Recommended Reading: Books on Music – Your Choices

Well. I wasn’t expecting this when I asked you to suggest any books on music I might have missed! When I compiled my original list, I thought I might get maybe half a dozen folk recommending their favourite music texts, if I were lucky – instead, I was sent suggestions by nearly forty different people. Indeed, at one stage last night, the tweets were coming in so fast that I couldn’t keep up with them all and make a note of all the book titles you were sending my way at the same time! My apologies if I didn’t reply then – but I did see and note down all of them, and all of them are here (apart from one or two that I couldn’t find any info for).

And there are some great books here. Some I had actually read and shamefully forgotten about (Joe Boyd’s White Bicycles and Legs McNeil’s Please Kill Me for a start), some classics which I really should have read but haven’t (such as Ian Hunter’s Diary of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star), and some I’ve never heard of but will definitely be tracking down as soon as I can (like Mark E. Smith’s autobiography, which sounds terrifying!). But they’ve all been recommended by people whose taste and opinions I respect – and therefore I happily recommend them to everyone else…

Finally, I’d like to thank everyone whose contributions made this list possible. I’d thank all 37 of you individually, but we’d be here all night and this post would be even longer than it already is. You know who you are.

This list has, like the original, been divided into three sections for ease of perusal. Biography, Autobiography and Memoirs contains exactly that – books written by or about a band, artist or music industry insider. Scenes, Eras and Places lists volumes covering specific times, locations and musical movements that have had an important impact in some way. Finally, Collected Writings covers more general texts, and compilations of music journalism and other writings. Each section is listed in alphabetical order by the author’s surname and the date given is that of first publication where known, unless otherwise stated.

23/05/15: Having just updated my personal list of music books, I asked if anyone had any more suggestions for this crowdsourced list…. and Twitter, you did it again! Thank you SO much to all of you who have contributed to the makings of this amazing list – you’ll find all your new additions in bold type below. Any glaring omissions may well be found on my original list (see link above); if not then please do get in touch here or on Twitter.

Also, many thanks to @damiella, who pointed me in the direction of this excellent post on the subject of music books over at Quirk Books, and to @maffrj, who sent me a copy of Mark E. Smith’s autobiography last time round!


ALBERTINE, Viv – Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys: A Memoir (2014)

BARNES, Richard – The Who: Maximum R&B (1982)

BIRCH, Will – Ian Dury: The Definitive Biography (2010)

BROWNE, David – Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley (2002)

BROWNE, David – Goodbye 20th Century: Sonic Youth and the Rise of the Alternative Nation (2009)

CHAPMAN, Rob – Syd Barrett: A Very Irregular Head (2011)

COLLINS, Andrew – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now: My Difficult Student 80s (2005)

COPE, Julian – Head-on: Memories of the Liverpool Punk Scene and the Story of The Teardrop Explodes, 1976-82 (1994)

COPE, Julian – Head On/Repossessed (2005) (‘Head-on’ and its sequel in one volume)

DAVIS, Stephen – Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin Unauthorised (1995)

DRUMMOND, Bill – 45 (2000)

EVERETT, Mark Oliver – Things The Grandchildren Should Know (2008)

FRANK, Josh and GANZ, Caryn – Fool The World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies (2008)

FRENCH, John – Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic (2013)

GORDON, Kim – Girl In A Band (2015)

GRAY, Marcus – The Clash: Return of the Last Gang in Town (2nd edition 2004)

GRAY, Michael – Hand Me My Travelin’ Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell (2008)

GURALNICK, Peter – Last Train To Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (1994)

GURALNICK, Peter – Careless Love: The Unmaking of Elvis Presley (1999)

HAINES, Luke – Bad Vibes: Britpop and My Part in its Downfall (2010)

HAINES, Luke – Post Everything: Outsider Rock and Roll (2012)

HANLEY, Steve and PIEKARSKI, Olivia – The Big Midweek: Life Inside The Fall (2014)

