Justin Bieber’s mom, Pattie Mallette recently signed a deal to publish a tell-all memoir about her role in her son’s rise to fame called Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber’s Mom.
Singer-songwriter Carole King’s life story is illuminated in great detail in recently released autobiography A Natural Woman, which is winning many positive reviews.
Of course, Mallette and King certainly aren’t the first to reflect on the personal journey that artists struggling to make it in the music business take: the rock bio is a well-established genre.
However, Justin’s mom and Carol got us thinking about music memoirs and we decided to list five of the best.
Think of them as a guide to what life could have been like if you had dropped out of college and joined a band.
A dastardly, swaggering opus to rock and roll in its finest era. Richards’s voice throughout is unapologetically honest and exactly as if he were in the room with you telling the tales.
The book traces his path from his humble beginnings through the down and out struggles trying to get gigs in London.
Of course, the real juicy bits come once The Rolling Stones have their meteoric rise to fame, even resulting in a spat between Richards and Stones frontman Mick Jagger over the book’s release. Richards has since apologized, and there has been some solid buzz about a 2013 tour, which makes this a must read.
A bit more literary than most rock memoirs, Smith shares the story of her young life with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe after leaving home for New York City.
It mostly details her life in the 1960s and 70s before she takes up music, and is exploring poetry and performing. It is not only a tale of her artistic journey, but through Smith, the reader is able to infiltrate the inner circle of the New York art scene, including the famous Hotel Chelsea.
It’s scrappy and romantic, filled with scenes where Smith and Mapplethorpe have to choose what will fill them more, art or food.
With college campus’s teaching Hova 101, you might want to pick this up to prepare for classes in the fall.
This memoir not only details the life of Sean Carter turned rhyme stylist Jay Z, but is an homage to the hip hop genre in general. Fans of Jay will appreciate his writing style, filled with jumpy poetry, emotion and cutting assessments of society, just like in his rhymes.
Who didn’t love Walk the Line? This autobiography goes way deeper, in the words of the Man in Black himself.
A massively influential musician, there is almost no artist today that you can’t gain insight into from Cash. This is a straightforward book about his own demons (mainly the usuals: womanizing, boozing drug addiction), and the role religion and family had in bringing him back.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ lead singer launches into one of the darkest sides of rock and roll in his 2004 autobiography, with his astonishingly honest and detailed story of his numerous drug addictions.
Ending with his sober redemption, his beginnings of reckless abandon mixed with his dedication to music makes it a story that only could have come out of a rock band.
Kedis acts as a guide through the early 80s neo-punk rock scene in Los Angeles, flipping through his little black book of famous girlfriends, including actress Ione Skye, singer Sinéad O’Connor and director Sofia Coppola.
Is your favorite music biography listed here? What would you add to the list?
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