According to publisher Little, Brown, Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards has passed the 1-million copy mark for his autobiography. A milestone few books make, let alone a music biography.
There has been a run of memoirs by rockers over the past few years. Most recently, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler had a best-seller with DOES THE NOISE IN MY HEAD BOTHER YOU? Nielsen Bookscan reports over 200,000 sold (Bookscan reports 75% of sales and no eBook sales, so the number could easily top 300,000). Sammy Hagar (Van Halen and a stellar solo career) hit #1 with RED: MY UNCENSORED LIFE IN ROCK AND ROLL. It was propelled by Hagar discussing his UFO abduction. I guess that explains a lot. Bookscan has it selling 65,000 (so let’s put that total at 100,000 overall).
CLAPTON sold over 400,000 Bookscan (600,000 total?).
I read Rock biographies. Sure there is the usual stories of groupies, drugs, excess, recollection of the songs that we all know so well. But usually there is also a pretty interesting perspective into a life that is lived outside the rules.
Rock and Roll is ‘sex, drugs and well rock & roll’ but it also about rebellion and working within a system but still being outside of it. A series of contradictions. I prefer the biographies to come from the person themselves — I am much less interested in critical bios from outsiders. Although that has a lot of value too (Stanley Booth’s account of the Stones; Bill Flanagan on U2 are a couple of classics that deserve mentioning).
I would like to see:
- Roger Waters — the story behind the genius of Pink Floyd would be fascinating. THE WALL, THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, WISH YOU WERE HERE.
- Paul McCartney — actually John Lennon is more interesting, but Paul is still alive to tell the story. The full story.
- Bono — More than just a rocker, he has made a difference in the world.
- Bruce Springsteen — I am a fan but not insane like so many of my friends. But his story would be interesting.