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  1. #1
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    Duke Fakir Autobiography Disappointing

    I was so eager to read this when it was announced months ago that Duke had penned his memoirs that maybe my expectations were too high? But in any event, running barely 160 pages is hardly the depth that a 50 plus career deserves.

    I was put off by some of the inaccuracies and changed stories in Duke's tome. Disappointed that no mention was made of the three lps the guys did with The Supremes. He spent very little time on the Dunhill years and it made no sense to me that after four lps the group came to a loggerhead with Dunhill, yet the label released several more albums.

    His recollections of leaving Motown in 1972 are in stark contrast to interviews given later. The guys said that Motown only offered them $40K to re-sign with the label. In the book Duke reveals that Ewart Abner essentially dropped them. No offer to re-sign was made. I think the previous explanation of why they left Motown is the most plausible one.

    Especially confusing was his take on Walk Away Renee. Supposedly this was recorded on a bet with BG and when he heard it, according to Duke, it was rushed out. That is not what happened. It was on the Reach Out lp and didn't get released as a single until almost a year later, and was only a moderate hit for them here in the USA. Renee and Carpenter was essentially released because HDH had left and Motown was scrambling to find a suitable new producer for the Tops.

    No explanation was given on how the guys signed a contract with Casablanca, had two lps, then somehow jumped back to Motown. Also the chronology of the last two lps were wrong, Magic would be their last 80s Motown set.

    The Tops were well known to be party guys. Duke only fessed up to some of this. No mention was made of Levi being arrested at Heathrow in 1970 on a drug charge that Motown quickly quieted down. If anything this book seemed to be more aimed at damage control than expose. His affair with Mary Wilson is given little mention other than they remained close after it ended.

    The only touching part of the book for me was his descriptions of the illness and deaths of his singing buddies. He touts his new Four Tops group, but anytime I have even seen them, they are a shadow of what they had been. Let's face it, without Levi especially, there are no Four Tops.

    I wouldn't say that the book is a bad read, but I finished it in one sitting feeling like the story was only partially told.

  2. #2
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    thanks for your honest review.

  3. #3
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    I appreciate this honest review. I’m alway interested in what you say and bring to SDF.

  4. #4
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    Yes, I third that. I would have loved to have heard better things about the book, but I have to say that at this point in time I'm not shocked that Duke has faulty recollections. I wish the book well, and I will see if my library can get a copy for me to borrow.

  5. #5
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    BayoMo, you said it's not [[A bad read." That sealed it enough for me. Your review stopped me ticker, until that line! Thanks. Like Toni Braxton, I can [[breathe again!" Not gung ho to return to the library...because of your honesty Duke's tome is on my To Buy list.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by nativeNY63 View Post
    BayoMo, you said it's not [[A bad read." That sealed it enough for me. Your review stopped me ticker, until that line! Thanks. Like Toni Braxton, I can [[breathe again!" Not gung ho to return to the library...because of your honesty Duke's tome is on my To Buy list.
    It's worth buying just to read the chapter where he goes into detail about losing the other three Tops. I just expected more about the Motown days, the years after HDH when they struggled for a hit record and became second to the Temptations, the Dunhill years which started with a bang and ended with a thud. And the mysterious Casablanca years where, again, they started out well then ended up back at Motown without hit records. Dukes life and career merited far more than 161 pages. So much is left out

  7. #7
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    Really well written, insightful review. To me, a good book review helps you decide whether you should actually read the book or not. Your review gives a very fair and honest assessment of how you view the contents and will help people decide if this book is worth reading or not. For me, I’m always most interested in the days before the celebrity became famous, which is why Mary Wilson’s book to me was so well worth reading. She has so much detail and such great recall as to times, dates and events. It sounds like that’s missing from Duke’s book, so I likely will not be reading it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    Really well written, insightful review. To me, a good book review helps you decide whether you should actually read the book or not. Your review gives a very fair and honest assessment of how you view the contents and will help people decide if this book is worth reading or not. For me, Iím always most interested in the days before the celebrity became famous, which is why Mary Wilsonís book to me was so well worth reading. She has so much detail and such great recall as to times, dates and events. It sounds like thatís missing from Dukeís book, so I likely will not be reading it.
    No he spends time on his youth and on the formative years of the group. He especially delved into his dad's Muslim background and the effect his parents had on him. When it comes to Rock star bios, Mary still to me has the best and most balanced.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for this review. I wasn't hopeful that it would be all that it could be. After the Eddie Holland book, I thought this is a money grab. You would think with the ghost writer and an editor that they would have checked for accuracy. Too bad.

