Songs and Solos

Creating the right solo for every song

by Rikky Rooksby


Guitar solos have been part of popular music since the amplified electric guitar enable guitarists to be heard as clearly as a jazz trumpeter. Memorable solos are an integral part of great rock songs. With Songs and Solos, Rikky Rooksby, author of Backbeat’s best-selling series for songwriters, helps guitar-playing songwriters to make the best use of solos in their song and teaches exactly how to create awesome solos that will really help their material stand out.

Getting the solo right can make a big difference to the song’s impact. This essential handbook is a manual of creativity for guitarist who want a deeper understanding of lead guitar solos. The main aspects of soloing techniques are covered, and Songs and Solos also makes the reader understand how and why a given solo works in a particular song, and how to enhance a song with a well-crafted solo.

Based on the study of nearly 900 songs from six decades of great music, it explains the musical role played by solos, illustrates which notes work over any chord sequence, and offers a comprehensive range of hints and tips for creating instrumental breaks that will enhance any song. An accompanying CD includes no fewer than 42 sample solos in a range of styles and moods. Separate backing tracks are provided for the reader to work with and play over.

For songwriting guitarists, the book goes beyond mere instrumental technique to demonstrate how lead guitar can be made to serve a song rather than simply decorating it. It also explores the wide range of other instruments that can be used to create really stunning solos.

$24.99 (US)
8.5″ x 11″
272 pagesBackbeat Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard

About the author

Rikky Rooksby is a guitar teacher, songwriter/composer, and writer on music. Backbeat Books has published his best-selling titles, such as how to Write Songs on Guitar, Inside Classic Rock Tracks, Riffs, The Songwriting Sourcebook, Chord Master, Melody, How to Write Songs on Keyboards, Lyrics, Arranging Songs, and How to Write Songs in Altered Guitar Tunings, and 14 guitar tutor books in the Fastforward series. His transcription work includes songbooks of music by Bob Dylan, The Stone Roses, David Bowie, The White Stripes, and The Beatles, and he has contributed to magazines such as Guitar Techniques, Total Guitar, Guitarist, and Bass Guitar Magazine. Visit his website at

Song Solo jkt single Orange

A Field Guide to Actor Training

Navigating Acting Methods, Studio, Classes, Private Training, and Graduate and Undergraduate Programs

by Laura Wayth


“Should I go to a school and get more training in acting, or should I just go out there and do it?” How important is training?” “Where should I go to get training?” “What is the right kind of training for me?”

Answers to these questions and many more can be found in A Field Guide to Actor Training (August 2014, Applause Books, $24.99) by Laura Wayth. Designed to be an introduction to various theater-training methodologies, highlighting their basic tenets, and comparing and contrasting each system of training and rehearsal, A Field Guide to Actor Training is a one-stop-shopping resource for student and beginning actors looking for guidance in selecting the training that is right for them.

Wayth starts with the big question, “Why is actor training important?”; then provides overviews of the major acting methodologies (including Stanislavsky, Lee Strasberg, Michael Chekhov, Stella Adler, and Uta Hagen), vocal training, and physical acting training; and concludes with advice on how to find the right kind of training for each individual and a look at degree-granting training programs.

Full of the information young actors need to make informed decisions and carve the correct career path, A Field Guide to Actor Training is an essential resource for the student actor.


August 13, 2014
Paperback Original
256 pages
x 9
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Laura Wayth bio picLaura Wayth received her MFA from the American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University/Moscow Art Theatre School Institute. She has taught and coached acting, voice, and musical theater at Tufts University, the College of the Holy Cross, the University of Miami, the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, and Florida Atlantic University. She was a 2002-2003 Fulbright Fellow to Moscow and a 2011 Senior Fulbright Scholar to Romania, where she taught acting Shakespeare at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca. Wayth has taught and coached in Italy, Morocco, and China, and at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She currently teaches acting at San Francisco State University.


Excess All Areas

A Lighthearted Look at the Demands

and Idiosyncrasies of Rock Icons on Tour

by Sue Richmond | Illustrations by Wilf Hanson


Seven dwarves, pizzas to give to the homeless, a copy of the New York Times and pre-chopped broccoli florets, to make them easier to throw away! – Iggy Pop’s rider

A rider is a shopping list of items, usually food and drink, requested by the band, which forms part of its contract with the concert venue. Many requests fall under the general category of “reasonable,” but others are a bit extreme. Van Halen’s demand that all of the brown M&M’s be removed from the sweet bowl in their dressing room comes quickly to mind. But, as it turns out, “extreme” is pretty commonplace!

Excess All Areas: A Lighthearted Look at the Demands and Idiosyncrasies of Rock Icons on Tour by Sue Richmond (Oct. 28, Backbeat Books, $27.99) takes readers on a rollercoaster, backstage ride into the surreal and unpredictable world of the band contract rider. 
Richmond delves into the dressing rooms of our favorite musical acts, from Black Sabbath to Usher, and has a good old rummage around, discovering a penchant for expensive champagne, enough towels to dry an army, the odd boa constrictor, inflatable sumo outfits, ice without square edges, water from the top of Mount Olympus, white tube socks (12 pairs, to be exact), and soda water – just for spilling on the floor.

