Joel Sevlin’s biography, Here Comes the Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and the Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues ($25.00), is the definitive account of the golden age of rhythm and blues in the early 1960s. It chronicles the ultimately tragic story of songwriter/record producer, Bert Berns. Due to a bout with rheumatic fever as a child, Berns was not expected to live to see 21. However, Berns refused to let his health challenges hold him back and thrived under the auspices of Atlantic Records.
He worked alongside some of the greats of the era: Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller, Jerry Wexler, Burt Bacharach, and Carole King. In seven years, he went from nobody to top of the pops, producing monumental R&B classics such as “Twist and Shout,” “Hang on Sloopy,” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love.”
His fury to succeed led Berns to use his Mafia associations to muscle Atlantic Records out of their partnership and intimidate new talents like Neil Diamond and Van Morrison, whom he had signed to his record label. Berns died at age 38 from a long-expected heart attack.
Joel Selvin is a San Francisco-based music critic and author known for his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle which ran from 1972 to 2009. Selvin has written books covering various aspects of pop music—including the New York Times bestseller, Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock with Sammy Hagar—and has interviewed a large number of musical artists. Selvin has published articles in Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, Melody Maker and has written liner notes for dozens of recorded albums. He has appeared in documentaries about the music scene and has occasionally taken the stage himself as a rock and roll singer.
Here Comes the Night is both a definitive account of the golden age of rhythm and blues of the early '60s and the harrowing, ultimately tragic story of songwriter and record producer Bert Berns, whose meteoric career was fueled by his pending doom. His heart damaged by rheumatic fever as a youth, Berns was not expected to live to see 21.