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Cam Cobb, Don StevensonCam Cobb (right) is joined for a Toronto event launching his book about Moby Grape by band member Don Stevenson.

Signing to launch book on ’60s cult band

The story of Moby Grape is a cautionary tale, a triumph, and a tragedy all at once.

UWindsor education professor Cam Cobb tells that story in his new book, What’s Big and Purple and Lives in the Ocean? He will sign copies during a launch for the book Thursday, July 12, at Biblioasis.

Moby Grape is a counterculture rock band formed in San Francisco, releasing a classic debut album in 1967 and dogged in the months that followed by management issues, marketing mishaps, a prolonged court case, and what Dr. Cobb terms “general rock ’n’ roll mayhem.”

In particular, Windsor-born guitarist and singer Skip Spence’s breakdown in mid-1968 led him to spend five months in Bellevue Hospital and part ways with the band. On leaving Bellevue, Spence trekked to Nashville to record Oar, an album that has become a cult classic.

Heralded by countless luminaries of rock music and rock criticism, Moby Grape fell apart in 1969, but reunited two years later, going through a series of dissolutions and reformations.

The first part of Cobb's book focuses on the band’s 1971 reunion. It was the first full-on rock reunion and the only Moby Grape reunion that featured all five original members of the band.

In the second part of the book, Cobb moves back in time and details Moby Grape’s exhilarating years in San Francisco, following the path from formation to initial break-up.

Thursday’s launch begins at 7 p.m. and will feature a reading, refreshments, music, and copies for sale. Biblioasis is located in suite 100 at 1686 Ottawa Street.

Listen to Cobb speak about his book in an interview with CBC Radio.

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