Autobiographies every music-lover needs to read

Autobiographies every music-lover needs to read

Photo: Kim Gordon, Supersonic Festival 2012 by Jaswooduk via Wikimedia Commons
Words by Tobias Handke

Add these books to your self-isolation reading list.

Music biopics are all the rage these days, as we’ve seen through the success of films like Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman, and though they tend to be highly entertaining, biopics don’t tell the full story. This is where music autobiographies come into play.

Unlike a standard biogaphy about someone famous, autobiographies are written by the people they are based on, so you know you’re getting a warts-and-all account of their life. If you love nothing more than curling up with a book about your favourite band or artist and discovering the nitty-gritty details of their career and personal life, be sure to add these music autobiographies to your reading list.

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz

This memoir from the remaining two Beastie Boys (Adam “ADROCK” Horovitz and Michael “Mike D” Diamond) is a wonderful dedication to their friend Adam “MCA” Yauch, featuring a collection of images and stories tracing the group’s history. Along with compelling stories about the band, the book includes rare photos, a cookbook by Roy Choi, mixtape playlists and contributions from an array of celebrities including Spike Jonze, Amy Poehler and Wes Anderson. A must for any hip hop or Beastie Boys fan.

Girl In A Band by Kim Gordon

One of the original women of the ’90s alternative scene, Kim Gordon has experienced it all in a career spanning almost 40 years. This is a fascinating account of not only Gordon’s childhood and her early years with Sonic Youth, but also a sobering insight into her three-decade long marriage with bandmate Thurston Moore that ended in divorce and the breakup of Sonic Youth in 2011.

Get In The Van by Henry Rollins

Younger readers might not be familiar with the great Henry Rollins’ former life as the lead singer of hardcore act Black Flag, but throughout the ’80s he was a powerhouse vocalist who put the fear of God into parents. This is a no holds barred account of band life and features stories about overzealous fans, dodgy promoters, violent incidents and roadies eating dog food. If you think rock’n’roll is all about sex, drugs and fame, Get In The Van will show you another side of the industry and how tough it can be.

Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Named after the lyrics to one of her songs, this riveting autobiography finds Brownstein opening up about her early life, struggles with depression and anxiety and how her experiences with Sleater-Kinney made her the person she is today. This is a vivid portrayal of the ’90s music scene and feminist punk from the view of someone who was neck deep in it all. A genuinely wonderful read.

Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis

Easily one of the most well-known music bios, Scar Tissue is an exhilarating and, at times, depressing read about the life and times of Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis. While Kiedis discusses his childhood and life with RHCP, it’s his harrowing account of heroin addiction and the negative effects of drugs that really hits home for anyone who’s been in a similar circumstance or have friends who have suffered through addiction. A must read.

Reckless: My Life As A Pretender by Chrissie Hynde

This book sees The Pretenders frontwoman take readers on a journey from her youth through to her founding The Pretenders and her life as a famous musician. Funny, smart and, above all, entertaining, Reckless highlights what it’s like being a female rock star in a male-dominated industry while exploring life on the road and Hynde’s interactions with famous musicians.

The Beautiful Ones by Prince

For those still mourning the loss of the incredible talent and man we know as Prince, do yourself a favour and give The Beautiful Ones a read. This dramatic first person account of how Prince Rogers Nelson became one of the biggest names in pop is gorgeously written and contains dozens of previously unseen illustrations. This is a compelling snapshot of Prince’s early years to his final days and a fitting tribute to the Artist Formerly Known As Prince.

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