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Following Breadcrumbs: Tales of a Rock and Roll Girl Child

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As an L.A. tween in the mid-1960s, Jamie Johnston - free-spirited, fiercely independent Hollywood brat, daughter of '40s/'50s actor-singer Johnny Johnston (Rock Around the Clock) - had two significant events forever frozen in her mind. The first of these memories she would share with millions: the era-defining appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964. The second memo As an L.A. tween in the mid-1960s, Jamie Johnston - free-spirited, fiercely independent Hollywood brat, daughter of '40s/'50s actor-singer Johnny Johnston (Rock Around the Clock) - had two significant events forever frozen in her mind. The first of these memories she would share with millions: the era-defining appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964. The second memory, however, was much more intimate. It was a bright summer's day in 1966 when she stood rapt watching one of the undisputed kings of the Sunset Strip - the Byrds' Gene Clark - coolly entering the legendary Whisky A Go-Go. Little did Jamie know that a mere nine years after having her life changed by the Fab Four, her female duo, The Skiffles, would be signed to a record deal with Beatles producer George Martin, or that 20 years hence she would embark upon a passionate affair with the ill-fated ex-Byrd Clark, who died at the age of 46 in 1991. What begins as an up-close-and-personal commentary of an era that changed the world, with many of its famous players traversing through the pages, evolves into a tragic love story.


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As an L.A. tween in the mid-1960s, Jamie Johnston - free-spirited, fiercely independent Hollywood brat, daughter of '40s/'50s actor-singer Johnny Johnston (Rock Around the Clock) - had two significant events forever frozen in her mind. The first of these memories she would share with millions: the era-defining appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964. The second memo As an L.A. tween in the mid-1960s, Jamie Johnston - free-spirited, fiercely independent Hollywood brat, daughter of '40s/'50s actor-singer Johnny Johnston (Rock Around the Clock) - had two significant events forever frozen in her mind. The first of these memories she would share with millions: the era-defining appearance of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964. The second memory, however, was much more intimate. It was a bright summer's day in 1966 when she stood rapt watching one of the undisputed kings of the Sunset Strip - the Byrds' Gene Clark - coolly entering the legendary Whisky A Go-Go. Little did Jamie know that a mere nine years after having her life changed by the Fab Four, her female duo, The Skiffles, would be signed to a record deal with Beatles producer George Martin, or that 20 years hence she would embark upon a passionate affair with the ill-fated ex-Byrd Clark, who died at the age of 46 in 1991. What begins as an up-close-and-personal commentary of an era that changed the world, with many of its famous players traversing through the pages, evolves into a tragic love story.

19 review for Following Breadcrumbs: Tales of a Rock and Roll Girl Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    James Murphy

    True confession time: I first became acquainted with Jamie Johnston when we both subscribed to an email list devoted to surf music (named, appropriately, Cowabunga). I finally met her in December 1996, when I trekked from my then-home in the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles to catch surf shows featuring The Halibuts, Slacktone, and The Surf Kings. Excellent shows, and Jamie and I became friends. I was intrigued when Jamie mentioned on Facebook that she was writing a memoir. That memoir, "Fo True confession time: I first became acquainted with Jamie Johnston when we both subscribed to an email list devoted to surf music (named, appropriately, Cowabunga). I finally met her in December 1996, when I trekked from my then-home in the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles to catch surf shows featuring The Halibuts, Slacktone, and The Surf Kings. Excellent shows, and Jamie and I became friends. I was intrigued when Jamie mentioned on Facebook that she was writing a memoir. That memoir, "Following Breadcrumbs:Tales of a Rock and Roll Girl Child," is out now and it is one amazing story. A fiercely independent LA tween in the mid-1960s, Jamie was a huge fan of the music scene and got to know some major figures, such as Harry Nilsson, Phil (P. F.) Sloan, and Gene Clark of the Byrds. Both Sloan and Clark would prove to have major impacts on Jamie's life. What I enjoyed most about the book was the music references, as I was a teenager in the mid-1960s and recall many of the songs, including British Invasion tunes and what was coming out of both LA and the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have any interest in pop culture, especially the pop culture from the 1960s onward, I highly recommend this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anne Raso

