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article imageMark Bego talks new books, Mary Wilson on Dancing with the Stars Special

By Markos Papadatos     Sep 18, 2019 in Music
New York Times best-selling author Mark Bego chatted with Digital Journal about his three new books and about Mary Wilson (of The Supremes fame) competing on "Dancing with the Stars."
On his three new books, he said, "I am thrilled to report that I am amidst one of the most exciting phases of my career. I am celebrating the fact that I have just scored three Number One books in a row according to Amazon.com. That is the chart to be on for actual book sales. This is the best winning streak I have been on in years. I am so happy and thankful."
"The special 'Tribute Edition' of my book Aretha Franklin: The Queen of Soul hit No. 1 in August of 2018. It was a book which I always knew was destined to become a big success; however, it took this updated version of my 1989 book about Aretha that went all of the way to the top. I loved Aretha, I personally interviewed her, and I loved telling her story. I am honored my book pays tribute to her legacy of music," he said.
Bego continued, "The book that I did with Efrem Harkham, his memoir Living The Luxe Life, went to No. 1 on one of Amazon.com’s 'Business Books' best-seller lists this month. Harkham is the owner of three Luxe Hotels in Los Angeles, including one on Rodeo Drive and one on Sunset Boulevard. In the past, his hotels have played host to The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. So, in the book, I refer to him as the 'rock star' of hotel owners."
"Then there is my ultimate deluxe superstar book to end them all: Supreme Glamour written with my dear and wonderful best buddy, Mary Wilson of The Supremes. When I first met Mary in 1975, I told her that we should write a big glamorous book on The Supremes together. Well, here it is. I had no clue that it would take 44 years to transpire, but it was sure worth the wait! This book was just released this week, and it has already hit Number One on several best-seller lists in the UK and the US. I am 'supremely' honored to have a part in this book," he elaborated.
"Working with Mary was such a treat," he said. "There was one week last year where we locked ourselves in her condo on Wilshire Boulevard, with plenty of food and coffee, and had the ultimate intensive writers’ study hall. We reminded ourselves of all the reasons that people love The Supremes, and we added color and insights to our new and concise telling of the story of the most famous girl group in the world."
On his future plans, he said, "My next book, my 66th published book, is Rocket Man: A Life of Elton John, and it is going to be released in January of 2020. I was able to interview men he had sex with, people he did drugs with, and stars he was the background piano player for in the 1960s. Elton is no doubt the biggest, glitziest, most celebrated rock star, and this book pays homage to his accomplishments, the meltdowns, his creativity, and his ability to create some of the most memorable music of the last 100 years."
"I am also writing a book with the amazingly talented Freda Payne," he said. " It is her memoir Band of Gold. What a fascinating life she has had, singing with Duke Ellington, being part of Pearl Bailey’s nightclub act, scoring a string of memorable hits in the 1970s, and becoming a respected jazz and pop singer. I have known her for many years, and finally, the time has come for her book."
He is also working on turning his 2017 Top 10 best-selling rock and roll cookbook Eat Like a Rock Star into a television show. "I am so excited about this. I am working with a great team of producers who have a history of developing several successful TV series. This is very exciting for me. I have appeared on television since the 1970s, but never my own show. As they say in broadcasting: stay tuned."
Mary Wilson made her debut on Dancing with the Stars this week. "I am beyond excited that Mary Wilson is on the show this season. She has been talking about wanting to compete on this show for the last couple of years. She has had a career filled with being choreographed, both with The Supremes and as a solo artist. I realize that choreographed singing is different than ballroom dancing, but Mary has a history of being comfortable and charismatic moving on stage," he said.
He noted that he was there on the opening night of Dancing with the Stars this season. "I even got my own close-up on camera that evening. I was so exceedingly proud and happy to be there to see Mary dancing her stylish Foxtrot, and to cheer for her. What an exciting experience it was. I was with Mary’s family and friends, and an entourage including Bubba Knight of The Pips, Claudette Robinson of The Miracles, songwriter Janie Bradford (the song 'Money'), and Freda Payne," he said.
Regarding his writing inspirations, he said, "I am the type of person who always has something I want to do every day, whether it is working on a new book, doing a painting, designing a piece of jewelry, cooking something, or going someplace. My newest hobby is glass blowing. I have been taking lessons in Tucson. I have always been driven to create things. My book writing career came out of this sense of creativity."
He continued, "For my rock star biographies, my inspiration has always remained the same: the music. I love reading about the lives of musicians, creative people, and eccentric artists. I was originally aiming to become a graphic artist. So, as a teenager I used to sit in my bedroom in suburban Detroit, doing art projects while listening to my albums and envisioning what the lives of my favorite singers lives were about. The very first vinyl record albums I bought as a teenager became an incredible inspiration to me," he said.
On being an author in this digital age, he said, "I am someone who loves to collect books, and vinyl record albums, and CDs. My favorite books are still very important to me. Like all authors, when e-books came along I was horrified that could end my career, or at least have some of the wind taken out of my sails."
"After I bought a Kindle—merely to see what my books looked about in this format—I could see the appeal of it, and I could see the things I that made printed books appealing; however, I have come to relax into the new way of looking at it: some people like to have an e-reader and read a book that way, while some people what the page-turning experience. Now everyone wins," he said.
"The sales of books have settled into one of two formats. If you want to read one of my books, I do not care if you purchase it as a 'download' or pick up a traditional book version of my writing. I only care that the reader finds it enjoyable, entertaining, and informative," he said.
Bego remarked about his books, "When I write one of my music industry or show business biographies I have something of a formula that works for me. I draw the reader in with my dramatic Introduction which sets the tone for the book. Then I back up the story to the beginning of the person’s life, and piece-by-piece I chronologically explain the chain of events that drove them to accomplish what they have. I do my research based on my own questions that I have about the subject, and I proceed to inform the reader of my findings."
"There is always something new I want to write about. It has been 43 years since I published my first two books: Barry Manilow and The Captain & Tennille. And, I wake up every day and feel like I’ve only just begun," he concluded.
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