Next month, the new 700-page biography of The Smiths by music writer Tony Fletcher finally comes out in the U.S. — the book, which promises “the complete story” of the iconic band, hit stores in the U.K. in early September — and publisher Crown Archetype has given us a dozen copies to give away to Slicing Up Eyeballs readers.
Due out Dec. 4, Fletcher’s “A Light That Never Goes Out: The Enduring Saga of The Smiths” chronicles the rise and abrupt end of The Smiths, based on new interviews with Johnny Marr and Andy Rourke as well as scores of contemporary sources, including short-lived second guitarist Craig Gannon and producers Stephen Street and John Porter.
TO ENTER: Simply drop a comment below naming your favorite rock bio or other music-related book, and give us a few words on why you think it’s such a great read.
RULES: This contest is only open to entrants in the U.S. (sorry, publisher’s rule), and we’ll take entries until 12 p.m. EST Friday, Nov. 23. After that point, we’ll select 12 winners at random and contact them via e-mail — so please remember to use legit addresses when you enter. And if any winners don’t respond after one full week, we’ll select a new one. One entry per person, please.
UPDATE (11/23/12): The contest is now closed. Winners will be notified via e-mail.
My favorite music biography is “Ten Imaginary Years” about The Cure.
Loved Clapton:The Autobiography! He has great stories to tell and is so thankful for his sobriety.
all time favorite auto-bio was Bob’s “Chronicle’s Volume 1” and also loved Jimmy McDonough’s “Shakey” about Neil Young.
Touching from a distance by Debrah Curtis. Great read about Ian Curtis. More on a personal note.
My fav music bio is “Take it like a Man” by Boy George
loved this too!
Best history of punk–Savage’s “England’s Dreaming”.
Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend was a good read! Just saw Morrissey last month! Would love to have a copy of this book!
“I’m With The Band” by Pamela DesBarres ~ lots of dirt & gossip, she slept with about every big rock god of the 70’s!
My favorite music-related book is Nick Hornby’s classic novel HIGH FIDELITY. Can’t wait to read this new book on The Smiths!
I’ve only started reading seriously in the past year or so and I’m hitting all genres…But one I’ve yet to hit is music related. If I win this book, it will be my first! And since The Smiths were my 2nd concert every (back in 1985 at age 14!), this would be great book to start with!
Our Band Could Be Your Life…not just one bio, but many…
“Lennon” by Ray Coleman. A great, balanced biography that doesn’t paint John as either a god or a villain. Still the definitive one.
The Replacements “All over but the shouting” was pretty good.
My fave rock bio is The Nearest Faraway Place, which is about the Beach Boys, but in a larger sense is about the history of California and America’s move west. A close second is The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones by Stanley Booth.
I’ve been reading a TON of music bios lately including Bowie, DM, The Cure, The Clash, The Stone Roses, The Verve and Factory Records. However my favorite music-related book would have to be High Fidelity. It totally captures the way i feel about music.
Honorable mention to Marc Spitz’s How Soon Is Never
Cash by Johnny Cash for the directness and honesty.
Peter Dogget’s “You Never Give Me Your Money”, his book on the formation of Apple records and the dissolution of the Beatles is just too great. The writing is unique and it goes to great lengths to dispel any myths about the Beatles and their business acumen. The truth is, they didn’t have any.
I’m in the midst of reading “XTC: Song Stories”, which is a collection of interviews with the band that focuses on the recording of their albums and each of their songs.
Definitely the oral history of the Replacements, All Over But the Shouting. The format gave a good feel of both what was going on in the band and of the broader scene as a whole. It was packed with some really cool stories by the band, other bands, and fans alike, but altogether a pretty quick read because I couldn’t put it down.
Mixed Tape by Rob Sheffield. Lovely bio woven through music.
Have to agree w/ Tawnya…”Mixed Tape” is a GREAT music-bio read!
Adam Ant Stand and Deliver Absolutely loved reading about his childhood in post war England.
“Our Band Could Be Your Life”. I think it’s amazing to read about bands such as The Minutemen, Sonic Youth, Husker Du and their struggles through having their art heard. Great Read!
I recently bought Joy Division by Kevin Cummins and it is a wonderful book with absolutely beautiful photographs.
Bob Mould Seen a Little Light or whatever it was called
“Whores” (Jane’s Addiction) It was a great read from beginning to end!
“Rat Girl” by Kristin Hersh. Great document of the early years of Throwing Muses.
Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles by Geoff Emerick. It’s a great first-hand account of the Beatles’ recordings.
Am loving John Taylor’s “Life in the Pleasure Groove”
Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll by Joe Oestreich, because it’s the real deal story of a never quite made it 25 years and going touring indie rock band….
For me, No one gets out of here alive is still the rock bio by which all others are measured. Created rock mythology practically…
david lee roth’s crazy from the heat. it reads like he speaks with long run-on paragraphs. fun, easy, interesting read.
Hammer of the Gods. Fascinatingly chronicles completely self-indulgent rock stars managed by super-bully Peter Grant.
I’ve read others by artists whose music I listen to more frequently, but I choose “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. Not only a fascinating story but one written so well that you can most definitely hear the author’s voice speaking to you.
There are tons of great music bio’s but recently I enjoyed reading Kevin Cummins’ Joy Division. Well done and some great photos, too.
Please Kill Me! because these stories needed to be told.
Buried Alive: The Biography of Janis Joplin by Myra Friedman. I think it’s a great read because it really gets behind the public mask of Janis. I felt I understood her more as a person beyond the rock star persona. It’s a pretty heart wrenching book, and many of the lines and details found in it still stay with me.
I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum, it’s a fun ride. Or Bob Mould’s autobiography, “See a Little Light.”
john taylor’s in the pleasure groove – raw account of the music scene pre and post-duran mania. sex, drug and rock & roll from mr. pretty boy himself!
My favorite book was “Touching From a Distance” by Ian Curtis’s wife
Led Zep’s “Hammer of the Gods”. Gives all of the rack star stereotypes validity and discusses the “shark” incident.
The only music related bio that I remember reading is Sting’s autobiography. I remember enjoying it. A good read. His experience with Ayahuasca, very interesting, and where he came from , his family life/background, his roots, and his path as a musician. Very interesting.
Break on Through Jim Morrison bio
I second the vote for ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991’ by Michael Azerrad. Gives you such a better appreciation for what life on the road was like for some of the most influential and groundbreaking punk and indie bands.
Recently read & loved Bob Mould’s autobiography. Particularly insightful & really appreciated how much space in the book he devoted to his life as a gay man. As a gay man too, it was inspiring.
I thoroughly enjoyed “U2 at the End of the World” about the recording of Achtung Baby and the ZOO TV tour. Awesome, well written read. I need to win this contest!!! I want this book about my other fave band, The Smiths.
Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs. Great John Lydon autobiography, neat in the way it includes often-dissenting opinions from other punk luminaries who were there at the time. Very witty, too.
American Hardcore: A Tribal History, by Steve Blush. As an east coaster, living in DC, the novel (turned film) was extremely inspiring. Really brings home the history and passion behind the emergence of the genre/culture.
Redemption Song – the Ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz. Joe Strummer, with all of his faults. Great book.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes was terrific. Touching From a Distance was also good.
Please Kill Me the Uncensored Oral History of Punk is phenominal! First hand accounts from interviews with the people who were there!
A Drink With Shane MacGowan.
