What's Your Top 3?: Musician's biographies/autobiographies

Fix this immediately

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I first read this as a teenager and took it at face value but now I know more about the shadiness around it, the way Eugene Landy is portrayed etc, think it would make an interesting reread

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Wait, just remembered I had Black Sheep on CD and it was so shit that I never wanted to hear his music again. Had bought ‘Japrocksampler’ around the same time so stuck to his writing instead.

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That’s a bit like listening to Hawks and Doves and deciding Neil Young’s rubbish. Cope is a genius, sometimes a wayward one but a genius nonetheless.

Top 3 Julian Cope albums:
20 Mothers
Peggy Suicide

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Woody Guthrie - Bound For Glory
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace (yep Pono and train sets and all)
Patti Smith - M Train (read this before Just Kids and liked it a bit more though obvs both great. Found her just sitting around drinking loads of coffee and writing quite inspirational)

Got the John Lurie and Shirley Collins ones on the shelf ready to read

Cant think of a really good third one atm but

E’s autobiography and Lanegan’s ‘Sing Backwards And Weep’ are fantastic as mentioned elsewhere.

Might get Thurston Moores one if it gets good reviews.

The problem with this is that Hawks And Doves is actually pretty good.

I am deffo not listening to more Cope. He just seems like Viv Stanshall but he wants to shag standing stones.

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Try Floored Genius for a great overview of his career, Peggy Suicide for a sprawling Mother Earth rock diatribe or Fried for the eccentric inner monologue of a fracturing mind & body trying to escape from being a ’pop star’

I like Fried best

He once cancelled a Belfast gig because there had been a riot here weeks earlier. (it was 2013)

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Yes, he was still under Landy’s grip - I just remember the anecdotes like hiding in a cupboard when Manson visited.

Just Kids by Patti Smith
I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmonds
The Big Midweek by Steve Hanley/Olivia Piekarski

Springsteen, Jeff Tweedy, Mark Lanegan, Kim Gordon autobiographies all excellent too.

The Miles Davis one is a great read but he is generally a horrible fellow.

Keith Richards’ one is very good, especially when he talks about guitar playing.

U-God’s book, ‘Raw’, is one that’s stuck with me as well. Not much about Wu Tang, more about him growing up and the difficulties that he faced. Very well written.

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Dishonourable mentions to Matt Thorne’s book about Prince, the driest celebrity biography I’ve ever read, and ‘You Are Beautiful, You Are Alone’, the Nico biography. The latter was brutally badly written and terribly fact checked. Hate the tone of it too.

Will check out some of the books recommended here, especially any written by female musicians as I’ve been making an effort to read more these last few years.

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Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
Caetano Veloso - Tropical Truth
Bob Dylan - Chronicles

and “I’m Not There” is the best musician biopic, not that the bar is very high…


Reckon 'Control’ is a pretty great bopic imho.


haven’t seen that one, will check it out!

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Yeah this one. Great book about being the bass player in The Fall for 20 years. No sugar coating or myth making, just quite a funny account of all the chaos.

Going blank on others. Enjoyed Kim Gordon and E’s books as mentioned elsewhere.

Musician biographies are gonna be properly shit in future:

“Oh I fell into a life of music through rigorous instruction at a private school for music, and was then able to use my parents many business contacts, media friends and limitless resources to climb the slippery slope of ‘the biz’ to succeed.
It was a gruelling 2 months.”

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All music biographies are quite interesting in different ways up until the artist in question gets famous and then they all become a bit of a boring list of achievements.


“Needless to say I had the last laugh”.

I think Lanegan’s book kind of avoided this but only really as he was a bit of a mess and getting into wild scenarios while he was (relatively) famous/successful.

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