Memoirs written by musicians

Life stories of musicians who created magic with sound, now do that with words.
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Just Kids

by Patti Smith

About the book:  In Just Kids, Patti Smith’s first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.  An honest and moving story of youth and friendship, Smith brings the same unique, lyrical quality to Just Kids as she has to the rest of her formidable body of work—from her influential 1975 album Horses to her visual art and poetry.


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Chronicles

by Bob Dylan

About the book:  The celebrated first memoir from arguably the most influential singer-songwriter in the country, Bob Dylan."I'd come from a long ways off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else." So writes Bob Dylan in Chronicles: Volume One, his remarkable book exploring critical junctures in his life and career. Through Dylan's eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan's New York is a magical city of possibilities -- smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book's side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times. By turns revealing, poetical, passionate and witty, Chronicles: Volume One is a mesmerizing window on Bob Dylan's thoughts and influences. Dylan's voice is distinctively American: generous of spirit, engaged, fanciful and rhythmic. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are the hallmarks of his music, Bob Dylan turns Chronicles: Volume One into a poignant reflection on life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and the art.


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Cash: The Autobiography

by Johnny Cash

About the book:  He was the "Man in Black," a country music legend, and the quintessential American troubadour. He was an icon of rugged individualism who had been to hell and back, telling the tale as never before. In his unforgettable autobiography, Johnny Cash tells the truth about the highs and lows, the struggles and hard-won triumphs, and the people who shaped him.In his own words, Cash set the record straight -- and dispelled a few myths -- as he looked unsparingly at his remarkable life: from the joys of his boyhood in Dyess, Arkansas to superstardom in Nashville, Tennessee, the road of Cash's life has been anything but smooth. Cash writes of the thrill of playing with Elvis, the comfort of praying with Billy Graham; of his battles with addiction and of the devotion of his wife, June; of his gratitude for life, and of his thoughts on what the afterlife may bring. Here, too, are the friends of a lifetime, including Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan, and Kris Kristofferson. As powerful and memorable as one of his classic songs, Cash is filled with the candor, wit, and wisdom of a man who truly "walked the line."


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Yes I Can: The Story of Sammy Davis, Jr.

by Sammy Davis Jr.,Jane Boyar,Burt Boyar

About the book:  YES I CAN is the self-portrait of one of the extraordinary men of our time, who became a figure of controversy because he dared to live his life not as a Negro but as a man. "I've got to be a star like another man has to breathe," write Sammy Davis. "I've got to get so big, so powerful, so famous that the day will come when they'll look at me and see a man, and then somewhere along the way they'll notice he's a Negro." YES I CAN is: "...one of the most candid, engrossing and important American autobiographies of our time," wrote the N.Y. Herald Tribune Book Editor and Critic Maurice Dolbier. "One of the really great autobiographies ever written." Brother Judd . Audible.com


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Life

by Keith Richards

About the book:  The long-awaited autobiography of the guitarist, songwriter, singer, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Ladies and gentlemen: Keith Richards.With The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life. Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane. Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones's first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image as an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Honky Tonk Women." His relationship with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones. Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the U.S., isolation and addiction. Falling in love with Patti Hansen. Estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation. Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever.With his trademark disarming honesty, Keith Richard brings us the story of a life we have all longed to know more of, unfettered, fearless, and true.


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Satchmo (Da Capo Paperback)

by Louis Armstrong

About the book:  ”In all my whole career the Brick House was one of the toughest joints I ever played in. It was the honky-tonk where levee workers would congregate every Saturday night and trade with the gals who’d stroll up and down the floor and the bar. Those guys would drink and fight one another like circle saws. Bottles would come flying over the bandstand like crazy, and there was lots of just plain common shooting and cutting. But somehow all that jive didn’t faze me at all, I was so happy to have some place to blow my horn.” So says Louis Armstrong, a tough kid who just happened to be a musical genius, about one of the places where he performed and grew up. This raucous, rich tale of his early days in New Orleans concludes with his departure to Chicago at twenty-one to play with his boyhood idol King Oliver, and tells the story of a life that began, mythically, on July 4, 1900, in the city that sowed the seeds of jazz.


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Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now

by Barry Miles

About the book:  During the past year Paul McCartney has been in the public's eye more than at any time since the peak of Beatlemania over thirty years ago. His fans have been treated to the best-selling Flaming Pie and Standing Stone albums, a full hour of Paul on "Oprah," and this thoughtful and comprehensive biography that brings us closer to the man than ever before. Based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews over a period of five years, and with complete access to Paul's own archives, Barry Miles has succeeded in letting Paul tell the story of his life as a Beatle in his own words. It includes Paul's recollection of the genesis of every song that he wrote with John Lennon and the fascinating details about their remarkable collaboration.


