A boisterous, deftly plotted, and superbly written memoir that takes readers on a rollicking ride through the 1960’s folk era, Mike Murphey’s We Never Knew Just What It Was . . .: The Story of the Chad Mitchell Trio tells the story of an intrepid trio who made history with hilarious performances. The author presents the story of Mike, Chad, and Joe Frazier and how they moved to stardom in the folk movement. While the group’s successful performances and impact do not get the publicity they deserve, the trio gains popularity on-campus performances. The author takes readers on a journey that starts during their college days and that hits success in New York, with a recording contract, intense rehearsals, nightclub performances, and concerts. In this story, readers encounter characters who are gifted and whose stage presence pulls the audience in, but they are people with strong differences, hard to get together, yet fun to be with. What happens when the relationships become complicated between the members of the music band, resulting in a split?
Mike Murphey’s biographical tale is replete with historical and cultural nuances, depicting a historical moment that will suck music lovers in and have them following the cast of interesting characters with unbridled curiosity. The book is intelligently written and never lacking the humor that enriches itself in real-life events and that is imbued with stunning realism. The author deftly explores the differences and the conflict within the team without failing to highlight the traits that make each of the companions in this rollicking ride stand out. It is culturally immersive, filled with moments that are thought-provoking and social and political commentaries that transport readers into the era in which the story took place. The elements of the folk movement are brilliantly captured in the narrative and the author’s gift for exquisite, lyrical prose combines with his keen ear for dialogue to create a fascinating reading experience. If you want biographies that read like enthralling fiction, then We Never Knew Just What It Was is a book to read. This book is an exuberant, invaluable, and unique narrative that explores how music bonded friends and gave them a home. What is most compelling in this narrative is how the author writes about the power of shared passion trumping individual differences and the ebullient atmosphere it creates, making characters in the midst of conflict create a harmony that strikes infinite chords in the heart of the audience. This is a blissful, somewhat nostalgic appreciation of the folk movement of the 1960s.