Given his place in both the early days of punk in England and his role in spreading his love of traditional Irish music–a convergence of circumstances which might not strike kids in the US as either the most natural or common–I loved reading about the early days of this great storyteller and character.
It’s trash, as are most bios, but Dave Marsh’s “Before I Get Old” is great foundational Who material.
“You’re Entitled to an Opinion” is a great read. Really dissects the life and achievements of Tony Wilson, the man behind Factory Records.
“Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991,” Michael Azerrad. A decent book about the soundtrack to my early life.
‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’, Brian Wilson’s autobiography. One of my favorite reads. Quite hard to believe details of working with Phil Spector’s madness to getting help from Dr. Eugene Landy. A definite must read even if you’re not the biggest fan of Brian Wilson.
“Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution”- giving evidence on how music, beyond merely intertwining with our emotional state and where we are in our lives, also inspires and fuels movements as well.
Love is a Mixtape – The playlists set the stage for each chapter and connected you not only to the characters of the book but also to memories of long lost loves and friends that I shared countless mixtapes with.
XTC – Song Stories, – a pretty cool departure from the normal bio-book… providing insight, meanings and background on the songs written by one of the greatest writing duos (Partridge/Moulding) since Lennon/McCartney.
It may seem like pandering but I enjoyed Fletcher’s book on Echo & the Bunnymen that came out in the late 80s. It is still the best bio of that band, I wish I still had a copy though. Mine disappeared sometime over the years and it is long out of print.
Hardcore Troubador, the unauthorized biography of Steve Earle. The stories are jaw dropping and the description of life on the road seems more authentic than any I’ve read. This guy seems to have pissed off more people than even Morrissey. And yet, he participates in an interview for the author, knowing the book is unauthorized. Really incredible read
Fave music book? Right now it would be Julian Cope’s Repossessed. I know Head On gets the most attention when it comes to his memoirs, but Repossessed is great since it covers his ‘downfall’ from The Teardrop Explodes & subsequent rocky start to his solo career. It’s a very warts ‘n all book, and he talks about everybody from the Bunnymen (some great stories featuring Pete de Freitas) to his disgust for Blancmange and Jaz Coleman. I may not always agree with his opinions, but he presents them in such a funny way that I don’t begrudge them.
“Mystery Train” Not only does it present the beginning of Elvis Presley’s career, it attempts to illustrate the birth of rock and roll and the circumstances that blew the door open. An amazing read for any fan of popular music, even if you aren’t an Elvis fan.
“Our Band Could Be Your Life” is indeed fantastic…I will give props to Legs McNeil’s “Please Kill Me”. There is something raw about oral histories, particularly when they deal with the combustible NYC punk scene of the late-70s. You can practically smell the grime and sex and it’s intoxicating, romantic and heartbreaking in equal measure.
The cure’s ‘ten imaginary years”! It captured the band so well!
SynthBrittania was Great documentary!!! 12 days on the road with the Sex Pistols a classic and touching from distance is a must read for anyone. Recently watched Ministry:Fix, which left a doubting feeling on if Al is a genius or just a junkie.
Trouser Press Guide by Ira A. Robbins is the best collection of great, pithy copy about music anywhere.
My favorite book is Peepholism – Into the Art of Morrissey, by Jo Slee. Next to the amazing lyrics of Morrissey and Marr, the art that Morrissey painstakingly selected for the albums is second to none. I have always loved the images, backdrops etcetera.
‘Never Stop: the Echo and the Bunnymen story’ by Tony Fletcher; must’ve been the timing, but I read it over and over, felt like a fly on the wall in Bunnymenland.
ps: hooray to the comment above naming boy george’s autobio -SO GOOD too
I have 2 favorites – “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs” by John Lydon, great read from his perspective on the formative years of the Sex Pistols. My other favorite is, “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. Interesting read on how her relationship with Robert Maplethorpe shaped her perspective in music.
Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash. Cash’s autobiography is, simply put, the most spiritual book that I have ever read. Cash believes that God sends us angels in the form of people to help us through tough situations in life. His experiences and my own life experiences make me inclined to agree.
I read “Our Noise: the story of Merge Records” from cover to cover as soon as that came out. It was awesome reading how a small, local indie label has evolved into a…well, bigger, local indie label. They consistently release great music and manage to keep their feet on the ground. Excellent read.
Punk Diary 1970-1979 was good: so many facts, and some early criticism by young Moz himself.
I love the 33 1/3 series from continuum publishing. each one has it’s own charm. i think i’ve read the david bowie: ‘low’ book the most, but i also really liked the personal stories woven throughout the prince: ‘sign of the times’ one.
“Please Kill Me,” Legs McNeil’s oral history of punk rock. He brought all the legends (and folks close to the deceased ones).
One of my favorite Rock Bio books has to be be Amazing Journey by Pete Townshend. He just goes so in depth about every minute aspect of his career and provides little tidbits and interesting stories to really keep the reader roped in! I know this book will do the same! Me and my girlfriend LOVE The Smiths, fingers crossed I win!
One of my more favorite rock bio’s is “Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley”. Really gets into the relationship (or lack of) between Jeff and his dad Tim. Also was great to understand more about the music and thought process of Tim Buckley. Jeff does some great Smith’s covers live – really fantastic stuff.
Definitely Richard Neer’s ‘FM: The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio’. Utterly fascinating read about the early history of FM as well as WNEW’s glory days.
I’d rather be famous.
“Take it like a Man” by Boy George – Incredible read. BG and Culture Club should never have made it the way they did by all practical accounts. BG should be dead, really. Amazing story!
I really enjoyed Bill Bruford’s autobiography. Gives some great insight into playing in Crimson and having to deal with Robert Fripp (I’m certain Bill toned it down some as I’ve heard that Fripp is the ultimate prima donna) as well as discovering how hard it was to make a decent living as a musician. Plus the guy is super intelligent, so there was some cerebral matter discussed which was interesting.
Been reading “Drinking With Strangers: Lessons From A Teenage Bullet Belt” by Butch Walker. Excellent read about his experiences with the music industry – highly recommend. Would Love the Smith’s book too!
Out of all that I’ve read, I think “Please Kill Me,” was the most important. It was the first for me, and the uncensored, gritty, and sometimes ridiculous accounts really stuck with me. It was as if I’ve found a forbidden history book that gave me some chapters of New York City life right up to when I was born and then the decline of things just a few years after.
“Makeup to Breakup” Peter Criss
weird like us by ann powers made me realize that there were fans who truly appreciated music as much as i did, and who were in fact weird like me.
‘New Art City’, Jed Pearl. ‘Basquiat’, Phoebe Hoban. ‘Born Standing Up’, Steve Martin. ‘Sex Drugs and Cocoa Puffs’, Chuck Klosterman. …Ok, they’re not technically Rock Bios. Um… I have ‘Joy Division, Piece by Piece’? But I’m saving it for a beach book.
Whores or all over but the shouting.gotta love those oral biographies.you get more than just one persons perspective.
“Cheese Chronicles” The True Story Of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Band You’ve Never Heard Of” by Nashville’s own Tommy Womack! One of the funniest, brutally honest, insightful rock n roll diaries every written. Anyone who’s played or traveled with a band will identify with this books stories and it’s a great look behind the curtain for those of us that love the music. You will laugh hard often but you’ll feel his love for what he does.
One Train Later by Andy Summers.
