This Is Your Life, Billy Joel

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Photo by Kevin Mazur/Crown Archetype
Billy Joel helped say goodbye to Shea Stadium with two massive shows in 2008.
Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography
By Fred Schruers
Crown Archetype, 400 pp. $29.

Hardcore fans of the Piano Man (including this writer) were severely bummed in 2011 when he decided to pull the plug on his autobiography, The Book of Joel, less than two months before it was slated to appear in stores. While he had be the subject of a handful of books before, some of them clip jobs, this would have been the chance to hear one of rock's most popular and lasting entertainers to tell his own story in his own words.

But Joel had some deadline-nearing misgivings about what he wanted versus the desires of publisher HarperCollins.

"They said to Fred [Schruers, co-writer for The Book of Joel], 'We need more of the sex and the wives and the girlfriends and drinking and divorce and the depression,'" Joel told The New York Times. "I covered it all. But I didn't go into detail about my personal life."


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New Books Explore Fleetwood Mac's Vast Appetites

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CBS News/Warner Brothers
Classic Mac then -- Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham
Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac
By Mick Fleetwood with Anthony Bozza
Little, Brown; 352 pp.; $30.

Before the Beginning: A Personal and Opinionated History of Fleetwood Mac
By Sam Graham
eBook (iTunes only); 42 pp.; $4.99.


Mick Fleetwood used to love cocaine. I mean, love cocaine. At one point, the mathematician in him figured that if he added up all the white powder he'd sent up his nose over 20 years, the "King of Toot's" line would stretch for seven miles.

As the band's leader, he also became the drug holder, overseeing distribution of the specially-prepared packets to band members and crew which were given out on tour like food per-diem money.

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Neil Young Firmly in the Driver's Seat on Special Deluxe

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toplowridersites.com
Neil Young's lifelong fascination with classic cars comes to the page in "Special Deluxe; this shot is from his recent road movie/documentary "Neil Young Journeys."
Special Deluxe: A Memoir of Life & Cars
By Neil Young
Blue Rider Press, 384 pp., $32.

Fans of Canada's Greatest Musical Export were happy to hear that he would be delivering a second, meaty memoir just two years after the well-received Waging Heavy Peace. Take that, Dylan! We've been waiting over a decade for the promised follow-up to the slim Chronicles, Vol. 1.

However, the news that Young's second volume would be recollections of the noted gearhead's large collection of cars he has owned, did not seem so enticing. Fortunately the book's 40 chapters, each illustrated with Young's own hand-colored vehicle drawings, use cars and his adventures with and in them simply as a jumping off-point. He weaves tales of his music, life, and famed collaborators within.


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Dancing With Himself, as Only Billy Idol Can

Categories: Get Lit

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Photo by Michael Muller/Touchstone
Billy Idol exposes himself -- both literature-ly and literally -- in his raw new memoir.
Dancing with Myself
By Billy Idol
Touchstone Books, 336 pp., $28

When a young, snotty, peroxide-headed English punk rocker needed a moniker more in touch with his current life than what his birth certificate said, he recalled what a chemistry professor had once written across the top of a school report: "William is IDLE."

But since the country already had a famous Idle (that would be Monty Python's Eric), and the lethargy of the word did not match his explosive lifestyle or stage presence, he repositioned a few letters -- and, by default, its meaning. Thus, William Broad became Billy Idol, one of the most reliable hitmakers and video stars of the '80s.


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Robert Plant Is Ever the Sensational Space Shifter

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Photo by Jason Wolter
Robert Plant at Bayou Music Center, June 2013
Robert Plant: The Voice That Sailed the Zeppelin
By Dave Thompson
Backbeat Books, 280 pp., $27.99.

He's been in a laundry list of bands: The Crawling King Snakes. The Honeydrippers. Strange Sensation. The Band of Joy (twice). The Priory of Brion. And the Sensational Space Shifters. There's also that solo career and collaborations.

But of course, Robert Plant's musical legacy and career is inevitably tied to just one group: Led Zeppelin. Not that he's -- to the chagrin, frustration, and disappointment of millions (including his former bandmates) -- tied to it.

Zeppelin reissues and history-burnishing? Let Jimmy Page handle it. Reunions? A handful of one-off disastrous appearances. A full-on tour after the band's hugely successful they-still-got-it two hour show in 2007? Not a chance.