  10. #10
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    Having read ‘dukes’ book,as already said disappointing.
    Levi is more important than I ever thought,not just motown’s finest but up their with Nat,Frank and others.

    Obis lovely bass
    Lawrence nice singer[[best moment ‘one woman man’ what would Levi have done with that)
    Duke not sure

    David

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BayouMotownMan View Post
    I was so eager to read this when it was announced months ago that Duke had penned his memoirs that maybe my expectations were too high? But in any event, running barely 160 pages is hardly the depth that a 50 plus career deserves.

    I was put off by some of the inaccuracies and changed stories in Duke's tome. Disappointed that no mention was made of the three lps the guys did with The Supremes. He spent very little time on the Dunhill years and it made no sense to me that after four lps the group came to a loggerhead with Dunhill, yet the label released several more albums.

    His recollections of leaving Motown in 1972 are in stark contrast to interviews given later. The guys said that Motown only offered them $40K to re-sign with the label. In the book Duke reveals that Ewart Abner essentially dropped them. No offer to re-sign was made. I think the previous explanation of why they left Motown is the most plausible one.

    Especially confusing was his take on Walk Away Renee. Supposedly this was recorded on a bet with BG and when he heard it, according to Duke, it was rushed out. That is not what happened. It was on the Reach Out lp and didn't get released as a single until almost a year later, and was only a moderate hit for them here in the USA. Renee and Carpenter was essentially released because HDH had left and Motown was scrambling to find a suitable new producer for the Tops.

    No explanation was given on how the guys signed a contract with Casablanca, had two lps, then somehow jumped back to Motown. Also the chronology of the last two lps were wrong, Magic would be their last 80s Motown set.

    The Tops were well known to be party guys. Duke only fessed up to some of this. No mention was made of Levi being arrested at Heathrow in 1970 on a drug charge that Motown quickly quieted down. If anything this book seemed to be more aimed at damage control than expose. His affair with Mary Wilson is given little mention other than they remained close after it ended.

    The only touching part of the book for me was his descriptions of the illness and deaths of his singing buddies. He touts his new Four Tops group, but anytime I have even seen them, they are a shadow of what they had been. Let's face it, without Levi especially, there are no Four Tops.

    I wouldn't say that the book is a bad read, but I finished it in one sitting feeling like the story was only partially told.
    I anxiously awaited the arrival of the book, although in another thread someone cautioned against the bad language. I grew up on the streets of Philadelphia and was never mistaken for a choir boy, but the bad language is too much IMHO.

    Very touching was the chapter on the 3 Tops becoming ill, and Going To Glory.

    As someone who was born again in my 50's I greatly respect Dukes talking a walk with his faith late in life.

    As a proud father of a daughter who is a newly minted Lawyer, I delighted with knowing that his wife Piper and daughter are both Black Female Attorneys a group that makes up less than 1% of all Lawyers in the US.

    I really really enjoyed reading about Dukes early years, and the history of The 4 Tops. Not much was known previously by myself, or most Forum Members I am sure.

    On the other hand; 160 pages is light. Inaccuracies abound. David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks did not leave The Temptations in 1968 for example. I was looking for more meat, but the Motown years were I felt lacking in detail, and the post Motown era could have used more information as well.

    In closing, the book was okay, it will join the other more than 140 Motown themed books that I have in storage. Will I read it again, no. Do I recommend it? If you are a collector, absolutely! If you are a fan, yes. To most of my fellow Forum members, I humbly submit a rating of 6 out of 10. Would I buy it again...yes. Bon Chance Mr. Fakir!

  12. #12
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    I'm still on the fence as to whether I will get this book.

    The excessive profanity leads me to think that this book might just be a transcription of an audio recording of Duke's recollections rather than a story written around those recollections.

    Do those of you who have read the book think this might be the case?

    A few of the Motown biographies have seemed to read, in part, like transcriptions of recorded interviews rather than a story written based on those interviews. I understand it's nice to hear a story in the voice of the person telling the story but editing is needed to avoid rambling, poor grammar and excessive profanity. That's the fault of the co-author[s] and editor[s] rather than the person being interviewed.

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    This is just the prude side of me; however, after reading here that the book contains more than just occasional profanity turns me off from getting it. I just can't get on the bandwagon of accepting the common use of the 'f' bomb, or the like, in order for one to get their point across. I now will quietly, or not, stumble off my soapbox. Just my opinion.
    Last edited by jobucats; 05-12-2022 at 09:14 AM.

  14. #14
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    Was the book self published? Might explain the lack of fact checking.