Just Kids by Patti Smith
“Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk” by Leg McNeil + Gillian McCain … An oral history of Iggy Pop, Malcom McLaren, Jim Carrol, up to Warhol and beyond… Any interest in early punk… you gotta read this one.
Don’t know about favorite, but I recently really enjoyed Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town by Thomas Jerome Seabrook. Fun and informative read on Bowie’s Berlin albums, reminding me again just how influential and great those albums are.
Bob Mould’s autobiography “Shine a Little Light” is fantastic, it made me want to rediscover his back catalogue.
All Over but the Shouting ( an oral history)– the RePlAcMeNtS The history of the Replacements told by band members, friends, and family. Excellent!! Paul Westerberg even mentions Prince a few times.
My favorite band bio is Jon Savages’s ‘England’s Dreaming’, the best book to understand that great 1977.
currently reading The Stone Roses by John Robb. Favorites include David Bowie:Starman, and Notorious (duran duran biography) by Steve malins.
Making Rumours by Ken Callait. I loved the techincal, producer elements of the book which made me hear that album in a totally different way.
It’s a toss-up between “All The Rage” by Ian McLagan of the (Small) Faces and “Backstage Passes And Backstabbing Bastards” by Al Kooper. Both wickedly funny and filled with fascinating stories – leave it to the keyboardists to deliver the goods. Tony Fletcher’s one of the best out there, though – his Keith Moon bio is epochal!
Marc Almond’s “Tainted Life: An Autobiography” for the brutally honest account of the music industry’s tight hold on artists from the 80s and the difficulties these artists had in coping with stardom in an image-obsessed cultural milieu.
Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing. Great read chronically the early life, and struggles of another great singer songwriter that was discovered too late.
As mentioned, “The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years” is amazing. Some great insight with input from Robert Smith.
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh — it’s honest, funny, and is a really interesting look into the beginnings of her band.
My favorite music bio is Wouldn’t Be Nice by Brian Wilson because it is completely bananas! Just the seediest underbelly of family feuds, brainwashing, drug abuse, selfishness and teenage symphonies to God!
Broken Music, Sting. The man is a musical genius.
I just finished Cyndi Lauper’s Memoirs and loved it….. very personal with her own style of humor….. courageous lady.
“The Dirt” Motley Crue. Even if you aren’t a fan, it is the ultimate “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” story.
‘Just Kids’ – really the story of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe but the middle part of the box offers a fascinating view into NYC’s rock-art scene of late 60s/early 70s. There are great cameos by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and a small appearance by Bob Dylan. It’s also an insightful narrative of Ms. Smith’s career as she grows from a small-town girl living on the streets of Brooklyn to her first poetry reading at The Poetry Project (where Sam Shepard encouraged her to have Lenny Kaye compliment her reading with an electric guitar) into one of the most important rock icon in music history.
I really enjoyed My First Time: A Collection of First Punk Show Stories ed. Chris Duncan. This is a great bunch of stories about something that many people can identify with as music fans.
Woody Guthrie; A life. Just amazing for historical perspective and the story, his amazing life.
One Train Later by Andy Summers. He is a wonderful writer and reminds us how splendid it is when musicianship and intellect collide. The story helps fans / readers understand how the Police should have never happened and why bands break up and simply have to move on.
Redemption Song….no question. Strummer was magic and I’m so thrilled this book exists because it’s important future rockers understand where the history of an entire form of music came from.
Patti Smith – Just Kids. It’s an awesome book.
I really loved “Please Kill Me” because it had so much information about so many bands of the time. So great at putting it all together.
“View from a Hill” by Mark Burgess of The Chameleons.
I adore ‘Long Hard Road Out of Hell’ – Marilyn Manson & ‘The Dirt’ – Motley Crue.. Neil Strauss brings out the best of these rockers…
I really liked Love Goes to Buildings on Fire, by Will Hermes. A great snapshot of an important musical period in New York.
“Cash” by Johnny Cash. It was so real and openly honest. It has moved me everytime that I’ve read it.
Diary of a Rock and Roll Star – Ian Hunter
Head/Repossessed by Julian Cope – the bible of the post-punk era!
“The Real Frank Zappa” is a great read. His way with lyrics and words translates over to this book and tells about the man he really was.
“Rip It Up and Start Again” by Simon Reynolds is the very best book I have read concerning the post punk movement followed closely by the much earlier “From the Velvets to the Voidoids” by Clinton Heylin.
Cash by Johnny Cash & scar tissue by Anthony Kiedis are fantastic rock bios! Well written by the men who where there & experienced it all first hand, themselves!
Chronicles: Volume 1 by Bob Dylan for a writing style both straight-shooting and deeply fanciful and its mining of a different kind of memory.
“Lipstick Traces” or “Our Band Could be Your Life.”
Morrissey & Marr: The Severed Alliance by Johnny Rogan. Thorough. Love it.
I am so excited about this book. I am quite partial to Pete Burns autobiography, Freak Unique.
Morrissy/Marr severed alliance-great abrv. history of Manchester.
My favorite is *Bernard Sumner: Confusion: Joy Division, Electronic and New Order Versus the World* by David Nolan because Sumner opted not to participate in the research and writing of it, but *does* offer his thoughts in the final book via “drop ins” throughout the text. Interesting way to correct some of the legends.
Cash on cash: wonderful insight into the life and times of an American music icon–in his own words.
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh: beautiful, truthful, sad, and cathartic. Not to mention funny as hell. Touched me profoundly.
“I Want My MTV” by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum is one of the best music and music industry books I’ve ever read. It’s not just about MTV it’s about the artists and their attitudes about the new medium. The insecurities of artist that are now asked to act and be in front of the camera. How some of the MTV executives were bigger partiers than the rock stars.
How soon is never? by Marc Spitz…. A great read for any Smiths fan out there who has wished for a Smiths reunion.
I really liked Black Postcards by Dean Wareham; probably a bit predisposed to like because of my love for Galaxie 500. All the same, really nicely written
There are a number of engaging books on rock (in some form): histories of pop, punk, and post-punk et al (“Our Band Could Be Your Life”, “Please Kill Me”, “My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize”), great bios, memoirs (especially Nile Rogers’), but I’d have to choose Pail Morley’s “Words and Music: the history of pop in the shape of a city” as my favorite. Funny, indulgent, and arrogant, the book attempts to trace the history of pop (music, culture) as existing between to extreme poles: Kylie Minogue’s “can’t get you out of my head” and Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room.” Although often maddening, it’s a great read for those who enjoy Thomas Pynchon and New Order singles in equal measure.
Bob Mould’s “See A Little Light” is my favorite rock bio. My favorite non-bio music book is Simon Reynolds “Rip It Up and Start Again.” I am really looking forward to reading Fletcher’s book on the Smiths!
the beatles by mark spitz…it’s the only beatles book that had stories that i had never heard before…great read…
Why i think it would be a good read. It would be nice to get the real story of why the Smiths broke up. After years of conflicting stories and finger pointing to go along with law suites and rumors of reunions getting the fans excited only to be let down again. The smiths were one if the best bands from the 80’s who came to an abrupt end way to soon. Best book so far has been Morrissey and Marr. I can’t wait to read this one.
Rip It Up And Start Again by Simon Reynolds. It’s about an incredibly interesting time in music..the post-punk era of 78-84
Spacemen 3 & The Birth of Spiritualized by Erik Morse. The book is fiercely as droning as their music! Who knew these guys were from the 80’s!
