10 Great Music Books You Need to Read
By Team HC |
by Anne Erickson
Rock ‘n’ roll has birthed music books and memoirs packed with more twists-and-turns than even the best fiction novel. Summer is here, and with it comes the chance to sit outside on a breezy day and leaf through one of these rock reads. From Slash to B.B. King, here are 10 great music books to put on your summer reading list, including some of my favorites.
Blues All Around Me, B.B. King
This is a timely read, in light of legendary blues guitarist B.B. King’s recent passing. In Blues All Around Me, King offers up a very real account of life as a touring musician. He details the riveting performances, detachment from his family and feelings of loneliness with which any touring musician can relate. It’s an honest, heartfelt tale from the Mississippi native who grew to be the “King of the Blues.”
Cash, Johnny Cash
Cash gives a poignant look at the life and career of country rebel Johnny Cash, from his emotional lows of addiction and disappointment to radiant highs of playing with Elvis and praying with Billy Graham. He also discusses his famous friends, including Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. In Cash, the Man in Black relives his prolific 40-year career, and that makes for a fascinating read.
Chronicles, Volume One, Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan’s Chronicles is devoted to his time in the Greenwich Village folk scene, when he first got to Manhattan. Dylan accounts those early days, everything from the friendships formed to career hurdles, as well as trips to Woodstock, New Orleans, Minnesota and further. After reading Chronicles, you have a good idea of the people and experiences that inspired Dylan and his music.
Coal Miner’s Daughter, Loretta Lynn
Coal Miner’s Daughter gives readers an intimate look at Lynn’s early days in Butcher Holler, Ky., and her rise to success in the music world. Lynn’s story doesn’t follow your average “gal scores a record deal” blueprint. She was married at 13, had six children and was a grandmother by age 29. Her unique talent for singing and songwriting led to Lynn becoming one of the most groundbreaking artists in country music.
Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989, Bruce Pavitt
Before Nirvana topped the charts with hits such as “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Lithium,” the band was like many other late-‘80s Seattle “grunge” groups, playing countless shows and trying to get noticed amid the underground Seattle scene. Experiencing Nirvana: Grunge in Europe, 1989, written by Sub Pop Records co-founder Bruce Pavitt, takes readers through the beginning of Nirvana, before Dave Grohl was in the band. The book centers around the band’s “Bleach” period and Nirvana’s extensive 1989 European tour. (This is one of my favorite books.)
Just Kids, Patti Smith
Just Kids takes readers inside Smith’s close friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, who passed away in 1989. In Just Kids, Smith describes her relationship with Mapplethorpe, as the two struggled together in Manhattan in the 1970s and 1980s and worked to bring their art to a larger audience.
Life, Keith Richards
Life gives fans a personal look at Keith Richards’ life before the Rolling Stones and his adventures with the band. The guitarist, songwriter and founding member takes readers inside the formation of the Stones with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, crafting everlasting rock songs such as “Jumping Jack Flash,” dealing with the death of Jones, falling in love with Patti Hansen, marriage and so much more. It’s a wild ride.
Many Years from Now, Paul McCartney
Many Years from Now is an “authorized biography” penned by Barry Miles, and although it’s not a full-fledged memoir, the book is a captivating, personal look at the Beatles’ evolution and rise in the 1960s. Many Years from Now also details the composition of McCartney and John Lennon’s most popular songs. Miles’ writings set up McCartney’s long quotes and stories, so Sir Paul’s voice certainly comes through.
Sure, other Guns N’ Roses members have published tell-all memoirs, but Slash’s is special. I mean, it’s Slash, the guitar icon known for towering riffs and solos, knocked out on his fiery Les Paul. There’s a certain allure in Slash’s memoir, simply titled Slash, which has the guitarist in a reflective, at times humorous mood. It’s Slash’s tale of how Guns N’ Roses got together, catapulted to the top of ‘80s rock and metal and, then, how it all came to a halt.
ROCKS: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith, Joe Perry
Joe Perry has spent almost 50 years playing leads with American rock ‘n’ rollers Aerosmith, and he has documented the excitement in a new memoir, ROCKS: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith. The book gives fans a peek at the professional and personal sides of Perry. Doing an autobiography doesn’t mean he’s finished with music, though. “By no means is it a case of, ‘Okay I’m retired, I’m going to do my memoirs,’” Perry states. “It just captures things up till now, or up to about a year-and-a-half ago. I certainly could have been adding chapters over the past year.”
Anne Erickson holds years of bylines in Gannett Media publications, as well as music magazines Premier Guitar, Guitar Edge and more. She also hosts radio shows with iHeartRadio and has been syndicated in Seattle, Dayton, Central Coast California and beyond. Anne is a loyal Spartan and holds a Master’s degree from MSU. She resides in Lansing, Michigan.A