FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Tammy Blake
Crown Archetype Publicity
SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES: My Life in Music
By Judy Collins
The legendary singer, whose magical voice soothed a troubled world, reveals the memories behind the music, from her debut at age thirteen to the heyday of free love—and a long road to recovery from loss and addiction.
“I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are.”—Stephen Stills, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”
Her impressive career has spanned more than 50 years, but Judy Collins is best-known for evocative folk music of the 1960s and ’70s, including her Grammy-winning album, Wildflowers, which launched a mega-hit from a rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” With a voice that rings with clarity and hope, she captured both the innocence and the determination of a generation that tried to put an end to injustice, environmental destruction, and the nightmare of the Vietnam “conflict.” Yet Judy Collins’s personal life was anything but clear and hopeful, and as her career skyrocketed, her battles with depression, addiction, and heartache escalated as well. Tracing the complete story of her life journey, the extraordinary entertainer now shares details never before fully told in SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES: My Life in Music (Crown Archetype; On Sale October 18, 2011;16 Pages of Rare b/w Photographs).
Recalling powerful episodes from a remarkable life, SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES also takes readers behind the scenes of a musical movement that became an enduring cultural soundtrack. With unflinching candor, Collins discusses:
• Her turbulent childhood: Raised in a family of five children, Collins emerged as the one who might follow in the footsteps of her father, a blind singer and radio-show host. His career took him from Seattle to Hollywood to Denver, and he introduced Judy to many artists along the way. But he also struggled with alcoholism; his rages left indelible memories on Judy, who faced debilitating anxiety when she gave her first performances as a classically trained pianist. By the time she had graduated from high school, she had already made one attempt at suicide.
• Her road to fame: At nineteen, in 1959, Collins was already a wife and mother. She writes tenderly of that idyllic time in the Rockies, where she lived simply and performed in small, local bars. Within two years, she would be immersed in the folk circuit, living with her husband and son on the east coast with regular gigs at Gerde’s Folk City in Greenwich Village, the renowned club where countless others—including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Arlo Guthrie—would make a name for themselves. She’s been described as an overnight success, but SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES captures the singer’s years of dedicated performing before “Both Sides Now” became a hit in the late 1960s. She includes the star-studded festivals of Newport (where Dylan dared to go electric in a culture that revered the acoustic guitar) and the heart of the Laurel Canyon recording scene in California. From the creative energy of the studios to the mind-altering parties, Collins’s cast of characters includes Leonard Cohen, David Crosby, Dick and Mimi Fariña, and countless others who transformed the voice of American music.
• Lovers, and lasting love: As her young marriage to Peter Taylor fell apart, Collins entered a world of experimentation and freedom from inhibitions, yet she craved emotional connections as much as physical ones. Throughout this memoir, she describes the intense highs and lows she reached in love, often with musicians and producers—reaching a calamitous, beautiful zenith with Stephen Stills and culminating in a tender romance with Louis Nelson, her husband and soul mate, who has been in her life for more than thirty years.
• Battling depression and alcoholism: Many celebrities have written eloquently about their struggles with addiction, but Collins gives us an important new perspective, describing the many years she spent in world-class psychotherapy, in an era before addiction was fully acknowledged, much less studied, and AA carried a costly stigma. Throughout her despairing battles against mental illness and alcoholism, even the best psychiatrists failed to identify her addiction. The fact that she saw a therapist caused her to lose custody of her son, Clark, after an agonizing legal showdown. Collins describes her deliverance after friends checked her into an experimental rehab facility in 1978 and saved her life. It was a bittersweet triumph, however, as Clark also suffered from severe depression and addiction, ultimately taking his life. With a merciful heart and the wisdom of a survivor, Collins describes the path of her son’s fragile soul.
• A love song to the courageous spirit of the Sixties: Recalling “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” the song Stephen Stills wrote as his tempestuous relationship with Judy was burning out, Collins writes, “The song never fails to transport me to that thrilling and terrifying time we call ‘the Sixties,’ when so many great songs proclaimed our grand, noble visions. We were dreamers, hell-bent on finding our own personal happiness, determined to elevate all of humanity above the anger and violence of the past.” Throughout her book, Collins pays tribute to this spirit, from her efforts to uphold voting rights in segregated Mississippi to her testimony at the trial of the Chicago 7, where she was admonished by the judge for trying to sing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” from the witness stand.
“Through all these years,” Collins writes, “I have been eternally grateful for the gift of music. … When we sing, we can do anything—change the world, bring peace, be our best selves at last. When we sing, our hearts can lift and fly, over the troubled waters and over the years.” With SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES, Collins has created a suite of memories that will echo in the minds of readers from every generation.
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JUDY COLLINS has recorded more than forty albums over her illustrious career. With several top-ten hits, Grammy nominations, and gold- and platinum-selling albums to her credit, she has also written several books and has her own music label, Wildflower Records. She remains a social activist, representing UNICEF and numerous other causes.
For more information on Judy Collins or SWEET JUDY BLUE EYES please contact Tammy Blake in the Crown Archetype publicity department at 212/572.2542 or TBlake@randomhouse.com