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The best music writing this year is about black music. Cosgrove’s deep dive into the year’s events is an epic feat of archival research that has been expertly marshalled into a narrative that joins the dots between Donny Hathaway, Jimi Hendrix, the Black Panthers, police corruption and the Vietnam war
An impressively granular month-by-month deep dive into Harlem’s fertile musical response to a time of social and political upheaval'
A book, and a trilogy, that evokes an extraordinarily creative and culturally progressive time that now feels far distant
About the Book
In 1969, among Harlem’s Rabelaisian cast of characters are bandleader King Curtis, soul singers Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway, and drug peddler Jimmy ‘Goldfinger’ Terrell. In February a raid on tenements across New York leads to the arrest of 21 Black Panther party members and one of the most controversial trials of the era. In the summer Harlem plays host to Black Woodstock and concerts starring Sly and the Family Stone, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone. The world’s most famous guitarist, Jimi Hendrix, a major supporter of the Black Panthers, returns to Harlem in support of their cause.
By the end of the year Harlem is gripped by a heroin pandemic and the death of a 12-year-old child sends shockwaves through the USA, leaving Harlem stigmatised as an area ravaged by crime, gangsters and a darkly vengeful drug problem.
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