Ed Ward

Ed Ward is the rock-and-roll historian on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

A co-author of Rock of Ages: The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll, Ward has also contributed to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and countless music magazines. The first part of his two-volume history of rock and roll, covering the years 1920-1963, will be published by Flatiron Books in the fall of 2016.

Ward lives in Austin, Texas. He blogs at City on a Hill.

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Music Reviews
10:41 am
Mon September 1, 2014

The Story Of Little Feat's Fame, Destruction And Revival

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Music
12:40 pm
Mon August 18, 2014

Box Set Looks Back On Pioneering '5' Royales

Soul music is often defined as the moment when gospel and blues met and formed a new sound. Ray Charles is often given credit for this, but there were others, most notably the "5" Royales, who had immense success as a live act, but never sold as many records as such a pioneering group should have. With the release of the 131-track collection Soul and Swagger: The Complete "5" Royales, the group has finally gotten the recognition they deserve. Fresh Air critic Ed Ward has the story.

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Music
11:56 am
Wed August 6, 2014

A Label Paramount To Early Blues And Jazz

There's nothing a certain type of record collector likes better than finding a stack of 78s on the Paramount label. Between 1917 and 1932, the label, which was one of several run by a furniture company in Grafton, Wisc., released thousands of records, but its real accomplishment was recording some of the greatest early blues and jazz performers.

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Music Reviews
9:54 am
Thu May 1, 2014

The Animals: The British Invasion That Wasn't

The Animals.
Courtesy of ABKCO Records

Originally published on Thu May 1, 2014 11:35 am

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Music Reviews
9:54 am
Wed January 15, 2014

The Soul Singer Who Never Quite Made It

James Govan (left) with producer and engineer Mickey Buckins in the studio.
Courtesy of Ace Records

Originally published on Wed January 15, 2014 1:46 pm

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Music Reviews
12:51 pm
Thu January 2, 2014

When Memphis Made A Move On Nashville's Country Monopoly

Label for Warren Smith's "Ubangi Stomp" on Sun Records.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu January 2, 2014 3:31 pm

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Music Reviews
11:56 am
Tue December 10, 2013

A Nostalgic — But Bumpy — Journey With The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys in 1964. Top row: Carl Wilson, Dennis Wilson. Bottom row: Mike Love, Al Jardine, Brian Wilson.
Hulton Archive Getty Images

Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 3:44 pm

All it takes is two seconds of hearing "Round round get around / I get around" and you're there — in the sun, on the beach, in the '60s. The Beach Boys vaulted up the charts while branching out from surf music to psychedelia. This year the remaining band members released Made in California, a six-CD box set loaded with outtakes and other rarities. Critic Ed Ward examines the rise and long decline of a beloved group with a unique sound.

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Music Reviews
12:11 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

Bumpy, Bikers And The Story Behind 'Leader Of The Pack'

The Shangri-Las on the cover of the "Leader of the Pack" single.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 1:48 pm

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Music Reviews
10:42 am
Fri September 6, 2013

The Dawn Of Sun Records: 15 Hours Of Blues

The Prisonaires, a band formed in a Memphis-area prison, created one of Sun Records' early hits.
Courtesy of Bear Family Records

Originally published on Fri September 6, 2013 10:52 am

Sam Phillips is famous for saying that if he could find a white boy with the authentic Negro sound and feel, he'd make a billion dollars. Seeing Phillips in his striped sport coat and tie in 1950, you might well wonder if he'd know that sound and feel if it came up and bit him. But he'd been a fan of blues and country music since childhood, and he bet that his technical knowledge and feeling for this music could make him money.

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Music Reviews
10:28 am
Wed June 12, 2013

Fame Studios And The Road To Nashville Songwriting Glory

Fame Studio

Originally published on Thu June 13, 2013 6:57 am

Wallace Daniel Pennington grew up singing. His father played guitar and his mother played piano, and by the age of 9, the young man had a guitar of his own. The family attended church on Sunday and Wednesday each week, and to this day, Dan Penn says he remembers the entire Methodist congregation belting out hymns.

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