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Bound for Glory (Plume)

by Woody Guthrie

About the book:  First published in 1943, this autobiography is also a superb portrait of America's Depression years, by the folk singer, activist, and man who saw it all.Woody Guthrie was born in Oklahoma and traveled this whole country over—not by jet or motorcycle, but by boxcar, thumb, and foot. During the journey of discovery that was his life, he composed and sang words and music that have become a national heritage. His songs, however, are but part of his legacy. Behind him Woody Guthrie left a remarkable autobiography that vividly brings to life both his vibrant personality and a vision of America we cannot afford to let die. “Even readers who never heard Woody or his songs will understand the current esteem in which he’s held after reading just a few pages… Always shockingly immediate and real, as if Woody were telling it out loud… A book to make novelists and sociologists jealous.”—The Nation


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Miles

by KB Winters,Audra Cole

About the book:  Universally acclaimed as a musical genius, Miles Davis was one of the most important and influential musicians in the world. Here, Miles speaks out about his extraordinary life.Miles: The Autobiography, like Miles himself, holds nothing back. He speaks frankly and openly about his drug problem and how he overcame it. He condemns the racism he encountered in the music business and in American society generally. And he discusses the women in his life. But above all, Miles talks about music and musicians, including the legends he has played with over the years: Bird, Dizzy, Monk, Trane, Mingus, and many others. The man who gave us some of the most exciting music of the twentieth century here gives us a compelling and fascinating autobiography, featuring a concise discography and thirty-two pages of photographs.


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Slash

by Slash

About the book:  From one of the greatest rock guitarists of our era comes a memoir that redefines sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.For the first time ever, Slash tells the tale that has yet to be told from the inside: how the legendary band Guns N' Roses came together, how they wrote the music that defined an era, how they survived insane, never-ending tours, how they survived themselves, and, ultimately, how it all fell apart. Slash is a window into the world of the notoriously private guitarist and a front seat on the roller-coaster ride that was one of history's greatest rock 'n' roll machines, always on the edge of self-destruction, even at the pinnacle of its success. Slash is everything Slash is: funny, honest, ingenious, inspiring, jaw-dropping . . . and, in a word, excessive.


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Chuck Berry: The Autobiography

by Chuck Berry

About the book:  Chuck Berry took the book and movie worlds by storm last year with the joint release of his candid autobiography and the documentary/concert film celebrating his sixtieth birthday, Hail! Hail! Rock'n'Roll!. Now paperback readers can see why reviewers and fans thrilled to this straight-from-the-hip autobiography. Photographs. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Blues All Around Me: The Autobiography of B. B. King

by B. B. KingDavid Ritz

About the book:  “A treasure trove of information…told with real feeling.” —Washington Post Book World“Charming...honest...transcendent…. It reads like a warm and lengthy conversation with a close friend.” —BillboardThe undisputed king of the blues, B.B. King puts his life into words in a story that spans tragedy, triumph, and everything in between—and he tells it just how he plays it, straight from the heart. A true-to-life tale of overcoming monumental odds to succeed as an artist in an often unfriendly world, Blues All Around Me is also the story of how blues music changed during its migration from the Mississippi Delta to urban areas such as Chicago. Rolling Stone calls B.B.’s memoir a “very American success story [told] with the lyricism and leisurely pace of a born storyteller.”


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Waylon: An Autobiography

by Waylon Jennings

About the book:  Equal parts outlaw, renegade, and legend, Waylon Jennings enjoyed a stellar music career for four decades and this no-holds-barred autobiography reveals the story of a man who infused conservative country music traditions with the energy of rock and roll to rewrite the rules of popular music in America. It chronicles all the chapters of Jennings’s incredible life, including his beginnings as a dirt-poor son of a farm laborer; his role as Buddy Holly’s protégé; his influential friendships with such luminaries as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and George Jones; the stunning success ushered in by his platinum 1976 anthology album, Wanted: The Outlaws; the drug habit that nearly destroyed him; and his three failed marriages and the journey that lead him to Jessi Colter, the woman who would become his wife for 25 years. With anecdotes, portraits, and little-known facts about Jennings’s fellow country music stars, this book overflows with the honesty, true humor, and down-home charisma of an authentic honky-tonk hero.


