Death by Rock ‘N’ Roll (A True Crime Short)

David J. Krajicek

September 26, 2017

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IN BRIEF

The history of popular music is written in blood, qualifying rock ‘n’ roll as one of America’s most dangerous professions. Some like John Lennon, Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, saxophone legend King Curtis were murdered, while many fragile rock stars were victims of their own inner demons.


Marvin Gaye, one of the world’s most beloved singers, was gunned down by his own father on April 1, 1984. A generation later, fans of the fragile, troubled musician still puzzle over how it could be that a man who crooned about peace, love and understanding would meet such a violent end—from his own flesh and blood. But why should we be surprised? The history of popular music is written in blood.

Using Marvin Gaye’s slaying as an abject example of the rock and roll lifestyle, this story pulls together the threads of the violent ends of music stars like John Lennon, Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, soul saxophone legend King Curtis, and many others. Between the overdoses and suicides of its often fragile stars, rock and roll seems to qualify as one of America’s most dangerous professions. Experts weigh in on whether there are patterns to the violence in rock and roll—and whether warning signs were missed in some cases that might have spared lives.

David J. Krajicek is a longtime newspaperman, an author and a former Columbia University journalism professor. He is regarded as one of the country’s best true crime storytellers. He writes The Justice Story, a weekly true crime feature that has been running in the New York Daily News since 1923. He was a special correspondent for truTV’s Crime Library and has appeared frequently on television as a crime expert, including on “The Today Show” and Dominick Dunne’s “Power, Privilege and Justice.” He has written several true crime books and his work has appeared in dozens of major publications.

From the best true crime authors in the business, many of whom have seen their books made into major motion pictures, comes Crimescape® — a new collection of compelling short nonfiction crime e-books from leading independent e-book publisher RosettaBooks. Taking readers into the dark heart of the criminal mind and the tense hunt to bring perpetrators to justice, Crimescape® authors stand apart from other true crime writers because they have personal experience in crime investigation, whether as police detectives, investigative reporters, forensics professionals or criminal psychologists. Riveting storytellers, Crimescape® short nonfiction writers give readers all the information they need to understand relevant clues and the interwoven influences in each criminal case.

David J. Krajicek has written extensively about celebrity life in books, newspaper and magazine articles and stories for Time Warner's Crime Library. Much more than a journalist and much more than a writer with decades of strong expertise in true crime, he is an excellent storyteller with incredible panache, and he knows the music world as well. He sings and plays trombone in a busy blues/swing/oldies band based in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. His band, The Blues Maneuver, plays about 50 gigs a year.

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Foreword by Marilyn Bardsley

People tend to think that successful musicians, singers and songwriters live glamorous lives. After all, they are adored, emulated, sought-after people. It’s only when one of them goes into rehab, gets a DUI, becomes embroiled in a nasty divorce, or is murdered that the reality of being a rock ‘n’ roll musician begins to intrude into the public consciousness. Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Tupac Shakur, Janice Joplin, Dennis Wilson, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson are just the best-known of a long list of musicians who went to an early grave. The pressures of striving to stay on top, the exhaustion of being on the road so much of the time, and the temptation to subdue the stress with drugs and alcohol are major factors in the high fatality rate for musicians.

David J. Krajicek has written extensively about celebrity life in books, newspaper and magazine articles and stories for truTV’s Crime Library. Much more than a journalist and much more than a writer with decades of strong expertise in true crime, he is an excellent storyteller with incredible panache, and he knows the music world as well. He sings and plays trombone in a busy blues/swing/oldies band based in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York. His band, The Blues Maneuver, plays about 50 gigs a year.

Krajicek is a longtime newspaperman, an author and a former Columbia University journalism professor. He is regarded as one of the country’s best true crime storytellers. He writes “The Justice Story,” a weekly true crime feature that has been running in the New York Daily News since 1923. He was a special correspondent for Court TV’s Crime Library and has appeared frequently on television as a crime expert, including on “The Today Show” and Dominick Dunne’s “Power, Privilege and Justice.” He was “Crime Beat” columnist for APBNews.com.

