Author Topic: Band Biographies  (Read 15901 times)

Band Biographies
« on: October 30, 2017, 01:32:59 PM »
I like reading about bands. The way they start off, the fighting and boozing and mad shit down in the gutter. Even if they find success, even if their music sucks, I like to read about people who want to make music. One of my favourite books about "bands" is Michael Azerrad's "Our Band Could Be Your Life". That's my thing really - 80s, 90s punk noise bands. But I also really enjoyed Motely Crue's book "The Dirt" and I couldn't give half a teaspoon of piss about their music.
So, any recommendations? What's your favourite BOOK about BANDS?

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2017, 03:18:50 PM »
One day I came home from work and there was a glass of milk outside my door. I left it and went inside. The next morning, it had gone. No further milk ever appeared.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2017, 05:45:28 PM »
Not quite a band but I rather enjoyed Andrew Collins' biography on Billy Bragg - Still Suitable for Miners

the ouch cube

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2017, 06:23:16 PM »
The obvious two are Julian Cope's two autobiogs. (Or obvious one, as they're available in one volume)

A less obvious one is 'Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried - My Life As a Revolting Cock' by Chris Connelly, who details his time as an industrial rock icon in a seemingly hyper-caffienated ranting way with bursts of CAPITALS and dangling clauses...., bitches about Al Jourgensen like an ageing theatrical type, and consumes more drugs and drink than an entire planetful of Shane MacGowan clones.

non capisco

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2017, 06:59:43 PM »
Steve Hanley's 'The Big Midweek' is a treasure trove of stories about touring with The Fall and Mark E Smith's...complicated behaviour.

For a book about a specific event in a band's life I found Joel Selvin's 'Altamont: The Rolling Stones, The Hell's Angles and The Inside Story Of Rock's Darkest Day' a fantastically vivid page turner, even though his summing up chapter contains a lot of op-ed bollocks and an amusingly biased decision to blame Mick Jagger for absolutely everything that happened. The rest of is mint, though.

I'll post more when I think of 'em, read a ton of these.




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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2017, 07:38:10 PM »
Here Comes Everybody: The Story Of The Pogues by Pogues accordionist James Fearnley is absolutely blinding. Fearnley fancied himself a novelist in his younger years, maybe still does, and he knows how to spin a say that'll slap you silly where you're stood. I've seen some reviewers complain that he maybe shows off just a wee bit too much at times, and maybe he does, maybe he's trying to prove that Shane MacGowan and Philip Chevron weren't the only poets in the room, but to hell with it, it's a brilliant book regardless, full of any God's amount of hair raising tales. It's the definitive Pogues book, much better even than Ann Scanlon's wonderful The Lost Decade.

Also, To Live's To Fly: The Ballad Of The Late, Great Townes Van Zandt by John Kruth. Also beautifully written, also full of stories that'll leave you white at the knees, but unutterably tragic into the bargain. As I suppose the Pogues one is too if you read it in a certain light. My favourite story tells of Townes realising it's going to take ages to get served at a bar, so he calls the place and tells them there's a bomb in the building, hides away and waits for everyone to clear out, then helps himself to all the booze he can drink in their absence. Shocking behaviour, really, but far from the worst of his antics. By the end, though, by the time he's asking people to tie him to trees so that he can't go fetch more drink, there's nothing very amusing about it, really.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2017, 10:53:27 PM »
From Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Bruce Thomas The Big Wheel is a really good read.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2017, 12:44:20 AM »
Thanks, some good recommendations so far!

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2017, 08:59:48 AM »
Nirvana: the True Story: Everett True's highly personal, highly partial, account of said band and the grunge era in general. Long. Your enjoyment rests entirely on your opinion of the author, which the author clearly knows and exploits to great effect, as with everything he writes. I loved it.

Different for Girls: Louise Wener from out of Sleeper gives her account of the Britpoppin mid-90s. Has the feel of the outsider looking in, and is great.

