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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 10:49 PM
Original message
Name your favorite music biography
I'm looking for good music biographies. Doesn't matter much who it is as long as the book itself captivated you.

Some bios I've read are great, others, seven some on legendary, larger than life characters have bored me to tears. I recently read Ronnie Wood's autobio and was surprised at how much fun it was to read. It wasn't literary, perhaps barely literate, but it was chock full of info and personal remembrance and that made it cool.

Know other stuff that was good?

Go easy on me here, too, 'kay, I am acutely aware that I am not a Lounge regular. :-)

thanks!
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Zomby Woof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-16-09 11:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. The Real Frank Zappa Book
His autobiography. Funnier than hell, with lots of crusty opinions, and original insights on the music business - plus, lots of cool behind-the-scenes stories. Great illustrations too.
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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:09 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. yeah, I can't believe I've never read that
thanks!
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graywarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #1
31. Same here.
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Capn Sunshine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
59. +1
almost like a Kesey novel
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abq e streeter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:17 AM
Response to Original message
2. Peter Guralnick's Last Train To Memphis and Ray Manzarek's Light My Fire
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 12:18 AM by abq e streeter
were fascinating and well written. Last Train is a bio of Elvis up till the age of 22; apparently there'll be another volume at some point. Anything by Guralnick is, in my opinion, worth reading, BTW. And Manzarek's autobiography of both himself as well as The Doors in general, is surprisingly well written, and really interesting if you, like me, find The Doors fascinating anyway. Robert Shelton's No Direction Home ( Dylan of course) is good, and Wouldn't It Be Nice, Brian Wilson's autobiograpy, is interesting, although I strongly suspect it was co-written , or more, by the infamous Dr. Landy, who is portrayed just a teensy bit too heroically to be believable, but still an interesting read for any Brian Wilson/Beachboys fan. Levon Helm's autobiography, This Wheel's on Fire was interesting, and although it's been a loooong time, I seem to remember Myra Friedman's Buried Alive, about Janis Joplin was also very well written and compelling.
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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:08 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. nice reccs, thanks!
I've read other Manzarek work so that sounds like a nice add to the reading list. I've read No Direction Home and it was fantastic. Several on there sound great, I might start with Helm's.

thanks again
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kentauros Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:25 AM
Response to Original message
3. The Definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach by Prof. Peter Schickele
It's got lots of pictures, too
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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Pictures are good!
:)

I've heard its an exceptional read and thought about picking it up, even without much interest in the subject matter.

thanks!
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taterguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:05 AM
Response to Original message
5. Tommy Womack's autobiographical The Cheese Chronicles is essential
It's about the trial and travails of punk rock band in Kentucky during the Reagan years.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:32 PM
Response to Original message
8. "Miles" by Miles Davis is an incredibly good autobiography...
he actually spends a long time talking about music. Imagine that...a musician actually talking about music.

Victor Bockris' "Transformer" is an incredibly well researched biography of Lou Reed.
However, avoid his Keith Richard biography. It's just a cut and paste job taken from old magazine articles. Very disappointing.

The Howlin' Wolf biography, "Moanin' at Midnight" by James Segrest and Mark Hoffman is also very well done. The authors are blues scholars, not blues mythologists.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. You just reminded me of Beneath the Underdog by Charles Mingus
What a book! I read in in high school, so maybe it's not quite as great as I remember it. But he was fascinating on the subject of being a person who's too black for white folk and too white for black folk growing up in LA the 1940s and becoming the great Charles Mingus. Very honest writing, I remember.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:48 PM
Response to Reply #12
21. It is as great as you remember...
what a fantastic book
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:35 PM
Response to Original message
9. Woody is not very bright is he?
I read that autobiography and found it quite fun, but came to the conclusion that Wood is even dumber than I imagined him to be. He possesses absolutely no insight.
That's why he is soon to die
with very little money.
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Stardust Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
30. Did I hear recently that Ron has left the Rolling Stones?
Sorry to sound so clueless, but politics has supplanted music as my passion. (But I did see the Stones live recently.) I just can't keep up with everything nowadays...
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. Not yet officially, but I imagine that will be coming soon...
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 05:10 PM by mitchum
he recently went back to drinking in a BIG way
divorced his longtime wife Jo
is alienated from his children
and has taken up with a 20 year old Russian cocktail waitress with whom he has a stormy relationship