This colorful volume includes colorful illustrations that are equally as entertaining as the outlandish 100 featured riders for David Bowie, James Brown, Van Morrison, Def Leppard, AC/DC, and many, many more. Excess All Areas will leave you amazed, stomping your feet, and shouting for more.

October 28, 2014
9″ x 9″
128 pages
Color illustrations throughout
Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group



Sue Richmond began her career in the music industry in the 1980s, starting out at A&M Records before moving to EMI and Parlophone. She ran her own record label in the late 1990s and now works in the food public relations and awards field. She lives in St. Albans, England.



Wilf Hanson, born in Wiltshire, England, began to develop his unique illustration style at an early age, and he later went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in illustration and animation at the University of London. Having worked for a global digital design agency in London, he has recently returned to his native West Country where he now runs his own design business while continuing his freelance illustration work.


Leonard Cohen

Everybody Knows

by Harvey Kubernik


On the occasion of his 80th birthday and the release of his 22nd album, “Popular Problems,” a celebration of the life, music, and poetry of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen’s songs and poetry are defined by their emotional and intellectual intelligence. Lyrically potent, his records are full of romance, innuendo, and humor, and in performance his smoke-black vocal cords navigate the most sophisticated and arresting of melodies.

On the eve of his 80th birthday, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows (September 2014, Backbeat Books, $34.99) is a fitting tribute to Cohen’s genius. With an insider’s knowledge, author Harvey Kubernik reviews Cohen’s unique achievements, beginning as a young poet in Montreal through his 2012 album, Old Ideas, and his acclaimed worldwide concert tour.

Cohen arrived at the 1960s pop-music party fashionably late, releasing his debut album – Songs of Leonard Cohen – in 1967. At the age of 33, he was the adult in the room, a room brimming, then as now, with literary pretension and artistic self-importance. But Cohen, already established as a respected poet and novelist, was the real deal.

In the decades since, he has battled with drugs, love, and bankruptcy; become a Buddhist monk while simultaneously reaffirming his Jewish faith; and recorded 11 more albums of unfailingly affecting beauty.

Illustrated with 200 rare black-and-white and color photographs and items of memorabilia and featuring the recollections and comments of those who have worked with him and are close to him, Leonard Cohen: Everybody Knows is a celebration of the life, music, and poetry of a unique artist and music legend.

September 9, 2014
8.5″ x 10.8″
224 pages
Color and B&W photographs throughout
Backbeat Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Harvey Kubernik is a writer, editor, and journalist whose work has appeared in Melody Maker, the Los Angeles Times, Crawdaddy!, Musician, Goldmine, Billboard, Variety, MIX and MOJO. He is the author of several books, including Turn Up The Radio! Rock, Pop and Roll in Los Angeles 1956-1972 (2014), It Was 50 Years Ago Today: The Beatles Invade America and Hollywood (2014), and Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and Music of Laurel Canyon (2009). A former A&R man for MCA Records, in the past 40 years he has appeared in and produced countless music documentaries. He lives in Southern California.


South Park FAQ

All That’s Left to Know About the Who, What, Where, When, and #%S* of America’s Favorite Mountain Town

by Dave Thompson


There are few modern animated television shows that could survive over a decade and a half and remain as funny… or as stupid… or as sick… or as depraved… today as when they started. Even fewer can claim to cater to “mature” audiences, while their critics complain that everything about the show is immature. And fewer still in which, for the first decade or so, one of the main characters was killed off every week, only to returned, no worse for wear, seven days later.

That, however, is the world of South Park, and South Park FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Who, What, Where, When, and #%S* of America’s Favorite Mountain Town by Dave Thompson (September 2014, Applause Books, $24.99) is a book about that world.

South Park FAQ is a journey through the lives, times, and catastrophes that have established the tiny mountain town of South Park, Colo., as America’s favorite dysfunctional community. It is a voyage into a universe where Barbra Streisand is reborn as a Japanese monster movie; where Kentucky Fried Chicken is a registered drug; where Canada is forever on a footing for war; and where we discover that even feces love Christmas. From Zebulon Pike to Chef, from Brian Boitano to Terrance and Philip, from “Super Best Friends” to South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, it’s all covered in South Park FAQ. Featuring A-Z coverage of the all the characters readers have come to know and the stories behind the episodes, it also includes an episode guide and an appendix of all of the songs featured in South Park.

As Thompson writes in his introduction, “Condemning South Park as ‘tasteless’ is a little like condemning tress for being wooden.” In South Park, Colo., nothing is sacred and nobody is safe. Even physical and emotional disabilities are just another banana skin for someone to slip on, and the term “politically correct” has been translated into “Oh good. You’re getting annoyed.”

South Park FAQ is the ultimate tour guide around America’s favorite mountain town. 

