A Half Century as a Music Fan, Producer, DJ, Record Executive, and Tastemaker
Author Peter Jesperson
Foreword David Fricke
Minnesota Historical Society Press (November 14, 2023)
Record executive, producer, band manager, club DJ, booking advisor, record store manager—few people had as deep an impact on the Twin Cities alternative and indie rock scene as Peter Jesperson.
A passionate music fan since his early childhood, Jesperson found his way into Minneapolis's burgeoning music world of the 1970s and followed a path that put him at the center of the scene as it grew and blossomed. Beginning with his time working at the legendary Oar Folkjokeopus record store, Jesperson helped shape the tastes of local music fans and foster the Twin Cities as a destination for touring acts from around the globe. His tastemaker role continued while he worked as a DJ and booking assistant at Jay's Longhorn bar, the landmark venue that elevated the Twin Cities’ reputation as a mecca for left-of-center artists. In 1977, Jesperson, along with two partners, founded Twin/Tone Records, which over the next 20 years released more than 300 records, including by such groundbreaking artists as the Replacements, the Suburbs, Soul Asylum, Babes in Toyland, the Jayhawks, and many more. With Twin/Tone, Jesperson further solidified Minnesota’s place on the map as a hotbed of musical creativity and a leader in the indie music world. Just three years after starting Twin/Tone, Jesperson made the discovery that changed his life, and the Minneapolis music world, forever: the Replacements. As A&R man and then full manager, he guided the development of this talented and out-of-control foursome, while taking a break to road-manage an upcoming sensation out of Athens, Georgia: R.E.M. But as his career was on the rise in the wild ’80s, Jesperson began his own descent into substance abuse, until he overcame his demons and launched a second act in the industry.
In Euphoric Recall, Jesperson speaks frankly about his struggle with drugs and alcohol, and how it nearly derailed his career and his life. Motivated by his love of music, Jesperson rallied to pick up where he left off with Twin/Tone and the Replacements before heading west to begin the next phase of his career in Los Angeles. While working alongside such noteworthy artists as Dwight Yoakam, Kris Kristofferson, Vic Chesnutt, and Steve Earle, Jesperson experienced firsthand the dramatic changes in the music industry of the 1990s. Through it all, he has retained his passion for the industry and the art, and now, after a half-century in the music business, Jesperson shares his insights, anecdotes, and lessons from his unique vantage point.
“I’ve long hoped for a book from Peter Jesperson, and Euphoric Recall is everything I had wished for. This is not only a wildly entertaining collection of stories from a rock and roll life, but also an astute study of music and, especially, music lovers. Peter takes us on an amazing journey that winds through record-store counters, band vans, backstages, label offices, and late-night record-listening sessions. All along, he never loses his love for the performers and songs that sent him down this path. Illuminating and inspiring!” —Craig Finn, The Hold Steady
“I met Peter Jesperson the first or second time R.E.M. played Minneapolis. Staying at his apartment when I came through town, I was decisively tutored in music, by Peter and through his record collection—as were most of the local musicians. Peter has seen it all and has the stories to back it up.” —Peter Buck, R.E.M.