HARPER, Colin – Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival (2006)

HERSH, Kristin – Paradoxical Undressing (2010) (also published as ‘Rat Girl’)

HEYLIN, Clinton – Can You Feel The Silence? – Van Morrison: A New Biography (2004)

HOPKINS, Jerry and SUGARMAN, Danny – No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980)

HUNTER, Ian – Diary of A Rock ‘n’ Roll Star (1974)

JARNOW, Jesse – Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (2012)

KATZ, David – People Funny Boy: The Genius of Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry (Revised edition 2006)

KENT, Nick – Apathy For The Devil: A Seventies Memoir (2010)

KILMISTER, Lemmy – White Line Fever: Lemmy – The Autobiography (2003)

LYDON, John – Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored (2014)

MACDONALD, Ian – Revolution In The Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties (1994, Revised edition 2008)

MACDONALD, Ian – The New Shostakovich (Revised edition 2006)

MAXWELL, Grace – Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins (2009)

MCDONOUGH, Jimmy – Tammy Wynette: Tragic Country Queen (2011)

MCDONOUGH, Jimmy – Shakey: Neil Young’s Biography (2003)

MELNICK, Monte A. and MEYER, Frank – On The Road With The Ramones (Updated edition 2011)

MINGUS, Charles – Beneath The Underdog (1992)

MORRISSEY – Autobiography (2013) (Note: Only recommended for the first half of the book!)

MURDOCH, Stuart – The Celestial Cafe (2010)

NASH, Brian – Nasher Says Relax: Inside the Band and Beyond the Pleasuredome (2012)

NORMAN, Philip – Shout! The Beatles in Their Generation (1996)

NORMAN, Philip – John Lennon: The Life (2008)

O’DAIR, Marcus – Different Every Time: The Authorised Biography of Robert Wyatt (2014)

O’LEARY, Chris – Rebel, Rebel (2015)

PACE, Neil – The Great Cassette Experiment: The Joy of Cassettes! (2013)

PALACIOS, Julian – Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd: Dark Globe (2010)

RADCLIFFE, Mark – Thank You For The Days: A Boy’s Own Adventures in Radio and Beyond (2010)

REPSCH, John – The Legendary Joe Meek: The Telstar Man (2001)

SHEFFIELD, Rob – Love Is A Mixtape: A Memoir (2010)

SIMPSON, Dave – The Fallen: Life In and Out of Britain’s Most Insane Group (2008)

SMITH, Mark E. – Renegade: The Lives and Tales of Mark E. Smith (2009)

SUMNER, Bernard – Chapter and Verse: New Order, Joy Division and Me (2014)

SZWED, John – The Man Who Recorded The World: A Biography of Alan Lomax (2011)

WAREHAM, Dean – Black Postcards: A Memoir (2009)

WILMER, Valerie – Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This: My Life In The Jazz World (1991)

WILSON, Brian – Wouldn’t It Be Nice: My Own Story (1996)

WOLFF, Daniel – You Send Me: The Life and Times of Sam Cooke (2011)

YOUNG, James – Nico: Songs They Never Play on the Radio (1999)


ASTON, Martin – Facing The Other Way: The Story of 4AD (2013)

AZERRAD, Michael – Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 (2001)

BOYD, Joe – White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s (2006)

CAVANAGH, David – The Creation Records Story: My Magpie Eyes are Hungry for the Prize (2000)

COHEN, Rich – The Record Men: Chess Records and the Birth of Rock & Roll (2005)

COHN, Nik – Triksta: Life and Death and New Orleans Rap (2005)

COLLIN, Matthew – This Is Serbia Calling: Rock and Roll Radio and Belgrade’s Underground Resistance (Revised edition 2004)

FLETCHER, Tony – Boy About Town (2013)

GILLETT, Charlie – The Sound of the City: The Rise of Rock and Roll (2nd edition 1996)

GOODMAN, Fred – The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, and Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce (1997)