I predict he will be dead
with very little money
soon

He is an affable, but very stupid, man
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Jetboy Donating Member (306 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 11:28 AM
Response to Reply #37
46. It sounds like Ronnie is just like the Mike Myers parody of him
on SNL years ago. That really is sad.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 12:24 PM
Response to Reply #46
47. His joining the Rolling Stones was not good for the Rolling Stones...
or for him
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Jetboy Donating Member (306 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 12:10 PM
Response to Reply #47
53. I really love the Faces. Ronnie's playing was just right for that
band IMO. Who do you think the Stones should have gotten to replace Mick Taylor?
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #53
54. The man who turned them down on two occasions...
Roy Buchanan.
He shared the most important qualities with Taylor; beautiful lyrical playing and a better fit as a player than as a bandleader left to his own devices.
He didn't really look right, but...

I agree with you about Woods playing being perfect for the Faces (and lots of the Rod Stewart solo cuts)
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Orsino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:52 PM
Response to Original message
10. Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere
A history of The Who.
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SteppingRazor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
11. You read Mansion on the Hill?
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 01:59 PM by SteppingRazor
Full title: The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce

Pretty illuminating, as far as its specific subject matter.


On edit: And as far as autobiographies, Dylan's Chronicles is a good read. Slightly inscrutable, just like the man, and yet I ripped through it in a weekend.
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Amerigo Vespucci Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
13. Neil Young's "Shakey," because...
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 02:13 PM by Amerigo Vespucci
...it's accurate and true, and Young cut off access to the "insider" author, Jimmy McDonough, after reading an initial draft.

That's why the book stops on a damn dime...you're reading it, and there's all of this great chronology, and it just...STOPS.

That's because Young opened up access to everyone in his inner circle, and when he actually saw how his life looked on paper, decided that he didn;t want to take it any further.

Yes, he's a gifted artist. Yes, he does the Bridge School stuff. Yes, he's a strong political voice for "our side."

He also had a few issues with getting high and screwing over his audiences, and walking away from relationships that he just didn't feel like dealing with.

The Stills-Young Band tour ended with Neil high-tailing it out of town and leaving a note for Stills that read (not an exact quote, but very close): "Dear Stephen, have you ever noticed how some things that begin suddenly also end that way? Eat a peach, Neil." So Stills finished the tour as a solo act.

The late Nicolette Larson got kicked to the curb as the result of her romance with Neil. That might have been one of the stories that got the book shut down, because the truth hurts. She was a sweetheart and he treated her like something you'd scrape off of your shoe. And he knew he was doing it, because that's how Neil has handled some of his relationships.

Spoiled, moody, arrogant..."I Am A Child" might be one of the most honestly autobiographical songs in the history of rock.

:toast:
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av8rdave Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
14. A couple...
Jerry Garcia: An American Life, by Blair Jackson

Lennon: The Definitive Biography, by Ray Coleman

I also just finished "Bumping into Geniuses," by Danny Goldberg. He was involved in the management end of the music business from a young age. The people he worked with and the acts he managed (including Led Zep and Nirvana) make for a fascinating story.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:53 PM
Response to Original message
15. Phil Lesh bio - great story about music, the Dead and counter-culture -
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 03:01 PM by tigereye
well-written, too. Loved it and I'm not even a Deadhead. Skip Hammer of the Gods- it's just gross IMHO.


:hi: How are ya?


And "I'm with the Band" by Pamela DesBarres - much more than a "groupie" story from a woman who exemplified the early 60s-70s scene-ster. Also more thoughtful than you would think.

She's a Rebel - is a good read about the history of women in rock and roll. Also excellent is the story of Joni Mitchell, Carole King and Carly Simon. (can't think of the name at the moment.) Lot's of good history, there.


I also have enjoyed jazz histories, and histories of punk years -such as "Our band could be your Life by Michael Azerrad, and England's Dreaming by Jon Savage (a bit didactic, but intriguing.)
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:38 PM
Response to Reply #15
18. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator. Click here to review the message board rules.
 
tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #18
32. I'm doing pretty well, had a good summer, nice and cool and not too hot
put in a new furnace, so we won't freeze our butts off! Kid is doing well, and I really can't complain...


