Rock Bottom Remainders

The Rock Bottom Remainders are an American rock and roll band, consisting of published writers, most of them both amateur musicians and popular English-language book, magazine, and newspaper authors. The band took its self-mocking name from the publishing term "remaindered book", a work of which the unsold remainder of the publisher's stock of copies is sold at a reduced price. Their performances collectively raised $2 million for charity from their concerts.

The band's members have included Dave Barry, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Cynthia Heimel, Sam Barry, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, Joel Selvin, James McBride, Mitch Albom, Roy Blount Jr., Barbara Kingsolver,[1] Robert Fulghum, Matt Groening, Tad Bartimus, Greg Iles, Aron Ralston[2] and honorary member Maya Angelou[3] among others, as well as professional musicians such as multi-instrumentalist (and author) Al Kooper, drummer Josh Kelly, guitarist Roger McGuinn and saxophonist Erasmo Paulo. Founder Kathi Kamen Goldmark[4] died on May 24, 2012.[5]

Rock Bottom Remainders
OriginAnaheim, California, United States
GenresRock and roll
Years active1992–2012, 2015 (on hiatus)


The Remainders was founded by Kathi Kamen Goldmark in 1992.[4] Goldmark was then a musician whose day job was in book publicity.[4] Through this, she met many prolific authors.[4] One day while driving one of the authors around, she hit upon the idea of starting a band with them. It stuck.[4] The Remainders' first performance was in 1992 at the American Booksellers Association convention in Anaheim, California. A review of the concert in The Washington Post referred to it as "the most heavily promoted musical debut since The Monkees."[6]

The Remainders also played at the opening of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1995.[7]

In April 2010, they began the Wordstock Tour presented by the Pearson Foundation and We Give Books, benefiting the children and schools of Haiti.

The Remainders gave their last concert on June 23, 2012, at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Anaheim, where they played their first concert 20 years before. The event, co-sponsored by ProQuest, raised money for library and information science scholarships.[8]

The Remainders last performed together on the August 6, 2012, episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, on which both Stephen King and Dave Barry were guests (although the segment was taped in June 2012 when the band was in town for the ALA concert).

In September 2014, it was announced that the Remainders would reunite to perform at the Tucson Festival of Books in March 2015.[9] On March 15, 2015, the band's reunion was referenced in Merl Reagle's syndicated Sunday crossword puzzle. Titled "Book Notes," the crossword included the band's name and several puns using names of writers who were members.[10]


  • "We play music as well as Metallica writes novels." – Dave Barry
  • "I picked up one of the two guitars I'd been using, and just as we were about to start, Stephen King tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'We have a special guest.' I turned around, and there was Bruce Springsteen. I still don't know how he came to be at this convention; I don't believe he's a bookseller. All I know is, he was picking up the other guitar. My guitar. 'Bruce,' I said to him. 'Do you know the guitar part to "Gloria"?' This is like asking James Michener if he knows how to write his name." – Dave Barry
    • "Your band's not too bad. It's not too good either. Don't let it get any better, otherwise you'll just be another lousy band." – Bruce Springsteen
  • "People are throwing panties at you. They certainly never do that at my book-signings." – Matt Groening
  • "There's an audience out there, and the key is to kick it in the ass." – Stephen King
  • "Roy actually coined the term for our genre of music; 'hard-listening music.' " – Dave Barry
  • "Most people seem to think critics are as useful as tits on a priest." – Joel Selvin[11]


  • 1992, Anaheim: American Booksellers Association convention
  • 1993, Various cities: The 'Three Chords and an Attitude' tour - 6 dates on the US East Coast
  • 1995, Cleveland: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (opening)
  • A version of the band with Barry and Albom and Ridley Pearson and Warren Zevon also played at the Miami Book Fair in 1997
  • 2012, Anaheim: American Library Association convention


Songs covered

[14] [15] [16] [17] [18]


Several RBR members are featured on the double album Stranger than Fiction ("Don't Quit Your Day Job" Records), along with other noted authors' comic attempts at song.[19]


Dave Barry, Tad Bartimus, Roy Blount Jr., Michael Dorris, Robert Fulghum, Kathi Goldmark, Matt Groening, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Al Kooper, Greil Marcus, Dave Marsh, Ridley Pearson, Joel Selvin and Amy Tan, Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude, 1994, with photographs by Tabitha King.

Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Sam Barry, Roy Blount Jr., Matt Groening, Greg Iles, Stephen King, James McBride, Roger McGuinn, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, and Scott Turow, Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (Of Authors) Tells All, 2013. The interactive ebook combines essays, fiction, musings, candid email exchanges and conversations, compromising photographs, audio and video clips, and interactive quizzes to give readers a view into the private lives of the authors.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Rottenberg, Josh (August 6, 2012). "Stephen King's all-author rock band plays swan song on 'The Late Late Show' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  2. ^ Fujino, Ginny. "November 17, 2006 - 'Pink Elephants' benefits Voices for Children Foundation". Blacktie South Florida. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  3. ^ Hellstern, Melissa (April 14, 2010). "The Rock Bottom Remainders: Writers Who Rock for a Good Cause". Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e McGrath, Charles (June 4, 2007). "Rock On, but Hang on to Your Literary Gigs". The New York Times. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  5. ^ Green, Lynn (May 24, 2012). "Kathi Kamen Goldmark". BookPage. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Streitfeld, David (May 27, 1992). "Hey! C.C. Writers; Authors Rock 'Em at Booksellers Convention". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2013.
  7. ^ "Dave Barry Official Website". September 4, 1995. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  8. ^ American Library Association (2012). "ALA/PROQUEST Scholarship Bash". Archived from the original on July 6, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  9. ^ "Band booked: Rock Bottom Remainders reuniting in Tucson". Arizona Daily Star. September 13, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  10. ^ 813-884-2250, Web Services Corporation Inc. -. "Merl Reagle's Sunday Crosswords - Sunday Crossword". Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  11. ^ King, Stephen, with Dave Marsh, Ridley Pearson, Amy Tan, Dave Barry, Tad Bartimus, Roy Blount Jr., Michael Dorris, Robert Fulghum, Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Matt Groening, Barbara Kingsolver, Al Kooper, Greil Marcus, Joel Selvin. Mid-life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Chords and an Attitude, Hodder & Stoughton, 1994, 448 pages. ISBN 0-340-61754-3
  12. ^ "Archives -". Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  13. ^ Kingsolver, Barbara. "Confessions of a Reluctant Rock Goddess." High Tide in Tucson. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.
  14. ^ *"Jailhouse Rock" Mitch Albom lead vocal, and in full prisoner regalia
  15. ^ *"Runaway" Del Shannon Scott Turow lead vocal -- check out the wig
  16. ^ *"Teen Angel" Stephen King lead vocal
  17. ^ *"The Slut Song" written and performed by Kathi Kamen Goldmark with Amy Tan
  18. ^ *"Proofreading Woman" written and performed by Dave Barry
  19. ^ ""Don't Quit Your Day Job" Records Catalog Item". June 14, 2002. Retrieved June 24, 2013.
  20. ^ "Hard Listening". Coliloquy. Archived from the original on June 29, 2013. Retrieved June 24, 2013.


External links

  1. ^ 12.,14.,15.,16.,17.,18. Rosenthal, Susan. All entries in paragraph form have appeared onstage in Miami, between 1996 and 2012. I've got the signed RBR T-shirt and audiotapes to prove it.
Al Kooper

Al Kooper (born Alan Peter Kuperschmidt, February 5, 1944) is an American songwriter, record producer and musician, known for organizing Blood, Sweat & Tears (although he did not stay with the group long enough to share its popularity), providing studio support for Bob Dylan when he went electric in 1965, and bringing together guitarists Mike Bloomfield and Stephen Stills to record the Super Session album. In the 1970's he was a successful manager and producer, notably recording Lynyrd Skynyrd's first three albums. He's also had a successful solo career, written music for film soundtracks, and has lectured in musical composition. He continues to perform live.

Amy Tan

Amy Tan (born February 19, 1952) is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships and the Chinese American experience. Her novel The Joy Luck Club was adapted into a film in 1993 by director Wayne Wang.