  15. #15
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    So is the book better or worse at behind the scenes stuff at Motown in the 60s than the Hollands' or Lamont Dozier's book?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jobucats View Post
    This is just the prude side of me; however, after reading here that the book contains more than just occasional profanity turns me off from getting it. I just can't get on the bandwagon of accepting the common use of the 'f' bomb, or the like, in order for one to get their point across. I now will quietly, or not, stumble off my soapbox. Just my opinion.
    I totally get that. I am not above dropping an F bomb now and then, but I do it so seldom that when I do people really notice it. In a way, I guess that’s the point. I think it’s an example of lazy writing and not being able to describe events any better if the book is full of F bombs. I wouldn’t refuse to read it just for that reason, but it doesn’t sound like it’s a very informative book anyway.

  17. #17
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    A 6 page spread article/interview in the june 2022 Record Collector

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenneth View Post
    I totally get that. I am not above dropping an F bomb now and then, but I do it so seldom that when I do people really notice it. In a way, I guess that’s the point. I think it’s an example of lazy writing and not being able to describe events any better if the book is full of F bombs. I wouldn’t refuse to read it just for that reason, but it doesn’t sound like it’s a very informative book anyway.
    I believe the F bomb, with the -ing added, should be listed in a thesaurus as an alternative word for "seriously".

  19. #19
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    Once I realized his book was loaded with inaccuracies, other comments that seemed slightly specious I no longer believed. There is a lot of info in the book that I have no way of verifying and I don’t trust any of it to be true. I’m only glad I bought it because it would have bugged me if I didn’t read it. Lots of big events were not discussed and it seemed, at times, more like a timeline instead of an informative look into this iconic group. To me, it’s a total waste of money and time - and I wish it wasn’t.

  20. #20
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    As a Motown memoir, does this book rank with Secrets of a Sparrow, only with profanity in place of poetry?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadinglove21 View Post
    As a Motown memoir, does this book rank with Secrets of a Sparrow, only with profanity in place of poetry?
    he haw!


    Guess Duke just can't help himself ...

  22. #22
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    I was behind Duke's niece in line at the book signing a few weeks ago. I told her about the reviews that had already appeared on the forum at the time, and that the swearing was a subject of discussion. She just laughed and said, "Uncle Duke has always been like that! He's always had a mouth on him!." I said well I've seen interviews with him and he dropped an expiative or two. I wasn't at all surprised to hear he used them in the book, and it didn't really bother me personally when I read it. Although it doesn't seem to be what everyone was expecting, I'm just grateful he was able to get the book out. I learned a few things about the Tops, and enjoyed his memories of the earlier years especially.
    Darin

  23. #23
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    A wise person once told me that using the "F BOMB" should be done in rare occasions, when you want to make an EXCLAMATION POINT at the end of a sentence. Anything more simply shows a lack of intelligence and use of the English language. If the best adjective you can find is "fuk", it's time to reacquaint yourself with a thesaurus.

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    I just finished Hound Dog, the Leiber and Stoller Autobiography by them and David Ritz.
    It's excellent and demonstrates what having a professional writer do. It's framed similarly to Eddie Hollands book...transcribed taped interviews? But the details are there. Of course I don't know them in the detail we know our Motown performers.
    I didn't have this frustration with Mary's books, they were well written.

  25. #25
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    The first 90 pages very good

    I enjoyed the time Duke spent on the early Tops , before Motown, lots of good info. I would have loved the second half of the book to be more detail regarding their hit songs , I thought he did a good job of telling us about his life growing up and his later family life. Which was fine.
    I think most of us were hoping for the definitive book on the Four Tops and that will have to be done by an historian which I hope happens.

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    Water under the bridge now, but it always surprises me that someone who has written an autobio wouldn't at least consult with a fan to clear up some of the inaccuracies. From Bayou's examples above, some would have been very easy fixes by many on SDF.

    What's most interesting though is multiple sources, including Amazon, have the book at 304 pages, not the 160ish most have mentioned.

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    Duke's book It really is farcical, its one of the few Motown realted books that I have passed by, so sad that the 4 Tops never had or issued a real professional bio when they were all still alive.

    Might be some pages still missing then from Amazon and everyone else's copies is it 160 , 300 or 224 pages.
    Product details


    • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Omnibus Press [[5 May 2022)
    • Language ‏ : ‎ English
    • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 224 pages
    • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1913172597
    • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1913172596
    • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 15.88 x 2.79 x 23.5 cm

    Last edited by Graham Jarvis; 06-23-2022 at 11:54 AM.

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