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For the Trotskyist and labor movement lawyer, see Albert Goldman .


Albert Harry Goldman (April 15, 1927 – March 28, 1994) was an American professor and author.

Born in Dormont, Pennsylvaniamarker, Albert Goldman wrote about the culture and personalities of the American music industry both in books and as a contributor to magazines. He is best known for his bestselling book on Lenny Bruce and his controversial biographies of Elvis Presley and John Lennon.

Written work

Ph.D thesis

Goldman's Ph.D was on Thomas de Quincey. Goldman argued that de Quincey had plagiarized most of his acclaimed journalism from lesser-known writers. It was published in 1965.

Bestseller dealing with Lenny Bruce

Goldman's breakthrough bestseller, Ladies and Gentlemen - Lenny Bruce!!! won praise from the likes of Norman Mailer and Pauline Kael, who called the book "brilliant." The book was largely positive in its appraisal of Bruce's talent, though it was attacked by many of Bruce's friends for allegedly distorting his character. Goldman had done legal work for Bruce before the latter's death.

Elvis Presley biography

Goldman's 1981 biography Elvis was much more controversial. In this book, Goldman drew on more than four years' research into Elvis Presley's life. But for many fans and some critics, his research was undermined by his intense personal dislike of Presley. For instance, Goldman dismissed Presley as a plagiarist who never did anything of note after his first records at Sun Records, insisting that he was inferior as an artist to Little Richard and other early rock'n'roll singers. He also portrayed Presley as nearly insane, using stories that some might see as innocuous (such as Presley taking his friends halfway across the country to buy them peanut-butter sandwiches) to "prove" that the singer had lost his grip on reality. On the other hand, the book includes several newly discovered facts. For instance, in the course of his research, Goldman discovered that Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, was not a Southerner but a native of Hollandmarker. Parker had successfully covered this up to the degree that Presley himself allegedly never learned of it. Furthermore, the book critically deals with the singer's weight problems, his diet, his choice of performing costumes, and his sexual appetites and peculiarities. The author even suggests that Elvis's promiscuity masked latent homosexuality. Discussing Presley's personal life, Goldman concludes: "Elvis was a pervert, a voyeur." Some critics found comments like these overly biased and judgmental.
  • In his review of the book in the Village Voice, rock critic and Elvis scholar Greil Marcus wrote: "The real significance of Goldman's 'Elvis' is its attempt at cultural genocide ... The torrents of hate that drive this book are unrelieved." He particularly objected to Goldman's constant slurs against Presley's background, including his characterization of Presley's parents as "the original Beverly Hillbillies." "It is Goldman's purpose to entirely discredit Elvis Presley, the culture that produced him, and the culture he helped create--to altogether dismiss and condemn, in other words, not just Elvis Presley, but the white working-class South from which he came, and the pop world which emerged in his wake." However, Marcus also admits that Goldman has significantly shown that "Elvis Presley built his own world...--where the promise was that every fear, pain, doubt, and wish could be washed away with money, sex, drugs, and the bought approval of yes-men..." And the reviewer also admits that the book, "as no book on Elvis Presley before it, ... has been taken seriously. Despite some partially negative or carping notices, the reviewing media have accepted the book as it presents itself--as the last book we will need about Elvis Presley."
  • In 2006, BLENDER Magazine called Elvis a "muckraking biography", stating that Goldman dealt with everything about Elvis Presley but his music.
  • Other critics liked the book. Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post called it a "nasty book, written in spectacularly execrable prose, but the view of Presley that it expressed dovetailed in many instances with my own, and in spite of itself I found things in it to admire."
  • According to Rolling Stone magazine, October 21, 1981, Elvis "is a poignant book, the result of Goldman's winning the trust and confidence of hundreds of sources, including many of Elvis' closest friends. It is also an intimate look at a side of Elvis that few even suspected existed. Many people will find some of the revelations unpleasant and view them as a needless and harmful invasion of privacy. Yet, such revelations comprise a truth about modern American heroism and success. The fact is that somehow inherent in Elvis' great fame as an American ideal and idol is a contradiction that was the seed of destruction."
  • Lamar Fike, the Presley insider and former member of the Memphis Mafia, who introduced Goldman to many of his sources, recalled: "The problem was Albert's personality. At first, he liked Elvis. But later, he started disliking him. And by the end of (writing) the book, I think he hated him. I said, 'Albert, you can't do this.' But I couldn't stop him."


