KISS while the Faces, Big Star, and Public Enemy are nowhere to be seen. Despite omissions, this large-format book is eminently browsable and will prompt readers to dig out their old records or stream their favorites songs.