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4AD Records’ Nabil Ayers to Release Memoir, ‘My Life in the Sunshine’

The book's title nods to “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” the signature 1976 track by Ayers’ biological father, jazz legend Roy Ayers.

Nabil Ayers
Courtesy Gabriela Bhaskar/The New York Times

Music industry veteran Nabil Ayers, who is currently the U.S. general manager of 4AD, has announced a June 7 release date for his memoir, “My Life in the Sunshine: Searching for My Father and Discovering My Family,” via Viking Books. The title is an homage to “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” the signature 1976 track from Ayers’ biological father, jazz legend Roy Ayers.

“My Life in the Sunshine” chronicles Ayers’ experiences growing up in the shadows of the legacy of his father, whom he has only met a handful of times, and through adulthood. Like his dad, Ayers was predisposed to music from an early age and has been immersed in it ever since, both as a performer in bands such as the Long Winters and Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson’s solo group and as the co-founder of Seattle’s beloved Sonic Boom Records in 1997.

Alongside recollections from attending such formative concerts as Nirvana’s live debut of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at Seattle’s OK Hotel on April 17, 1991, the book also covers Ayers’ discovery of several half-siblings he never knew existed and familial roots that date back to the American Civil War.

“There are plenty of fun stories about New York City and Amherst in the ‘70s, being a bi-racial kid with a young single mother and moving to Salt Lake City in the ‘80s, living in Seattle and touring in rock bands in the ‘90s, and my time in NYC at 4AD,” Ayers tells Variety. “But it’s mostly about the influence my father has had over me despite his absence, and the blurring of lines that define family and race.”

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Courtesy Viking Books

Outside from his role at 4AD, where he has worked closely with artists such as The National, Grimes and St. Vincent, Ayers founded his own label, The Control Group, in 2002 and through it has released music by Cate Le Bon, Lykke Li and his own uncle, jazz musician Alan Braufman, among others.

Ayers also sits on the board of directors for Seattle radio station KEXP and the Recording Academy’s New York chapter, and has written about music and other subjects for The New York Times, NPR, Rolling Stone, GQ and Vulture.