Our Band Could Be Your Life lived up to the hype for me, and I found reading about the bands I barely listened to was as interesting as reading about the ones I was a huge fan of.
I thoroughly enjoyed the U2 by U2 book that came out a few years back. Would love to win this book on The Smiths.
A favorite is “Deep Blues” by Robert Palmer. The description of Howling Wolf playing live has never left my head 15+ years after reading it.
Free stuff = eyeball comments go nuts!
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991 by Michael Azerrad was quite good and encouraged me to give a few artists I’d hadn’t given much time to another try. I just got Shaun Ryder’s autobiography and I’m expecting that to be thoroughly entertaining.
See a Little Light by Bob Mould. Great story from a guy that has lived a lot of life.
There are so many good ones! One of my favorites is “U2 At The End Of The World” by Bill Flannagan. It goes into depth on the making of Achtung Baby (it’s the sound of four men chopping down the Joshua Tree!), and follows the band into the Zoo TV tour and the following Zooropa era. Fascinating stuff!
Hey Ho Let’s Go–The Story of the Ramones. the birth live and death of the Ramones–and also Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk–both great reads!
“Hammer of the Gods” – Not really a fan of Led Zeppelin but an interesting book
The Go-Betweens by David Nichols. Relatively little drama in it, just an interesting look at the life of a band who was always critically acclaimed but never able to break into the mainstream.
Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir. The book is an easy read because I can relate to her. She makes me laugh. She is quirky, real, creative, and works for good humanitarian causes.
I recently finished “How Music Works” by David Byrne, and it’s excellent. Part autobiography, part detailed analysis of how sound is shaped & how it influences our lives. Also enjoyed Simon Price’s “Everything: A Book about the Manic Street Preachers.” Wonderful portrait of a criminally overlooked band (at least in the U.S.).
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: the Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon was an amazing read. Written by Crystal Zevon, it gives such a broad and personal history of the man and his music, and doesn’t shy away from the dark stuff. So well written, and in spite of shedding light on Zevon’s shortcomings as a human, husband, and father, it is a lovely tribute to a brilliant and troubled soul.
Keith Richards “Life” was a good read. He’s lived such an insane one that I feel like a nun in comparison.
Our Band Could be Your Life : How can you not love a book title from a Minutemen lyric. Hammer of the Gods and LZ 75 are both greats reads also
Touching from a distance is a great read for Joy Division fans. People might know the story and trajic ending, but this book offers intriguing insight. Thanks
Never Enough about The Cure…
thought “A Saucerful of Secrets” was a decent read…although there’ve been many others through the years
I like Greil Marcus’s Mystery Train.
It has to be either Patti Smith’s “Just Kids” or Johnny Ramone’s “Commando.” I love both for their honesty and how they recount a NYC that is long gone.
Break On Through: Iconic musician living a life that is unbelievable.
“Just Kids” by Patti Smith, it’s written by Patti–enough said!
Touching From A Distance by Deborah Curtis. I’m a long time Joy Division fan and love that book. Very personal and well written.
Marc Spitz’ novel “How Soon is Never” is brilliant and deals with one man’s obsession with getting the Smiths back together. Also recommend his second novel about “Too Much, Too Late” a great story about a one-hit wonder and life after same, many years down the road….
I read tons of biographies/autobiographies so it’s hard to pick one. Keith Richards/Bob Mould and Slash all have great ones out but the most unflinching and scary as hell bio I have read must be Motley Crue’s The Dirt. It’s just oozes filth and reality…if you dig the band…. or think they are a bunch of knobs makes no difference! Must read. And Yes….would love The Smiths book as they are my fave band.
Our band could be your life. This book was the starting point for me in really caring about the success of small bands.
Would it be too ingratiating to say “The Songs That Saved Your Life” by Simon Goddard? I think getting a look into the song writing process is so much more fulfilling than are tales of rock-and-roll lifestyles. It’s the songs that matter. Plus, it gives insights to in recorded and unpublished songs. Juicy!
The majority of the 33 1/3 books are great, I especially like the book on Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division.
It absolutely has to be “How I Got My Wiggle Back: A Memoir of Healing”. It’s a reviting insightful view of the trials and tribulations of being the blue “Wiggle”. Fruit salad, yummy yummy – indeed!
I love Rip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds because I love post-punk.
I Want My MTV by Rob Tannenbaum was my favorite and a great book. But thanks everyone for all the suggestions here!!!
Our Band Could Be Your Life. – a most intense biopic on the featured bands and their absolute dedication to what they were doing.
My favorite music related book is Chronicles, by Bob Dylan. Mostly, I just find it amazing that he has such focused recollection about so many specific moments, while also being able to see the younger version of himself in wy that makes it feel, at times, that he’s writing about a different person completely.
I love Husker Du-The Story of the Noise-Pop Pioneers Who Launched Modern Rock book by Andrew Earles since it is not a one-sided take on the band.
I read the autobiography of Mark Burgess’s ‘View From A Hill’. Mark was in a in the U.K. Band The Chameleons. It’s a great read talking about his childhood to his formation with the band and struggles with band mates and with the music industry. Gives u a lot of insight on bands of that period as well such as The Sex Pistols, Joy Division, The Smiths etc, etc. this book gives u a great understanding of what happened to a band who could have been big just as The Smiths or U2. A great for any inspiring musician and singer.
Nick Kent’s “Apathy For The Devil”.
Hilarious, and devastating.
Also, my e-mail is MOZBOY!!!
Marc Spitz “How Soon Is Never”. Novel with a Smiths spin.
I think that my favorite music biography has got to be Mark Burgess’ (from the Chameleons UK) “A View From a Hill”. Wonderful read, really personal and enlightening. It be nice to couple it with the biography of another amazing Manchester band…
Our Band Could Be Your Life does it for me. Covers all the bands that were near and dear to me when growing up punk.
Absolutely loved the Joe Strummer biography. Just finished England’s Dreaming.
I loved Boy George’s Take It Like A Man.
In Search of the La’s. Very interesting look into the La’s and the very talented, mysterious Lee Mavers. Quick, interesting read.
It would be a three-way tie between
01. XTC: Song Stories. (my all time fave band discussing each and every song they have ever released… amazing!)
02. The Mötley Crüe autobiography, The Dirt. (banananas.)
03. Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll. (it doesn’t dive too deep which is A-OK with me.)
Really enjoyed Bob Mould’s autobiography. Either he has a brilliant memory, or he has journals stacked to the rafters. Amazing detail from his whole career.
The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years is a good one. It’s short but covers the band during there peak years.
How The Beatles Destroyed Rock And Roll. It’s a great book with a deceiving title. It’s basically a history of popular music that focuses on what was actually popular with the public, not the critics. It shows how the public’s tastes have changed and why and more importantly how music reaches the public and how that has changed. Great read.
My favorite rock doc is DIG!, the great one about the friendship between Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre that went slowly, horribly awry when one achieved a degree of Fame and the other didn’t. My favorite rock autobiography has to be either Pete Townshend’s or Bob Mould’s, because they’re not only packed with detail but rigorous honesty. I so want the Smiths book, can you tell?
“The Half-Life of Syd Barrett” by tim willis, and “The Dirt” autobiography for Motley Crue, because they were brutally honest…
My favorite bio was The Clash book “Last Gang In Town”. It had a lot of great information, and even went farther than The Clash, which was great for a music fan like me who wants to know everything. I also really enjoy any book of lists, especially for rock and punk rock.
