Suck and Blow: And Other Stories I'm Not Supposed to Tell (Hardcover)

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Suck and Blow: And Other Stories I'm Not Supposed to Tell By John Popper, Dean Budnick Cover Image

Suck and Blow: And Other Stories I'm Not Supposed to Tell (Hardcover)


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Hailed by many as the world's greatest harmonica player, John Popper has redefined the instrument. As the lead singer and principal songwriter of Blues Traveler, Popper has performed for more than 30 million people over 2,000 live dates and composed such radio staples as "Hook," "But Anyway," and "Run-Around," the longest-charting single in Billboard history. He has appeared with Eric Clapton and B. B. King at the White House, welcomed the Hungarian ambassador to the stage, and inducted Carlos Santana into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In Suck and Blow, Popper shares a candid, spirited account of his life and career. A straight-F student at Princeton High School, Popper's life changed with one serendipitous harmonica solo that captured the attention of his mercurial band teacher (the same teacher whose life was later fictionalized in the Academy Award-winning film Whiplash). After befriending three fellow musicians with whom he would form Blues Traveler, Popper's academic career nearly ended in twelfth grade, until a meeting with the Dean of the New School for Social Research in which Popper pulled out his trusty harp and played his way into college.

Popper and Blues Traveler soon became enmeshed in the lower Manhattan music scene of the late 1980s, eventually becoming the house band at the fabled Wetlands Preserve and embarking on a journey that would one day land the group at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve. Along the way, Popper and his cohorts commanded the attention of fans and bands alike, through inspired performances and riotous debauchery.

Popper's unique perspective on the music business began under the tutelage of Blues Traveler's mentor and manager Bill Graham. After the rock impresario's untimely passing, Popper applied many of Graham's lessons to the formation of the H.O.R.D.E. tour, which John co-owned and hosted over eight years, welcoming such artists as Neil Young, the Allman Brothers Band, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Ziggy Marley, and his longtime friends the Spin Doctors.

Popper also shares a forthright assessment of his longstanding battle with obesity. Plagued by weight problems since childhood, a motorcycle accident a few years into his career confined him to a wheelchair for two years while his weight ballooned to 436 pounds. Angioplasty, gastric bypass surgery, and a tattoo on his chest that reads "I Want to Be Brave" when viewed in the mirror are products of Popper's struggle, compounded by codependency issues and the untimely death of founding Blues Traveler bassist Bobby Sheehan.

Popper's personal identity is entwined with his political passions. A staunch supporter of gun rights, he has performed at the National Republican Convention, yet he also maintains liberal positions on social issues. He will reconcile these views and share his encounters with the Bush family, the Clintons, the Gores, and other politicos.

The iconoclastic, self-described Johnny Appleharp also dishes on cutting contests, Twitter trolls, party fouls, and prostitutes.

In Suck and Blow, John Popper does it all with his signature honesty, humility, and humor.
John Popper, the revolutionary harmonica player, is the lead singer and principal songwriter of the Grammy Award-winning, platinum-selling rock band Blues Traveler. He also records and performs with the Duskray Troubadors and the John Popper Project featuring DJ Logic. Popper has toured the globe, performed for presidents, appeared regularly on television and film, founded the H.O.R.D.E. tour, and remains a riveting live presence.

Dean Budnick is the editor-in-chief of Relix magazine. He holds a PhD from Harvard's History of American Civilization program, is the founder/editor of, and directed the documentary Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Rock Club. His books include Ticket Masters and the novel Might as Well.
Product Details ISBN: 9780306824043
ISBN-10: 0306824043
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Pages: 368
Language: English
Praise for Suck and Blow

New York Post, 3/27/16
“[An] offbeat, hilarious new memoir.”

The Talkhouse, 4/5/16
“Full of music business dishing…[Popper's] story is truly a catalogue of strange, wild experiences that haven't been explored to death in other music autobiographies.”

The Future Heart, 4/4/16
“Written in a self-deprecating, conversational voice, Suck and Blow reads like Popper is hanging with you, telling one funny story after another of himself, a misfit ad-libbing his way through the awkwardness that is life.”

NYS Music, 5/19/16
“[Popper] really lets it all hang out in his new autobiography…the crazy stories that happened behind the scenes, backstage, in the van, and on the side of the road…A ‘can't put down' read. For a vivid look at the life of a musician, run out and get this book. It will make your day, week and year.”