HERMES, Will – Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York that Changed Music Forever (2012)

HEYLIN, Clinton – From The Velvets To The Voidoids: The Birth of American Punk (2005)

HODGKINSON, Will – The Ballad of Britain: How Music Captured the Soul of a Nation (2009)

HOSKYNS, Barney – Hotel California: Singer-songwriters and Cocaine Cowboys in the L.A. Canyons 1967-1976 (2005)

KENT, Nick – The Dark Stuff: Selected Writings on Rock Music 1972-1993 (1994)

KING, Richard – How Soon Is Now?: The Madmen and Mavericks Who Made Independent Music 1975-2005 (2012)

LOOG OLDHAM, Andrew – Stoned (1998)

LYNSKEY, Dorian – 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs (2012)

MCNEIL, Legs with MCCAIN, Gillian – Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk (1997)

MORLEY, Paul – Words and Music: A History of Pop in the Shape of a City (2004)

PARKES, Simon – Live At The Brixton Academy: A Riotous Life in the Music Business (2014)

REYNOLDS, Simon – Energy Flash: A Journey Through Rave Music and Dance Culture (Updated edition 2013)

ROACH, Martin – The Eight Legged Atomic Dustbin Will Eat Itself (1992, Revised edition 2006)

ROSS, Alex – The Rest Is Noise: Listening To The Twentieth Century (2009)

UNTERBERGER, Richie – Urban Spacemen and Wayfaring Strangers: Overlooked Innovators and Eccentric Visionaries of ’60s Rock (2000)

WILMER, Valerie – As Serious As Your Life: John Coltrane and Beyond (1977, New edition 1999)

WOLFE, Tom – The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968)

YARM, Mark – Everybody Loves Our Town: A History of Grunge (2011)


BANGS, Lester – Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (New edition 2001)

BARFE, Louis – Where Have All the Good Times Gone?: The Rise and Fall of the Record Industry (2004)

BYRNE, David – How Music Works (2012)

CARDUCCI, Joe – Rock and the Pop Narcotic: Testament for the Electric Church (1991, 3rd edition 2005)

DIMERY, Robert (ed.) – 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die (2006)

DRUMMOND, Bill – The 17 (2008)

EISENBERG, Evan – The Recording Angel: Music, Records and Culture from Aristotle to Zappa (1987)

GURALNICK, Peter – Lost Highway: Journeys & Arrivals of American Musicians (1979)

HORNBY, Nick – High Fidelity (1995) (novel)

HORNBY, Nick – 31 Songs (2003)

MARCUS, Greil – Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music (1975, 5th edition 2008)

MARCUS, Greil – Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century (1989)

MUELLER, Andrew – Rock and Hard Places: Travels to Backstages, Frontlines and Assorted Sideshows (Revised edition 2012)

MURRAY, Charles Shaar – Shots From The Hip (1991)

SAMPSON, Kevin – Powder: An Everyday Story of Rock ‘n’ Roll Folk (2000) (novel)

STANLEY, Bob – Yeah Yeah Yeah: The Story of Modern Pop (2013)

WILD, Peter (ed.) – The Empty Page: Fiction Inspired by Sonic Youth (2008)

WILLIAMSON, Nigel – The Rough Guide To The Best Music You’ve Never Heard (2008)

6 thoughts on “Recommended Reading: Books on Music – Your Choices

  1. Pingback: Recommended Reading: Books on Music | Another Kind Of Mind

  2. Pingback: Recommended Reading: Books on Music UPDATED | Another Kind Of Mind

  3. Pingback: Recommended Viewing: Documentaries on Music | Another Kind Of Mind

  4. Pingback: Recommended Viewing: Documentaries on Music – Your Choices | Another Kind Of Mind

  5. Pingback: October Update | Another Kind Of Mind

  6. Pingback: Recommended Reading: Books on Music (The Another Kind Of Mind 10th Birthday Edition) | Another Kind Of Mind

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.