Admittedly one of the influences of In the Red was something that I’m not always proud of liking. It’s something I probably shouldn’t like as not only a woman, but a strong, independent woman. But you know what? I LOVE this. I love it so hard I don’t care if it’s probably hypocritical or, at the very least, ironic. I. LOVE. IT. What am I referring to?
Trashy rock stories. Urban Legends. Tell-alls. You know the type of stories I mean. Tales of gluing furniture to ceilings, of throwing things out of hotel windows, handcuffing your guitarist to an annoying groupie on a toilet, of weird places to store candy bars. Tales of mudsharks, nefarious not-bathing contests, walking out of the hospital after an overdose. That sort of thing.
You know, the classy stuff.
Now I won’t go into details since I try to keep this blog somewhat clean, but I will list some of my fave rock n’ roll books. These could be smarmy stories, tell-alls, or magnificent tales of redemption. Please note that some of my favorite music/rocker books are left off, simply because they focus more on analyzing a person’s life rather than dishing or exploring the actual emotional experiences (This would be why there are no Bowie-centric books listed, although I was tempted to add Starman, which is probably the best one done on him.) Also in no particular order. I’ll also include some fiction and some informational stuff to round it out.
1. Rock Star Babylon by Jon Holmes – I love this thing. It compiles the best, the trashiest, the dumbest rock urband legends into one magnificent volume. The day I found this on the library shelf was a happy, happy day. If you don’t recognize any of which I was referring to above, just read this book. Granted, you’ll never be able to unsee what you have read, but it’s pretty fabulous. Granted, I will warn you that there will be stuff that can be found offensive – both in content and in style. It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I don’t recall being particularly offended. I got out of it pretty much what I expected: a humourous look at trashy rock anecdotes.
2. I Hate New Music: the Classic Rock Manifesto by Dave Thompson – Details some of the best of the best classic rock moments and songs and why you should know about them. This should be stapled to every person under thirty-five or forty. Some of the author’s picks are typical, some are not. I remember feeling this was a little repetitive, but I appreciated his insight as to why he felt the way he did.
3. It’s So Easy and Other Lies by Duff McKagan – Truly one of the best rock memoirs I’ve ever read. Duff writes intelligently and gives the reader a really good view of the rough time before GNR got big, the fights and hard times while they were big, and his very honest struggle through addiction to become who he is now. There’s enough sensational parts to balance out the dark, wince-worthy bits, and by the end I was honestly cheering for all his progress.
4. Hit Hard by Joey Kramer – My favorite of all the Aerosmith memoirs. Truly, I feel like this is a little more honest than some of the others I’ve read. I appreciate his honesty with confronting his own demons and juggling the inner machinations of the Aerosmith beast. It’s been a while since I’ve read this one, but I remember it feeling like a punch in the stomach. It was one of those books that made me admit that superstars are actually people, too.
5. The Boy Who Cried Freebird – A weird little collection of rock/music short stories. A little bit of everything, from Ozzy defeating aliens to the title story about the obnoxious protagonist in question. Not the best thing I’ve ever read, but it was fascinating enough to finish. It was a little hit or miss for my taste, but it did get me thinking about the use of music in fiction.
6. The Dirt – Motley Crue – This has pretty much everything. Disastrous overdoses. Near-death experiences. Bizarre frisky antics between members of the opposite sex. Tales of decadence and destruction. Suffering at accidental murder and sudden loss of family members. Love, loss, and lunacy. Ever-shifting band dynamics. If I was ranking this would probably be number one, just because it’s all true and it’s all as over-the-top as you would want from a rock n’ roll circus.
7. This is Gonna Hurt – Nikki Sixx – a combination of memoir and photography book, this is one of my favorite things ever. It speaks to creative people, it shoes that there are people behind the famous facade. Truly, I’ve loathed motley crue for a long time even though I loved their music. After reading this book I had a change of heart. I may not agree with everything the members’ have done, but I had also forgotten that they’re people with their own experiences. Plus, his photos are insane. Some of the best I’ve ever seen. His sense of composition is impeccable, and the soul he captures in people’s eyes is intense.
8. Sex Money Kiss by Gene Simmons – Admittedly I didn’t know what to think about a self-help book from Gene Simmons. I will admit that I adore him for his business sense and he’s just such a strong personality. I may not agree with everything that comes out of his mouth, but I respect him, and this book gave me a lot to think about and apply in my own life.
9. Rebel Heart by Bebe Buell – Admittedly, I like parts of this. This seems more like hearing the dirt from a high school girlfriend at times than a memoir. I can’t fault her for how far she’s come and things she’s been through, but for me parts read just a little catty. It’s somewhere above Backstage Passes (which I won’t list here because it drives me up a wall), but it comes across as more overtly self-promotional and a little more needy than some of the other memoirs in this list. The Steven Tyler/Tod Rudgren bits were the most interesting out of the whole thing.
10. I’m with the Band – Pam DesBarres – I haven’t read her other books, but I do like her style in this one. She comes across as blissfully naive, but not in an “oh my god what did you get into” kind of way. It’s a much more innocent kind of take on things than Rebel Heart, and I believe that Pam had more of a tendency to fall in love with whomever she was with at the time. I was pleased for her by the end, and I’ve got both of her others on my to read list now that I know they exist