Lost in Music by Giles Smith… great read if you’re obsessed with music :-)
Just read “Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever” by Will Hermes. Really good comprehensive look at the NYC music scene (all genres) from 1973-1977. Really interesting.
I loved Clinton Heylin’s From The Velvets to The Voidiods. It’s a very well done history of New York City Art Rock and Pre-Punk scene through the 1970s and is must reading for anyone who thinks the 70s Punk aesthetic was born in England.
I have to go with Rogan’s ‘Severed Alliance’ It’s surprising that someone else hasn’t taken on the daunting task of telling the Smiths story until this new book. That’s high praise for Rogan’s work. Having said that, I am very much looking forward to reading this new book.
I just read “Love Rock Revolution” which is a new history of the influential DIY label, K Records. It centered around the founder and Beat Happening frontman, Calvin Johnson, and is an instruction manual on how to remain a teenager (in a good way) forever.
Stuart Adamson: In a Big Country by Allan Glen. Insight into the talented but tortured man. RIP, Stuart.
Our Band Could Be Your Life
I keep going back to Michael Azerrad’s “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” which covers some of the defining alt/indie bands from the 1980s and goes deeply into their love of music and the creative process – how some of them really need it to live, and how their lives often fall apart with or without it (the section on The Replacements is really lovely).
The Smiths: Songs That Saved Your Life – really good insight into the hows and whys of their songs. Also serves as a guide to the lost troves of demos and other versions of Smiths songs.
Easy; “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azzerad, about the early American Indie Rock/DIY music scene. Amazingly well researched and written, it gives the proper credit to bands that deserve it and have been heinously overlooked by the mainstream music press.
JUST KIDS by patti smith. a beautiful rock n roll love story with a twist.
Keith Richards’ “Life” full of surprises and honest depiction of his heroin addiction and near-self destruction. Made me love the man even more!
David Bowie: The Stories Behind the Classic Songs 1970-1980 by Chris Welch
The ‘by song’ approach nicely divides this little history, zooming on my favorite Bowie era.
Even though it’s thin, and we never did get the promised follow up, I would have to say 10 Imaginary Years by The Cure. It transported them from being a bunch of dire, sad-sack weirdos into a bunch of funny, affable men who just happen to make great, and oftentimes, gloomy music. Reading it at the age of 14 changed my whole perspective on not only them, but the divide between art and artist in general.
Simon Goddard’s The Songs That Saved Your Life or Mozipedia. Both invaluable reference guides, and blooming good reads to boot!
Hank Williams: The Biography changed my life. The leap from Smiths to Hank isn’t as far as you might think.
Dylan’s “Chronicles Vol 1” and recently Susan Egan’s “A Visit from the Goon Squad” was good music industry related fiction.
Adam Ant: Stand And Deliver. I’ve been a fan of Mr Ant for 30 years. Never had a chance to see him live….until September. Drove 700 miles. It was a dream come true. At the gig, they were selling his biography, signed by Adam. Needless to say, I had to have it. Read it non-stop. I thought I knew a lot about the man, but needless-to-say, I was wrong. I found that he’s far more complex than most people know, with a story that would rival any artist.
i am ozzy
Pete Burns: Freak Unique; My Autobiography. It was a great read cause it gave more insight to this hot mess, train wreck that I love.
I really love “England’s Dreaming” by Jon Savage. It is a beautifully written book on 20th Century underground music, and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s Dickensian in its scope and rabbit-warren intersection of story lines.
I really enjoyed Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis. I’m not sure how more honest and open he could have been.
Touching from a distance, great book, great band.
Happiness, sadness, success and failure. Just read it!
I’d have to say it was Sid and Nancy, the story of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. The Pistols were quite a dysfunctional unit…I sat down and the next time I looked up I was finished. I was probably 15 or 16 when it came out and I was amazed by the lifestyle they lead and yet still made music. It really opened my eyes to the rough life some musicians choose to lead and the selfish nature they follow.
Is it bad that I don’t think I’ve ever read one?
“Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead” by Phil Lesh was great. Awesome to finally read a bio from one of the actual members.
“To Live is to Die” the Life and Death of Metallica’s Cliff Burton. A detailed read about Cliff Burton and his upbringing and history before joining Metallica. Cliff was such an accomplished musician. His bass lines could be songs by themselves, using classical method and his ingenuity. He definitely set himself apart from all other “metal” bass players.
I thoroughly enjoyed How Music Works by David Byrne – thought provoking and well written. But my guilty pleasure is the one I’m reading right now, by Willie Nelson: “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die.” I am pretty sure the cover can be used for rolling papers.
“Chronicles 1” by Bob Dylan & “Touching From a Distance” by Deborah Curtis. The Dylan book is so well written, and really draws you in. The Ian Curtis biography is just heartbreaking.
Boy George – Take It Like A Man
What a drug fueled start to a promising career. It was a tragic love story centered around Jon and George with a mix of drug induced concerts.
Great read from start to finish.
“Our Band Could Be Your Life:scenes from the American indie underground 1981-1991,” by Michael Azerrad. A fascinating account of the Indie music scene during the birth of grunge.
John Taylor’s “In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death and Duran Duran”. It has a great detailing of how the band grew from inception to platinum album status.
Best music book ever is Bill Flanagan’s Written In My Soul. Compelling interviews with great rock songwriters and an indispensible window into the creative process.
“Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll”(by James Greer) is an amazing Rock Bio on the most unlikeliest rock stars, GBV. It’s hilarious as it is inspiring. It is never too late to follow your dreams, and blast out lo- fi indie rock whilst getting shitfaced on light beer.
Sounds like a great read.
Meetings With Morrissey by Len Brown…fantastic book that provides revealing insight into Morrissey’s clever wit. I was impressed with his tenderness toward Les Brown when his brother died; that showed me who Morrissey is as a man.
Can I name more than one?
I liked Midge Ure’s “If I Was” a lot… Gary Numan’s “Praying to the Aliens”… Alice Cooper’s “Golf Monster”… “On the Road with the Ramones”… the “Complete Kylie” biography… the a-ha story “The Swing of Things”… and most recently the Weird Al book!
As a huge Depeche Mode fan, I loved “Depeche Mode Stripped” – great back stories on the music and the dynamic between the core members. John Taylor’s “In The Pleasure Groove” was self-indulgent and trash, but a guilty pleasure none-the-less.
“Just Kids”, by Patti Smith. This book makes you feel like your are there in the city with her. The descriptions she uses for moments in time are so raw and full of emotion. You’re with her upon her meetings with different Iconic people, like Nico for example, and they were all just people back then trying to get by, we forget those things, and it really humanizes them. The book goes through her life with her first love, making art and writing songs, living poorly but being rich at heart. She’s so humble, talented, and full of passion. It’s an amazing read, and made me adore her more.
I think my favorite autobiography is Just a Man: The Real Michael Hutchence, because INXS was my favorite band all throughout high school and pretty much all of college too, though I had branched out into the many forms of alternative college radio by that point. However, could never turn my back on INXS!! Waiting for the Morrissey show that was cancelled to be rescheduled, totally thrilled that he is going to be singing one of my favorite Smith’s songs, “I Know It’s Over,” can’t wait!! Can’t wait for this book either.
