May 31, 2014

Books roundup: Johny Barbata rocks on with his autobiography

During his long career as a rock 'n' roll drummer, Johny Barbata performed with the Turtles; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; Jefferson Airplane; Eric Clapton and Jefferson Starship — just to name a few. His work can be heard on 100 albums and 20 top hits, plus he shared a boat ride with Albert Einstein.

You know he's got some stories to tell.

That's what he does in "Johny Barbata: The Legendary Life of a Rock Star Drummer" (DJ Blues Publishing Co, $35). It's available through Barbata's website (, at or at a book signing from noon-5:30 p.m. June 18 at Spinners Records, 639 E. Olive Ave.

The Fresno stop is part of a 17-day book signing tour that begins with his 50th class reunion in San Luis Obispo.

Barbata — who lives in Ada, Okla. — took five years to write his autobiography. It starts with the initial success of his high school band Sentinals, with the '60s surf sound instrumental "Latinia," through his years performing with several well-known bands and as a studio musician.

He joined the Turtles in 1966 when drummer Don Murray left, and he stayed with the band through some of their greatest hits, including "Happy Together."

In the book, Barbata writes about the night he will never forget.

"The Turtles flew to London and we got off the plane; there was a white Rolls Royce sitting there. We wondered who it was for and then the guy held up a sign that said 'The Turtles.' The driver told us the car belonged to the Beatles, but it had been rented for us for the week," Barbata says.

That arrival was just the start of the memorable night, which ended with Barbata partying with the Beatles.

As for that meeting with Einstein, Barbata was 3 when his family went on a boat outing to Lake Placid, N.Y. They came to the rescue of the genius, whose boat had run out of gas.

Book signing

Regana McKinney-McGee will sign copies of her book, "Introspection" (Archway Publishing, $34.99), from 1-3 p.m. June 7 at Barnes & Noble, 7849 N. Blackstone Ave. The book, a fictional account of a young girl in a complex family situation, was inspired by McKinney-McGee's own life.

The Reno native moved to Fresno in 1991, where she started a family and launched the Positive Attitude Outlook foster care agency that matches thousands of foster children with families out of its Fresno, Visalia, Bakersfield and Rancho Cucamonga offices.

She also created and published motivational and educational magazines for students in the Fresno County school system. The only formal writing training she's had are a few writing classes while attending college, including a stop at Fresno City College.


"Moon Santa Barbara & The Central Coast" (Moon Handbooks, $17.99): Stuart Thornton's 382-page travel book covers the California Coast from San Simeon to Ventura, plus inland stops such as Paso Robles, Ojai and Ventura County's Heritage Valley. The guide includes information on restaurants, hotels, parks, recreational opportunities and area attractions. Thornton also offers his views on the region's best beaches.

"Life After College: 10 Steps to Build a Life You Love" (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing," $30): The book, co-authored by Tori Randolph Terhune and Fresno State Mass Communication and Journalism Department instructor Betsy A. Hays, offers 10 strategies and practical advice from time management to budgeting.

"The book also covers key generational differences, the magic of mentoring and the millennial validation vacuum. 'Life After College' will help any recent grad build a fulfilling life — in and out of the office," Hays says.

This is the second book for the pair. "Land Your Dream Career: 11 Steps to Take in College" was published in March 2013.

"Holy Moly: A Mole in One" (self-published, $17.99): Fresno native Karlene Kay Ryan's new children's picture book will be released June 11. The book, inspired by her love for her deceased brother, Lance Cpl. Michael Joseph Lowe, tells the story of a family of moles who gather golf balls in their nest, creating a mess of the Happy Valley Golf Course. The book, illustrated by Ernie Hergenroeder, is available through

"Yosemite in Pictures" (Yosemite Conservancy, $8.95): Nature photographer Ryan Alonzo offers an insider's view of the moments of weather and light at the park. It's available at

"Yosemite Meditations for Adventurers" (Yosemite Conservancy, $9.95): Claudia Welsh and Michael Frye offers this book of mountain meditations to inspire climbers, backpackers, hikers and adventurers. It features quotes from well-known climbers, nature writers, poets, philosophers and leading adventurers paired with images of Yosemite. Look for it at

"A Bridge to Cross — True Story of One Family's Flight from the Nazis" (Mirador Publishing, $13.89): Local author Hans Berger's new book is based on the pages of his mother's journal. It's the story of his family's struggle fleeing the Nazis and the Russians. You will find the book at and Barnes & Noble (


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