Defending himself against his critics, Goldman told an interviewer: "People were scandalized by my use of humor and ridicule in (the Elvis biography). Elvis was someone they were accustomed to taking in a very sentimental way. But I feel he was a figure of the most bizarre and grotesque character. . . . The humor is a mode of perception. Of making things vivid."

Book on Bruce Lee

In 1982, Goldman wrote a very unflattering article on actor Bruce Lee which was divided into two parts for Penthouse Magazine (Jan, Feb 1983 issues).

Second book on Presley

In 1990, Goldman published a second book, entitled Elvis: The Last 24 Hours, on the circumstances and events of Presley's death, arguing that the singer had committed suicide. The book drew some attention for its sensational thesis but was largely ignored.

The Lives of John Lennon

Goldman's next biography arguably aroused even more controversy than the Elvis biography. In The Lives of John Lennon, a product of years of research and hundreds of interviews with many of Lennon's friends, acquaintances, servants and musicians, Goldman describes John Lennon as both talented and neurotic. The book reveals a very personal side of the musician who was prone to faults, such as anger, violence, drug abuse, adultery, and indecisiveness, but who was also a leader of "Peace and Love." It deals with Lennon's childhood and the impact others had on the life of the sensitive little boy, among them Aunt Mimi Smith, his weak father, Fred Lennon, and Johnny Dykins. The author implies that strong women ruined Lennon, starting with Aunt Mimi, and that he was later being held prisoner by his wife, Yoko Ono. Centering on the mistakes or mean things the musician did, Goldman made many controversial allegations, among them the charge that he may have had something to do with the untimely death of his friend Stuart Sutcliffe, an early member of The Beatles. The author also says that Lennon had a homosexual affair with The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, whose blunders and dishonesty behind a false "gentleman" mask are described in detail. Half of the book covers the alleged sick, self-serving personality of Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono. She is portrayed in a very bad light, as satanic in nature, as hating Paul McCartney, neglecting her children and brainwashing and pulling Lennon away from everyone who ever meant something to him. Goldman also alleged that the two carried on constant affairs throughout their marriage and he substantially revealed that no record exists of the phone calls Yoko Ono famously and dramatically claims to have made to Paul McCartney and Mimi Smith the night John died.

Concerning Goldman's account of Lennon's consumption of LSD, Luc Sante, in the New York Review of Books, said: "Goldman's background research was either slovenly or nonexistent." The author replied:
"What is the basis for this sweeping and defamatory assertion? Absolutely nothing save for my quoting only one book about LSD. Yet if Sante knew anything about drugs, he would recognize that the only serious problem about Lennon's consumption of LSD was one that has no literature; namely, the question of what effect this drug has upon a man who takes it every day, eating it 'like candy.' "


Death

Goldman died in 1994 en route to London. He left unfinished a biography of Doors singer Jim Morrison.

Family

Goldman is survived by a daughter in her early thirties. Goldman never married the girl's mother (now deceased), who had no connection with their daughter.

Partial bibliography

  • The Mine and the Mint: Sources for the Writings of Thomas de Quincey (1965)
  • Freakshow;: The rocksoulbluesjazzsickjewblackhumorsexpoppsych gig and other scenes from the counter-culture (1971)
  • Ladies and Gentlemen - Lenny Bruce!! (1974)
  • Carnival in Rio (1978)
  • Grass Roots: Marijuana in America Today (1979)
  • Disco (1979)
  • Elvis (1981)
  • The Lives of John Lennon (1988)
  • Elvis: The Last 24 Hours (1990)
  • Sound Bites (1992)
  • Freakshow : Misadventures in the Counterculture, 1959-1971 (2001) - posthumous collection


References

External links




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