A few months back I had the pleasure of interviewing Jean Beauvoir for the podcast, Power Chords. During the interview, Jean told me about his autobiography coming out and while we were still talking, I preordered it as we spoke. A few days ago, I received a copy to review from the publisher (now, I’ll have two books) and four days later here I am writing my review of BET MY SOUL ON ROCK ‘N ROLL – DIARY OF A BLACK PUNK ICON, from Chicago Review Press.
I have been a huge fan of Jean Beauvoir ever since I saw him with the Plasmatics on the ABC comedy show, FRIDAY’s! There I saw Jean with a white tux and blonde/white mohawk playing bass and keeping it all together amongst the uncontrolled chaos and fury of the band. From there I followed him to his time with Little Steven and the Disciples Of Soul and when his first solo album DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK was released, I was obsessed with his style, his look and most important, his music.
In his autobiography (no spoilers, I want you to read this book), Beauvoir goes deep into his unique family history, a Haitian/French/American upbringing that gave him not only passion and desire in his music, but his ability to somehow navigate a music scene not closed to, but necessarily opened to black musicians. The book talks in detail about his time leading up to his break as a solo artist, the successes, struggles and the pitfalls that all come with it. But more than the typical story of success, failures that are just part of rock and roll, Beauvoir speaks of all the friendships he has made, the opportunities that have presented themselves, and no matter what, he and his glorious mohawk have always risen above it.
Fans may know the music, but this book tells the story... how he became a punk, how he fashioned his amazing look, but for me, the most interesting part was reading about his love of the business side of the ‘music business’. Who ever would have thought behind the scenes, Beauvoir was running his own show financially and then would become CEO of his friend’s soon to be thriving music ventures. Jean's writing (with John Ostrosky) is as clear and focused as his music and tells a colorful picture of an incredibly colorful man.
A big takeaway for me (as a reader and fan) is that Jean Beauvoir never changed or compromised himself in any way! He fought (sometimes unintentionally) the fight for racial equality in music and has earned the respect of an entire generation of music fans and his peers. Beauvoir has had an amazing journey that we can all take together and as you turn each page you get to revisit amazing music and moments from an amazing man.
Thank you Jean for the choices you made, because your story has had an amazing impact on my life! Beaucoup d’amour et merci!!!!!
The Power Chords Podcast is a twice-monthly podcast celebrating rock and metal music of the '70s, '80s, '90s and beyond. The show is co-hosted by Matt Herring and Brian LeTendre.