Music and Memoirs: Interview with Pete Escovedo

My Life in the Key of E, A Memoir by Pete Escovedo with Sarah Spinner Escovedo, Psy.D.

Pete Escovedo is a well-known musician and artist who grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Blurb’s Large Order Services Rep, Melissa, had the great pleasure of working with Pete and his team to help plan, print, and deliver his volume book order with our offset printing process. Melissa caught up with Pete and his team to ask him more about his forthcoming memoir, My Life in the Key of E and the experience of self-publishing through Blurb.

Pete Escovedo

Tell us about your book! What inspired you to publish it now?

My memoir is revealing. I share a lot of intimate parts of my life—from childhood through the present. It explores a lot about family—my family of origin, the musical families I’ve been in through the years (in terms of working with bands and fellow artists), and the family that my wife and I were blessed enough to create. I also share many of the challenges that came along with my choice to become a professional musician. It’s a wonderful career, but also a difficult one. My memoir is a deep-dive into what it means to make music—any art, really—your life.

I chose to write and publish it now because of my age, frankly. I’ll be 83 in July, and I suppose I figured, If not now, then when? While I want my fans to know more about me and where I came from, I also really wanted to write something for my family. A kind of expanded and personalized family-tree. I want my kids, grandkids, great grandkids, future great-great-grandkids, etc., to know about my life. I have a lot of unanswered questions about my parents and their parents. That’s actually something I share in my memoir. The pain, regret, and confusion that comes along with all that mystery. I want my relatives to have the sorts of answers I didn’t have.

There’s a lot that people know about my life from the internet and interviews I’ve done. But what’s really exciting is now readers will have a chance to learn about me from a cohesive narrative—my story. Plus, there’s some never-before-seen photographs of me with family and other artists, as well as some high-quality print-images of my artwork. It’s more than just a written story: it’s a visual story as well.

As I look forward to turning 83 next month, when I’ll be performing shows in celebration of my birthday, I can’t help but think, how much longer will I be able to play music? How much longer will I be on this earth? So putting this book out next month feels like a celebration of my birthday, but also a celebration of my life, my career, and my greatest accomplishment: my family.

I ultimately chose to self-publish because it just seems like the wave of the future. You get to make your vision come to life. I wanted the creative control that isn’t always available to you when you work with a traditional publishing house, and Blurb made that possible.

What made you choose Blurb to self-publish your book instead of trying a traditional publishing house?

We did some research, had some meetings, met with some companies, and thought long and hard about various options—traditional publishing and other self-publishing companies. But when my wife, Juanita, my business advisor, Jason Hofmann (co-founder of the non-profit 51Oakland as well as co-founder of my daughter Sheila E.’s non-profit Elevate Oakland), and my daughter-in-law Sarah (who is the with-writer on my memoir) walked into the Blurb offices in San Francisco, we felt an immediate connection. The Blurb team was so helpful, positive, professional, creative, and talented. The quality of their books also impressed us. We also appreciated how open they were to our ideas for things like lay-out, design, special visual elements, etc. And they had some great ideas that we were really open to. Right away, it felt like a partnership.

Plus, they have offices in the San Francisco Bay Area. I live in L.A. now, but the Bay Area will always feel most like home.
I ultimately chose to self-publish because it just seems like the wave of the future. You get to make your vision come to life. I wanted the creative control that isn’t always available to you when you work with a traditional publishing house, and Blurb made that possible.

How did you decide on size, quantity, cover type, and paper type?

Blurb was quite generous in terms of walking me through the process and the options. They showed us various samples and swatches and gave us some great suggestions based on the look and feel I was after. I wanted the book to have both a sophisticated and modern look. My artwork and my development as a visual artist are important parts of my life. So, it was crucial to me that my memoir have the right visual quality, color, tone, and that the paper quality be high, especially since I’m including samples of my paintings. I want the reader to feel that they’re getting something special, something worth their hard-earned dollars. Blurb understood that, and we all collaborated really well as a team. They also worked closely with my friend Rony Armas, who did the design and layout. I’m so pleased with the way the book looks and feels.

