Margo Guryan, the rock and soul encyclopedia, dead at 84

Written by By Danielle Sacks, CNN Chicago

Well known for covering the San Francisco Rock and Soul scene of the late 1960s and early ’70s, publisher and writer Margo Guryan died Thursday, according to one of her longtime friends.

Guryan left a mark on the industry through her historical biographies, whose subjects often ended up in the Rock and Soul Hall of Fame, and her work on classic British pop.

“My best friend died yesterday at 12:45,” her friend, poet and playwright David Hart, told the Washington Post .

“In fact, I met her a few weeks ago in Miami, and we hugged each other for hours as my friend is dying of heart disease.”

Less Known Facts: Margo Guryan, Whose Album Drew Belated Acclaim, Dies at 84 Actress, Playwright Jackie Hoffman, Dead at 91 Actress Anne Burrell, Star of “The Ellen Show,” Dies at 62 Three of my favorite jazz albums

Born in Arlington, Virginia, Guryan studied art history and literature at the University of Virginia. She taught writing and literature in high school, which led her to start editing a student magazine, then move on to the California State University Press, where she eventually became editorial director.

She began her career as a writer for Life, where she penned the magazine’s Country Music issue in the early 1970s.

Her best-known book was “Follow Me Shadows: James Brown and the Music That Spawned Soul Culture” published in 1973. Her books chronicling James Brown’s career were published between 1974 and 2006, and she also took on author roles for two other Brown biographies.

In 1997, Guryan became the first woman to receive the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Writers in Focus Award.

Although her books had a particular focus on Rock and Soul, Guryan was also a biographer of British chart-toppers like James Fox and Eurythmics. Her book on Eurythmics, “Queen of Blues: Patti Page and the Creation of Soul,” was published in 1982.

Related content 10 great voices overlooked by their time

She also covered the 1960s stoner music scene, interviewing Siouxsie Sioux and other rockers like Neil Young, John Lennon and Gene Vincent.

“Remember the old records with fiddle and banjo and fiddle and fiddle and banjo? And the banjo made fiddle sound really good? Fiddle blew the fiddle. The shakers and wind instruments pulled the fiddle in and left the fiddle self-contained,” Guryan quoted Young as saying in a Huffington Post profile.

But despite her extensive background in the music and non-fiction industries, Guryan admitted she hadn’t always appreciated popular music.

“I loved rock & roll but never cared for jazz. I didn’t care for the blues or for any hard rock,” she told the Huffington Post.

Leave a Comment