Tan has written several other novels, including The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, Saving Fish from Drowning, and The Valley of Amazement. Tan's latest book is a memoir entitled Where The Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir (2017). In addition to these, Tan has written two children's books: The Moon Lady (1992) and Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat (1994), which was turned into an animated series that aired on PBS.

Despite her success, Tan has also received substantial criticism for her depictions of Chinese culture and apparent adherence to stereotypes.

Barbara Kingsolver

Barbara Kingsolver (born April 8, 1955) is an American novelist, essayist and poet. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in the Congo in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her widely known works include The Poisonwood Bible, the tale of a missionary family in the Congo, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, a non-fiction account of her family's attempts to eat locally.

Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments. Each of her books published since 1993 has been on the New York Times Best Seller list. Kingsolver has received numerous awards, including the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award 2011, UK's Orange Prize for Fiction 2010, for The Lacuna, and the National Humanities Medal. She has been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2000, Kingsolver established the Bellwether Prize to support "literature of social change".

Cynthia Heimel

Cynthia Heimel (née Glick;July 13, 1947 – February 25, 2018) was a feminist humorist writer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a columnist and foremost the author of satirical books known for their unusual titles, aimed at a female readership, as well as a playwright and television writer.

Dave Barry

David McAlister Barry (born July 3, 1947) is an American author and columnist who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005. He has also written numerous books of humor and parody, as well as comic novels. Barry's honors include the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary (1988) and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism (2005).

Greg Iles

Greg Iles (born 1960) is a novelist who lives in Mississippi. He has published 16 novels and one novella, spanning a variety of genres.

James McBride (writer)

James McBride (born September 11, 1957) is an American writer and musician. He is the recipient of the 2013 National Book Award for fiction for his novel The Good Lord Bird.

Joel Selvin

Joel Selvin (born February 14, 1950) is an American San Francisco-based music critic and author known for his weekly column in the San Francisco Chronicle which ran from 1972 to 2009. Selvin has written books covering various aspects of pop music—including the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Red: My Uncensored Life In Rock with Sammy Hagar—and has interviewed many musical artists. Selvin has published articles in Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Billboard, and Melody Maker, and has written liner notes for dozens of recorded albums. He has appeared in documentaries about the music scene and has occasionally taken the stage himself as a rock and roll singer.

Kathi Kamen Goldmark

Kathi Kamen Goldmark (August 18, 1948 – May 24, 2012) was an American author, columnist, publishing consultant, radio and music producer, songwriter, and musician. Goldmark was the author of the novel And My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You, co-authored or contributed to numerous other books, wrote a monthly column for BookPage with her husband, author and musician Sam Barry and produced the radio show West Coast Live. She was a member of the San Francisco band Los Train Wreck, and founding member of the all-author rock band The Rock Bottom Remainders. As President of "Don't Quit Your Day Job" Productions inc., she supervised the production of ten music and spoken-word CDs.

She died of breast cancer on May 24, 2012. She is survived by her second husband, Sam Barry, their three adult children, Tony Goldmark, Daniel Barry, and Laura Barry; her mother, Betty Kamen; and her brothers Paul and Michael.

Matt Groening

Matthew Abraham Groening ( (listen) GRAY-ning; born February 15, 1954) is an American cartoonist, writer, producer, animator, and voice actor. He is the creator of the comic strip Life in Hell (1977–2012) and the television series The Simpsons (1989–present), Futurama (1999–2003, 2008–2013), and Disenchantment (2018–present). The Simpsons is the longest-running U.S. primetime-television series in history and the longest-running U.S. animated series and sitcom.

Groening made his first professional cartoon sale of Life in Hell to the avant-garde Wet magazine in 1978. At its peak, the cartoon was carried in 250 weekly newspapers. Life in Hell caught the attention of James L. Brooks. In 1985, Brooks contacted Groening with the proposition of working in animation for the Fox variety show The Tracey Ullman Show. Originally, Brooks wanted Groening to adapt his Life in Hell characters for the show. Fearing the loss of ownership rights, Groening decided to create something new and came up with a cartoon family, the Simpson family, and named the members after his own parents and sisters—while Bart was an anagram of the word "brat". The shorts would be spun off into their own series The Simpsons, which has since aired 651 episodes. In 1997, Groening and former Simpsons writer David X. Cohen developed Futurama, an animated series about life in the year 3000, which premiered in 1999, running for four years on Fox, then picked up by Comedy Central for additional seasons. Groening developed a new series for Netflix titled Disenchantment, which premiered in August 2018.

