13 GREAT BOOKS ABOUT MUSIC

moon

Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher

This book, like, or rather because of, Keith Moon, is absolutely insane. Seriously Moon the Loon doesn’t even cover it. There are so many stories, most of which are hilarious (ones involving Steve Marriott’s new record player and Oliver Reed, some whiskey and a tortoise) but also some that show the dark side of rock excess (Moon’s butler accidentally running over a fan). It isn’t hard to see why Moon departed this earth at the age of 32.

richards

Life by Keith Richards

Usually autobiographies or authorised biographies are pretty dull because the subject only tells you what they want you to know. Not so with Keith’s book, which is, as you would expect, a tale of rock ‘n’ roll excess in the extreme. He has a an easy going nature as he narrates his story, and is happy to divulge anything and everything. I’m not sure how he actually remembered a lot of this, but who cares when it is this much fun!

zep

Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin Unauthorised by Stephen Davis

Led Zeppelin have provided many rock ‘n’ roll stories and myths over the years, many of which could easily come straight out of Spinal Tap. All the stories you have probably heard (red snappers for example) are here, as well as the usual rock star behaviour, such as televisions and hotel windows, that litter nearly all of these types of biographies. This is a great example of the unauthorised version being so much better!

high

High Fidelity by Nick Hornby

One of the classic novels about music as a part of peoples life. Hornby has a deep love for music (as backed up by his 31 Songs book) and this clearly shows in this tale of love and lists, backed by music. It was so successful that it was turned into a 2000 feature film, Americanised obviously, featuring John Cusack and Jack Black.

the dirt

The Dirt by Motley Crue

Never a band I have ever listened to or been interested in musically, but wow, their tales of debauchery, drug intake and sexual prowess is something to behold. How all original members of Motley Crue are still alive is beyond me. Much like the Led Zep book, there are countless well known tales in here, including the ‘Ozzy Osbourne snorts ants’ story.

kent

The Dark Stuff by Nick Kent

This is a collection of writings from one time NME journalist Nick Kent, who was probably as excessive as some of his rock star counterparts. This has twenty-odd writings, stories and interviews about artists equally self-destructive as the writer. They are as diverse as Neil Young, Serge Gainsbourg, The Rolling Stones, Miles Davis, Lou Reed, Kurt Cobain and Sly Stone. It also has a forward by Iggy Pop, highlighting how revered Kent was.

1001

1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

Just as indispensable as it’s Movies counterpart, these books (updated every so often) will basically tell you what some of the best albums ever made are. Albums from all spectrums of music are included, from Elvis to Eminem and you will find all sorts of fascinating details. In fact, a fellow blogger is going through and listening to each album in the book. Check it out…

http://1001albumsin10years.wordpress.com

chordbeatles

The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook

If you want to learn how to play music, or write good tunes for that matter, what better book to refer to than The Beatles song book. A lot of their early songs are basic three chord numbers which are perfect for beginners, and the later songs provide more of a challenge for advanced musicians. It features sheet music and lyrics as well. What can be better?!

hotel california

Hotel California by Barney Hoskins

Sub-titled ‘Singer-Songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976’, this book is a great insight into some of the most important acts of the period, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Tom Waits, Crosby Stills and Nash, The Doors and The Eagles to name a few. It covers their musical achievements as much as their extra curricular activities and affairs and is never anything short of fascinating.

stoned 2stoned

Stoned and 2Stoned  by Andrew Loog Oldham

The ex-manager of The Rolling Stones and The Small Faces, Andrew Loog Oldham tells a story of excess and addiction that saw him go from the top dog (sort of the Phil Spector of London) to persona non grata. He was once publicist to Mary Quant and The Beatles before inventing the ‘would you let your daughter marry a Rolling Stone’ tag. He then started his own label, Immediate before collapsing into drug addiction. An interesting read, with a third book due soon I believe.

lennon

Lennon: The Definitive Biography by Ray Coleman

The first book on John Lennon I read, and the first place I learnt so much about the man. It is certainly not a scandalous book (you need The Lives of John Lennon by Albert Goldman for that) but it doesn’t cover up any of Lennon’s flaws. It looks at his traumatic early years, through the pre-fame Beatles in Hamburg, right through Beatlemania and beyond into his solo career.

songreader

Song Reader by Beck

This to me is an ingenious modern device for song writing by Beck. It was actually the last album he released and is basically a batch of beautifully presented sheet music for songs that haven’t been recorded, meaning the reader can record the songs in any manner they see fit. Beck has encouraged that people record their own versions and upload them on-line, meaning every take should be different. You kind of need an understanding of sheet music, and be vaguely talented at playing an instrument, but other than that, your imagination is key. What a cool idea huh?!

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

12 comments

  1. giorge thomas

    My favourite is Hunter Davies book on the Beatles. I loved that. Basically, any book written about the Beatles are my favourites because the. Beatles are my favourites.

    • I’ve not read the Hunter Davies one. I don’t know why because it’s the definitive one and I’m a massive fan of the Beatles. I think I’ve read all I can about them now though!

  2. That Beck book is such a genius idea! If only I could read sheet music, or play an instrument, or have any talent 😦

  3. Great collection, Tom.
    I haven’t seen this Kraftwerk cover for ages. 😉

    • Kraftwerk are a band I’ve never heard much of Karen. Being part German are you a big fan? I have some Neu and Can on my iPod though!

      • Kraftwerk was different. Four computer geeks and engineering specialists living their dream… Their most famous songs ‘Wir sind die Roboter’ (‘We Are The Robots’), ‘Autobahn’ and ‘Model’. They published some hits in German and in English.

      • I’ll have to delve into them at some point Karen cheers!

  4. what a cool post!! I love the movie “High Fidelity” but had no idea it was based on a book! I bet the Keith Richards autobiography is especially good.

  5. Matthew Ryan

    I love book recommendations! I have not actually read any of these, but several of them have been on my list for quite some time. Especially Lennon and Keith Richards’ Life.

  6. Reblogged this on Cindy Bruchman and commented:
    About to start reading about Graham Nash ‘Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life.
    Like your list much. 🙂

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