Things the Grandchildren Should Know I don't know if this is more memoir than biography, or somewhere in between. Mark 'Eels' Everett talks about his life and work. It is candid, sad, and funny. I am indifferent to his musical work, but I found it engaging.

Has anyone read the John Drumbo French Beefheart book, and would they recommend it?

Captain Crunch

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2017, 09:20:18 AM »
Oasis the Truth: My Life as Oasis's Drummer by Tony McCarroll is hilarious, worth picking up if you see it in the 10p bin.  Out and out bitterness, factually inaccurate, it’s like being collared by him in a pub.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2017, 10:11:49 AM »
A less obvious one is 'Concrete, Bulletproof, Invisible and Fried - My Life As a Revolting Cock' by Chris Connelly, who details his time as an industrial rock icon in a seemingly hyper-caffienated ranting way with bursts of CAPITALS and dangling clauses...., bitches about Al Jourgensen like an ageing theatrical type, and consumes more drugs and drink than an entire planetful of Shane MacGowan clones.

I've been meaning to buy this for ages but keep forgetting so thanks for the reminder - you are one of a number of people to recommend it to me so I'll get on the case.

The other one that always gets put forward as a classic tale of drug fuelled rock'n'roll excess that I still haven't read is "Fucked By Rock" by Mark Manning. I've no interest in Zodiac Mindwarp but that's apparently not a requisite in the slightest. It was out of print for ages and going for crazy money but it was reprinted by Cherry Red a few years back and is currently half price on their site at £6.50, had anyone read it that can confirm it's worth buying?

I've just finished "Man behind the mask" by Mark Archer of Altern-8 which wasn't bad, and there's some good tales of their various rave pranks in there. It's obviously a one-sided account of things as him as the other half of Altern-8, Chris Peat, had a very bitter falling out and there's absolutely no love lost between them to this day (in fact there's a "Trouble at the Top" David Van Day's Bucks Fizz type situation at the moment with Mark having the rights to use the Altern-8 name and Chris just having released a new single as Altern8-ive), so it would be interesting to hear the other side of things.

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2017, 10:24:28 AM »
I really enjoy these types of books too, drunken and drugged debauchery. Slash’s book is one that comes to mind.
Ozzie Osbourne’s even raised a few laughs.
Must take a look through my collection, I’m always on the lookout for these types of books though.

One non music book I’d recommend is Paul McGrath’s who was well known for the drink, stopping off at the off licence on the way to training, unable to remember playing in matches because drunk Andy still wining man of the match, drinking Domestoes because there was no booze left in the house.

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2017, 12:42:08 PM »
Andrew Matheson's autobiography and history of failed glamsters The Hollywood Brats, 'Sick On You', is the best book I've ever read about music. So well written, and crammed with crazy stories, it reads more like a bit of quality fiction than a band bio. It would make a superb six-part TV show - the chapter where the band visit Cliff Richard's house is a mid-series episode in waiting. Everything that they do and that happens to them takes place in such a short space of time too - packing the career and experiences of Kiss or the Stones into a whirlwind 18 months or so. Recommended without hesitation.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2017, 02:16:51 PM »
Only two really spring to mind. There's a good Lee Hazlewood book called Lee, Myself and I: Inside the very special world of Lee Hazlewood which was written by a fan who went on to manager Lee during his nineties comeback. Quite moving in parts, slightly irritating in others but well worth a read. Also, Robert Forster's story of The Go-Betweens, Grant and I is really really good, albeit rather sedate in comparison to most books mentioned so far. Unless they're about hell raisers, most music biogs are pretty boring really, aren't they?

gilbertharding

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2017, 02:53:51 PM »
When I was a teenager with a library ticket I went through a ton of these - mainly the obvious canon: Shout! by Phillip Norman ('Shite!', as Dirk McQuickly quipped), Stones by the same author, Hammer of the Gods... most of them would be considered workaday, most holds barred...

