It’s impossible to read every rock biography ever written. I’m trying, yet it always seems just out of my grasp. There are countless biographies on so many people in the music industry that I’ll never get to all of them. My goal right now is to read a few here and there and to eventually get a good overall view of the music industry and the history of music.
While I’ve read quite a few music histories, I like to focus on musician biographies. In looking at the biographies I’ve read so far, I realized a few things:
- I read mostly rock musicians from the 1970’s - maybe it’s time to branch out a bit more - to understand the influences of other people from other eras and other genres.
- I haven’t read a single biography about a female musician. I need to find some of those.
- Apparently I really like music biographies with black and white covers.
Anyway - with those thoughts in mind, I present to you a commitment to read more broadly in music books. Also, here are my favorite rock biographies so far.
- Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life by Graham Nash - I honestly wasn’t too interested in CSNY until fairly recently - After I read Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970 by David Browne, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about CSNY (especially after hearing about Crosby’s two month sailing trip to get over his dead girlfriend). So this book was perfect for that. I liked Graham Nash immediately and he quickly became my favorite member of CSNY. I like his attitude and I like the work he’s done and I especially loved his friendship with David Crosby. This book is a lot of fun and definitely worth reading if you like CSNY.
- Change of Seasons: A Memoir by John Oates - I wasn’t too into Hall & Oates until I read this book, which sparked a fervor in me for H&O that I wasn’t aware I could feel. The first half of this book bored me, but once I got into the second half, I couldn’t put it down. I feel like John Oates would be buddies with my dad, which endeared him to me. This is a fun look at 1970/1980’s pop and rock.
- Bowie: A Biography by Mark Spitz - This was only the second Bowie biography I read, but I enjoyed it quite a bit more than the first. I especially loved that Mark Spitz discusses Bowie’s musical influences and spends quite a bit of time sharing specific bands and songs that a Bowie fanatic should familiarize themselves with. For me, that was priceless and gave a whole new view to Bowie. I’ve since read more Bowie biographies, but this one sticks out in my mind as the best so far.
What music biographies have you loved? Do you agree with my picks? Which biographies would be on your list? Is there a different subgenre of biographies that you prefer reading?