By Thomas Conner World Entertainment Writer
For the real low-down on your favorite pop trio, stick to the source. Tulsa writer Jarrod Gollihare has written the one and only official Hanson fan biography, and it’s easily the best of the bunch. “Hanson: The Official Book” (Virgin, $10.95) hit bookstore shelves in mid-November, two months after two unauthorized bios had appeared: “Hanson: An Unauthorized Biography” (Scholastic, $3.99) and “Hanson: MMMBop to the Top: An Unauthorized Biography” (Archway, $3.99). Both unofficial books are targeted at young’uns and were compiled from previously published interviews and stories, not from actual conversations with the Hansons. The author of “MMMBop to the Top” clearly never set foot in Tulsa; she describes the city as “mountainous” and botches numerous names.
Gollihare — not only a homeboy but a local musician, as well (drummer in Admiral Twin) — gets it right and doesn’t dumb it down. A longtime friend of the Hanson family, Gollihare was invited into the water-tight realm of the Hansons for recent interviews and the real dirt on several events that have fueled the past year of full-court press.
“The family called me one day, and we were talking and Diana (Hanson, mother of the brood) said, `You know, it sounds crazy, but there might be a book deal in the works,’ ” Gollihare said in a recent interview. “The unauthorized books were going to come out, and they felt they should get the official story out. They asked me to do it. It seemed so funny to me, because this was early on; the album had just come out in May, and I thought, `Jeez, they’re already being written about in books?’ ”
The deal was struck with a British publisher, Virgin Press, for two reasons, Gollihare said. First, Hansonmania hit much harder in Europe, where the boys still rest comfortably in the top of the charts (and the boy-girl ratio of the European audience is not as skewed toward the females). Second, Virgin is an old hand at these kind of books — letter-page size, color printing, loads of photos — and while fan bios aren’t a huge part of American pop culture anymore, Europeans still buy them in droves. Virgin recently published similar books on other hot groups like Prodigy, Radiohead and Ash.
“The family was interested in something well-done, not a teeny-bopper book,” Gollihare said. “They’re trying to fight the New Kids on the Block image, trying to present themselves as they really are — songwriters and musicians. They wanted the book to be about that, not what color underwear they have.”
Some of the harrowing tales Gollihare recounts in “Hanson: The Official Book” are the behind-the-scenes stories of the fanatical crowds that mobbed and endangered Hanson shows in New Jersey, Australia and Indonesia. “In Jakarta (Indonesia), they were set up to do this press conference and just a few acoustic songs,” Gollihare said. “Thousands of people turn up at this Hard Rock Cafe to see them, and at some point someone accidentally opened a back door, and all these seriously fanatical people start rushing in. They bum-rushed the stage. The guys look back and see this flood of humanity pouring in, headed straight for them, and their dad grabs them off the stage and they start running through the building. It’s like the Beatles in `Hard Day’s Night’ — they make it to the limo just in time.”