For a book about a specific event in a band's life I found Joel Selvin's 'Altamont: The Rolling Stones, The Hell's Angles and The Inside Story Of Rock's Darkest Day' a fantastically vivid page turner, even though his summing up chapter contains a lot of op-ed bollocks and an amusingly biased decision to blame Mick Jagger for absolutely everything that happened. The rest of is mint, though.

My actual, worthwhile answer to the thread is 'The True Life Adventures of the Rolling Stones' by Stanley Booth which covers the 1969 US tour pretty thoroughly. Together with the Gimme Shelter film, I would have said it is a good account of what happened at Altamont and before.

Perhaps because I'd internalised these narratives, I'd never really considered that blame lay with anyone other than the Hells Angels, or the overarching naivety of the other players. A warning from the past that you really shouldn't rely on hippies to organise ANYTHING.

I've since heard about, and read around (but not read the actual) Stelvin book. I think he may have a point - but over-eggs it, as you say, by trying to pin ALL the blame on Sir Michael Philip Jagger, the then 26 year old pop singer.


Serge

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2017, 08:28:43 PM »
Grant and I

That's on my Christmas list! Glad to hear it gets a thumbs up.

I have to second the love for Copey's two books - Head On in particular is amazing, the single best band biography that's ever been written.

There aren't too many individual books on Krautrock bands I can recommend - there are a couple on CAN (the one that came with the box set and The Can Diary by Pascal Bussy), neither of which are proper biographies as such, though Rob Young has a book on them coming out next year. There's Stretch Out Time, Andy Wilson's book on Faust, which is sadly utter codswallop, and basically sunk by his seeming hatred of every band that isn't Faust.

Which leaves Kraftwerk, who, for the most part, have been badly served by biographers. The only one I can unequivocally recommend is Tim Barr's From Dusseldorf To The Future (With Love), which is long out of print (but available second hand on Amazon), but does a decent job of telling the story and writing about their influence on electronic artists to come. Pascal Bussy (him again) did a not bad job with his book on the band, but it's chiefly of interest for the fact that Florian Schneider rang him up afterwards and told him that the book was shit (in french!) David Buckley's Kraftwerk Publikation is a bit cut and paste, and nowhere near as good as his book on Bowie. There is an academic title on them whose name I forget, but which is probably quite good if you like that sort of thing. But the absolute worst is Wolfgang Flur's I Was A Robot, a self-serving piece of crap which led Ralf Hutter to call him 'a fucking nutcase'. Not seeming to have any idea about what it was that made the band so good, or the conceptual ideas behind their work, it's only of interest if you want to read stories about Flur wanking on his parent's sofa when he was a teenager.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #16 on: November 01, 2017, 10:13:18 PM »
Are any of those little 33 1/3 books worth reading? The only one I've read is the Slint one. I realise they're more about albums rather than bands but some of the obscure ones might be interesting.

Serge

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #17 on: November 02, 2017, 08:59:24 AM »
Most of the ones I've read say more about the writer than the album/artist in question, but there are odd ones which work - to absolutely no-one's surprise, I loved the ones about Bowie's 'Low' and CAN's 'Tago Mago'. The one about TMBG's 'Flood' is possibly the worst one I've read.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2017, 10:15:01 AM »
This is a good one, if you're into that kind of thing - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/272642.Rip_it_Up_and_Start_Again

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2017, 05:15:33 AM »
Not exactly a band biography, but Patient by Ben Watts from EBTG is an interesting journey through his rare illness.

Thirding Cope's book. It's like a bible to me, every few years I read it again.

Bez's book, Freaky Dancin'. Fantastic, I've read it at least twice. Shaun's book is ok. 'Hallelujah- the Extraordinary Return of Shaun Ryder and Happy Mondays' is more fun, though I expect it's pretty dated.

