Lynn recorded Joe’s history as part of a student project at Davis & Elkins college. It’s long – about an hour and a half – but fascinating.

Part One Part Two Part Three Part Four Part Five


Jean is a radio freelancer who lives down the street from Joe’s house in Elkins. She put together this fascinating article about Joe several years ago. It ran again just after his death.

The introduction to the piece ran:

“More than 40 years ago Elkins resident Joe Goldberg wrote a book about the jazz masters of the 1950s – some of the greatest jazz artists of all time – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Ray Charles and many others.  Today the book is still in print, and Goldberg is one of the few people left who knew all these legends personally.  He continues to write about music for The Wall Street Journal.  From his young childhood at The Greenbrier, to a writing career in New York and Hollywood, to returning to his roots in Elkins, Jean Snedegar visits with a fascinating Elkins resident.”

Hal writes:
In 1958,  I was churning out  paperbackk pornography along with other writer wannabees like Larry Block and Don Westlake.

One of us found a magazine called SWANK or STANK or SLANK that had an article about pulp porn that praised Don Holliday (my pen name) and Sheldon Lord (Larry’s pen name) and Edwin West (Don’s pen name) as being the only pornographers who could write their names in the dirt with a stick.
The article was written by Joe Goldberg which we assumed was a pseudonym. In fact, I thought that Larry had written the piece and Larry figured that Don had and Don was certain that it was my work.  But ten or twelve drinks later, one of us had the bleary idea to see if a Joe Goldberg existed in the Manhattan phone book. And sure enough, one did and he became a life-long pal to all three of us.
If we neglected to thank him for the puff piece, well, we do now. Mucho gracias, buddy.

Royal wrote this for JAZZ NOTES (the Quarterly Journal of the Jazz Journalists Association). It was published in  their winter issue (volume 20, number 4, 2010).

(Blogger’s note: Joe often expressed some of the same sentiments to me. I also heard him say variations on the ‘never fuck with a writer’ line more than once. It was more than a funny phrase to Joe, almost a philosophy of life.

He had the guts to dis Wynton Marsalis as “the designated Jazz musician” of our era, suggesting Marsalis didn’t deserve his high profile among Jazz outsiders. I think Joe was wrong about that one, but he certainly didn’t shy away from making his opinion felt.

It wasn’t just ego, he could also be incisive as hell. For example Joe also compared Mr. Marsalis to the people in the classical music world whothink there is much to gain by playing older pieces on the instruments of the era rather than using current technology – the Jazz equivalent of period instrument performances. In suggesting that Marsalis views Jazz history as a way to bring vitality, I think Joe was spot on.)

Remembering a Fine Jazz Author and a Marvelous Wit

Joe Goldberg, 1932-2009

By W. Royal Stokes

Joe Goldberg, one of America’s leading jazz authors, died in Elkins, West
Virginia on September 10, 2009. His legacy remains an inspiration for all
of us in the JJA. Read the rest of this entry »

From our friend Hal Dresner:

February 19, 2010

Hal writes this:

Back in the late Sixties, Joe and I were fledgling screenwriters in Hollywood.

We often read each other’s early drafts and offered suggestions. Joe was a first-rate

story analyst and editor—-of other people’s work.  When it came to his own, well….

Once he gave me the first pass at a screenplay he had written. I read it and offered

some opinions which he acknowledged were helpful.

“So you’re going to do a rewrite before you submit it?” I asked.

“No,” Joe said. “I’ll rewrite it if someone buys it.”
“But don’t you think making some changes would make it more salable?” said I.

“Not really,”  said Joe. “I figure they’ll either buy it or they won’t. So whether I do the

rewrite or not, my chances are fifty-fifty.”
I pointed out that, according to his logic, those were the same chances I had of sleeping
with Grace Kelly.

Joe laughed. But didn’t make the changes.

I hope he laughs again when he reads this.

Our friend Billy James suggests this is a good example of Joe doing what he did best. I agree.

(From the Journal’s Masterpiece Series , 4-29-2006)

The Best Album Sinatra Made

‘In the Wee Small Hours,’ ‘a vast cathedral of a work,’ tells of loss and loneliness


Frank Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours” (1955) is the finest vocal album of American popular songs ever recorded. This thought is not original with me. Some people prefer his “Only the Lonely” (1958), but what do they know? “In the Wee Small Hours” came first and set the standard. With it, Sinatra invented the concept album. Read the rest of this entry »

Joe was working for Robert Evans at Paramount I think it was, reading scripts. He had a stamp made that said “Piece of Crap,” because it described so much of what was submitted. He waited for the appropriate piece on which to use his new stamp, and then struck with vigor.

After sending the offending document on he got a call from Bob Evans, who accused him of defacing company property etc.

Then later that afternoon Evan’s assistant called and said “Mr. Evans would like to know if he can borrow your stamp.”