Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
dollardime

Musician biography book recommendations

Recommended Posts

I always love getting my teeth into a good musician biography...authorised or unauthorised (the latter usually hits home a bit more truthfully)

Hank Williams - I Saw The Light biography by Colin Escott.....fascinating read on the music industry and how they worked releases/the business model used at the time to promote artists. Musicians could actually make a lot of money from Jukebox plays back in the late 40's....albums were used as a means to cobble together some out takes that weren't top drawer, Billboard singles chart was King, and getting the popular artists of the day to cover your song was a great way to rake in the royalty payments (particularly if you were a ''hillbilly country artist)...the cost to the industry from the change from 78's to 45's, the studio band costs, the fall out from the musicians union strike.

That's before you even look at Hank Williams and his life.....died at 29, just before the first wave of rock and roll....a great read...a very detailed read at that....the sheer detail may put some people off the book but if you're into that type of thing and the history of music...and even have a passing interest in Hank Williams this would be worth checking out.

Anyone have any other recommendations.......:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

^ Yes, me too! Great post and great thread. Love the history aspects that book has to offer!

There's so many good ones! I think I have briefly addressed this subject elsewhere, but, again running the risk of repeating myself, I would, off the top of my head have to mention Nick Tosches' Hellfire (the deeply fascinating and somewhat disturbing story of Jerry Lee Lewis). Tosches also, around the same time, that is the early 80s, wrote a cool book called Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll: The Birth of Rock in the Wild Years Before Elvis. It's not as good a read, but the content is mindblowing, never the less, if a bit beside the point here, since it's not a biography, strictly speaking. 

Obviously, some of the later editions of Clinton Heylin's Behind The Shades (about Bob Dylan) are to be highly recommended.

And.. speaking of Heylin (and of the old ways of doing things), I would like to recommend most titles by Heylin, and most titles by Greil Marcus. Whether those guys cover a specific artist in biographies, or (as is often the case with Marcus) discuss certain angles on culture/music history, they are generally very entertaining and educational. In that genre of music history titles that are not biographies, one should also not forget Eric Lott's Love & Theft (yep, I think Dylan borrowed that one!).. or why not Woody Guthrie's Bound for Glory, for a fascinating glance down the vortex of the dust bowl past of the midwest and beyond. But I derail.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also love a good musician biography or auto-biography and I've got a bunch.  If I had to pick my favorite, it would be "This Wheel's On Fire" Levon Helm and the story of The Band'. Couldn't put that one down.  I should read it again myself.  It's been a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Recently finished reading Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin that I would recommend. Great detail extremely well researched and it doesn't fawn all over Springsteen, it gives a rounded insight into the man and musician. I'm not a super Springsteen fan but really enjoyed the book...fascinating background into his childhood and how what he experienced growing up influenced and informed his work and personality both light and shade. His relationship with his father and his obsessive streak to succeed at any cost. While they are musically different in a lot of ways I can definately see similarities in Bruce and Tom Petty from an attitude perspective in the way they went about their business particularly in their early years although unfortunately Tom and Bruce don't share a similar approach to the live show experience...two brief mentions of TPATHB in the book. Well worth checking out this biography. ☺

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read a few over the years, aside from the Petty ones.

The Dirt about Motley Crue. Just scummy. Awful. I wasn't a fan of the band in the first place but heard it was a crazy read. More like disgusting and disturbing.

Red by Sammy Hagar. I'm not a Hagar fan at all so I skimmed it, mainly to hear about the Van Halen stuff and some of his more interesting experiences. Different. Interesting. I think I prefer this to his singing. Overall, I don't know how true his version of things are, but it was a book from the library so it was fine.

Strange Beautiful Music by and about Joe Satriani and another writer I think who helped. I could've read more on the making of albums but it's a good read. I love his music and his creative approach to albums is inspiring.

cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've read quite a few books on musicians and bands. These are some favourites:

 

"Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend" by Stephen Davis and "The Lizard King: The Essential Jim Morrison" by Jerry Hopkins are essential reads for Doors fans.

"The Beatles" by Bob Spitz is the Beatles bio to end all Beatles bios.

"Skydog: The Duane Allman Story" by Randy Poe provides a great look into his life and the early years of the Allman band.

Phil Lesh's "Searching for the Sound" might be, of what I've read, the best Grateful Dead bio ever written.

"Moon: The Life & Death of a Rock Star" by Tony Fletcher is a classic of the genre.

"The Ballad of Gram Parsons and His Cosmic American Music" by David Meyer is a must for fans of the under-pinnings of the country direction pop music took starting in the early 70s.

Paul Trynka's book on Rolling Stones founder Brian Jones is the best one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this  

×