cover of book

Burn, Baby! BURN!: The Autobiography of Magnificent Montague
by Magnificent Montague and Bob Baker
University of Illinois Press, 2009
Paper: 978-0-252-07684-8 | Cloth: 978-0-252-02873-1
Library of Congress Classification ML429.M68A3 2003
Dewey Decimal Classification 791.443

With his dynamic on-air personality and his trademark cry of "Burn, baby! BURN!" when spinning the hottest new records, Magnificent Montague was the charismatic voice of soul music in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. In this memoir Montague recounts the events of his momentous radio career, which ran from the era of segregation to that of the civil rights movement; as he does so, he also tells the broader story of a life spent in the passionate pursuit of knowledge, historical and musical.

Like many black disc jockeys of his day, Montague played a role in his community beyond simply spreading the music of James Brown, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, and other prominent artists. Montague served as an unofficial spokesman for his black listeners, reflecting their beliefs and acting as a sounding board for their concerns.

Montague was based in Los Angeles in 1965 when the Watts rioters seized on his incendiary slogan, turning the shout of musical appreciation into a rallying cry for racial violence. In Burn, Baby! BURN! Montague recalls these tumultuous times, including the personal struggle he faced over whether to remain true to his listeners or bend to political pressure and stop shouting his suddenly controversial slogan.

Since the mid-1950s Montague had also expressed his passion for African American culture by becoming a zealous collector of artifacts of black history. He has built a monumental collection, taking time out from his collecting to become only the second African American to build his own radio station literally from the ground up.

A compelling account of a rich and varied life, Burn, Baby! BURN! gives an insider's view of half a century of black history, told with on-the-air zest by the DJ/historian who was there to see it unfold.

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