Does this book make me look fat?

“McKeen weaves his story with a natural storyteller’s grace.” As far as I can tell, that’s the first time the word grace has ever appeared in a sentence with my name.

That’s from a review in a magazine called Under the Radar. It’s a wonderful review (read it here), but I sure would like to be over the radar sometime.

The reviews have all been positive and, of course, hearing from people who’ve read it and liked it — mostly through Facebook — means a lot to me. I post a lot of things related to the book — videos of the artists I profile performing, for example — so check out the Facebook page devoted to the book. Go ahead and like the page. It don’t cost nothin’.

I’ve been doing a publicity blast for Everybody Had an Ocean, mostly on radio.

Here I am on the Majic Morning Show in Cleveland, yakking about the book. Start listening at 40:05.

You can hear me in St. Louis on KTRS, in Oklahoma City on KTOK, in Minneapolis on KQRS, in Albuquerque on KZRR and in Danbury, Connecticut, on WLAD., and WMJI in Cleveland.

I also recorded two national interviews with iHeart Media and Premiere Satellite.

Some of the interviews were taped and some were live. You can always poke around the station’s websites to see if I said anything bad about you.

Here‘s my 10-minute interview with Ryan Gatenby on Chicago’s WBIG-AM, which features a shout to my daughter — and famed Chicago nightlife figure — Mary Grace McKeen.

I’ll post news of other interviews or reviews in this space. So far, reaction to the book has been pretty good, so i can’t complain.

“Expert textpert choking smokers…”

Appearances in news stories as an ‘expert’ on stuff:

Pantsuit Politics: What the Hell is Going on with Journalism?
The New York Times: Rolling Stone Stays Focused as Defamation Trial Is Set to Begin
Uproxx: Stories of the iconic ‘Johnny B. Goode’ Scene in ‘Back to the Future’
The Christian Science Monitor: Google Removes Author Information from Search Results
The Register Mail: Was JFK’s Assassination a Watershed Moment in the Redefining of Journalism?
CNN: Journalism Jobs are Picking Up
The Sarasota Herald Tribune: What if ‘In Cold Blood’ Got it Wrong?

Surf’s Up at the Bookstore

Jack Nicholson with Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas.

Everybody Had an Ocean  is available at fine bookstores everywhere, but if you are too lazy to go visit one of those wonderful places, you can order the book through IndieBound, a community of independent bookstores. You can get it at all the usual places, of course. Here’s the Amazon link.

But it would be a great favor if you would go into your local bookstore several times a day — in disguise, if need be — and request the book. Be a pain in the ass. But remember, the best publicity is word of mouth. Phone calls work too.

Did I mention that I have seven children and I promised them that if I sold enough books we could go back to three meals a day?

I wrote this book while undergoing cancer treatment and was able to put together a story I’d wanted to write for a long time — 30 years, at least. I interviewed all of the Beach Boys — except Brian Wilson — several times during the early 1970s. That was one of Brian’s lowest points and he did not appear in concert.

Beyond the Beach Boys, the book has an impressive cast of characters, including Michelle Phillips and Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas, Charles Manson, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Sam Cooke, Tina Turner, Bobby Fuller, Phil Spector and an buttload of others. It’s a history of Los Angeles rock’n’roll in the 1960s, with a focus on the crossroads of the music business and crime.

I’m very happy with the result. I hope you will be too.


The Dana-Farber Red Sox baseball cap

Surgery City, Here We Come!

(Continuing our surf-music theme.)

After two years of treatment and a near residency at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, I’m cancer-free. However, I’m recently had another operation  — that makes 10 surgeries in two years and change — but this is not cancer-related, and it will help me avoid three other surgeries. It’ was a gastric sleeve operation and it means that I must now embrace tofu. But it also means that I have lost 45 pounds in four months.

Through all of this poking and prodding and gouging and cutting the last couple of years, I’m very lucky to have care of such high quality. I discovered that the most important thing about cancer care — other than the operations and treatments, of course — is attitude.

When I first got the diagnosis, I began thinking about death and what would happen in the post-Bill world. Then I decided, Fuck it if I can’t take a joke. In fact, I turned the whole thing into a joke with the kids. I didn’t want them to worry. If they saw Dad joking about it, then maybe they wouldn’t worry — and largely they didn’t.

The attitude of the technicians, physicians and nurses also helped. For two months, I rose early and drove to my radiation appointments at 8 am. For 20 minutes, four kind young women aimed powerful instruments of radiation at my naked midsection. When treatment ended, they showered me with confetti and gave me a diploma. Things like that kept up my spirits.

The best thing about my weight loss is that I am becoming re-acquainted with my feet. Oh, how I missed you guys!


That’s me during my Western Kentucky University years. Photograph by John Rott.

Rockin’ in the free world

When the semester isn’t in session, I feel like a nuclear power plant that’s been shut down.

2017 marks my 40th year as a college teacher and I’ve never gotten tired of it. I’ve never even had a sabbatical.

For the first summer session, I’m teaching History of Rock’n’Roll for the Department of History.

This fall, I’ll team-teach the journalism section of the new introductory course for our college of communication — my partner with be Noelle Graves — as well as The Literature of Journalism and the Graduate Symposium in Journalism.

I taught at Western Kentucky University 1977-1982, at the University of Oklahoma 1982-1986, at the University of Florida, 1986-2010 and at Boston University since 2010.

If you were in one of my classes, I’d love to hear from you at I keep up with a lot of former students on Facebook, which I use as a sort of illustrated Rolodex of my life. It’s good to see how everyone’s doing.

Take care.