Friday, May 17, 2024

The Greatest Band That Never Was: Satirical novel relates tale of Toledo rock “legends”

Remember OJ’s Knife? No, not the actual physical object— the band. What? You never heard of them? They were huge in the 90’s! Probably the biggest rock group that ever came out of Toledo! They even played a gig at the Glass Bowl! Seriously, you don’t remember them?

Don’t worry, that is because OJ’s Knife never existed. Not in real life and, actually,  not even in the fictional world of the novel OJ’s Knife— So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star? (310 pages) by Toledo author Franklin Bluth.

Based on a true story?
The book tells the story of a group of friends who decide to convince the world that a Glass-City-based rock group is taking the music world by storm. They call radio stations, manipulate fans on the web and even get booked for a big stadium show— all without ever playing a note.

What makes the tale even weirder is that it’s based on a true story, almost. “Writers write what they know, so OJ’s Knife is autobiographical fiction,” Bluth said. “All the characters are based on people I know— friends, family, enemies—  with the volume turned up to 10 and with a healthy dose of wishful thinking. And many of the conversations and situations really happened, and that helped round out the story.  Sneaking backstage to meet Helmet? That actually happened. Calling into a college radio station to talk about OJ’s Knife? Actually happened. We also really thought that OJ’s Knife would be a cool name for a band…so that’s where it all began.”

A 2020 resurrection
The book was written in the 1990s. The author readily admits that “Franklin Bluth” is a pseudonym, as he’s grown up and matured as a writer in the intervening years, while OJ’s Knife remains very much a product of its era.  “The book has significantly more inappropriate humor and content than my current career. OJ’s Knife is vastly different from what I’d written in the past, and what I do today, so I decided a pen name was the best way to go.”

How was this vintage and very offbeat tale released in 2020? Because of COVID-19, naturally. “While at home, I came across the 20-year old manuscript and thought ‘Hey, let’s see what we have here,’” Bluth explains.  “At the time (in the 1990’s), I had no idea how to shop this to a publisher, so it became a check mark on a bucket list. As the industry changed– and with the ease of self-publishing– I thought it was worth putting it on-line and seeing what happens.”

There is no moral
Despite the tale’s age and setting,  it is strikingly relevant to modern times with a look at the nature of the cult of celebrity— an angle that Bluth admits he wasn’t thinking about when he wrote it.  “I think the book is about shortcuts. It’s about the length people go for fame without putting in any of the work, or without understanding the repercussions. In fact, the band is completely content defrauding basically everyone they encounter, all for riches and fame.”

When you get down to it, though, there’s really no deep message at the core of OJ’s Knife, Bluth admits.  “There ain’t no underlying moral of the story or life lessons here. We all sing in our car, sing in the shower, air guitar and air drum to our favorite songs and pretend we are on stage in front of thousands of fans. OJ’s Knife taps into that dream, and I hope readers are entertained.”

OJ’s Knife— So You Want to Be a Rock and Roll Star?
by Franklin Bluth
Available for download on
$4.99 on Kindle, Free for Kindle Unlimited members

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