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Keith Richards’ memoir LIFE sells 1-million copies

08.26.2011, Music, by .

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.
I want real autobiographies. I don’t want water-downed rehashing of the same stories. I also hate it when someone just lends their name to the story and has little involvement. I want the subject to care about this and not just go for the money.
Rock and Roll has grown up. It is time to make sure the real story is recorded.

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