The 20 Best Musician Memoirs of All Time
To get the craziest music gossip, sometimes you gotta go straight to the source.
Reading fiction is great when you want to get lost in scenarios that could never actually happen in real life (ex: kissing vampires, alien abductions, sex parties that don’t result in obsessive texts the next day). But nothing beats the true-to-life scandal of a juicy autobiography, and some of the best ones were written by musicians. We’ve chosen 20 of our absolute favorite music bios and laid them out for you below with a word or two as to just what makes them so amazing. While you’re browsing through, try to guess which book has a chapter about throwing a cheese sandwich at someone’s head, and which percentage of the 20 books are almost entirely about straight up drugs.
1) Be My Baby — Ronnie Spector
Ronnie Spector was more or less snatched away from her family at a very young age and thrown into the weirdest life ever under the wing/wig of producer Phil Spector. She took as little mess from him as possible though, and came away from the ordeal with a fantastic music career, and even more fantastic stories to tell.
2) I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp — Richard Hell
Richard Hell is still alive, which makes little sense because he had led a life that could only be described as “punk as fuck.” He’s been credited as a source of inspiration for the Sex Pistols’ look and attitude, if that gives you any clue.
3) Chronicles — Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan has one of the most beloved musical careers there is, but not much is widely known about his private life. This touching memoir “tells all.”
4) Autobiography — Morrissey
Morrissey is basically the best possible person you could choose for a night spent at a bar just literally making fun of everyone that walks past you. He fucks with people even using the layout of his own book. There’s not one paragraph break through the whole thing. Not. One.
5) Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl — Carrie Brownstein
Carrie Brownstein is loud on stage, but pretty tight-lipped in real life. Her brand new book feels like sneaking a peak at someone’s swiped diary. Any detail given is a new detail learned.
6) Cash: The Autobiography — Johnny Cash
Did Johnny Cashreally shoot a man just watch him die? Gotta read to find out.
7) It’s A Long Story: My Life — Willie Nelson
Willie’s life has been 100% chill, and reading this book is pure joy.
8) Miles: The Autobiography — Miles Davis
Being able to spit out a few pieces of trivia on the life and career of Miles Davis will earn you major points at any civilized social gathering.
9) Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippie Dream — Neil Young
Are Neil Young and Willie Nelson friends? It seems like they’d be best friends. Only one way to find out!
10) The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band — Tommy Lee & Vince Neil
You’ll never look at a breakfast burrito the same after reading this. And that is NOT a joke.
11) Ginger Baker: Hellraiser: The Autobiography of the World’s Greatest Drummer — Ginger Baker
Ginger Baker was a word class asshole, but you can’t help but love him for it.
12) I’ll Never Write My Memoirs — Grace Jones
How fantastic would life be if you could get away with being as wonderfully eccentric as Grace Jones?
13) Life – Keith Richards
Unravel Keith’s secrets for remaining alive after being Keith Richards for SO long.
14) M Train — Patti Smith
Patti will be the first to tell you that she’s seen and done it ALL, and way before you could even think of it.
15) Decoded — Jay Z
If you wanna learn how to turn being a rapper into a multi-billion dollar franchise, start here. Jay Z probably just made $1 million in the time it took you to read this sentence.
16) The Real Frank Zappa Book — Frank Zappa
The father of the person writing this post will tell you that he personally saw Frank Zappa take a steaming shit on stage during a concert in the sixties. I bet he talks about pooping on stuff in this book. In fact, we KNOW he does.
17) Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business — Dolly Parton
The main thing we took away from this book is that we want Dolly Parton to like us. She talks about growing up in a shack where little chicken beaks poked through the gaps in their wood floors and it’s the most enchanting thing ever.
18) Of Grunge and Government: Let’s Fix This Broken Democracy — Krist Novoselic
Lots of ground is covered here, and a great deal on “you know who” as well. Let’s give Krist his time to shine though.
19) Tha Doggfather: The Times, Trials, And Hardcore Truths Of Snoop Dogg — Snoop Dogg
This book is printed on Zig-Zags. Just kidding.
20) Fleetwood: My Life and Adventures in Fleetwood Mac — Mick Fleetwood
So so so so so so so so SO many drugs.