Just read a pretty new book Hey Ho Lets Go The Ramones by Everett True.
Excellent book,a sit tells me stuff I hadn’t known about the best band ever.
What book about rock and roll did you enjoy the most?
Just read a pretty new book Hey Ho Lets Go The Ramones by Everett True.
The Dirt - the story of Motley Crue in their own words is pretty entertaining/disgusting/funny… and I hated that band from note one.
If you liked the Ramones book, you should check out Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil… great history of the NY (mostly) scene.
Revolution - the making and history of the Beatle’s White Album is great. I just read it and it has so much information regarding the times, Beatles, historical significance of the record and specifically the songs themselves.
Hendrix: Setting the Record Straight was fantastic. Finally, a non-BS book that was written by someone who was there for all of it…Eddie Kramer, who was his producer. Great insight.
Walk This Way - Aerosmith’s biography from their own mouths. They don’t leave anything out and it is a great read. Very rough in spots but you end up cheering for them in the end.
Right now I’m reading “Our Band Could Be Your Life” by Michael Azerrad. It looks at the American Undergroud scene of the 1980s, specifically focusing on Black Flag, the Minutemen, Mission of Burma, Minor Threat, Husker Du, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Fugazi, the Butthole Surfers, Mudhoney, and Beat Happening. I’m only into about half the bands but it’s still fascinating to look at the whole scene and, indeed, the life of an indie rocker.
Also, “Lipstick Traces” by Greil Marcus, which basically connects the Sex Pistols with everything that happened in the 20th Century, before and after them.
Well, it may not be rock and roll, but Shawn Levy’s Rat Pack Confidential is an excellent read, and I can’t wait for his Ready, Steady, Go! (about the rise of ‘swinging London’) to come out in paperback.
Sound Of The Ciity - The Rise Of Rock And Roll by Charlie Gillet. A big, informative book about the roots and development of Rock’n Roll, from its beginnings to the present (well 1996 I think was the lasr update).
A really good read, and still available from Amazon.co.uk
Can we include fiction?
The best rock-‘n’-roll novel I ever read is The Armageddon Rag by George R. R. Martin. It tells the story of the fictional band The Nazgûl and their reunion tour. The novel is a phantastical combination of murder mystery, occult skullduggery, '60s counterculture, the poetry of W. B. Yeats, and lots of ROCK-‘N’-ROLL.
Skipp and Spector released a book a few years back with a similar storyline… The Scream I think it was. Fairly decent read.
[sub]Well, I’ve never read Armageddon Rag, but it sounds awfully close, anyway.[/sub]
Yes, read it. I’m lucky my library has lots of good books.
Also read Poison Heart by Dee Dee Ramone, but it was too much of a downer.
The Dirt-Motley Crue
A friend let me borrow it, I couldn’t put it down.
Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs.
Yeah, I read Lipstick Traces too. One of the oddest things about it was the historical coincidence uncovered by Marcus in connection with John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten).
Punk had been predicted, about ten years before it actually occurred, by the '60s British rock critic Nik Cohn. (Cohn hated psychedelia and hippies, and said the essence of rock-‘n’-roll should be: “My dad’s an idiot, I hate him, I hate you too, I’ll smash your face in.”) The father of Nick Cohn was a historian who had written a book about the Anabaptist reign of terror in Münster in the 16th century. Lots of people died horribly in those grisly events. Anyway, the ultra-radical leader of the Anabaptists who seized power and caused all this trouble was a young hothead named John of Leiden … get it?
Marcus went on at length about the Situationist movement; what it had to do with the 1968 Paris insurrections and God knows what else. I never, for the life of me, could make head or tail of what Situationism was supposed to be all about. Or what this has to do with the Sex Pistols. The Situationists carried out their art through leaving graffitti on the walls of France, and also took books and blacked out most of the text, leaving only selected words exposed to reveal the “hidden” text.