Krajicek cofounded Criminal Justice Journalists, a national association of reporters and editors. He is co-editor of Crime & Justice News and a contributing editor for TheCrimeReport.org.

Krajicek is the author of Murder, American Style: 50 Unforgettable True Stories About Love Gone Wrong (News Ink Books, 2010). Its content is drawn from his work for the Daily News. His other books include Scooped! Media Miss Real Story on Crime While Chasing Sex, Sleaze and Celebrities, as well as a novella, Sutphin Blvd. Another book, True Crime: Missouri, will be published in September 2011 by Stackpole Books.

He has worked as a staff writer at the Omaha World-Herald and New York Daily News. His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including the New York Times, Newsday, the Village Voice and the Manchester (U.K.) Guardian. He holds degrees from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and Columbia University, where he spent most of the 1990s as a journalism professor. Krajicek, a native of Omaha, Nebraska, has spent much of his career in New York City. He now lives in the Catskill Mountains and on the Alabama Gulf Coast.

For True Crime Missouri: The State’s Most Notorious Criminal Cases

 “Krajicek is moved by the incongruity of commonplace surroundings and evil deeds…Some themes run through the crimes he has studied. Among them is a recurrence of immorality and buffoonery in the same felonious package…Friends have come to call Krajicek as ‘Mr. Murder.’ He never considers this an insult.”–Ken Newton, St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press

David J. Krajicek’s work in a word: “Lively,” says Entertainment Weekly. “Passionate,” says Ken Auletta of The New Yorker. “Powerful,” says the American Journalism Review.

“David Krajicek’s crime writing has branded him Mr. Murder, so it’s apt he looks the heavy with his bearded mug, bouncer glare and imposing size. This tabloid poet and rebel hails from a long line of barkeeps and meatpackers. He is a standout writer of terse, staccato prose and vivid details.”–Leo Adam Biga, The Omaha Reader

“Krajicek is the Catskills’ own hard-boiled true-crime writer…Sordid tales of bad behavior, villainous deeds and villainous men.”– Julia Reischel, The Watershed Post

 

For Murder American Style: 50 Unforgettable True Stories About Love Gone Wrong

“Krajicek wrote the book on murder.” –The Daily Star

“His friends call him ‘Mr. Murder.’ Despite his efforts to tackle ‘more serious’ subjects, the seamier side of the human experience kept calling–and Krajicek kept answering, first as a reporter and now as an author…Murder, American Style is a titillating collection of true stories from 1889 to 2002.”–Julia Dahl, TheCrimeReport.org

David J. Krajicek’s work in a word: “Lively,” says Entertainment Weekly. “Passionate,” says Ken Auletta of The New Yorker. “Powerful,” says the American Journalism Review.

“David Krajicek’s crime writing has branded him Mr. Murder, so it’s apt he looks the heavy with his bearded mug, bouncer glare and imposing size. This tabloid poet and rebel hails from a long line of barkeeps and meatpackers. He is a standout writer of terse, staccato prose and vivid details.”–Leo Adam Biga, The Omaha Reader

“Krajicek is the Catskills’ own hard-boiled true-crime writer…Sordid tales of bad behavior, villainous deeds and villainous men.”– Julia Reischel, The Watershed Post

“It’s true: You don’t have to kill your wife–just divorce her, and David J. Krajicek’s engaging and entertaining book will give you all the reasons why. A must-read for spousal murderers, and those who love to read about them.”–Paul LaRosa, CBS News producer and author of Tacoma Confidential

“Stars, they’re just like us–and just as likely to fall victim to a gun or a knife. Krajicek has the insider story in Murder, American Style, where the famous and the anonymous experience the same unhappy ending.”–Larry Sutton, OK! Magazine

 

For Scooped

Amazon.com

When the New York World printed the first color comic strip (“Hogan’s Alley”) in 1894, its rival, the New York Journal quickly employed the cartoonist and ignited a war between the superpowers of American journalism. At the center of the controversy was the Yellow Kid, the bad boy star of “Hogan’s Alley,” who attracted hoards of readers to the papers. Because both papers vied for the artist and used sensational stories to build readership, they were soon called the “Yellow Press,” thus yellow journalism was born.