Groening has won 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, ten for The Simpsons and two for Futurama as well as a British Comedy Award for "outstanding contribution to comedy" in 2004. In 2002, he won the National Cartoonist Society Reuben Award for his work on Life in Hell. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 14, 2012.

Mitch Albom

Mitchell David Albom (born May 23, 1958) is an American author, journalist, screenwriter, dramatist, radio and television broadcaster, and musician. His books have sold over 39 million copies worldwide. Having achieved national recognition for sports writing in the earlier part of his career, he is perhaps best known for the inspirational stories and themes that weave through his books, plays, and films. Albom lives with his wife Janine Sabino in Detroit, Michigan.

Ridley Pearson

Ridley Pearson (born March 13, 1953 in Glen Cove, New York) is an American author of suspense and thriller novels for adults, and adventure books for children. Some of his books have appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list.

Robert Fulghum

Robert Lee Fulghum ( (listen); born June 4, 1937) is an American author and Unitarian Universalist minister.

Roger McGuinn

James Roger McGuinn (born James Joseph McGuinn III; July 13, 1942), known professionally as Roger McGuinn and previously as Jim McGuinn, is an American musician. He is best known for being the frontman of the Byrds. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his work with the Byrds.

He was also part of an author/musician band, Rock Bottom Remainders, a group of published writers doubling as musicians to raise proceeds for literacy charities. In July 2013, McGuinn co-authored an interactive ebook, Hard Listening, with the rest of the group.

Roy Blount Jr.

Roy Alton Blount Jr. (; born October 4, 1941) is an American writer, speaker, reporter, and humorist. He appeared as himself in Treme. He performs with the Rock Bottom Remainders, a rock band composed entirely of writers. He is also a former president of the Authors Guild.

Sam Barry (author)

Samuel "Sam" Barry (born January 26, 1957) is an American author, columnist, publishing professional, and musician.

Scott Turow

Scott Frederick Turow (born April 12, 1949) is an American author and lawyer. Turow has written 11 fiction and three nonfiction books, which have been translated into more than 40 languages and sold more than 30 million copies. Films have been based on several of his books.

Stranger than Fiction (compilation album)

Stranger Than Fiction is an album by various performers, most of whom are professional writers and amateur singers, released in 1998 on Kathi Kamen Goldmark's "Don't Quit Your Day Job" Records. This album is an offshoot of the Rock Bottom Remainders, aka the Wrockers ("writer" + "rocker").

The artists on Stranger Than Fiction include not only many of the Remainders, such as bestselling authors Stephen King, Amy Tan and Dave Barry, but also rock critics Dave Marsh, Ben Fong-Torres and Greil Marcus, film critic Leonard Maltin and such literary heavyweights as Norman Mailer and Maya Angelou. Warren Zevon contributed liner notes and a variety of famous musicians played on the tracks, including Zevon, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of the Doobie Brothers, and Jerry Jeff Walker.

Proceeds from this project were contributed to a variety of charities promoting literature and literacy.

You May Be Right (song)

"You May Be Right" is a single written and performed by rock singer Billy Joel from his 1980 album Glass Houses. The song reached #7 on the US charts and #6 in Canada. It failed to chart, however, in the UK unlike his preceding and succeeding singles "All for Leyna" (UK #40) and "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" (UK #14). The Japanese single features "Close to the Borderline" as a B-side.

"You May Be Right" can also be found on disc 2 of Billy Joel's Greatest Hits - Volumes I and II and Live at Shea Stadium: The Concert albums. The song famously begins with the sound of broken glass. The featured riff of the song loosely borrows from the Buffalo Springfield hit "Rock and Roll Woman" on the Buffalo Springfield Again album and also has a middle-sixties Beatles guitar vibe.

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