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Q&A: Edmond author Greg Metzer counts down “When Rock & Roll Mattered Most," uncovers college nickname histories with “Billikens, Boilermakers & Banana Slugs"

by Brandy McDonnell Published: July 18, 2014
Edmond author Greg Metzer will sign copies of his new books "When Rock & Roll Mattered Most" and "Billikens, Boilermakers & Banana Slugs" Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Edmond author Greg Metzer will sign copies of his new books "When Rock & Roll Mattered Most" and "Billikens, Boilermakers & Banana Slugs" Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

A version of this Q&A appears in Friday’s Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.

Edmond writer counts down “When Rock & Roll Mattered Most”
Attorney and author Greg Metzer will be signing his new rock ‘n’ roll book as well as his nonfiction volume titled “Billikens, Boilermakers & Banana Slugs: The Stories Behind College Nicknames” Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore.

No matter what the trends and charts say, rock ‘n’ roll matters to Greg Metzer.

In the past 10 months, the self-described “rock snob” and fervent sports fan has released not one but two new books delving into his pop-culture interests.

The Edmond attorney’s “When Rock and Roll Mattered Most” follows his 2008 debut volume “Rock Band Name Origins” thematically, while his latest release, “Billikens, Boilermakers & Banana Slugs: The Stories Behind College Nicknames,” expands the concept and format of his first book into the wide world of sports.

Along with several other authors on the roster of Oklahoma City’s Tate Publishing, Metzer will sign copies of his new books at a “New Ink!” event from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday at Full Circle Bookstore.\

Q: “When Rock and Roll Mattered Most” counts down the 15 most pivotal years in rock ‘n’ roll history. It’s a different approach to writing about a musical genre than I’ve seen before. How did you come up with that approach?

Metzer: The whole idea sort of stemmed from my thought that when I was a senior in high school I thought, wow, wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll really important then. So many things were happening, so I thought, ‘I bet that was one of the most critical years ever.’

So just being the list guy that I am … I listed basically every year between 1955 and the current year. Then, I started going through rock archives, books, just everything, and picking out things that I thought were the most important things that ever happened in rock ‘n’ roll music. And I’d categorize them by year.

Oddly enough, the year that I graduated from high school (1978) was one of the least years in the entire history of rock ‘n’ roll. (Laughs) It just seemed important to me ‘cause I was a high school senior, you know, like music does. But as far as actual important events, there was nothing going on.

Q: How did you go from rock ‘n’ roll to college nicknames?

Metzer: It was kind of a sequel to the “Rock Band Name Origins.” It was sort of in the same vein: The origin of nicknames of schools. And there are some that really have unclear origins even to this day. Most of them are rooted in discussions that took place among student bodies or behind closed doors in the late 1800s.

Those stories have been changed over the years, and there are some schools – Hoosiers, Hoyas – where nobody really knows for sure what they are. So you take your best guess and you throw out a number of different scenarios and let the reader decide for themselves. … This book has virtually every major university that everybody would know and all the major conferences and some that are not major – except that I couldn’t bring myself as a self-respecting Okie to put the University of Texas in there. So I left ‘em out. (Laughs)

And I tell you what, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have two of the more interesting origins … but my heart and soul’s really in music.”

Q: Do you think you will be writing more books on music?

Metzer: I don’t have anything in the works right now. … Every time I write a book, I learn so much. That’s maybe the best thing about writing a book is you educate yourself so much.

And then you try to make it fun for other people to learn things, too … but they’re like running a marathon. Once you get started, they’re so hard to stop because you’ve got that goal in front of you. But they’re also hard to keep going, too, because it really does require an awful lot of time and effort. But it’s so rewarding in the end.


“New Ink!” book signing

When: 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Full Circle Bookstore, 50 Penn Place, 1900 Northwest Expressway.

Information: 842-2900 or



by Brandy McDonnell
Entertainment Reporter
Brandy McDonnell, also known by her initials BAM, writes stories and reviews on movies, music, the arts and other aspects of entertainment. She is NewsOK’s top blogger: Her 4-year-old entertainment news blog, BAM’s Blog, has notched more than 1...
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