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Anthrax's Scott Ian Spins Tales From the Thrash Side

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Photo by Clay Patrick McBride/Da Capo Press
He's the man who was caught in a mosh: Scott Ian today
Like many men currently in their mid-to-late forties, Anthrax co-founder/rhythm guitarist Scott Ian was a huge, practically obsessive KISS fan growing up.

"My KISS window was about '75-'78, when I was 11 to 14 years old," Ian says. "The older kids all hated KISS because they thought it was only about the costumes and makeup and effects. But I heard and loved 'Rock and Roll All Nite' before I ever saw the band!

"And as someone who was into rock and horror movies and comic books, now I had all that wrapped up into one package," he continues. "And I loved the music."


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Jim Peterik Still Has That Eye of the Tiger

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Photo by Lynne Peters
Survivor co-founder Jim Peterik, who has developed a fondness for purple hair dye, today.
An answering-machine message not only changed Jim Peterik's life forever, but led to the creation of one of the '80s biggest anthems that can still be heard all over the place some three decades later.

"When I played the message, I thought someone was pranking me, because our road manager, Sal, did a pretty good impression of Sylvester Stallone," Peterik says today.

But no, it was legit: the actor/director was putting together Rocky III and needed a blood-pumping song to start the movie off after his original choice, Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust," proved unattainable.

"The message was like 'Yo, Jim, that's a nice answering machine message you got there!" Peterik says with his own impression. "I really like that song you have called 'Poor Man's Son.' It's got a street sound, and I want that for my movie!"


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When the U.S. Caught Beatlemania, Larry Kane Was There

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Larry Kane
Larry Kane (center) with Paul McCartney and John Lennon aboard the Beatles' airplane on the 1964 U.S. tour.
Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 Tour That Changed the World
By Larry Kane
Backbeat Books, 272 pp. (w/CD), $24.99

"What's your problem, man? Why are you dressed like a fag-ass?"

It was an inauspicious and unexpected question/accusation directed at Larry Kane, a fresh-faced 21-year-old radio news reporter from Miami. It was also the shocked journalist's first encounter with John Lennon, a member of the new pop group from England called the Beatles. Kane had been assigned to travel with them, covering the band's first U.S. tour.

The fact that Lennon was just taking the mickey out of the conservatively-dressed Kane at a reception, he got later. And as the only U.S. journalist to tour with the group on both their 1964 and 1965 jaunts, he saw and heard incidents and events that don't appear in any other tome on the Fab Four.


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Dream Weaver Gary Wright Was Best Friends With a Beatle

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Rob Shanahan/Tarcher Books
Gary Wright, Your Friendly Neighborhood Dream Weaver
There aren't many more concrete instances of one singer being so clearly connected to one song in the classic rock canon than Gary Wright with "Dream Weaver." The 1976 single, recorded with all synthesizers, reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart, has been a constant presence on radio and in movies (from Wayne's World to Toy Story 3), and is easily Wright's best-known number.

In fact, "The Dream Weaver" has also become a nom de plume for Wright, the URL of his official Web site, and the title of his upcoming autobiography, Dream Weaver: Music, Meditation, and My Friendship with George Harrison (Tarcher, 256 pp., $26.95). But the song, about God and inspired by Wright's intense devotion to Hindu religion and teachings, almost never made it on the album that would eventually bear the same name.

"It was the last song I put on the record, and I thought it was a nice little thing, but didn't put any credence in it," Wright says today. "I didn't think it would be [a hit]. But it took on a life of its own. And I feel very blessed and fortunate that I was able to have written a song that reached that kind of status."


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Joe Perry Walks His Way in New Memoir

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copyright Ross Haflin/Simon & Schuster
Joe Perry tells his life story - before and after the grey streak - in "ROCKS."
While they may not be blood brothers, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, singer and guitarist for Aerosmith, respectively, might as well be for the relationship they've had for more than 45 years.

It's a love/hate story that Perry details extensively, along with his own life, in his new autobiography written with David Ritz, ROCKS: My Life in and Out of Aerosmith (432 pp., $27.99, Simon & Schuster). And, if you've been following the saga of the "Toxic Twins" today, the future of one of America's greatest hard-rock bands is still in flux.

At the time that we recently spoke with Perry, just days before publication, neither Tyler nor any other band member had seen a copy of the book.


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