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.
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!
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 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 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.
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 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…
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 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 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: 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.
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?!