There was also an interesting study of the early explosion of Dada at Zürich’s Café Voltaire in 1916. Hugo Ball’s performance art there was revived by David Bowie on Saturday Night Live and by the Talking Heads in their song “I Zimbra” in 1979. (Marcus failed to write about this, for some reason. But he did publish a revolting picture of Communist leader Rosa Luxemburg’s rotting corpse after it was pulled out of the water, as if that had anything to do with punk rock. ) Ultimately what I got out of the saga of the Sex Pistols was that the whole thing was a put-on by Malcom MacLaren and it was never meant to be a “real” rock-‘n’-roll band. Thus Johnny Rotten’s epitaph for the whole thing, uttered with a sneer during their débacle of a final U.S. tour:
"Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?"
Oops, clashing smilies… Now we see that takes precedence over .
Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota
by Chuck Klosterman. It’s a real peek into what it was like growing up in the 80’s as a metal person when everyone else around you wasn’t.
Saucerful of Secrets was great.
I second Saucerful of Secrets!
The same author (forget his name, but he did a few years ago) also wrote a good book on The Beatles.
Frank Zappa’s autobiography was good, but too short!
Allow me to agree with votes for:
Please Kill Me: An Uncensored Oral History of Punk - fascinating
Our Band Could Be Your Life - I was not as familiar with these bands as I would have liked to have been, but man, was a great, well-written, informative book
I will add Hammer of the Gods, the biography of Led Zeppelin, although I understand it is somewhat controversial.
Also, Last Train to Memphis by Peter Guralnik, is the first volume of his two-volume biography of Elvis (along with Careless Love). I respect and enjoy Elvis, but am not any fanatic, but this is an important, well written book.
Legs has an uncensored oral history of the porn industry coming out in May. Which is not about rock and roll and may or may not be of interest to anyone but gives me the gratuitous opportunity to mention I used to work for him .
Mystery Train by Greil Marcus.
Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues is not about rock, but it’s probably the best book ever written about any form of American popular music. It’s certainly the best book ever written about any form of American popular music by a heroin-addict. It’s superb.
If you’re interested in the Beatles, I recommend first The Love You Make, by Peter Brown, who was an assistant to Brian Epstein. It reads really well, and is about as “inside” a view as you’ll get. To my knowledge, anyway. Second is Shout by Phillip Norman. That was written from the perspective of a researcher, but Norman provides a lot of insight into what British, and to an extent, American, society was like in the '60s. If you weren’t around at that time, this book is invaluable. I think, if you’re going to read about the Beatles at all, you should read about them in the context of their era. What happened couldn’t have happened earlier or later, IMHO.
If you’re interested in Elvis, try Elvis, by Albert Goldman (yes, I know he did a hack job on John Lennon, years later, but this isn’t that), Elvis: What Happened?, by Red West, Sonny West and Dave Hebler (they were expelled from his crew; the book was published two weeks before he died) and Revelations From the Memphis Mafia, by Alanna Nash (interviews with three other members of his crew, who…well, they don’t resent him, but they sure don’t pull any punches). Elvis was one conflicted mofo.
The Who: Before I Get Old, by Dave Marsh.
If you count Bob Dylan as rock: No Direction Home, by Robert Shelton.
Led Zep: Second on Hammer of the Gods, by Stephen Davis. That one’s great to read while you’re traveling; they were always touring. On that note, a Grateful Dead bio would also be appropriate…but I don’t know any.
I, personally, don’t think of Jim Morrison as a god who just happened to grace Manzarek, Densmore and Krieger with his presence for a few years…but if you’re interested in him, No One Here Gets Out Alive is recommended by many.
If you want to go way back, and read about the music industry, rather than a particular group, try Rock, Roll and Remember by Dick Clark. I’m serious. Read it, and you’ll really wonder why he hasn’t aged! He was shrewd, but he was very good at what he did.
Now that I’ve shared all that…Can anyone recommend to me a biography of the Moody Blues?