Rough Mix is the story of Jimmy Bowen, a maverick who has always refused to play
by the rules, yet who for many years has been one of the most influential figures on the
music scene, with a career that has spanned rock and roll, contemporary pop, and country.
Now he becomes the first of the music giants to tell it like it is, in this remarkably
unsparing account of a unique personal and creative journey—from the mid-1950s dawn
of rock to the rise of the New Nashville, where Bowen was the architect behind some of
country music's most prominent superstar careers.
Frank, unbeholden, uncompromised, Rough Mix rips away the veil of public-relations
image spinning to reveal the egos, power trips, and paranoias that have fueled the music
business, from Little RIchard, Buddy Holly, and the founding fathers of
rock to the rise of country colossus Garth Brooks—itself a high-stakes power
game set against the backdrop of Nashville's new cult of celebrity.
Bowen was present at the creation of rock as a bass-thumping heartthrob singer with Buddy
Knox and the Rhythm Orchids ("Party Doll"). They performed alongside Holly and his Crickets,
chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Eddie Cochran, Fats Domino, Bobby Darin, and the
Everly Brothers. Switching in the 1960s from performer to producer, Bowen rescued the
then-lagging careers of such pop legends as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, producing
No. 1 hits for them at the height of Beatlemania.
Nonetheless, it wasn't until Bowen arrived in Nashville from Los Angeles in the seventies
that he truly hit his stride and found a creative home. But the Nashville Establishment
was wary from the start; they saw him as a flashy, superconfident carpetbagger
from L.A.'s slick pop scene with a taste for smoking grass. And Bowen did have way of letting
the Old Guard known that he knew more than they did about making—moving— "hillbilly"
music. As record producer, he had nearly seventy No. 1 hits, with another hundred Top 10's. At the
peak of his powers, he led Nashville into the digital era and was once even hailed as the "Messiah
of Music Row."
More than $1 billion in country-music sales later, Bowen, the seven-figure executive
pulling the strings behind the Garth Brooks phenomenon, had proved his point.
But that's when the mix really got rough.