Author: Genya Ravan

Publisher: Billboard Books (September 1, 2004)

ISBN-13: 978-0823083626

ISBN-13: 978-0823083626

At first blush, it might seem strange to see a review for a book almost 10 years old. However, singer/producer Genya Ravan has just released her new solo album, Cheesecake Girl, which she says is a companion piece to Lollipop Lounge, her memoir about her 40 years in the music business. Each song on Cheesecake Girl, she claims, is associated with the various chapters in her life-story which makes Cheesecake Girl, in a sense, her overdue soundtrack for her book.

But you don't need to have heard Cheesecake Girl to appreciate Lollipop Lounge. You simply need to be interested in the story of rock and roll as told by a participant with a unique perspective. After all, born Genyusha Zelkowitz in Łódź, Poland, the future singer was a survivor of the holocaust who grew up as an unhappy immigrant before discovering music as her means to independence. When she did, she began singing with Richard Perry and the Escorts before dating the legendary Tony Sheridan as she fronted and organized the first self-contained all-girl band, Goldie and the Gingerbreads. They earned success as a touring group in the heady mid-60s, especially in the U.K. where they worked with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Animals, and Kinks.

Then came the late '60s and Genya Ravan moved on to sing for the pioneering Ten Wheel Drive where major success seemed but one magic moment away. It didn't quite happen, so she went on to an on-again, off-again solo performing career which included spending time as a major rock producer as a result of her association with the club, CBGBs. As the decades went by, the usual rock formula dominated her life—betrayal by management, sex, drugs, more sex, an more drugs. Read her story, and you'll understand that no one else but Genya Ravan would come up with a marketing campaign with t-shirts asking "Who do I have to fuck to get off this record label?"

Throughout her engrossing autobiography, the vivacious and indomitable Ravan has more than a few name-dropping episodes to tell about the likes of Mick Jagger, Jeff Beck, Clive Davis, Phil and Ronnie Spector, and Janis Joplin, the latter the figure she was much too typically compared to. Ravan is completely candid about her demons, addictions, and reasons why few of her dreams jelled like she had hoped. Being in the forefront of female rockers, she had the burden of fighting through an establishment where the musicians, producers, and managers weren't certain if they preferred sex with her or working with her. And beneath the life on the road struggles were the inner torments that neither Southern Comfort nor coke could quell. And then came the big C and the announcement Genya had only months to live. . .

The 2013 e-book edition of Lollipop Lounge includes a short update to the hardcover version, mainly pointing out Ravan proved some doctors wrong by long outliving some early predictions about her lung cancer. She offers a few comments about the origins of Cheesecake Girl, and no doubt new readers will be motivated to track down this excellent CD. Or vice versa—2013 is a great year for Genya Ravan as her story is being considered for a new musical and she's going to be portrayed in a new movie about CBGBs. So if you don't know who Genya Ravan is, now's a good time to get introduced. She's a great storyteller, both in song and in print. She does have quite a story to tell.

Wes Britton's July 31, 2013 audio interview with Genya Ravan for online radio's "Dave White Presents" is available HERE

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