Music books in this section include classical, jazz and blues, punk, and rock, with both general histories and biographies of particular performers. If you look closely you can guess who our favourite artists might be…
If you can't find what you are after, please contact us via our enquiries page.
I, Me, Mine
I, Me, Mine is the closest we will come to George Harrisons autobiography. Featuring Harrison in conversation with The Beatles spokesperson, Derek Taylor, it touches on everything from early Beatlemania to India and Ravi Shankar to his love of gardening. The lyrics to his songs, in his own hand, are accompanied by his uniquely intimate and humorous commentary. As well, archival photographs of George with the Beatles and solo capture a journey of creative and spiritual transformation. Brimming with the wit, warmth, and grace that characterized his lyrics and his life, I, Me, Mine is a treasured portrait of George Harrison and his music.
The poetry in this book reveals Cash's intuition both of the world around him and within - his frailties and his strengths. His verses reflect upon love, pain, freedom, fame and mortality. Illustrated with facsimile reproductions of Cash's own handwritten pages, Forever Words is a remarkable new addition to the canon of one of America's heroes. Edited and with an introduction by Paul Muldoon, with a preface by John Carter Cash.
Born to Run
Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humour and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger and darkness that fuelled his imagination. He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candour, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song 'Born to Run' reveals more than we previously realized. Born to Run will be revelatory for anyone who has ever enjoyed Bruce Springsteen, but this book is much more than a legendary rock star's memoir. Bruce Springsteen's autobiography is written with the lyricism of a singular songwriter and the wisdom of a man who has thought deeply about his experiences.
Sweet Soul Music
A gripping narrative that captures the tumult and liberating energy of a nation in transition, Sweet Soul Music is an intimate portrait of the legendary performers - Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, James Brown, Solomon Burke, Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Al Green among them - who merged gospel and rhythm and blues to create Southern soul music. Through rare interviews and with unique insight, Peter Guralnick tells the definitive story of the songs that inspired a generation and forever changed the sound of American music.
Lemmy: The Definitive Biography
Lemmy is the story of the only rock'n'roller never to sell his soul for silver and gold, while keeping the devil, as he put it, 'very close to my side'. From school days growing up in North Wales, to first finding fame in the mid-60s with the Rockin Vicars. He became Jimi Hendrix's personal roadie and lead Hawkwind to the top of the charts in 1972 with 'Silver Machine' before forming Motorhead. Their iconoclastic album No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith entered the UK charts at No. 1, propelling them into rock n roll royalty . Based on original interviews conducted between Lemmy and the author over many years, along with the insights of those who knew him best - former band mates, friends, managers, fellow artists and record business insiders - this is the story of one of Britain's greatest characters.
Bob Dylan: All the Songs
Bob Dylan: All the Songs focuses on Dylan's creative process and his organic, unencumbered style of recording. It is the only book to tell the stories, many unfamiliar even to his most fervent fans, behind all the 525 songs he released. Organized chronologically by album, Margotin and Guesdon recount the details that led to the composition of Dylan's recorded songs, what went on in the recording studio, what instruments he used, and behind-the-scenes account of the great artists that Dylan worked with.
Kill 'Em & Leave: Searching for the Real James Brown
The music of James Brown was almost a genre in its own right, and he was one of the biggest and most influential cultural figures of the twentieth century. But the singer known as the 'Hardest Working Man in Show Business' was also an immensely troubled, misunderstood and complicated man. But this book is more than the story of the larger-than-life soul genius. It is an acutely insightful account of the racism and Southern culture which both produced and destroyed James Brown, a portrait of the musicians who created the 'James Brown sound' yet were lost to history, a nuanced appreciation of what made Brown's music so special, and a series of conversations with the friends and proteges whose lives were changed by the 'Godfather of Soul'. Vividly written and thoroughly researched, James McBride has crafted a deeply personal story of a man and a legend.
Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
Dave Stewart's life has been a wild ride one filled with music, constant reinvention, and the never-ending drive to create. Growing up in industrial northern England, he left home for the gritty London streets of the seventies, where he began collaborating and performing with various musicians, including a young waitress named Annie Lennox. The chemistry between Stewart and Lennox was undeniable, and an intense romance developed. While their passion proved too much offstage, they thrived musically and developed their own sound. They called themselves Eurythmics and launched into global stardom. For the first time, Stewart shares the incredible, high-octane stories of his life in music.
1956 was the year Elvis released his first record, made his first television appearance, and started his movie career. It was the year he became a star. Alfred Wertheimer, then a young freelance photojournalist, was there to document the extraordinary transition. Elvis 1956 features images that are a national treasure, including photographs of Elvis never before published: a unique visual record of one of the most exciting performers of his time, one of the most influential of all time, the first true icon of rock ‘n’ roll.
The Sick Bag Song
The Sick Bag Song is an exploration of love, inspiration and memory shaped around the events of Cave's 2014 tour of North America. It began life scribbled on airline sick bags during the 22-city tour. It soon grew into a restless full-length contemporary epic. Spurred by encounters with modern day North America, and racked by romantic longing and exhaustion, Cave teases out the significant moments, the people, the books and the music that have influenced and inspired him.
Notes from the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed
Lou Reed, who died in 2013, was best known to the general public as the grumpy New Yorker in black who sang Walk on the Wild Side. To his dedicated admirers, however, he was one of the most innovative and intelligent American song writers of modern times, a natural outsider who lived a tumultuous and tortured life. In this in-depth, meticulously researched and very entertaining biography, respected biographer Howard Sounes examines the life and work of this fascinating man, from birth to death, including his time as the leader of The Velvet Underground - one of the most important bands in rock'n'roll. Written with a deep knowledge and understanding of the music, Sounes also sheds entirely new light on the artist's creative process, his mental health problems, his bisexuality, his three marriages, and his addictions to drugs and alcohol. In the course of his research, Sounes has interviewed over 140 people from every part of Lou Reed's life some of whom have not spoken publicly about him before including music industry figures, band members, fellow celebrities, family members, former wives and lovers. This book brings Lou Reed and his world alive.
M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village cafe where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shift fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, and across a landscape of creative aspirations and inspirations, we travel to Frida Kahlo's Casa Azul in Mexico; to a meeting of an Arctic explorer's society in Berlin; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York's Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud and Mishima. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer's craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith's life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith. Braiding despair with hope and consolation, illustrated with her signature Polaroids, M Train is a meditation on travel, detective shows, literature and coffee. It is a powerful, deeply moving book by one of the most remarkable artists at work today.
Blue Note Recordsco - founded in 1939 by Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff celebrates seventy-five years dedicated to recording the greatest musicians in jazz history. One hundred of the musicians who defined the premier jazz label are celebrated in photographs by Wolff. These photographs, taken from 1948-1969, catch the stars in action: performing onstage, in recording sessions, or cutting stylish silhouettes around town. The powerful images were used to illustrate the labels iconic album covers, and this curated selection features jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Art Blakey, Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Dexter Gordon, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, and many more. Lion and Wolff shared a lifelong passion for music and an unwavering commitment to record quality albums by innovative musicians, even in the face of economic crises and changing musical trends. They witnessed the greatest jazz acts of all time and Wolff's photographs bring to life their most intimate and exciting performances. Each photograph is identified by subject, session or album being cut, and date; and the featured artists are indexed for easy reference. This volume enriched with one hundred intimate and candid photographs recounts the labels dazzling saga.
Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre: A Biography of The Doors
Think you know how Jim Morrison died? Think you know who wrote all their hits? Think you know why Morrison fled to Paris, never to return? Well now you will with the definitive biography, Love Becomes a Funeral Pyre, of the legendary rock band and their iconic frontman Jim Morrison, written by Mick Wall, one of our most revered music writers and one of the last journalists to interview Ray Manzarek.
