Corn Flakes With John Lennon – Book Signing and Q&A

Robert Hilburn

Corn Flakes With John Lennon – Book Signing and Q&A – November 11th, 2009 Vromans Bookstore Pasadena, CA

This past Wednesday, I had the privilege of sitting in on a Q&A session and book signing with Robert Hilburn, author of Corn Flakes with John Lennon in Pasadena, CA. Not familiar with the name? What about Bono, John Lennon, Johnny Cash, or Michael Jackson? These are just some of the big names that Robert Hilburn got to repeatedly interview during his 30+ year career as one of the most respected and influential rock critics in the world. I spent over an hour sitting on the edge of my seat while Hilburn answered question after question on what it was like to be close to some of the biggest names in rock history. I asked Robert how he was able to remember all these events that happened decades ago and if he kept a journal. He said no, he didn’t, and there are certain things he probably has forgotten with time. However, the significant things (like those items in the book), he’ll never forget. It makes sense – who could forget Johnny Cash playing you songs on his acoustic guitar in his living room, or watching cartoons with Michael Jackson in his bedroom? Memories like that tend to stick.

What immediately charmed me about Hilburn is how honest he comes across in talking about his experiences. This isn’t a guy trying to sound like he’s best friends with all the rock stars. He said it best himself when he explained that if Springsteen (whom he talks about in the book at length) was in town he wouldn’t call Hilburn, and Hilburn wouldn’t call him. Their relationship is purely professional. You listen to Hilburn tell you this, whilst at the same time noting that the introduction to the book is written by Bono and you wonder if Hilburn, if anything, isn’t overly modest.

Some of my favorite stories Hilburn shared were about:
– His late night meetings with John Lennon while they talked about Elvis and Lennon indulged in one of his guilty pleasures from room service – corn flakes with milk.
– How he helped Bob Dylan change his set-list for a concert in Jerusalem.
– How Bruce Springsteen peeked at Hilburn’s notes while he was in the bathroom and discovered what letter grade he’d given all the songs and his reaction.
– What it was like being the only journalist to visit Folsom prison during Johnny Cash’s famous recording session and concert.

As somebody who spent about 5 years working in the music industry, I’ve read all kinds of books about rock music. Some were good, while most others were written to make a quick buck. Robert Hilburn doesn’t need me to tell you he’s for real. His career speaks for itself; however, I highly encourage anybody out there who loves music to pick up a copy of this book. For me, reading Corn Flakes With John Lennon, and listening to Robert Hilburn speak, brought back what it feels like to truly love music.

To read my full review of Corn Flakes With John Lennon click here.

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