After more than a century, with the onslaught of entertainment television programs such as A Current Affair, David J. Krajicek believes that sensationalized news is not only alive and kicking, but has mutated into something possibly more pervasive and destructive than in previous times. In Scooped!, Krajicek draws upon his past as a crime reporter for the Daily News in New York to show how “back-alley journalism” has distorted reality and created a nation “that knows everything about Amy Fisher but next to nothing about the development of our national criminal justice policies.” From the television tabloid journalism embodied by such shows as A Current Affair to even the mainstream press’s descent into sensationalism at the expense of solid journalism, Krajicek paints a disturbing portrait of a fourth estate more interested in the bottom line than providing thoughtful analysis or serious reporting on important issues. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Library Journal

Unlike more academic content analyses of crime reporting such as Roy E. Lotz’s Crime and the American Press (Praeger, 1991), Krajicek, a crime reporter for New York’s Daily News and now a professor of journalism at Columbia University, gives us this personal, popular account. Convinced that the press could be “telling the truth less poorly,” he explains the reasons for the “tabloidization” of print journalism and chronicles its contemporary descent into sleaze and sensationalism along with the TV news “dumbing down” to “infotainment.” Because we know so much about Joey Buttafuoco, he believes, we know less about other things. One result is that the public continues to accept simplistic or even useless criminal justice policies such as “more police, more prisons” and “drug wars.” As remedies Krajicek cites examples of newspapers that do more to explain crime and to provide background, analysis, context, and trends. This is interesting reading partly because we all have ideas about Joey, O.J., Rupert Murdoch, and such. Recommended for public and academic libraries.AJanice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., New York
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Additional reviews:

Krajicek does a fine job of weaving together his own experiences as a crime reporter, the history of the genre, and lots of examples to produce a convincing indictment of the news media.

(Dallas Morning News )

A crime reporter for the New York Daily News in the 1980s, Krajicek quit in disgust in 1990…. His book inventories the damage done by sensationalistic, incident-driven coverage, not just on local TV newscasts and in tabloid newspapers but throughout the media.

(Los Angeles Times Book Review )

In this lively history of crime reporting, Krajicek charges that all the racy headlines have eclipsed a more crucial story.

(Entertainment Weekly )

 

Press Release

“What makes for a good true-crime story? Interesting characters, an engrossing plot, situations that often teeter between life and death. But here’s the MacGuffin about true crime: What you’re reading actually happened. Sometimes truth really is more compelling than fiction. And that’s why you will enjoy reading Crimescape’s true crime series.”
—Paul Alexander, the #1 bestselling true crime Kindle Singles author of Murdered and Accused

The history of popular music is written in blood, qualifying rock ‘n’ roll as one of America ’s most dangerous professions. In DEATH BY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, David J. Krajicek tells the stories of the violent deaths of stars like John Lennon, Sam Cooke, Tupac Shakur, soul saxophone legend King Curtis, and of the overdoses and suicides of often-fragile stars.

From the best true crime authors in the business, many of whom have seen their books made into major motion pictures, comes Crimescape® — a new collection of compelling short nonfiction crime e-books from leading independent e-book publisher RosettaBooks. Taking readers into the dark heart of the criminal mind and the tense hunt to bring perpetrators to justice, Crimescap®e authors stand apart from other true crime writers because they have personal experience in crime investigation, whether as police detectives, investigative reporters, forensics professionals or criminal psychologists. Riveting storytellers, Crimescape® short nonfiction writers give readers all the information they need to understand relevant clues and the interwoven influences in each criminal case.

DEATH BY ROCK ‘N’ ROLL is one of the first six releases in the continuing Crimescape® series from RosettaBooks. For an author interview or a PDF review copy, please contact:

Hilsinger-Mendelson East
Sandi Mendelson — 212.725.7707 — [email protected]