Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images
Hailed by critics as having "one of the world's highest ratios of noise to talent," the Rock Bottom Remainders may never be asked to play Lollapalooza—but these authors-turned-rock stars know how to raise a ruckus for charity.
"Webster's says a hobby is 'an activity pursued outside of one's regular work primarily for pleasure.' Yes: Hitler did watercolors. However, as far as we know, he didn't paint in public." — Warren Zevon, in the liner notes for Stranger Than Fiction the Rock Bottom Remainders' first and only album
Why would some of today's most-read authors leave the safety of writerly solitude to risk public humiliation onstage? Because being a rock star has its perks.
Brought together in 1992 by Kathi Kamen Goldmark for a charity event, the Rock Bottom Remainders is a band made up of more than its fair share of literary giants—Pulitzer Prize winners, internationally renowned novelists and New York Times best-selling authors.
Following the success of their first 1992 gig, the group embarked on a nine-city "tour" where the proceeds went to support literacy programs. The following year, the book Mid-Life Confidential: The Rock Bottom Remainders Tour America with Three Cords and an Attitude was published, recounting their days on the road. They even recorded a CD—Stranger Than Fiction—on Goldmark's label, Don't Quit Your Day Job Records.
The band has gotten back together almost every year since to perform at limited engagements, taking on new members and associates depending on their availability. Not to mention the occasional superstar—Bruce Springsteen, Steve Martin and, again this year, veteran Remainders special guest and The Byrds founding member, Roger McGuinn.
In the past 18 years, the Rock Bottom Remainders have raised close to $2 million for charitable causes—this year playing tour dates April 20–24 on the East Coast to support disaster recovery, literacy and education in Haiti. For tour dates and locations, visit RockBottomRemainders.com.
The beauty of the Rock Bottom Remainders is threefold: They don't take themselves too seriously, they are happy to be there and all of it is for a good cause. That's reason enough to buy the T-shirt.
Meet the Wordstock 2010 band:
Kathi Kamen Goldmark
Roy Blount Jr.
Special guest Roger McGuinn
Dr. Maya Angelou **
*Unfortunately, Stephen King and Matt Groening will miss out on this year's tour due to scheduling conflicts.
**Speculation remains as to whether honorary member Dr. Angelou will finally show up for a gig.
Published on April 14, 2010