I absolutely love David Byrne’s How Music Works. It’s a must-read for anyone with even a passing interest in music. Drawing extensively from his own experiences, Byrne deftly crafts an insightful exploration of the social, environmental, scientific, technological and economic factors that shape our understanding of music, and the vital role it plays as a transformative power in our lives.
I’m obsessed with the 33 1/3 Book series. Almost all of them are amazing. My favorite though is David Bowie – Low.
“see a little light” by Bob Mould
I’ve read a fair number of rock bios, and my favorites have been “An Ideal for Living” about Joy Division and the early years of New Order (largely for the discography and gig history), “Ten Imaginary Years” about the first decade of The Cure, XTC’s “Song Stories”–a must-read if you like the band, and (this will seem very left-field after the others), Stephen Davis’ “The Hammer of the Gods.” I mean, you just have to.
I have read and re-read the book by Don Letts called “Culture Clash: Dread Meets Punk Rockers”. It’s a great behind the scenes look at home punk and reggae culture combined in London, and especially details about the Clash and Big Audio Dynamite (or which Don was/is a member).
Pete Townshend’s “Who I Am: A Memoir.” It is a painfully honest memoir from one of the greatest musicians of all-time.
Bad vibes luke Haines
Redemption Song-The ballad of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz was excellent.
Steely Dan:Reelin In The Years. great insight to the maniacal recording practices of Steely Dan
‘Renegade:The Lives And Tales Of Mark E. Smith’ by Mark E. Smith! I don’t know that it’s my all time favorite, but it’s a recent read, and a hell of an amusing book. He pulls no punches and it’s pretty damn funny!
“Wreckers Of Civilization: The Story of COUM Transmissions and Throbbing Gristle” by Simon Ford. It’s quite amazing how their performances and music pushed the boundaries of popular music and inspired a slew of people to make ‘industrial music for industrial people’.
“Girls to the Front: The true story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution” by Sara Marcus. A great read on some of the bands that were on the forefront of this genre. Very informational and engaging.
“Just Kids” by Patti Smith. I can never get tired of Patti Smith
What We Do is Secret the story of The Germs……what an insight to such a tragic persona in punk rock. Darby Crash was obsessed with his idols and his persona became bigger than himself. Darby was so infactuated with having followers he completely lost who he was inside. Became a punk icon but the cost was too high. Darby paid the ultimate price – himself
Depeche mode “just can’t get enough”. Great read.
Bob Mould’s “See a Little Light” was a great read. I t gave me a whole new appreciation for the man and his work.
Depeche Mode – Stripped
I love Joe Jackson’s A Cure For Gravity. Tales from before he ever hit it big. :)
Twisting my melon. Shaun Ryder. Made me wish I could stop at a pub and have a few pints with him before heading of to a rave
“How Soon Is Never!”
A GREAT fictitious story about The Smiths reunion that will sadly never happen. :(((((
I’ve been enthralled by musician bios since the 70s, when I chose to do a book report on Sammy Davis, Jr.’s “Yes, I Can” in the fourth grade. (Wish I still had that diorama.) My favorite music bios and books that I’ll reread again and again transport me to the scenes in London and New York in the 60s, 70s, and 80s: “Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk” by Leg McNeil and Gillian McCain, Pete Frame’s “Rockin’ Around Britain, ” “Lipstick Traces” by Greil Marcus, “Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung” by Lester Bangs, and the near-perfect “Just Kids” by Patti Smith.
I love “The Who: Maximum R&B” by Richard Barnes. Published in 1982, and since revised in 1996, it is an exciting and immersing picture of the band’s history from Barnes, a very close friend of the band from their earliest days.
Madonna: The Rolling Stone Files-Good compilation of various articles on Madonna that had been published over the years.
Please Kill Me- the essential document of the NY punk scene
I just read Johnny Ramone’s autobiography. Definitely interesting!
The Mission: Names Are For Tombstones, Baby by Martin Roach – for personal reasons :)
My favorite music-related book is Ozzy Osbourne’s “I Am Ozzy” because you get a glimpse inside his head
I honestly love the Mozipedia if that’s counted as a biography because it’s so easily re-readable
I dont think this has been out in English or ever will be, but from “Johnny Cash – The Beast in Me: … und die seltsame und schöne Welt der Countrymusik” [Eng.: …and the strange and beautiful world of country music] I learned so much about Cash and the nashville mafia and got to know even some more good music. Not only worthwhile for country fans. Well written, entertaining, amusing and it makes you long for more.
Open Up And Bleed by Paul Trynka. Iggy!
Mozipedia by Simon Goddard – packed full of fascinating information and you can read it straight through or pick it up like an encyclopedia. Wonderful book
The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night by Anthony Haden-Guest. An enjoyable comprehensive examination of NY club culture with an emphasis on the iconic Studio 54.
My fave biography is Last Gang in Town about the Clash. It is a great look inside the “Clash Myth.”
“A Short History of Rock’N’Roll Psychosis” on The Cramps…good stuff!
I adore Songs That Saved Your Life about The Smiths.
Bob Mould’s “See a Little Light” is a fantastic read. A great look into early punk that makes you want to listen to it while reading. Also an equally fascinating look into Bob Mould’s evolution.
Simon Reynolds’s “Totally Wired: Postpunk Interviews and Overviews” is a fascinating candid look into the brief and powerful period following the punk explosion. I found it inspiring to read about artistic people who were drawn to music because of punk but who forged weird and never-repeated paths with music and words over a short, intensely creative time. Postpunk was pretty much rock and roll’s last stand, if you ask me.
“No One Here Gets Out Alive” about Jim Morrison is a fascinating read and is supposed to have reinvigorated popularity of the Doors when it came out.
I love the 33 1/3 book series.
Coincidentally my favorite is “Moon” by Tony Fletcher.
Love me a good (music) (auto) biograpy… Love me some KISS… therefore love Ace Frehley’s No Regrets (and loath Gene’s Kiss & Make Up)!
I find Ratgirl by Kristin Hersh interesting.
Bowie: A Biography. good stuff.
I really love The Things The Grandchildren Should Know by Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett; so poignant and funny/sad. I love this group and the book was so well written.
Simon Reynolds’ RIP it Up and Start Again
Loving the Alien (Bowie biography) Interesting read.
“It Crawled from the Soutj” – because the band R.E.M. was brilliant in its early days and the story is told by a master storyteller. Just a magnificent read – regardless of what you think of the band.
oops – it is actually “It Crawled From the South”. Not sure what the “Soutj” is – probably another disenfranchised purple state in the US.
Touching From A Distance by Deborah Curtis is a fantastic book.
I love Simon Reynolds “Rip it Up and Start Again” history of post-punk. As someone who is too young to have been around for post-punk in the early 80s, but who loves the genre, I use the book as a sort of record collecting guide. Besides being well researched, the book is also very well written and is perceptive in the way it integrates larger social and artistic trends into the evolution of the post-punk movement.
Kristin Hersh’s “Rat Girl” is a smart, funny music memoir by a truly unique artist. Loved it.
“Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation’s Capital,” by Mark Andersen & Mark Jenkins
I really enjoyed “He’s A Rebel” about Phil Spector. Written in 80s, it was clear that Spector was an odd man, to say the least; I read this long before he was accused of the shooting. A complex man, and a pretty incredible story. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the influences he’s had on all of the music we love… including The Smiths.
Absolutely loved Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up And Start Again, which was a fascinating journey into the music of post-punk and “new pop” or new wave. Lot’s of great insight and interviews with the big names and not so big names of the era. Highly recommended!
