Oral History

Former Texas Watchdog scribe pens book about Detroit rock scene

Former Texas Watchdog scribe pens book about Detroit rock scene

Former Texas journalist Steve Miller made use of his musical background with a new book called Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Five Decades of Rock 'n' Roll in America's Loudest City (Da Capo Press).

The book includes contributions from Iggy Pop, Grand Funk Railroad, the White Stripes' Jack White and Kid Rock, relayed to Miller, a Michigan native and journalist who was a staffer for the now-defunct website called Texas Watchdog. (The site disbanded, with a note posted on June 17 from founder Trent Siebert explaining they ran out of money.)

 "Bob Seger would simply not cooperate," says author Steve Miller. "I don't think he has a great love for Detroit."

Like Edie: American Girl and Please Kill Me: The Uncensored History of Punk, this book follows an oral history format — basically a set of anecdotal quotes strung together. The book is divided into three parts: Act 1 covers the early days from 1965 to 1972, including The Stooges, MC5 and the formation of Creem magazine. Act 2 documents punk. Act 3 reflects more current acts such as Insane Clown Posse and Kid Rock.

Miller made a list of acts he wanted to talk to, including Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop and Jack White, with only one holdout: Bob Seger.

"Bob Seger would simply not cooperate," Miller says. "I don't think he has a great love for Detroit. But if you're charging $265 to see you perform, you're not too crazy about your fans.

"He was the only one where I used source material in my section on the Silver Bullet Band. But I was just as intent on getting less famous people — the girlfriends, followers, roadies, managers — and they had some of best stories."

Miller was a musician himself, performing in an early '80s band called The Fix. It gave him an awareness of the city's underground rock scene, including bands such as the Laughing Hyenas and off-the-radar clubs such as The Freezer.

"Detroit is most influential rock 'n' roll city in the world," he says. "The Stooges and MC5 – you won’t find more influential bands."

Detroit Rock City
Detroit Rock City is an oral history of Detroit's music scene by former Texas journalist Steve Miller. Photo courtesy of Detroit Rock City
Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper: the epitome of Detroit rock. Photo courtesy of Alice Cooper