“Here I thought I knew Peter quite well. But despite his being involved, in one way or another, with nearly every record I’ve done; and spending countless hours with him spinning records and holding court late into the night at his apartment; and traveling around the country with him for years in a beat-up Ford van with the stereo cranked all the way up—I found myself getting to know him on an entirely different level through this book. Peter’s reverence and enthusiasm for music from such an early age reminds me of the feelings I’ve had since I was twelve years old. It’s that inspiration that keeps tugging at me at all hours, day and night. We simply cannot live without it! This is why Peter’s story is so captivating. Congrats, me brother!” —Tommy Stinson, The Replacements
“An essential memoir by one of the unsung heroes of rock ’n’ roll, Euphoric Recall journeys through a life filled with sonic adventures, vividly capturing Peter Jesperson’s uncommon gift for understanding art and artists. Written with a fan’s passion and a tastemaker’s discernment, this is one of the best books about loving music, giving your life to it, and occasionally having your heart broken by it. A true testament to the power of creative discovery from a man behind so much amazing music.” —Bob Mehr, author of Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements
“Peter Jesperson’s enthralling tale of his relentless pursuit of the perfect emotional feelings that can come from hearing just the right song; and all the different roles he played, from record store manager and club DJ, to his discovering and nurturing of the Replacements and his brief but exciting work with R.E.M.—so many engrossing tales of the trials and tribulations. I loved learning more about him and how he found/earned his way.” —Jody Stephens, Big Star
“Behind the visible music biz lie a few discerning individuals whose taste, connections, and sound judgment bring about the most unexpected artistic conjunctions. Jesperson is just such a man.” —John Perry, The Only Ones
“More than a witness to the birth of independent rock ’n’ roll of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, Peter Jesperson was a key player: a founder of the prestigious indie label Twin/Tone Records, producer and manager of the Replacements, a friend and road manager for R.E.M., and a top executive at New West Records. Along the way he’s been a significant champion of some of the era’s most influential indie artists including Big Star, Soul Asylum, Vic Chesnutt, Drive-By Truckers, and so many more. In Euphoric Recall Jesperson gives us an all-access pass to some of the most crucial moments in modern American music history, reminding us of how it felt to be young, ambitious, and too in love with rock ’n’ roll to not risk it all, and too good to fail.” —Peter Ames Carlin, author of Sonic Boom: The Impossible Rise of Warner Bros. Records
“Peter Jesperson’s Euphoric Recall traces the journey of an avid listener whose skills were honed doing the less-than-glamorous back-office gigs crucial to the music ecosystem. Working as a record-store clerk, club DJ, talent booker, indie-label partner, artist manager, and cool-hunter, Jesperson devoted decades to the pursuit of new audio sensations with the ardor of a true believer. From the start, his passion made its own kind of luck: He was the guy on the receiving end of the initial demo tape by Paul Westerberg and the Replacements, and he became the evangelical force that accelerated the band’s development. The artists, famous and not, within these pages are true believers, too. In the course of telling their stories, Jesperson celebrates the glorious, scroungy, endlessly reformulating mythology of rock ’n’ roll.” —Tom Moon, music reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered and author of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die
“For more than forty years Peter Jesperson has always been the biggest music fan I’ve ever known. In Euphoric Recall, he doubles down to permanently own the title with his soulfully honest memoir. Part ballad, blues lament, and loud fast chronicle, the book explains why sainthood (or knighthood) should be bestowed on his bad self, simply for crawling from the wreckage after his tumultuous years as he discovers, then manages the Replacements. But it’s also Jesperson’s other, always worthy trips inside the indie-music biz at labels from Twin/Tone to New West Records that really show you just how far a rock ’n’ roll heart can take you, from passionate fandom to personal satisfaction, as long as you’re true to yourself. Take the ride.” —Martin Keller, author of Hijinx & Hearsay: Scenester Stories from Minnesota’s Pop Life
Peter Jesperson is a music producer, writer, and lifelong music fanatic. He helped to build the Twin Cities music scene in his roles as a record store manager, DJ, cofounder of Twin/Tone Records, and manager of the Replacements. He also spent time as R.E.M.'s road manager and helped countless other bands make their way in the fickle music industry. Jesperson went on to have a long and illustrious career with New West Records in California before shifting gears to become a freelance producer, A&R man, and record consultant. He lives in Los Angeles.
David Fricke is a senior writer and former editor of Rolling Stone magazine. His career as a music journalist has spanned nearly 50 years, during which time he has written for such varied music publications as Circus, Trouser Press, Synapse, Good Times, Melody Maker, Mojo, and JazzTimes. He is a three-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for excellence in music journalism.
- Hardcover with printed dust jacket
- 336 pages
- 30 B&W photos
- 9 in H | 6 in W
- ISBN: 9781681342719
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