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Music biographies as good as a backstage pass

By Kobo • February 23, 2024Recommended Reading

The closest you'll ever get to music's biggest icons.

Fancy yourself a music buff? You'll love these stories of the icons behind some of the most memorable music of the past 80 years, spanning pop, jazz, rock, and more.

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Tom Waits on Tom Waits: Interviews and Encounters by Paul Maher Jr., ed.

Across more than 50 interviews with different journalists, the enigmatic gravel-voiced singer-songwriter gives up none of the mysteries about him—and creates several more.

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Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter by Randy L. Schmidt

The definitive biography of the drummer girl with the voice like warm velvet. Fans are all too aware that she died far too young, but through hundreds of interviews with people who knew the Carpenters we start to get some idea of why. With a touching foreword by singer Dionne Warwick.

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Anyone Who Had a Heart: My Life and Music by Burt Bacharach with Robert Greenfield

In his own words, the life story of one of the most gifted pop songwriters of the twentieth century.

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"Memoirs of a Super Freak": The Confessions of Rick James by Rick James

Buffalo NY’s James Ambrose Johnson Jr. tells the story of how he came to be the “freaky” musical icon Rick James.

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George Michael: A Life by James Gavin

The definitive biography of George Michael, 80s pop icon and gifted singer-songwriter and performer whose struggle to hide his sexuality at a time when male celebrities’ careers depended on machismo above all led to a tragic unraveling.

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Miles on Miles: Interviews and Encounters with Miles Davis by Paul Maher Jr., ed. & Michael K. Dorr, ed.

In interviews with leading journalists including Leonard Feather and Nat Hentoff, the musical icon whose career spanned half a century and included the founding of more than a couple entire genres of music, Miles Davis allows the reader glimpses into his mind.

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Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith by Joe Perry with David Ritz

Guitarist Joe Perry once dreamed of following his idol Jacques Cousteau into a career as a marine biologist. But when he heard an electric guitar wailing through a neighbour’s window, that was the end of his submarine dreams. After Joe crossed paths with Steven Tyler and the duo formed the rock band Aerosmith, it kicked off a musical career that would span decades and reach the top of the charts, with occasional breaks for fist-fights and rehab.

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Let's Spend the Night Together: Backstage Secrets of Rock Muses and Supergroupies by Pamela Des Barres

Pamela Des Barres knows rock stars—in every sense of the word. In this book she speaks with other groupies and learns the most intimate secrets of some of the biggest names in rock n’ roll.

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It's Only Rock 'n' Roll: 30 Years Married to a Rolling Stone by Jo Wood

British model Jo Wood was a 22-year-old single mother when she met Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood, and for the next three decades her life was a blur of sex, drugs, and a love that could endure everything—except the waitress (20 years younger than Jo) that one day caught Ronnie’s eye.

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Moguls, Monsters and Madmen: An Uncensored Life in Show Business by Barry Avrich

Barry Avrich is a Montreal-born, self-made film producer/director, flamboyant advertising executive, and legendary biographer and connector of moguls and stars. In his memoir, Avrich crafts a sharp and witty exposé of show business and its notorious characters, detailing his extraordinary relationships and encounters with everyone Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, "Mick & Keef," and so many more.

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