    Wow, I just finished reading this page turner as I am a big aficionado of rock bios by people who were not rock stars themselves (if that makes any sense, LOL). Jamie Johnston was a child of Hollywood with hippie sensibilities who just happened to get noticed by Beatles’ producer George Martin—her girl duo group The Skiffles and recorded one single before Martin decided to move on to a bigger project. But this book does not focus on Johnston’s aspirations to make it in the fickle music business Wow, I just finished reading this page turner as I am a big aficionado of rock bios by people who were not rock stars themselves (if that makes any sense, LOL). Jamie Johnston was a child of Hollywood with hippie sensibilities who just happened to get noticed by Beatles’ producer George Martin—her girl duo group The Skiffles and recorded one single before Martin decided to move on to a bigger project. But this book does not focus on Johnston’s aspirations to make it in the fickle music business but rather on her concurrent relationships with under appreciated ex-Byrd Gene Clark and legendary pop songwriter PF Sloan in the last four years of the 80s. Both relationships are emotional rollercoasters—Sloan was manipulative and misogynistic while Clark’s addictions, heroin dealer longterm girlfriend and insecurities made him go in and out of her life (although the times they spent together were truly magical). Clark genuinely cared for the author and seemed to be trying to get out of his longterm slippery slope of a relationship while Sloan seems to want to be with Johnston at his own convenience. (Sloan seemed prone to terrible moods most of the time!) While I love PF Sloan as a songwriter, you can’t help but think he’s the biggest jerk in the world after reading this book! The ending of Following Breadcrumbs is highly unexpected as the author connects with people from Gene Clark’s past after pushing aside 20 years of pain caused by this under-appreciated pioneer of country rock’s sudden death (at age 46). Along the way, author Johnston has a 19-month happy relationship with ex-Turtles drummer Don Murray (until his untimely death in March 1996) and finds gainful employment booking retro surf bands in Southern California, working for a surf goods brand as a traveling salesperson and eventually getting a real estate license. There is too much for me to cover about this tell-all book here but I will say that Johnston has had a very unusual, whirlwind life. I am happy to see that she seems to be at her happiest in the final chapter of Following Breadcrumbs (written in 2016). You might even have to break out your giant Costco-sized box of Kleenex as you read the final 10 pages!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Jamie Johnston has lived one hell of an interesting life and she's written the book to prove it! The '60s were before my time (much to my chagrin) but Johnston writes about growing up in that era in Hollywood with such vivid detail that I felt like I was actually there. She writes in a very entertaining manner, and it is fascinating to read about the many interesting people she's rubbed shoulders with. The story begins with Johnston's aspirations to be a musician and trying to make it in the mus Jamie Johnston has lived one hell of an interesting life and she's written the book to prove it! The '60s were before my time (much to my chagrin) but Johnston writes about growing up in that era in Hollywood with such vivid detail that I felt like I was actually there. She writes in a very entertaining manner, and it is fascinating to read about the many interesting people she's rubbed shoulders with. The story begins with Johnston's aspirations to be a musician and trying to make it in the music business, but what makes the book especially poignant, though, is the story of her relationships, especially that with ex-Byrd Gene Clark. As a Clark fan, it is this story that interested me the most. Much has been made of Clark as a tragic and flawed genius, and Johnston writes of him with great tenderness and intimacy. I read this book from cover to cover, and couldn't put it down. An excellent read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jane Morrison

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Jamie Johnston's account of her time in the 1970's music scene. It is mostly the tale of her passionate and secret affair with the brilliant but tortured singer songwriter, Gene Clark. I read this book to learn more about Clark, one of my musical idols. She perfectly portrayed their love story and the demons that tortured Clark and led to his untimely death at 46. Truly heartbreaking, but Clark, formerly with The Byrds, remains one of the most respected and brilliant musicians of our time. Jamie Johnston's account of her time in the 1970's music scene. It is mostly the tale of her passionate and secret affair with the brilliant but tortured singer songwriter, Gene Clark. I read this book to learn more about Clark, one of my musical idols. She perfectly portrayed their love story and the demons that tortured Clark and led to his untimely death at 46. Truly heartbreaking, but Clark, formerly with The Byrds, remains one of the most respected and brilliant musicians of our time.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jeaninne Escallier Kato