I think England's Dreaming is a pretty good analysis!
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #15
20. I was so disappointed when "I'm With The Band" went back into print...
because I had made lots of money selling used copies for ridiculous amounts
when it was out of print.
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #20
33. I have my old copy here somewhere - I liked it.
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 04:45 PM by tigereye

this is so funny! Wow, how much are we talking? :hi:
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #33
38. It is a really enjoyable book...
DesBarres and I have a mutual frend and she had told him that the copyright would revert back to her soon allowing her to be able to find another publisher.
I knew that I had to strike while the iron was hot AKA when people were paying from $40 to $75 for beat up paperback copies :)
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:54 PM
Response to Reply #38
39. wow, who would have thought they would pay that much!!


:wow:
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #39
40. Clinton Heylin's From the Velvets to the Voidoids also brought comparable prices...
before it went back into print a couple of years ago.
Grrrrr :)
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 10:13 AM
Response to Reply #40
41. ooh, that sounds like a good one - I haven't heard of that one
then there's Psychotic Reactions and Carberateur? Dung... I suspect that one is rarely out of print.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 11:51 AM
Response to Reply #41
51. I heartily recommend it...
a really good history of the New York, Detroit, Cleveland and Akron scenes leading up to the "punk explosion" of the late 70s.
It's easy to find now that it is back in print. Damn it! :)
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latebloomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 01:38 PM
Response to Reply #15
50. "Girls Like Us"
is the name of the Joni/Carly/Carole book. Pretty good.
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SecularMotion Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:00 PM
Response to Original message
16. Hammer Of The Gods - Led Zeppelin
No One Here Gets Out Alive - Jim Morrison

Elvis - Albert Goldman
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Beer Snob-50 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:11 PM
Response to Original message
17. billion dollar baby by bob greene
bob greene toured with alice cooper and wrote of his experiences. this was written in 1974 and i remember reading it during my high school years.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:40 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. It is a wonderful book, but good luck finding a copy for less than 2 or 3...
hundred bucks. Unfortunately, it is long out of print.
I think one of the things that makes it so refreshing is that it was written from the perspective of a self-admitted square.
It does not suffer from Sam Sheparditis or Stanley Boothitis ("We're as cool as the musicians we are chronicling! We really are!")
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Bennyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:18 PM
Response to Original message
22. Bill Graham: My life Inside Rock (and out)
The man was amazing. escaped the Holocaust. Invented the rock concert. Great stories in this book. All you ever need to know.
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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:00 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Did he write in early years or closer to his death?
sounds interesting, indeed.
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gmoney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:20 PM
Response to Original message
24. The recent-ish Rick Wakeman book is supposed to be excellent
I enjoyed the Dean Wareham "Black Postcards" book, although the first part is better than the last.
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Wickerman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:27 AM
Response to Reply #24
28. thanks
Huge G500 fan and liked Luna a lot. Somehow missed that Dean had a bio.
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gmoney Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:47 PM
Response to Reply #28
29. Then you should really enjoy it...
He's almost the exact same age as me, so it was very interesting to hear his recollections of music growing up and the scene when he was in college, etc. as G500 was happening.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:23 AM
Response to Original message
25. John Lennon: The Life by Philip Norman
The definitive biography. It came out last fall.

Eight hundred fifty pages. I read it in three days. He digs up new information (I didn't think there was any new info on John). He is also very balanced between the good and the bad. His prose style is very precise.

Grace Slick, Somebody to Love (autobiography). She has an earnest, always curious attitude that struck me as being very down to earth.
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Tikki Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:32 AM
Response to Original message
26. "On The Road With The Ramones" Melnick & Meyer....
Even if you don't know who the Ramones were or even like their music this book is an absolutely
fascinating account of their 20+ years together and their lives on the road.


http://www.ontheroadwiththeramones.com/books/index.shtm


Tikki
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tigereye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #26
43. that one was a lot of fun to read- but it made me feel sorry for Joey


Johnny was such a mean bastard...
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:36 AM
Response to Original message
27. Two biopics
The Doors and Immortal Beloved.

I always have time to watch either of those two.
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old mark Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
34. "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Brian Wilson's autobiography.
Very hard to read emotionally - he had a largely terrible life and yet wrote - writes - some very happy and affirmative music.
He is a great musician and composer.

mark
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BlueJazz Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
35. Take Five: The Public and Private Lives of Paul Desmond
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kimmerspixelated Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
36. Something new actually-GIRLS LIKE US!
It covers Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and Carole King. It's very well done and really takes you back to the 60's and 70's and the gossip is wonderful! Very interesting. Read it!
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Patiod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 10:19 AM
Response to Original message
42. Walk Hard
Edited on Sat Sep-19-09 10:21 AM by Patiod
I can't believe no one said this yet....

