I’d like to take a moment to switch gears. In addition to being completely obsessed with music, I’ve been an avid reader since…well since I learned how to as a small child. The mental stimulation brought upon by music and by written word are addictive to me, hence my name, and my personal book library is almost as expansive as my music library.
“What’s this have to do with anything?” SO glad you asked! My long-time favorite genre of written word is the music biography. Big shocker, I know.
What I would like to do is share with you some of my favorites that I’ve read throughout the years.
First up, my personal favorite, “Dream Brother” by David Browne.
This book delivered wonderful insight to the life and times of not only my favorite singer Jeff Buckley, but that of his father Tim Buckley as well. While Jeff captured the very soul of the 90’s Singer/Songwriter genre, Tim was a heavy-hitter during the 60’s folk revival, and both lead very troubled lives. This was the first time I ever read a dual biography, and I think Browne pulled it off well. There was a good balance between Jeff chapters and Tim chapters, and and the switch back and forth was smooth throughout.
For something completely different, I present to you “Alice Cooper: Golf Monster”
Co-authored by Keith and Kent Zimmerman with Cooper, “Golf Monster” is another out-of-the-ordinary biography, in th
at it’s half Alice Cooper’s reflection of his life and career, half golfing stories. I thought it was brilliant, to be completely honest with you. Being an almost life-long Cooper fan, I eagerly drank in the autobiographical chapters of the book. Reading about the times he would hang out with Elvis, Sinatra performing one of his songs at the Hollywood Bowl, and legendary Vaudevillian actor Groucho Marx considering him a close, personal friend, I was blown away with the incredible life Cooper has led.
Then you get to these crazy chapters about him getting sober by playing 18 rounds of golf a day! Which is intense, because I’ve only played, like, five 18 rounds in my entire life! Plus, he talks about playing these celebrity tournaments, as well as these super-exclusive country clubs. “Golf Monster” is, from beginning to end, one of the most interesting and captivating biographies I’ve ever read.
This next recommendation is actual a sort of series. Four books written by legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart: “The Masked Rider,” “Ghost Rider,” “Traveling Music,” and “Roadshow.”
Now, the reason I decided to go with all four is due to the fact that each book is a captivating chronicle of this man’s incredible life. From growing up in Canada, to cementing his place as one f the most influential drummers of all time, Peart expertly weaves the fascinating tale of his life. He talks about bicycling through the African country of Cameroon in “The Masked Rider,” about dealing with the deaths of both his daughter and his first wife and riding his motorcycle all the way across Canada in “Ghost Rider.” “Traveling Music” probably had the biggest influence on my, asI realized that, aside from drumming, Mr. Peart and I shared a similar trait, one he refers to as a “mental radio.” Constantly having songs playing in your head. Then there’s “Roadshow.” Riding motorcycles across the US while on tour with Rush is enough of a description to get any reader hooked!
Honestly, I’m keeping it to brief descriptions, because I’d have to devote a post for each book to fully explain the profound and inspiring work that Neil Peart has put out with them.
Finally we come to the last installment, “American Demon” by Jack Grisham.
“Is that like, John Grisham’s brother?” No. No he is not. Jack Grisham is lead singer of the fantastic punk band T.S.O.L (which stands for True Sounds of Liberty). “american Demon” delivered the most entertaining, and sometimes disturbing, autobiography I’ve ever read. Between the fiendish humor and the masterfully written recollections, I was so enthralled with this book that, before I realized it, I had already read through half upon first sitting down to read it! Punk has always had a special place in my heart, with T.S.O.L being one of my all-time favorite bands in the genre (second only to Black Flag), so naturally I was eager to get my hands on a copy of this book upon discovering it’s existence.
Well, there you have it. These are my favorite music biographies that I’ve read. Well, so far at least! My personal library is constantly growing, and I’ve got a stack of books I’ve yet to read through, so we’ll see if there’s a part two to this in the not-so-distant future.