About the Book and Author

About the Book

We all know by now that twenty years ago, the Seattle grunge phenomenon erupted with the ascent of Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  But I didn’t write a book about that.  Instead, The Strangest Tribe is about the music scene that created the phenomenon…a music scene that was far more ecletic, creative, and flat-out hysterical than the mass media made it out to be.

Tribe investigates the roots of Seattle’s music scene, a community that gained legs in the mid-’70s and reached maturation in 1990, just prior to Nirvana-mania.  Tribe puts to rest the following myths about Seattle music:

1) Nirvana created grunge.  (Game show buzzer…the band didn’t even live in Seattle at the time and arrived in town in 1988, when a fully-developed music scene had already created grunge.)

2) Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains are/were grunge bands.  (False…only Nirvana could lay claim to that, well, early Soundgarden could as well.  Seattle’s organically created grunge had little to do with the sound that the above bands made famous.)

3) Seattle music equated only to grunge.  (Couldn’t be more inaccurate.  In fact, during the late ’80s height of Seattle’s grunge scene, people were making all kinds of music including psyche, acoustic pop, folky/punk, comedy rock parody, and experimental music.)

4) Seattle musicians are long-haired, depressed junkies.  (Nope.  These people are the funniest folks you will ever meet.  They are also smarter than you…and me, too.)

About the Author

I am a history professor, specializing in twentieth-century United States.  I teach at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia.  I have also taught courses on early American history, rock n roll, alternative rock, the Vietnam War, and presidential scandals.

  1. Hi, Stephen. Good morning.
    My name is Silvio Essinger, and I’m a Brazilian journalist. I’m writing an article for O Globo newspaper (one of the biggest in the country) about the revival of the Seatlle bands/artists in Brazil – in the next few days, Chris Cornell, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam are coming to play live. I’d like to talk about your book, and the myths around grunge. Could you answer a few questions until tomorrow? If you give me you an e-mail, I can send them to you. Mine is silvio.essinger@oglobo.com.br. Thank you very much. Best!

  2. Lee Edwards says:

    Hi Stephen
    I publish a Free Monthly Music e-Journal distributed by email internationally to over 60,000 people. Would be interested in reviewing your book.
    Lee Edwards

  3. kelly says:

    I’m trying to find Ben Thomson and Scott of Clay Alien…help

  4. Jane says:

    I’m curious as to why many of these early amazing groups didn’t make it? Specifically, Gary Minkler & Red Dress? I’ve known Gary & a lot of these artists since high school — It would be great to know more about that regarding him & many of these other groups. Gary & Red Dress still perform — in fact, they’re playing tomorrow night with original band members in Seattle..

  5. John says:

    An acquaintance recently showed me a demo for “on the Rocks” that is dated 1985. Looks like Do you know who may have been in the band around that time? Only names on it were hansen, huletz and Eric Danielsen (or something like that). He said he thought Duff McKagan was on it. Your site was the only one I found that indicated that could be right

  6. Bill Apgood says:

    Hey Stephen, Just found your site (via a Red Dress search). Having been around the margins of Seattle and Olympia during a thirty year spread, I was very happy to see that you got it right (from what I’ve read so far). Yes, the music industrial complex recognizes the big buck lump going by the grunge label, but it was much richer than that. You even got OP magazine and the Squirrels. You must know about the Seattle Syndrome album and the Dynamic Logs, right? :0) Thank you.

    • Stephen Tow says:

      Bill, thank you for the kind words. Yes, I do know about the two Seattle Syndrome comps. The first is included in my “little known Seattle records you should listen to” in the back of the book. Dynamic Logs doesn’t ring a bell, though.

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