(edit: biopic, not book, but still....)
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velvet Donating Member (950 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 10:48 AM
Response to Original message
44. "X-Ray, The Unauthorised Autobiography" by Ray Davies
Been ages since I read it. This reviewer sums it up pretty well :

Sure, Ray Davies seems bitter, but if you'd had to put up with the kind of abuse that Ray and his band have for the last 30 years, you wouldn't be all smiles either. Squirming through the occasional melodramatic excesses of "X-Ray, The Unauthorized Autobiography," is a small price to pay to finally hear the Kinks' story from Davies' own mouth.

X-Ray is a memoir wrapped in a science fiction story not unlike the hokey rock operas Davies was writing in the mid-seventies. In it, The Corporation, which controls the world and has effaced all traces of individuality and personal freedom, sends a cub writer to get the life story of Davies, now a sad and hermetic old man. Their real intention, of course, is to destroy the former Kinks frontman, who, powerless and forgotten as he is, still possesses knowledge, memories, and dreams whose very existence pose a threat to the sterile New Order. As the young writer hears Ray's story, he comes to the unavoidable conclusion that The Corporation is evil, and in the end resolves to work against it.

This rather thin meta-story doesn't intrude much on Ray's reminiscences (which don't go very far beyond the late sixties, to the undoubted relief of Kinks fans everywhere), and ends up being a clever vehicle for Davies to speak in both the first and third person, making observations about his own personality that would be impossible in a straight autobiography. Still, the main thrill is having the normally reticent Davies spill the details on Kinks mysteries that have been the subject of speculation for years: his childhood, his nervous breakdown(s), the band's notorious management problems, and most of all, their years-long ban from America.

More: http://www.wfmu.org/~davem/docs/xray.html
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greendog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 11:17 AM
Response to Original message
45. "Where Dead Voices Gather" by Nick Tosches
...a biography of an obscure ( and hugely influential) singer from the '20's.

Tosches's new book Where Dead Voices Gather brings to a conclusion his long-term obsession with an obscure vocalist, Emmett Miller (1900-1962). He introduced him in Country, and the elusive Miller has remained the object of Tosches's persistent fascination ever since. The initial words he wrote about Miller dubbed him "one of the most intriguing and profoundly important men in the history of country music." In the years since, Tosches has extended Miller's importance beyond that genre alone. He elaborates in the present volume: "The very concept of him -- a white man in blackface, a hillbilly singer and a jazz singer both, a son of the Deep South and a roue of Broadway -- is at once unique, mythic, and a perfect representation of the schizophrenic heart of what this country, with a straight face, calls its culture." Since 1974, when Tosches first heard Miller's voice, he has doggedly pursued whatever fugitive scraps of evidence still exist that fill out the image of this nearly phantom figure.

http://www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/w/where-dead-vo...

I don't think the book is still in print but you should be able to find a used copy on Amazon or at a public library. Definitely worthwhile!
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 12:25 PM
Response to Reply #45
48. That is a great book...as is any book by Tosches
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Zomby Woof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-19-09 01:01 PM
Response to Original message
49. Bound For Glory
Woody Guthrie's autobiography is a masterpiece. The childhood recollections are vivid and moving. No ghostwriter either - Woody was the real deal.
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mitchum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #49
52. Fantastic book...
it never even occurred to me
because, I guess, in my head,
it transcends the musician bio genre.

You are right; it is a masterpiece.
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dana_b Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 03:54 PM
Response to Original message
55. S'cuse Me While I Kiss the Sky
by David Henderson. I just returned it to the library yesterday and asked my daughter to buy it for me for Christmas.
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asdjrocky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 03:56 PM
Response to Original message
56. The Love You Make
But I haven't read a lot of music biography. Of the few I've read, that's been my favorite.
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:41 PM
Response to Original message
57. "Yes, I Can": Sammy Davis, Jr.
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-20-09 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
58. The most fascinating one I ever read was Deborah Harry's
Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie. She actually co-authored it with Chris Stein and Victor Bockris. It's a great read. She goes into detail about her musical influences, early life, the civil rights movement, and, of course, the 1970s New York punk scene at CBGBs. I bought it when I was a kid back in the early 80s, but re-read it in the late 90s and was still fascinated.
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Manifestor_of_Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-21-09 01:02 AM
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60. Kink by Dave Davies is good too.
:D
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