I really liked Bob Mould’s Shine A Little Light about the whole midwest eighties thing.
Really enjoyed Kristin Hersh’s Rat Girl.
One of the best rock bios I have read was “No Certainty Attached” about Steve Kilby and the Church. It was written by a fan, Robert Dean Lurie, from a fan’s perspective. It showed the continued struggle of a band that never quite got the attention they deserved, how they dealt with those disappointments, yet continued to create incredible sounds. Also Kilbey’s ” cliched” battle with heroin addiction didn’t seem “typical rock star”, but real life. You will enjoy.
Bob Mould “See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody” was a good read. Actually just what I thought Bob’s Bio would be like. Would be nice to have Grant Hart’s as a counterpoint.
I really enjoyed Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield. It was great to hear someone else’s innumerable attachments of memories, emotions, and attitudes to the music to which he lisened (rather thann my own for a change).
The Dirt, which is Motley Crue’s bio, is my current favorite. But I suspect that after the Smiths bio comes out, that will be the new fave.
Nikki Sixx Heroin Diaries really hit me hard in some parts, between a lifestyle I’ve always wanted to experience….. both good and bad. He just reminds me that success, money, and game fanny still bring you a dark sadness and to be thankful for whatever you have. Also to never take life for granted.
I enjoyed INXS: Story to Story – The Official Autobiography by Anthony Bazza. As a life-long fan, I love this book, have read it several times and highly recommend it to any INXS fan or fan of 80s music.
Marilyn Manson – “Long Road Out of Hell”…trust me, I know what you’re thinking, but the photography in the book is phenomenal and it shows that Brian Warner is not the person you, nor I, nor he thinks he is. Highly recommended.
Adam Ant’s Autobiography was tops. Great story!
Sound & Vision edited by Luca Beatrice. This book bridges the gap between music and visual art and the importance of there eternal entwinement.
Really dig Eric Clapton’s biography. He is brutally honest about his relationship screw-ups and his drug use. It’s amazingly both self-effacing and hopeful.
Not really a bio, but I really liked Joe Pernice’s 33 1/3 on The Smith’s Meat Is Murder.
WOW! First of all, it’s nice to see this many comments. Usually we don’t see that many in appreciation for this site. Keep up the great work.
My favorite, although it’s not an autobiography is MOZIPEDIA…since Morrissey and the Smiths are my favorite of ALL TIME. If I don’t win a copy, I will definitely buy this new “Light that never goes out” which happens to be my favorite song of any group. So I vote for aptly titled.
“Please kill me”. The def. story of early punk music.
I LOVE lots of rock biographies and could certainly agree with some of the selections above, particularly since I’m a huge New Order/Joy Division fan; however, my favorite has been Scar Tissue by Anthony Keidis. A very personal and heartfelt look at his life.
I’ve been re-reading “Last Orders At The Liars’ Bar: Official Story Of The Beautiful South” by Mike Pattenden and the recent (at least for Canada) “Adventures of a Waterboy” by Mike Scott.
Man Gave Names to all the Animals by Bob Dylan illustrated by Jim Arnosky
Pop Music & Morality. You have to read it to believe it.
Here’s an excerpt:
In this volume, the composer of Saturday’s Warrior takes up his pen with a different purpose: “I know of no other way to awakjen people to the face that Satan is using much of today’s music to preach blatantly degrading messages . . . Words we would never permit to be spoken or read in our homes are . . . repeated dozens of times – merely because they are set to music.”
Entertaining to say the least. Some of it may be true but most of it is really a stretch.
I like the 33 1/3 series
“How Soon is Never?” by Marc Spitz is one of my favorites. The Smiths have been my favorite band since I was a Freshman in high school and I have often dreamed of getting the chance to see them live. They broke up about a week after I was born. This fictional account of an attempt to reunite the band is easy to identify with for the millions of Smiths’ fans who have been impacted by the music of Moz & Marr.
I have two recommendations: “Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards” by Al Kooper, and “Wreckers Of Civilisation” (about Throbbing Gristle) by Simon Ford. Both interesting and illuminating.
Jim Morrison No One Here Gets Out Alive.
>Head On/Repossessed by Julian Cope – the bible of the post-punk era!
This – a finer portrayal of a musical era has never been penned. The druid weaves his magic in many ways.
Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie
because i’m obsessed with all things Debbie, and she and Chris Stein cowrote this book about their career while it was still happening!
Ambient. Great book about ambient music from classical composers to the present.
Love Is A Mixtape is a compelling, and somewhat heartbreaking read, from Rolling Stone writer Rob Sheffield about his late wife.
“Saint Morrissey” by Mark Simpson. It contains a lot of interesting info and is written in an engaging style.
Simon Reynolds’ “Rip it Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984” is a super informative and limitlessly entertaining history of the English scene after the fall of the punk era and is a great illustration of where many of our favourite “college radio” groups came from, who their influences were, the music label climate, and the many connections between groups and artists that made the scene thrive.
Behind The Shades by Clinton Heylin.
Xtc:Chalkhills and Children! Only one I have and read plus its about xtc!
Favorite rock bio: Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story by Dave Marsh
Favourite Rock Bio: The Leveller – “Dance Before The Storm” [George Berger]
Great Band. Great Bio
Seeing the Light: Inside the Velvet Underground by Rob Jovanovic. Well written and funny as hell!
Just Kids by Patti Smith, A gritty and fascinating story of true friendship.
Goodbye 20th Century. that is the most fun, and comprehensive rock bio that I have ever read. Sonic youth’s long and entertaining history summed up in one great read.
Full Moon. Biography of The Who drummer Keith Moon. Who wouldn’t want to be a rock star and trash hotel rooms?
Backstage Passes by Angela Bowie, it’s trashy and funny.
Patti Smith- “Just Kids”. Best thing i’ve read in many years.
A Day In The Life by Mark Hertsgaard
“Touching from A Distance” by Deborah Curtis. You’ll get a completely different perspective on Joy Division from her.
Songs That Saved Your Life by Simon Goddard. Smiths – every song ever recorded.
Kate Bush “Under the Ivy”…well written and anything that gives a little more insight into this enigmatic artist can only be a good thing
I’LL SLEEP WHEN I’M DEAD: THE DIRTY LIFE AND TIMES OF WARREN ZEVON. Just heartbreaking.
“Ten Imaginary Years” – about The Cure
“No One Here Gets Out Alive” is a great bio about Jim Morrison and The Doors
“Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Tim & Jeff Buckley”
A great insight on the similarities and differences of these two musicians who were related but never really knew one another. Heart-breaking.
The Bible Spelled Backwards Does Not Change the Fact you Cannot Kill David Arquette and Other Things I Learned in the Black Math Experiment…
Fun book about a Houston area band and their trials trying to make it in the Houston music scene.
Does “Just Kids” by Patti Smith count?
I don’t see why not, and it was fabulous!!
Touching from a Distance by Deborah Curtis Great insight before everyone was talking about Joy Division (again)
Wreckers of Civilization: The Story of Coum Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle has got to be my fav of recent years… It was a monumental piece on the founding fathers on Industrial-noise….from concept to action…..Brilliant.
Hmmm….to be honest, I don’t know if I’ve read any rock bios before. I guess this would be it if it ends up in my possession! Seen lots of video documentaries about bands, but never read a book.
Thanks for this opportunity!
