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Cover for Boys Keep Swinging

Boys Keep Swinging

A Memoir

Jake Shears


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Other Editions of This Title:
Digital Audiobook (5/14/2018)
Paperback (1/29/2019)
Compact Disc (5/15/2018)


“Wow! So brutally honest and such a really addictive read.” —Elton John

“One courageous joyride of a memoir. It should be illegal for rock stars to write so beautifully.” —Armistead Maupin

“A wild, sexy, emotional ride through underground New York at the millennium…a tale that speaks to the outsider in all of us.” —Andy Cohen

In this deeply affecting memoir, one of rock music’s most entrancing figures transforms the vividness of his musical world into an unforgettable literary account of overcoming odds and finding his true voice.

Long before hitting the stage as the lead singer of the iconic glam rock band Scissor Sisters, Jake Shears was Jason Sellards, a teenage boy living a fraught life, resulting in a confusing and confining time in high school as his classmates bullied him and few teachers showed sympathy.

It wasn’t until years later, while living and studying in New York City, that Jason would find his voice as an artist and, with a group of friends and musicians who were also thirsting for stardom and freedom, form the band Scissor Sisters. First performing in the smoky gay nightclubs of New York, then finding massive success in the United Kingdom, Scissor Sisters would become revered by the LGBTQ community, sell out venues worldwide, and win multiple accolades with hits like “Take Your Mama” and “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’,” as well as their cult-favorite cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.”

Candid and courageous, Shears’s writing sings with the same powerful, spirited presence that he brings to his live performances. Following a misfit boy’s development into a dazzling rock star, Boys Keep Swinging is a raucously entertaining memoir that will be an inspiration to anyone with determination and a dream.

Praise For Boys Keep Swinging: A Memoir

"Boys Keep Swinging goes beyond the origin story behind some of my favorite music . . . A wild, sexy, emotional ride through underground New York at the millennium. From the fringes to the top, it's a tale that speaks to the outsider in all of us."—Andy Cohen

“Jake Shears puts it all on the line. He draws you in and you can’t look away. Boys Keep Swinging is the book everyone will be reading and talking about.”—Sandra Bernhard

“On the stage, Jake Shears is a triumphant explosion of unembarrassed carnality and charm. On the page, he's very much the same. Boys Keep Swinging is one courageous joyride of a memoir. It should be illegal for rock stars to write so beautifully.”—Armistead Maupin

“This is a beautiful, fascinating memoir by a beautiful guy who has lived a fascinating life—and he has the insights and receipts to prove it. Wonderful!”—Dan Savage

“[Shears] writes fluidly and often affectingly, giving shape to his peripatetic, never-dull life . . . readers will be captivated.”—Booklist 

"Fun and compulsively readable, precisely the kind of book one would expect from someone who sang about getting his mama jacked up on cheap champagne….Boys Keep Swinging is no ghostwritten autobiography; Shears studied creative writing at Eugene Lang College in New York. But what he has written is splendid: a star-studded memoir, a cultural history of gay millennial New York, and an origin story for one of the most important pop acts of the 2000s."—Lambda Literary

“[Chronicles] not just the ups and downs of rock stardom but a saucy slice of downtown New York in the aughts.” – New York Times

"Entertaining and honest."—New York Post

A thoroughly endearing portrait . . . an exhilarating yet poignant account of one boy taking flight. And [Shears] is just as clever a narrator as he is a lyricist, keenly sketching the gay bars and nightclubs that fostered the electroclash scene in which the band spawned. Boys Keep Swinging is an absolute joy, even for those who don't feel like dancing.”—Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"Scissor Sisters frontman Jake Shears shows a whole new side of himself in this candid account. He sensitively reveals his lifelong struggle with self-acceptance while also detailing New York’s queer scene with salacious ease."Entertainment Weekly

“Well-crafted and entertaining.”—The Advocate

“Hugely engaging and appealingly frank…it’s as much a book about growing up gay in 80s and 90s America, and New York’s rich queer performance subculture, as it is about [Shears’s] band’s vertiginous rise, although he draws the latter in vivid detail.”—Alexis Petridis, The Guardian (Best Books of 2018)

Atria Books, 9781501140129, 336pp.

Publication Date: February 20, 2018

About the Author

Jake Shears is the lead singer and a primary songwriter of the multiplatinum-selling glam rock band Scissor Sisters. Born in Arizona, he grew up in the Seattle area before moving to New York City, where he studied fiction writing at The New School. He wrote the music for Tales of the City, a 2011 stage musical based on Armistead Maupin’s bestselling book series of the same name, and he has played the role of Charlie Price in Kinky Boots on Broadway. Jake Shears recently finished his debut solo album, which will be released in mid-2018. He divides his time between Los Angeles and New Orleans.