Good Music: An Illustrated Record of Rock ‘n’ Roll
Gallery on the Plaza | Homer Babbidge Library
January 17 – June 30, 2023
Photos, LPs, books, posters, memorabilia, and even neckties are a part of the treasure trove of materials Ken Best has brought to the UConn Library to illustrate the history of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The collection tells the story of not only Rock ‘n’ Roll, but also Best’s 48-year career as a reporter, editor, media relations specialist, and organizational communications executive that included covering the arts and writing about rock ‘n’ roll. The exhibition includes historic, rare, and unique materials that represent the music industry and the history of rock music.
Best has hosted the Good Music Program on WHUS (91.7) since 2008 and previously hosted the show on WPKN-FM (89.5) in Bridgeport, an all-volunteer, listener-supported community radio station previously at the University of Bridgeport, from 1996 until 2008. The program is an eclectic mix of music rooted in early and classic rock but based on Duke Ellington’s idea that “There’s two kinds of music; good music and the other kind.” The program’s opening theme song is the 1986 Joan Jett track, “Good Music.” During the summer of 2015 he hosted “Walking a Blues Road,” on WHUS based on the holdings of the Samuel and Ann Charters Archives of Blues and Vernacular African-American Musical Culture, located in Archives & Special Collections at UConn’s Homer Babbidge Library.
His career included writing about rock ‘n’ roll for Gannett’s Courier-News in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and serving as editor of the Weekend section at The Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time in Connecticut, when the papers were owned by the Los Angeles Times. His music stories for those publications were nationally syndicated by the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. He served as editor of UConn Magazine for 10 years, covered the School of Fine Arts at UConn for UConn Today for eight years and was a co-founder of the UConn 360 Podcast before retiring in June 2021. His 1992 book Eight Days a Week: An Illustrated Record of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Pomegranate Books), included 53 photos by Connecticut photographer Joseph Sia.
As a reporter and disc jockey he conducted interviews with notables such as John Phillips of the Mamas & Papas, Bruce Springsteen, Joan Jett, Richie Havens, Aztec Two-Step, Pete Seeger, Billy Joel, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna, session bassist Harvey Brooks (Miles Davis, Richie Havens, The Doors, among others), Meat Loaf, Peter Paul & Mary, David Bromberg and George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic as well as the authors of books on major figures in music such as Willie Nelson, James Taylor, Phil Spector, Johnny Cash, The Supremes, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, Carole King and songwriter Doc Pomus (Save the Last Dance for Me, Suspicion, This Magic Moment).
He served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Fairfield University, University of Bridgeport, where he earned his undergraduate degree in journalism, and Quinnipiac University, where he earned a master’s degree in journalism. More recently, he was a guest lecturer on journalism, organizational communications, popular culture, and the media at UConn.