A few weeks ago, I had the unusual opportunity of re-walking through several years of musical experiences in the ‘60s and ‘70s by reading Jon Taplin’s new book, The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock-and-Roll Life. As a tour manager for Bob Dylan, The Band, Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, and others, when Jon brought them to Minneapolis we shared these musical experiences, although I was in the audience and Jon was behind the curtain at the Minneapolis Auditorium or the Guthrie Theater.
When Jon’s publisher asked if Chevalier’s Books was interested in a book signing event, I agreed provided it could be “in conversation with Darryl Holter.” It was a lot of fun and it turned out that the event was recorded and recently appeared on “What’s Up, Hollywood.”
Jon has lived a full life and has had six careers in music, film, business, and academia. This is his second book and I highly recommend it. Here’s the “conversation.”
Jonathan Taplin discusses his years in both film and music, starting with his early association with Bob Dylan. Fascinating stories of life on the road with some of America’s greatest musicians. Filmed at Chevalier’s Book Store on Larchmont Blvd., on Monday June 21, 2021
Jonathan Taplin’s extraordinary journey has put him at the crest of every major cultural wave in the past half century: he was tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band in the ’60s, producer of major films in the ’70s, an executive at Merrill Lynch in the ’80s, creator of the Internet’s first video-on-demand service in the ’90s, and a cultural critic and author writing about technology in the new millennium. His is a lifetime marked not only by good timing but by impeccable instincts—from the folk scene to Woodstock, Hollywood’s rebellious film movement, and beyond. Taplin is not just a witness but a lifelong producer, the right-hand man to some of the greatest talents of both pop culture and the underground.
With cameos by Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, and countless other icons, The Magic Years is both a rock memoir and a work of cultural criticism from a key player who watched a nation turn from idealism to nihilism. Taplin offers a clear-eyed roadmap of how we got here and makes a convincing case for art’s power to deliver us from “passionless detachment” and rekindle our humanism.
Jonathan Taplin is an author and director emeritus of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. Taplin’s book Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy, published by Little, Brown & Company, was nominated by the Financial Times as one of the Best Business Books of 2017. Taplin has produced music and film for Bob Dylan and the Band, George Harrison, Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Gus Van Sant, and many others. He was the founder of Intertainer, the first streaming video-on-demand platform in 1996.
Taplin graduated from Princeton University. He was a professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism from 2003 to 2016. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He currently sits on the boards of the Authors Guild, the Americana Music Association, and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti’s Technology and Innovation Council. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time magazine, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Medium, the Washington Monthly, and the Wall Street Journal.
Darryl Holter is CEO of Felix Chevrolet and co-owner of Chevalier’s Books. He is an Adjunct Professor in History at USC and has authored several books; most recently, Woody Guthrie in LA, 1939-1941. Apart from his academic and business activities, he is a musician and songwriter.