September 16, 2014
Paperback Original
B&W illustrations and photographs throughout
320 pages
x 9
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation


DAVETHOMPSONDave Thompson is the author of more than 100 books on television, music, and pop culture, including Sherlock Holmes FAQ, Doctor Who FAQ, both published by Applause Books, and Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell, and Hearts of Darkness, published by Backbeat Books. His next book, Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zepellin, will be published by Backbeat Books this fall. He lives in Newark, Del.



Broadway Musicals: Show by Show

Eighth Edition

by Stanley Green | revised and updated by Cary Ginell


Since the first edition in 1985, Broadway Musicals: Show by Show has been Broadway’s most comprehensive and widely used reference book. This updated edition has been expanded to include many of the most important and memorable productions of American musical theater, including revivals. Chronologically arranged, beginning with The Black Crook in 1866, the eighth edition adds new entries and photos on numerous musicals from recent years, including Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; The Book of Mormon; Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark; Once; Newsies: The Musical; Annie (revival); Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella; Kinky Boots; A Night with Janis Joplin; and A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.

Broadway Musicals: Show by Show, Eighth Edition (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, September 2014, $24.99) is equal parts history, guide, fact book, and photo album of the most memorable Broadway musical productions. With its glitter, its imagination, and its rhythmic beat, the Broadway musical has become a distinctive commodity, but with theatre prices so high, theatregoers want to make sure they get what they pay for. Broadway Musicals: Show by Show offers facts, not opinion, to let readers select the right plays for them. Each entry includes a wealth of statistics, inside information, critical reception, a cast list, and pithy commentary.

Original-cast albums, concert versions of vintage shows, and opera companies adding musical theatre to their repertoires have all helped to preserve Broadway musicals through the decades. Broadway Musicals: Show by Show does its part, too. It is a mine of information for both the playgoer and the theatrical historian, and a reference no Broadway fan should be without.

September 16, 2014
Paperback Original
512 pages
x 9
Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, an imprint of Hal Leonard


Stanley Green (1928–1990) was a historian of the American musical theater, devoting many years to lecturing and writing on the subject. In 1967, Green wrote A Salute to the American Musical Theatre for the Manhattan School of Music, which was performed at the White House. He was the author of The World of Musical Comedy and The Encyclopedia of the Musical Theatre, among other well-loved books. 

Cary Ginell 11-15-12Cary Ginell is an award-winning author and music historian. He has written five books on American music and annotated dozens of CD reissues in theater, jazz, folk, and popular music, and has produced and annotated dozens of songbooks in the fields of musical theater and standards. Ginell has earned a Grammy nomination, is a four-time winner of the ARSC Award for Excellence in Music Journalism, and is a winner of the ASCAP/Deems Taylor Award. A longtime student of musical theater, he has been a theater critic in Southern California for the past 18 years. He lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif.


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Steal Away the Night

Steal Away the Night

An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day

by Martin Popoff

Website | more from Martin Popoff

“If you’re a fan of the [heavy metal] genre, Martin Popoff’s books are a must.”
– Perrin Wolfson, KNAC

“To be sure, there have been bigger, more impactful heavy metal acts o’er the loud ’n’ proud years,” writes heavy-metal expert Martin Popoff. “But for one stomping, clapping, peace-signing dude…Ozzy is the ever-youthful face and two bespectacled eyes of heavy metal, end stop.”

Steal Away the Night: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day (September 2014, Backbeat Books, $39.99) celebrates the Oz-man with a full account of his more-than-40-year run as rock’s most adorable madman. Popoff takes us through Ozzy’s career day by day, covering the singer’s years in Black Sabbath and beyond, milestone after milestone – the hirings, the firings, the rehabs and relapses, the bats, the doves, Zakk Wylde, and most seriously, the tragic death of Randy Rhoads in a fly-by prank gone wrong. He also detours from the stage and recording studio long enough to look into the incredible success that was the reality TV series, The Osbournes.

Adding to the considerable textual substance of Steal Away the Night is a revealing oral history of the band, much of which was culled from Popoff’s extensive interview material with Ozzy and various band members and producers. Also included is an explosion of imagery culled from the band’s record sleeves, live shows, ads, and memorabilia. Ozzy’s shock-rock visuals are some of the flashiest in the biz, and they make each page of Steal Away the Night: An Ozzy Osbourne Day-by-Day explode with heavy metal power.

This richly detailed. Lavishly illustrated chronology of the metal legend’s career is a must-have for an Ozzy fan!

September 16, 2014
256 pages
8.5” x 11”
B&W and color illustrations throughout

Backbeat Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group


Martin_Popoff_imageMartin Popoff has penned 45 books on hard rock, heavy metal, classic rock, and record collecting, including Black Sabbath FAQ and 2 Minutes to Midnight: An Iron Maiden Day-by-Day, both published by Backbeat Books. He was editor in chief of Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Canada’s foremost metal publication, for 14 years. He’s also contributed to Revolver, Guitar World, Goldmine, Record Collector,,, and He lives in Toronto. For more information, visit