    I am always intrigued with memoirs by Baby Boomers, as I am a published Baby Boomer. This little gem caught my attention and never let up. Jamie and I are the exact same age and grew up in Southern California during the same Rock and Roll movements of the 60's and 70's. It's always fun to read about a shared era, but where Jamie's story kept my interest was in her natural ability to write with the flow of her voice. I appreciate authors who dive into the waves of their conflict as opposed to fig I am always intrigued with memoirs by Baby Boomers, as I am a published Baby Boomer. This little gem caught my attention and never let up. Jamie and I are the exact same age and grew up in Southern California during the same Rock and Roll movements of the 60's and 70's. It's always fun to read about a shared era, but where Jamie's story kept my interest was in her natural ability to write with the flow of her voice. I appreciate authors who dive into the waves of their conflict as opposed to fighting the currents of their pain. Jamie's voice is refreshing, even when recapturing grief. Jamie certainly led a fascinating life sprinkled around the ins and out of the rich and famous. I admire her tenacity to go for her dreams even when she had nothing to go on but a wing and prayer. Our lives bumped up against each other in the L.A. scene, enough so that I could hear, see and taste her experiences in the theater and rock and roll venues of the 70's and 80's. My brother was an L.A. recording engineer; many of her musician stories felt very familiar. We also bumped up against each other in the Nor. Cal. scene. I lived in Nevada City and Grass Valley at the time she was rescuing her Aussies from that area. In fact, her life was so familiar in terms of the developmental arc of a Baby Boomer, I wanted more. It seemed just when I was understanding a new phase of her life, she moved the reader on to the next. I was particularly riveted by Jamie's sojourns with music right out of high school; especially her contract with George Martin, the fifth Beatle, in London. She grabbed my attention when she wrote about how the universe leads us on paths we may have dreamed of, but has other plans about how we experience those paths. I equate that philosophy with looking into a mirror of your imagined life, but everything on the other side is a slightly warped version. Jamie leaves the reader with many twists and turns (regarding her love life) experienced on the other side of the mirror of her fate; yet, at the end of the book, you can't help but cheer her on.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donna Burke

    For a baby boomer whose favorite past time is music and reading, I have spent countless joyful hours with my nose buried in the memoirs and autobiographies of my favorite musicians. It has always interested me to know the artist behind the music that I love, what makes them see the world in their own unique way and express it in their own musical language. I thought that I was satisfied with my usual array of small -town -kid -makes- good success stories, sex, drugs and rock roll casualties, and For a baby boomer whose favorite past time is music and reading, I have spent countless joyful hours with my nose buried in the memoirs and autobiographies of my favorite musicians. It has always interested me to know the artist behind the music that I love, what makes them see the world in their own unique way and express it in their own musical language. I thought that I was satisfied with my usual array of small -town -kid -makes- good success stories, sex, drugs and rock roll casualties, and the decadent descriptions of lifestyles on the road. What I did not realize is that I really just wanted to be there. In so many ways, I missed that Magic Bus, and always looked for someone who could write in such a way that I could feel as though I were actually there, when the music I so love was all vibrant and new. Jamie Johnston’s Following Breadcrumbs is the time machine that I had been looking for. Jamie begins by introducing us to the Hollywood of yesteryear, born to successful star royalty, the daughter of actor-singer Johnny Johnston, (Rock Around the Clock), and her gorgeous mother, Shirley, who was a socialite real estate agent in Beverly Hills, only after her own dalliance with stardom while attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Jamie learned the ins and outs of the elite Hollywood crowd at a very young age, and rebelled like all good teens of her generation, by taking her suave sophistication “on the road” and becoming a real bonafide rock star with her own band, The Skiffles. The Skiffles (comprised of Jamie and her partner, Sandy Tarbet) have the unique and fateful distinction of being the first all female rock and roll band signed by one Sir George Martin. Jamie’s Magic Bus carries on from this phenomenality, as she picks up the most colorful and extraordinarily talented fellow travelers, Harry Nilsson, PF Sloan, Don Murray, and the Prince Valiant of the sunset strip, The Byrds own Gene Clark, with whom Jamie shared a beautiful and eternal passionate love. Johnston’s Following Breadcrumbs has all of the ingredients to rock your soul with her front row seat into the music and lives of the greatest American musicians of the sixties and seventies, but she gives you much more. Jamie’s story is about love, life and loss. It’s a survivor’s story. It is a coming of age story. It’s an inspirational story for any woman who has given her heart unconditionally and without restraint and lived to tell about it. But, I believe that the one chapter she never imagined that she would ever have to write, opened my eyes to just how remarkable Jamie Johnston’s story really is. It’s poignant and tragically ironic that the woman whose life has been lead by fiery passion would find all of the trinkets, and physical memories of that life consumed by the worst fire in California’s history. Having only lived in her precious little pine canopied hamlet in Paradise for a few short months, Jamie and her current life partner, Rick Clark (younger brother of the late Gene Clark), escaped the Paradise campfire of 2018 with nothing more than the company of their two dogs and a few possessions that they were able to throw in a bag before they ran from the flames that engulfed their sweet home. When she writes of this event, you will understand how this young fearless trailblazer standing before George Martin with demo in hand, or calming the furious eruptive pains of disillusioned rock stars was able to not only survive such tragedy, but to build something beautiful out of the aftermath. Once the Magic Bus tour is over, Following Breadcrumbs parks within a haven of merciful actualization. You do not want to miss the ride.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nan Rad

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karen

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Clarke

  10. 4 out of 5

    J Koch

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vera Tabib

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda L.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tina Wilson

  14. 5 out of 5

    🌟Divine

  15. 5 out of 5

    Stefany Mogas

  16. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Calla

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rose | Belletrist Anarchist

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