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When I Left Home: My Story

by Buddy Guy

About the book:  According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues. Guy’s epic story stands at the absolute nexus of modern blues. He came to Chicago from rural Louisiana in the fifties—the very moment when urban blues were electrifying our culture. He was a regular session player at Chess Records. Willie Dixon was his mentor. He was a sideman in the bands of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. He and Junior Wells formed a band of their own. In the sixties, he became a recording star in his own right. When I Left Home tells Guy’s picaresque story in his own unique voice, that of a storyteller who remembers everything, including blues masters in their prime and the exploding, evolving culture of music that happened all around him.


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Mo' Meta Blues

by Ahmir "Questlove" ThompsonBen Greenman

About the book:  MO' META BLUESThe World According to QuestloveMo' Meta Blues is a punch-drunk memoir in which Everyone's Favorite Questlove tells his own story while tackling some of the lates, the greats, the fakes, the philosophers, the heavyweights, and the true originals of the music world. He digs deep into the album cuts of his life and unearths some pivotal moments in black art, hip hop, and pop culture. Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson is many things: virtuoso drummer, producer, arranger, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon bandleader, DJ, composer, and tireless Tweeter. He is one of our most ubiquitous cultural tastemakers, and in this, his first book, he reveals his own formative experiences--from growing up in 1970s West Philly as the son of a 1950s doo-wop singer, to finding his own way through the music world and ultimately co-founding and rising up with the Roots, a.k.a., the last hip hop band on Earth. Mo' Meta Blues also has some (many) random (or not) musings about the state of hip hop, the state of music criticism, the state of statements, as well as a plethora of run-ins with celebrities, idols, and fellow artists, from Stevie Wonder to KISS to D'Angelo to Jay-Z to Dave Chappelle to...you ever seen Prince roller-skate?!? But Mo' Meta Blues isn't just a memoir. It's a dialogue about the nature of memory and the idea of a post-modern black man saddled with some post-modern blues. It's a book that questions what a book like Mo' Meta Blues really is. It's the side wind of a one-of-a-kind mind. It's a rare gift that gives as well as takes. It's a record that keeps going around and around.


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Rat Girl: A Memoir

by Kristin Hersh

About the book:  The founder of a cult rock band shares her outrageous tale of growing up much faster than planned. In 1985, Kristin Hersh was just starting to find her place in the world. After leaving home at the age of fifteen, the precocious child of unconventional hippies had enrolled in college while her band, Throwing Muses, was getting off the ground amid rumors of a major label deal. Then everything changed: she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and found herself in an emotional tailspin; she started medication, but then discovered she was pregnant. An intensely personal and moving account of that pivotal year, Rat Girl is sure to be greeted eagerly by Hersh's many fans.


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Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter

by Loretta Lynn

About the book:  Loretta Lynn’s classic memoir tells the story of her early life in Butcher Holler, Kentucky, and her amazing rise to the top of the music industry. Born into deep poverty, married at thirteen, mother of six, and a grandmother by the time she was twenty-nine, Loretta Lynn went on to become one of the most prolific and influential songwriters and singers in modern country music. Here we see the determination and talent that led to her trailblazing career and made her the first woman to be named Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association and the first woman to receive a gold record in country music.


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The Mayor of MacDougal Street [2013 edition]: A Memoir

by Dave Van Ronk

About the book:  Dave van ronk (1936-2002) was not only one of the founding figures of the 1960s folk music revival; he was a pioneer of modern acoustic blues, a fine songwriter and arranger, a powerful singer, and one of the most influential guitarists of his era. He was also a marvelous storyteller, a peerless musical historian, and one of the most quotable figures in The Village.The Mayor of MacDougal Street is a unique firsthand account of the sixties folk scene that includes encounters with young stars-to-be like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and older luminaries like Woody Guthrie and Odetta. Colorful, hilarious, and engaging, The Mayor of MacDougal Street will appeal not only to folk and blues fans but also to anyone interested in the music, politics, and spirit of a revolutionary period in American culture.


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My Cross to Bear

by Gregg Allman

About the book:  For the first time, rock music icon Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, tells the full story of his life and career in My Cross to Bear. No subject is taboo, as one of the true giants of rock ’n’ roll opens up about his Georgia youth, his long struggle with substance abuse, his string of bad marriages (including his brief union with superstar Cher), the tragic death of  brother Duane Allman, and life on the road in one of rock’s most legendary bands.


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Decoded

by Phil Barden

About the book:  Expanded paperback edition of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller features 16 pages of new material, including 3 new songs decoded.   Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.


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