What was the book creation process like for you?

The process of writing this book was challenging. I write about that challenge in the introduction of the book itself. It’s easy for me to talk about someone else. But talking about myself, particularly in such an open way, where I include a lot of my shortcomings, disappointments, and personal and professional obstacles and mistakes, was really difficult. I wanted to put myself in the reader’s position, to imagine what things they might want to know. I also wanted to convey a message. Ultimately, my message has to do with the connection between family and music.

It took me awhile to write it. Years. There were bits and pieces I had to put together, journal entries to read through, and some pretty big questions to try to answer. I’m glad I kept a journal all these years. It helped me to remember the specifics as well as how I felt at certain points of my life.

Like many of my creative projects, this one was a family affair. My daughter-in-law, Sarah Spinner Escovedo, was extremely helpful in this process. She’s a very talented writer, and helped me explore and expand areas she thought would be interesting to readers. It was wonderful to share this experience with her.

How did Blurb help you complete your book project?

Working with Blurb was just a great experience, all around. I’m new to writing and book publishing. I can write songs and put out albums, but writing and publishing a book was a new endeavor. The team was always available to, answer questions, make suggestions, and walk us through the process. They guided us through what might have otherwise felt like an overwhelming process.

Their communication and availability was extraordinary—returning calls and emails immediately, providing lots of individualized support, consultation, and suggestions. They’re pros, and I knew from the very beginning that I was in great hands.

What do you plan to do with your books once they are printed?

The first thing I’m going to do is put my arms around that book, hug it tightly to my chest, and say, “Here it is!” It’s so exciting to know that it will be available to fans, family, and even those who don’t know anything about me, my music, or my art work.

It’s a blessing to know that family will read it and learn what an important part they played in my life.

Is there a place where your fans can purchase a copy for themselves?

My book will be available for purchase at all my live shows starting in July. It’ll be great to meet-and-greet friends and fans and sign copies of the book for them before and after shows. The first live show where my book will be available for purchase will be at my birthday shows at Yoshi’s in Oakland, California (July 15th and 16th). Yoshi’s has always felt like home to me, so it’s a perfect venue to officially make the book available.

It will also be available for purchase on my website,, on the Blurb website, and on Amazon.

I also plan on doing speaking engagements and book readings around the country where I can meet folks and sign copies for them.

What do you want people to take away after reading your memoir?

I hope that readers will take away the feeling of what it’s like to be a musician. To live the life of a musician while keeping a family intact. And I hope people will get a sense of where I came from. Of my parents, and the challenges of my childhood. They’ll see, I hope, that the challenges helped to shape me, and were instrumental in my goal-setting and passion for music and art.

The challenges made it interesting. Having music in my life, and raising a family—a family of musicians—has many rewards as well as some inevitable struggles.

The first thing I’m going to do is put my arms around that book, hug it tightly to my chest, and say, “Here it is!”

There’s also some cool extras in the book, including some journal entry excerpts showing what it’s really like to be on the road. You get to travel the world, but you don’t often get to see where you’re actually traveling. It’s airplane to hotel to venue to hotel to airplane to next city, over and over again. It’s a fast life, with few days off, and it can be mentally and physically draining. You have to act like it’s opening night on each stage, each night, because to the audience, it is the opening night. But to you, it could be the 30th night in a row of the same show. It takes a lot. I think readers will enjoy getting a real glimpse beyond the perks of world travel, glitz, and what’s perceived as “making it.”

Aside from learning about me as a musician, father, and artist, I hope people get a sense of who I am as a man. The boy who became a man. I hope that my journey is something readers will be able to relate to, learn from, or find inspiration from. It’s a blessing to be able to share my story within a memoir. And I hope readers find something important within it for themselves.

We’re thankful Pete took the time to share the story behind the creation of his book which you can check out here.


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