Peter Benjaminson is the award-winning author of nine books, four about investigations and journalism, four about the legendary Motown Record Company and its artists, and one about Bill Haley, the father of rock 'n' roll. That book, CRAZY MAN CRAZY: THE LIFE OF BILL HALEY, which Peter co-authored with Bill Haley Jr., was released in 2019 by Backbeat Books in the U.S. and by Omnibus Books in the U.K.
Peter's immediately previous book, THE STORY OF MOTOWN ILLUSTRATED, NEW AND REVISED EDITION, was released by Rare Bird Books on November 13, 2018. It was originally released by Grove Press in 1979, and was the first book ever published in this country about the Motown Record Company.
His previous book, SUPER FREAK: THE LIFE OF RICK JAMES, was released by Chicago Review Press on March 1, 2017. Chicago also released Peter's previous books, MARY WELLS: THE TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF MOTOWN'S FIRST SUPERSTAR, the only biography of this great Motown vocalist ever written, in 2012, and his book THE LOST SUPREME: THE LIFE OF DREAMGIRL FLORENCE BALLARD, in 2008.
Born in Washington, D.C., Peter was a reporter and City-County Bureau Chief for the DETROIT FREE PRESS from 1970-76. While at the Free Press, he wrote the book INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING, with David Anderson (Indiana University Press, 1976 and Iowa State University Press, 1990), the first how-to book in that field. It was in print for 20 years.
From 1979 to 1981 he was a reporter for the ATLANTA JOURNAL and the ATLANTA JOURNAL CONSTITUTION. He taught journalism at Binghamton University, New York University, and Columbia University from 1981-91.
In 1984, he wrote DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON: AMERICA'S NEWSPAPER GIANTS STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL (Andrews, McMeel) the first and only book ever written about the death of afternoon newspapers in America's big cities. DEATH won the Jim Andrews Communicator Award.
In 1992, he wrote PUBLISH WITHOUT PERISHING (National Education Association and National Writers Union) and in 1997, he wrote SECRET POLICE: INSIDE THE NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION (New York: Barricade Books).
Crazy Man Crazy: The Life of Bill Haley
Written by Peter and Bill Haley Jr., "Crazy Man Crazy" is the first complete book about Bill Haley, the man who brought rock 'n' roll into the mainstream. His song "Rock Around the Clock" was the first rock tune to hit No. 1 on the charts. His success made him an idol not only in the US but throughout the world, from Canada to the UK, Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Fiji Islands, and beyond. Yet Haley is often overlooked in the rock 'n' roll story, overshadowed by others who followed him. That was because he had conflicted feelings about fame, suffered chronic alcoholism, and had troubled relationships with multiple wives, which yielded ten children he struggled to support. His demons eventually eroded his health and he passed away prematurely at age 55. This books goes behind the curtain and behind the legend.
The Story of Motown (New and Revised Edition)2018
Super Freak: The Life of Rick James2017
Mary Wells: The Tumultuous Life of Motown's First Superstar2012
The Lost Supreme: The Life of Dreamgirl Florence Ballard2008
Secret Police: Inside the New York City Department of Investigation1997
Publish Without Perishing1992
The Story of Motown1979
Awards and Recognition
- Peter won the Jim Andrews Communicator Award in 1984 for his book DEATH IN THE AFTERNOON: AMERICA'S NEWSPAPER GIANTS STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL.
- His book MARY WELLS: THE TUMULTUOUS LIFE OF MOTOWN'S FIRST SUPERSTAR, was greeted with a glowing full-page review on the front page of the book section of the WALL STREET JOURNAL, America's largest-circulation newspaper, on November 18, 2012.