Fall Books Preview 2016: Must-Read Music Tell-Alls
This fall, some of the biggest names in rock and pop will tell their life stories in print. Read on for a preview of stunningly candid tomes by everyone from Bruce Springsteen and Brian Wilson to Lil Wayne and Laura Jane Grace.
Born To Run
By Bruce Springsteen, out September 27th
After playing the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show, Springsteen wrote an online diary about the experience. He had so much fun he started sitting down with a notebook regularly. He wrote Born to Run over the next seven years, often taking as long as a year off to come back fresh. A source close to the project says it spans his entire life, discussing key songs and what was going on in his life when he wrote them. “One of the questions I’m asked over and over again by fans on the street is ‘How do you do it?'” Springsteen writes in the book’s foreword. “In the following pages I will try to shed a little light on how and, more important, why.”
Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy
By Mike Love and James S. Hirsch, out September 13th
The first of the two Beach Boys memoirs coming this fall (see Brian Wilson’s book, below) aims to debunk Love’s image as the villain in the band, the guy who hated Pet Sounds and lobbed frivolous lawsuits at his bandmates. “Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about the Beach Boys,” Love tells Rolling Stone, “often by people who weren’t there.” The book goes deep into the tyrannical reign of first manager (and Love’s uncle) Murry Wilson, along with the band’s descent into darkness in the late Sixties (one of Sharon Tate’s killers babysat for Love’s kids). “My life story fits within the larger American dream, the California dream, if you will,” Love says.
Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island
By Lil Wayne, out October 11th
After police discovered a loaded gun on his tour bus in 2007, Lil Wayne was sentenced to a year at New York’s notorious Rikers Island. Gone ‘Til November is his diary from behind bars. Entries detail the shame he felt when his family saw him in chains, and the time he says Drake visited to tell him he’d slept with Wayne’s girlfriend before she’d dated Wayne (which she declines to confirm). Wayne heads to solitary when guards find an MP3 player, and he steps over “big-ass puddles of blood” in the shower. “[Writing] became something I looked forward to every night,” Wayne says. “I hope people see I’m a regular motherfucker, just adjusting in an unusual environment.”
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir
By Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman, out October 11th
Wilson’s first autobiography came in 1991, but it was largely the work of his overbearing live-in therapist, Eugene Landy. This time, Wilson tells his own story: his battles with his abusive father, the pressure to score hits in the Sixties and his long struggle with mental illness. “The voices were everywhere,” he writes about combating schizoaffective disorder in the Seventies. Wilson says he hopes “people come away with a better understanding of mental illness, perhaps more empathy for those who have it.”
Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon
By Peter Ames Carlin, out October 11th
“No authoritative, deeply researched book about Paul Simon has ever been attempted,” says veteran rock biographer Peter Ames Carlin, who took on the task by interviewing more than 100 people from Simon’s past, from ex-girlfriends to collaborators (though Simon and Art Garfunkel didn’t participate). Homeward Bound is full of new stories; Carlin tracked down Heidi Berg, the former SNL band member who claimed she inspired the idea for Graceland when she gave him a tape of some of the South African musicians who would play on the album. He also goes deep into Simon’s rocky relationship with Garfunkel, revealing that Garfunkel never forgave him for signing a solo deal behind his back in 1957. “I was 15!” Simon shouted in a 1983 confrontation. Garfunkel replied, “You’re still the same guy.”
Not Dead Yet: The Memoir
By Phil Collins, out October 25th
Collins promises a “warts and all” biography covering his time in Genesis, his three divorces and health struggles that have made it impossible to play drums in recent years. “To confront my mistakes was good for me,” says Collins. “I hope readers will get a new, and a more corrected, view of my life. Not always pretty, but the truth as I remember it.”
Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout
By Laura Jane Grace, out November 15th
The Against Me! singer came out as a transgender woman in Rolling Stone in 2012. Her memoir reveals the heartbreaking aftermath, including a divorce and estrangement from family members. Old diary entries describe the horror of living in the wrong skin (“I can never be anything more than a pervert dressed in women’s clothes,” Grace wrote in 2004). “I hope the book gives people an insight into a lived experience different than their own and that they can relate to it,” says Grace. “Even if they don’t totally understand why.”
By Robbie Robertson, out November 15th
“I needed to bring the incredible story of the Band to the surface,” says Robertson, the group’s guitarist and chief songwriter. He does, beginning with the day he took a train from Canada to Arkansas to join rockabilly hero Ronnie Hawkins’ band in 1961. It wraps 15 years later with the story of The Last Waltz. Robertson sheds new light on working with Bob Dylan and writing classics like “The Weight.” He recalls it all with astounding detail, considering it all took place more than 40 years ago. “I have an unusual memory chip from both my father’s side and my mother’s,” he says. “As a kid, it embarrassed me, but now it’s quite handy.”
Bear: The Life and Times of Augustus Owsley Stanley III
By Robert Greenfield, out November 15th
In 2007, Greenfield interviewed chemist Owsley Stanley III – whose pure, potent LSD was favored by Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters and the Grateful Dead – for Rolling Stone. “I had so much material,” says Greenfield. Bear describes an eccentric genius and master manipulator: He persuaded his girlfriend, a U.C. Berkeley chem major, to drop out and make acid with him, and he eluded the law by pretending to run a legitimate lab. Greenfield also describes how Owsley (who died in 2011) created the Dead’s huge 1974 Wall of Sound PA system. “It was Owsley’s brain, in material form,” said drummer Bill Kreutzmann. “Impossible to tame.”
Best of the Rest
My Life With Earth, Wind & Fire
By Maurice White and Herb Powell, out September 13th
Singer Maurice White finished this memoir shortly before his death in February, documenting his band’s tumultuous fights and his battle with Parkinson’s.
Cured: The Tale of Two Imaginary Boys
By Lol Tolhurst, out October 11th
Former Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst chronicles his 13-year stint with the band – and the struggles with alcohol that ended it.
David Bowie Behind the Curtain
By Andrew Kent, out early October
Traveling with Bowie from 1975 to ’77, photographer Andrew Kent captured a Soviet Union trip, parties with Iggy Pop and more for this intimate coffee-table book.
Set the Boy Free
By Johnny Marr, out November 3rd
In 2013, Morrissey released an unforgettable tell-all. Now, his Smiths sidekick Johnny Marr gets his say in a book that he says will tackle his years in the Smiths, plus “falling off roofs [and] rides across Mulholland with Sixties rock stars on drugs.”
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