We love music, and we love books. Combine the two, and we're on the stairway to heaven. This fall the publishing Gods are gifting us with some serious rock & roll reads. Step into the minds of music legends like Elton John (first autobiography EVER), Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, and Prince. Yes, Prince! No need to go on tour to experience the glamour and grit of rock and roll. Just scoop up these books, and you'll get a front -seat into the lives of some of the greatest musicians of our time.
— Holly Parmelee
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Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith
Patti Smith's latest memoir begins on New Year's Day 2016 — the year of the monkey in the Chinese zodiac — and the year Smith turned 70. In this slim, poetic book, the punk rock legend (and National Book Award-winning writer) contemplates dreams and reality as she explores grief, aging, mortality, and the political turmoil of the 2016 election. The reader follows Smith as she grapples with the death and illness of two close friends (music producer and manager Sandy Pearlman and actor/writer Sam Shepard). Smith's signature Polaroids of her travels accompany her gorgeously written memoir.
Janis: Her Life and Music by Holly George-Warren
This definitive biography of Janis Joplin establishes the First Lady of Rock & Roll as a rule-breaking trailblazer, with her unforgettably gritty voice, bluesy rock and roll style, and mesmerizing stage presence. Holly George-Warren draws on archival materials as well as in-depth interviews with Joplin's friends, family, and bandmates to explore her troubled life from childhood to stardom. Joplin was at the center of the sex, drugs and rock'n'roll lifestyle of the late sixties and it was no surprise her life ended tragically with a heroin overdose in 1970. This well-researched biography goes way beyond the scandalous aspects of Joplin's life, to portray a brilliant, complex woman caught between the rush of stardom and the longing for approval and support from her family.
Face It: A Memoir by Debbie Harry
The lead singer of the band Blondie, actor, activist and iconic face of New York City cool, Debbie Harry, looks back on her incredible life in her new memoir. Face It brings alive all the grit, grime, and glory of the downtown music scene of 1970s New York City, where Blondie played alongside the Ramones, Talking Heads, Iggy Pop, and David Bowie. Along with commercial success came heroin addiction, the near-death of partner Chris Stein, bankruptcy, and Blondie's break-up as a band. Harry recreated herself as an actor, a successful solo artist and finally, triumphantly, reunited with her band. Like her music (who can forget the classic hits "One Way or Another," "Call Me," "The Tide Is High," "Rapture," and "Heart of Glass?"), Blondie never goes out of style.
The Beautiful Ones by Prince
Oh, how we miss the musical genius that was Prince! Lucky for us (and his millions of fans), Prince had been working on a memoir before his tragic death. The Beautiful Ones is his unfinished manuscript that's been published along with never-before-seen photos, original scrapbooks, and handwritten lyric sheets of Prince's most famous songs. This is a first-person account of how Prince became Prince. Editor Dan Piepenbring offers a compelling introduction about his short but profound collaboration with Prince in his final days. It was a time when Prince was thinking deeply about how to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the world while retaining the mystery and mystique he'd so carefully cultivated. This is going to be good!
Me: Elton John Official Autobiography by Elton John
After more than half a century on the road, Sir Elton John is retiring from performing in 2021. Before he waves goodbye, the legendary singer-songwriter allows us to get to know him in his first and only official autobiography. In Me, John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, from his childhood as a shy dreamer to becoming a chart-topping superstar. He also writes honestly about his drug addiction, getting clean, finding love with David Furnish, and becoming a father. You'll devour the Rocketman's intimate and moving personal story.
Wham!, George Michael and Me: A Memoir By Andrew Ridgeley
It's hard to think of the mid-1980s without "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" getting stuck in your head. The wildly popular English pop duo Wham! sold more than 30 million records worldwide — even though they were together for just five years. For the first time, Andrew Ridgeley — one half of one of the duo — tells the inside story of Wham!, his life-long friendship with George Michael and the formation of the band.
High School by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin
In this shared memoir, iconic pop duo Tegan and Sara explore a tumultuous and formative time in their lives: high school. The identical twins from Canada grew up at the height of grunge and rave culture in the nineties, well before they became the celebrated musicians and global LGBTQ icons we know today. Written in alternating chapters from both Tegan and Sara's points of view, the book is a raw account of the drugs, alcohol, love, music, and friendship. Perhaps their mother explains the book best in her book jacket quote: "High School provides a purview of the queer adolescent experience. It is a story of two resilient young women who found their voices through authenticity, connection to others, music, and apparently a lot of experimentation with psychedelics."