Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Reading for Music Fans

Summer is right around the corner, which means that summer vacations are not too far off. One of the great things about summer vacation is the available time to do things that usually seem to slip away during the course of a normal week, like reading. For a music fan, there are endless biographies and books on the subject of music and musicians. The question is which to read first? Well, today, your cousin Ryo is going to share some of his favorites. Perhaps there’s one on the list that you haven’t read, and you’d be willing to take it with you on your way to the beach this year.

No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugerman.
Without question, this is the most authoritative biography on Jim Morrison in existence. Stephen Davis’ Jim Morrison comes in a close second, but still can’t top this masterpiece. Anything that you ever wanted to know about Jim and The Doors is covered between these pages. A worthwhile read that will have you turning page after page at a lightning pace.

U2 BY U2
U2 BY U2
is the autobiography of the Irish rock quartet, told in their own words. The tale unfolds from the bands earliest days and their meeting in school all the way through the Vertigo tour. While it can be cumbersome at some points (especially during the early years), it is a fascinating read about one of the greatest rock bands in the world written by one of the greatest rock bands in the world.

Old Gods Almost Dead by Stephen Davis
This is the definitive story of the Rolling Stones. Written by Stephen Davis, this book covers the journey of rocks royalty from their inception and small pub appearances in England all the way through their Forty Licks tour. Anything you ever wanted to know about the Rolling Stones is covered between these pages, whether it’s flattering or not. All of the drama, the inside dirt, the struggles and the triumphs are all included in this massive biography. At 624 pages, it is a behemoth of a book, but a quick read, due to the interesting subject matter and excellent writing style.

Watch You Bleed by Stephen Davis
Watch You Bleed is Stephen Davis’ latest work and tells the sage of Guns N Roses. While it is a compelling read, I do question some of the facts contained within the book. Davis wrote this at the request of a friend, so I’m not sure how interested he was in the subject matter, or how deeply he investigated the claims. There is plenty of information and the picture painted definitely sets the scene of the sunset strip in the late 80s, but Slash’s autobiography Slash, is the better read for the money. The problem with Slash is that it only shows one perspective.

The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Nikki Sixx, with Neil Strauss
If there is one book about hard rock bands that must be read above all others, it is The Dirt by Motley Crue. An exceptionally well written book, the pages of this one contain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, as told by the band members themselves. And it doesn’t stop there. Not only do all the members of Motley tell their tale, they also have excerpts from the band manager, Doc McGhee, former band member John Corabi, record producers and others who were involved in the mass debauchery that was Motley Crue. Hands down, the best rock book I’ve ever read, this tells the real story of the life of an 80s rock star complete with sex (lots and lots of it), drugs (a plethora), and rock and roll (occasionally they made music).

Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal by David Konow
If you’re looking for a more historical perspective of heavy metal, Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal will cover what you wish for. A well written history of the metal genre, this book delves into metal’s earliest days of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin all the way to the early 90s when grunge took over and became the “in” music. It covers the musician perspective nicely as the huge bands of the 80s learn to deal with the fact that they are now yesterday’s news after enjoying such a successful run. Well written and very informative, Bang Your Head is a book that any metal fan could rip through on one beach day.

Fargo Rock City by Chuck Klosterman
Chuck Klosterman has always been one of my favorite writers, so I can’t have a post about music books you should read without including him. He has three exceptional books on the subject of music, but I am still most fond of his first one, Fargo Rock City. This book gives the intimate insight in a humorous light of the 80s glam metal genre and being a teenage fan while living in North Dakota. Told in his tongue-in-cheek prose, Klosterman delivers a humorous, historical memoir of metal and the teenage boy.

There are several other great books out there worthy of a read this summer, but these are a few of your cousin Ryo’s favorites. Are there any that you would recommend? Any books that aren’t mentioned that particularly stand out? Feel free to post a comment and let us know. We all enjoy a good read recommended by a true music fan.

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