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BY PUMA PERL | “Stranded in the Jungle: Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride — A Tale of Drugs, Fashion, the New York Dolls, and Punk Rock.”
Curt Weiss’ bio of drummer Jerry Nolan lives up to its long subtitle. Nolan’s drumming drove the Heartbreakers and the New York Dolls, and his style was the epitome of his favorite fashion expression, “profiling.” His appetites for women and substances can also be described as nothing less than driven.
Well-written and painstakingly researched, “Stranded” presents Nolan as a complex and layered character, while exploring his technique and approach to drumming. Weiss also explores the explosion of the punk era. It is often said, about the ’70s, that you were there or you weren’t there. Sometimes you don’t remember if you were there. I fit into all three categories to varying degrees, but the memory of wandering into Club 82 and seeing the New York Dolls for the first time breaks through the haze.
Weiss spent 11 years working on this book, which includes many interviews from people who knew Nolan in different contexts, and with varied opinions. What can’t be denied is he was a hell of a drummer whose career was cut short by the same demons that took many of our best musicians. It makes sense that Gene Krupa was an early hero. Too bad the Jerry Nolan (1946-1992) didn’t come even close to Krupa’s 64-year life span. Who knows what else he might have done.
Weiss will read from “Stranded in the Jungle” (a Backbeat Books release) on Tues., Nov. 7, 8pm at Rough Trade (64 Ninth St., Brooklyn, btw. White & Kent Sts.). The NYC release party takes place Thurs., Nov. 9, 7pm at The Delancey (168 Delancey St., btw. Clinton & Attorney Sts.). More info at facebook.com/pg/curtweissauthor/events.