Not a biography, but “King Dork” by Frank Portman (aka Dr. Frank from The Mr. T Experience) is a great novel about a high school kid discovering music and girls.
“Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs” by John Lydon. Poignant, compelling and an unparallelled wit. One of the finest books about music, period, by one of its very best characters.
Take it like a Man by Boy George is amazing. Doesn’t pull punches about the seedier parts of his path and manages to be funny and poignant at the same time. highly recommended!
Although my memory is awful, I recall thouroughly enjoy “Ten Imaginary Years” a bio by Robert Smith & co. relating all sorts of details about The Cure (up to that point). It gave us their history with out added drama or slants to stories. is much like watching a documentary. Would enjoy reading about The Smiths just as much I believe. Will get this book at some point regardless of contest but winning is awesome too! ;)
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire by Will Hermes – Or anything about John Cage.
I read The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years, and could read it over and over. It covers everything about the band with some great stories along the road to them becoming the epic band they are now.
The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History by Jim Walsh. The Replacements were the greatest US indie band of the 80s and IMO, one of the greatest ever.
Depeche Mode: A Biography (Steve Malins). Well-researched and thorough bio.
I totally dug the Dylan bio “Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes.”
It really digs deep into the twisted, murderous roots of the USA and shows the dark undercurrents of Dylan.
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page…great photos hand picked by the man himself.
‘Head On’ by Julian Cope. It was a fantastic read of his growing up years, his entering into the music scene and his views on others in his genre from an outside perspective. The book takes you from Wales to Liverpool to the U.S. and back. Highly recommended.
Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock And Out
Interesting bio of the guy that changed the rock business
Clapton _ The Biography is absolutely a must read.
Best music bio/autobiography is “Life”, by Keith Richards (ghostwritten by James Fox). It is 547 pages of nonstop music-lovers heaven, detailing Keefer’s career with the Stones, his early and personal life, conflicts with Mick, struggles with drugs and sobriety, relationships, collaboration with other artists, his influences, inspirations to and processes of songwriting and legal problems. I have lent it to a few friends, who all finish it within two weeks. Definitely a page-turner, this one is very difficult to put down.
I found John Lydon’s biography “No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs” to be really enlightening and empowering at the same time. Aside from the great insight into the history of the Sex Pistols, I found his overarching theme of being an individual one that really resonated with me, and allowed me to see the band in a whole new light.
Q: The Quincy Jones Autobiography. A helluva historical tale that follows him from poverty in Chicago to a life that touches nearly every important figure and movement in popular music up to the present. Highly recommended!
I’m a sucker for a good rock bio, but I have to say it’s a toss up between Just Kids by Patti Smith and the Dirt by Motley Crue. Stand and Deliver by Adam Ant was really good too (and explains a lot). I’m currently on John Taylor’s new book so this may trump them all! :)
Waging Heavy Peace by Neil Young is really good book, even if you are not a fan of his style of music. Insightful and honest personal retrospective that details his inner demons, strengths and weaknesses. I hope he is successful with Pure Tone, and if you are not familiar with what that is then you’ll have to read the book
Just Kids is fantastic but Peter Hook’s new one about Joy Division is up there.
I love Kim Cooper’s book on Neutral Milk Hotel called “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” (33 1/3 edition). It gives a good insight into Jeff Mangum who only recently has decided to to come out in public again.
Black Postcards by Dean Wareham. Behind the scenes of Galaxie 500 and Luna.
I’ve read a lot of great rock bios (including, just recently, Pete Townshend’s), but I have to say my favorite so far is Keith Richards’ Life. Not because it’s particularly revelatory, but because after finishing I really felt like I’d been inside his head, like I’d spent the weekend listening to Uncle Keith tell stories.
“No One Here Gets Out Alive” by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman, about Jim Morrison and The Doors was great. I love this contest, so many of the books mentioned by y’all are going on my list!!
Touching from a distance: Ian Curtis & Joy Division by Deborah Curtis. It’s a wonderful peek into the Iconic Ian Curtis’ private life.
The first rock bio I ever read is still the best–No One Here Gets Out Alive. The book is very well-written and left me wanting to know everything about The Doors and Jim Morrison!
Mark Burgess’ View from a Hill is my fave. I felt like I knew him personally by the end.
“High Fidelity” has stood the test of time. A rock-and-roller gets dragged kicking and screaming into adulthood – not just a period piece.
“Heavier Than Heaven” by Charles Cross… it’s an extremely well written account… chronicling the short and tragic life of Kurt Donald Cobain… if you haven’t read it… pick up a copy.
For me it is a toss up between “Touching From a Distance” by Deborah Curtis or “The Cure: Ten Imaginary Years” by Steve Sutherland and Robert Smith. Both give great insight into two of the greatest bands of all time.
“England’s Dreaming: Anarchy, Sex Pistols, Punk Rock, and Beyond” by Jon Savage.
Never Enough – The story of the Cure
My favorite music related book is “Touching From a Distance” by Deborah Curtis. It’s a great read that offers more insight on Ian Curtis’s life and the formation and development of Joy Division. I thought it was honest writing.
Dixie Lullaby by Mark Kemp great book about the rock scence in the south after the legacy of alluman brothers and lynard skynard
“The Love You Make” by Peter Brown. Just love the Beatles.
I read Faithfull : An Autobiography because I really like her music. I also read Boy George : Take It Like A Man because I have been a fan of his for 30 years.
One of my favorites would be “Cheese Chronicles” by Tommy Womack. It’s a hysterical take on being a rock fan and being in a band.
Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors by John Densmore – fascinating depiction of Morrison.
Loved “Touching from a Distance”, since it was written by Ian Curtis’ wife.
The red rockers book was a good read. Honest for sure!
Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be
by Jen Trynin
I love stories about “almost” making it, and Trynin was on the brink of being the next big thing. A realistic look at touring, music, love, and being almost famous.
best rock bio: “One Train Later,” the personal memoir by Andy Summers. he’s as fine a writer as he is a guitarist — a remarkably lyrical work.
Touching from a Distance by Deborah Curtis. A heartwrenching and unglamorized biography of Ian and Joy Division, which became the backbone to the wonderful film adaptation Control by Anton Corbin.
My favorite music bio would be Jimmy McDonough’s epic Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography. Hoping A Light That Never Goes Out will be similarly engaging and comprehensive.
I slept with Joey Ramone by his brother Mickey. Love to read music bios on winter holiday.
The Beatles: The Biography. The 965 page book is almost as long as the Bible and doubles as a nice paper weight. I love the fact the Bob Spitz refers to Yoko Ono as “loopy.” I’m sure most Beatles fans could think of more vulgar words to call Yoko;)
I loved Stewart Coplands autobiography. So well written…
“Touching from a Distance” from Deborah Curtis and “And I dont want to Live this Life” from Deborah Spungen tell very personal stories of the bands that we all love.
My favorite music read was “The making of miles davis Kind of Blue” The artists on that album were all genuises in their own right. It gave me some new insight on an album i still listen to with regularity.
“U2 at the End of the World” by Bill Flanagan is my favorite music bio for offering an inside look at the band during one of their most creative periods.
silence: writings and lectures by john cage. a wonderful collection of his writings and lectures. he was as much of a philosopher as he was a composer and artist.
All right, the contest is now closed. Thank you all for entering… and providing me with a huge list of books I need to read. Winners will be notified via e-mail.
i know the contest is over, but i really liked “killing myself to live” by chuck klosterman.