The Doors have sold over 100 million albums. Inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, they received a lifetime achievement at the 2007 Grammy Awards, and were the first American band to accumulate eight consecutive gold LPs. Yet the story of The Doors ended as badly as did the 1960s: a startling decade the music and story of The Doors both defined and helped vilify. Along with evoking the cultural milieu of Los Angeles, in Love Becomes A Funeral Pyre Mick Wall captures the true spirit of that tarnished age with a brilliantly penetrating and contemporary investigation into the real story of The Doors.
A Little History: Photographs of Nick Cave and cohorts, 1981-2013
When Bleddyn Butcher first saw The Birthday Party play, back in 1981, he was astonished. And then enthralled. He set about trying to catch their lightning in his Nikon F2AS. That quixotic impulse became a lifelong quest. A little history got made on the way. Collected here for the first time are the fruits of his labour. A Little History is an extraordinary document, tracking Nick Cave's creative career from the apoplectic extravagance of The Birthday Party to the calmer disquiet of 2013's Push The Sky Away via snapshots, spotlit visions and sumptuous, theatrical portraits. It mixes the candid and uncanny, the spontaneous and the patiently staged, and includes eyeball encounters with Cave's baddest lieutenants, men for the most part who long since burned their own bridges down. Butcher's Nikonic eye defines moment after arresting moment in Cave's glorious, sprawling story: it's a splendid testament to two brilliant careers.
The Beatles Lyrics: The Unseen Story Behind Their Music
Never before has anyone attempted to track down and publish the original versions of the classic songs, many of which have never yet been published. These documents have ended up in the hands of collectors and friends of the Beatles, scattered across the world at museums and universities. Hunter Davies knew and worked with the Beatles during their heyday, and wrote their first and only authorized biography.
In this collection, he has tracked down and reproduced over 100 original handwritten manuscripts of their songs, reproduced here - and, in almost every case, for the very first time. For the Beatles, writing songs was a process that could happen anytime and anywhere - songs might begin as a scribble on the back of an envelope, a napkin or on hotel stationery. From them we gain a unique insight into the remarkable creative process of the greatest songwriters of all time; what they were thinking, how they changed their minds, and then came up with the words which are now known the world over - complete with all the scribbles and crossings out.
The Dylanologists: Adventures in the Land of Bob
Bob Dylan was the most influential songwriter of his time. Half a century later, he continues to be a touchstone, a fascination, and an enigma. From the very beginning, he attracted an intensely fanatical cult following, and in The Dylanologists, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Kinney ventures deep into this eccentric subculture to answer the question: What can Dylan's grip on his most enthusiastic listeners tell us about his towering place in American culture?
In exuberant prose, Kinney introduces us to a vibrant underground: diggers searching for unheard tapes and lost manuscripts, researchers obsessing over the facts of Dylan's life and career, writers working to decode the unyieldingly mysterious songs, collectors snapping up prized artefacts for posterity, travellers caravanning from concert to concert. It's an affectionate mania, but as far as Dylan is concerned, a mania nonetheless. Over the years, he has been frightened, annoyed, and perplexed by fans who try to peel back his layers. Intensely private and fiercely combative, Dylan makes one thing plain: He does not wish to be known. Intelligent, entertaining, and insightful, The Dylanologists is a richly detailed work of narrative journalism in the tradition of Confederates in the Attic and an absorbing story about the tension between zealous fans and their beloved idol.
Oliver Sacks' compassionate tales of people struggling to adapt to different neurological conditions have fundamentally changed the way we understand our own minds. In Musicophilia, he examines the powers of music through the individual experiences of patients, musicians and everyday people - those struck by affliction, unusual talent and even, in one case, by lightning - to show not only that music occupies more areas of the brain than language does, but also that it can calm and organize, torment and heal. Always wise and compellingly readable, these stories alter our conception of who we are and how we function, and show us an essential part of what it is to be human.
Go to top of page.