Ten years ago, Nick Tosches published a Vanity Fair article called “Hipsters and Hoodlums.” A follow-up of sorts to his brilliant 1984 history, Unsung Heroes of Rock ’n’ Roll, Tosches’s feature was a deep delve into the mobbed-up scene in and around Tin Pan Alley and the Brill Building circa the late fifties and early sixties.
Save the Last Dance for Satan is an expanded, book-length remix of the Vanity Fair article. Published by Kicks Books (an offshoot of New York’s Norton Records label), the slim volume’s full of fascinating stories—about Frank Sinatra, Alan Freed, Robert De Niro’s non-meeting with Meyer Lansky, and the mysterious convergence of Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, and Dick Clark’s Caravan of Stars. “Music was different,” one of Tosches’s sources tells him. “The Mafia was different. There was honor among thieves. Now there isn’t any. There’s nothing. There’s nothing to hang your hat on these days.”
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