By Mitch Rice
The world of rock ‘n’ roll is one full of incredible stories waiting to be told. While not all of these stories manage to make their way into the public sphere, there are some fantastic musical biographies and autobiographies on the market filled to the brim with tales and anecdotes to shock and amaze. We’ve taken a look at some of the very best ones out there to give you an idea of the titles that are a must for any music aficionado.
Led Zeppelin – Hammer of the Gods
This is one of the most notorious biographies ever written. While it’s known for covering some of the more outrageous things that Led Zeppelin ever did, it also covers more musical aspects, such as the Montreux Casino shows. This is certainly one of the most impressive and enjoyable musical biographies ever written. Led Zeppelin are often ignored when it comes to talking about the greatest bands of all time, despite having one of the best back catalogues ever, and having broken numerous records while they were together.
If you’re a fan of 70s classic rock and want to get a taste of what Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham got up to during their heyday, this is definitely the biography for you. You can also get some insights into how some of their greatest songs were put together. No matter what you want from a biography, Hammer of the Gods has it in droves.
Bob Dylan – Chronicles: Volume One
Dylan is often cited as being one of the greatest songwriters of all time. What many people don’t know is that he’s just as accomplished when it comes to literature. The first volume of the Bob Dylan autobiography actually managed to win a Nobel prize in literature – such is the quality that he shows in the tales that he weaves.
There’s not so much debauchery in this tale. While Dylan certainly had his share of wild moments, he’s not quite on the same level as some of the other people included on this list. This is just a good old-fashioned enjoyable book to read.
A lot of this is because Dylan is such a master storyteller. It comes across in his songs, so it should have been no surprise that it also comes through in his autobiography. He tells stories that cover all of the major parts of his life. It’s not just positives either. Dylan isn’t afraid to cover the tougher times in his life.
On the whole, this book is a must for any fan of Bob Dylan, but it’s also a must for music fans and even just people who enjoy reading good books. Dylan is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of his generation, so if you’re looking for something that will draw you right in from the first word, this is the one for you.
Mötley Crüe – The Dirt
How could anyone talk about music autobiographies and leave out The Dirt? This is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic rock biographies ever. It’s even been made into a feature film in recent years. It celebrates the most degrading and outrageous moments that Mötley Crüe experienced during their 1980s heyday.
We don’t want to delve too deep into the stories that are on show in this tome, mainly because it would take away some of the intrigue for the reader. However, it’s safe to say this book is a must-read. Just as you think the incredible stories might be over, another one begins. It covers all of the highs (of which there are a lot of) and the lows of the band. You can even find some stories about other rockers, most notably Ozzy Osbourne, when reading The Dirt.
One thing we would say about The Dirt is to read the book first if you are intending on watching the movie. It might be cliché to say the movie isn’t as good as the book, but in this case, it’s the absolute truth. The movie isn’t bad, but it doesn’t hold a candle to what the book has to offer. If you love totally outrageous and unhinged stories, then this should be the first book you choose to read.
Anthony Keidis – Scar Tissue
Keidis is the frontman for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The band isn’t in the mainstream as much as they were at one point in the late 90s, but it goes without saying that they have some incredible stories to tell. What some people should be aware of when starting this book is that there’s a lot of trauma included here. With a lot of death and some very disturbing sexual stories in some places. Despite all of this, it’s good to see that Keidis has managed to turn his life around from what could have genuinely ended in tragedy.
It’s not just Keidis that has seen tragedy, his bandmates have also suffered at times. This is documented over the course of the book and readers will instantly be aware of the trouble Keidis has been through. In fact, you only have to listen to some of their earlier songs to hear the almost constant references to drugs in their lyrics. One of the most famous songs from their earlier period, Under the Bridge, is actually a tale about going to score heroin.
Keidis hasn’t only had bad sexual encounters though. He documents a lot of his positive ones over the course of this book. In fact, it would be safe to say he dedicates a significant portion of the book to documenting his positive sexual experiences. Some might say he has swapped one vice for another one, but having been able to kick his drug habit, Keidis is certainly in a better place now than before in his life.
All of this comes together to form one of the most raw, honest and hopeful musician biographies on the market. If you like your books with a feel-good ending, then this is definitely one of the best on the market.