Essential Rock and Roll Literature for Budding Music Writers

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Hammer of the Gods: The Led Zeppelin Saga by Stephen Davis
The parties, the excess, the occult, and the scary/amazing manager Peter Grant. Read all about Zeppelin's rise to rock deities, and try to decipher fact from fiction.

How the Beatles Destroyed Rock 'n' Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music, by Elijah Wald
Become the bad guy in any situation by quoting Elijah Wald's honest 2011 look at the evolution of popular music. Not a lot of Beatles hate, but it does dive into a few of the traditions in the music industry that the band helped pummel.

Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground by Michael Moynihan & Didrik Soderlind
Even if you fancy yourself the next Shea Serrano, you should take a look at this chronicle of Norway's deadly black-metal scene in the '80s and '90s.

Life, by Keith Richards
Read all about Keith Richards's swashbuckling tales of sailing the treacherous high seas of rock and roll. Be sure to also visit Stephen Davis's 2001 Stones book Old Gods Almost Dead for some extra background.

The Dirt, by Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee
The Crüe's biblical autobiography will make any supposed tale of decadence you hear from a local band sound like child's play.

American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush, George Petros
Relax, get set, and dive into the pit that was hardcore punk in the United States in the late '70s and '80s. This book and the book above are the only two on this list that I literally reread immediately after finishing. Dig the Texas and Houston chapters too, and the documentary made after the book's release is recommended viewing as well.

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JefWithOneF topcommenter

Though it's fiction, I would also recommend Michael Shilling's Rock Bottom. Fantastic look at the end of a promising music career. Nick Hornby's Juliet Naked is another excellent rock and roll story. 

Michael Depland
Michael Depland

Somehow I knew Please Kill Me would be up top. But why such a sausage fest? What about Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus or Rock She Wrote by Ann Powers and Evelyn Mcdonnell? Both feature superbly written rock and roll writing.


The 'other side' of Hammer of the Gods:   Eye Mind: The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound  by Paul Drummond.  

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