Hooky's book on New Order is overlong, and there's perhaps a bit too much carping, but he spins a good yarn.

I know very little about Luke Haines, but I've heard his book is excellent. I'd like to read it. I expect Serge will know a bit more about it! (I'm writing this bit mainly to try and motivate myself to get hold of it)

P. Bottlejuice's biography of Enya is an eye-opener. Who'd have thought she made all that music off her tits on weed n' crack!?

Jockice

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2017, 09:30:13 AM »
Apart from Julian Cope's, my favourite pop star autobiography is Boy George's Take It Like A Man, which is brilliantly written. The last one I read was Teenage Kicks, My Life As An Undertone, by Michael Bradley, which is also very well-written but contains absolutely zero tales of drink/drugs/groupies.

wosl

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2017, 06:35:08 PM »
[..]The absolute worst is Wolfgang Flur's I Was A Robot, a self-serving piece of crap which led Ralf Hutter to call him 'a fucking nutcase'. Not seeming to have any idea about what it was that made the band so good, or the conceptual ideas behind their work, it's only of interest if you want to read stories about Flur wanking on his parent's sofa when he was a teenager.

This is a bit harsh.  It's certainly quite eccentrically written (I get the impression that some of that is down to Janet Porteous' rather clunky, heavy-handed translation), and has a rambling structure, but it does the job of blowing the gaff on the true extent of Ralf Hutter's control freakery, lack of humour and creative inflexibility quite well (the inclusion in the pictures section of a backstage snap of Ralf and Florian's proto-robots/dummies posed kissing each other while dummy Karl cops a feel of dummy Ralf's arse is deliciously aura-dispelling).  As I remember, the first part of the book dealing with Flur's early life and apprenticeship as a drummer in bands such as the Beathovens is engaging, the contextualising of that within the wider setting of post-war/walled-off/Beat-suffused West Germany is quite well done, and it's hard not to be impressed on some level by Flur's candor; he doesn't spare himself any blushes.  He obviously has an agenda, but I don't think you can blame him, and aspects of his character assassination of Hutter have proved prescient (i.e. the fact that all the other members of the classic line-up ended up getting so frustrated by Ralf's intransigence/road fever that they left to go on to other things, leaving him to hone and tour the 'Kraftwerk Show,' year after year).  An odd and sometimes uncomfortable read, yes, but I don't think it's a piece of crap (and all autobiographies are self-serving!).

wosl

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2017, 07:12:46 PM »
Candour, ffs.  Why is my spell checker set on American English?

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2017, 08:10:04 PM »
.

Shaun's book is ok. 'Hallelujah- the Extraordinary Return of Shaun Ryder and Happy Mondays' is more fun, though I expect it's pretty dated.
 
I know very little about Luke Haines, but I've heard his book is excellent. I'd like to read it. I expect Serge will know a bit more about it! (I'm writing this bit mainly to try and motivate myself to get hold of it)



Haines' book is superb even if you only have a passing interest in his music.

I'm a bit confused, how can an autobiography be 'dated'?  Is it written in olde English or summat?

Serge

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #24 on: December 02, 2017, 08:12:04 PM »
I know very little about Luke Haines, but I've heard his book is excellent. I'd like to read it. I expect Serge will know a bit more about it! (I'm writing this bit mainly to try and motivate myself to get hold of it)

Luke Haines has actually written two books...! Bad Vibes is mainly about The Auteurs, and Post Everything continues his story into the solo and Black Box Recorder years. Both are brilliant, hilarious, scabrous, everything you'd expect from Haines, though I do agree with whoever it was on here - I suspect it may have been Famous Mortimer - who pointed out that, despite the subtitle to the second book, Haines' music can in no way be considered 'Outsider Music'.

I'm a bit confused, how can an autobiography be 'dated'?  Is it written in olde English or summat?

I suspect he meant 'out of date', as in, Ryder has sone a lot of stuff since 'Hallelujah' that would make it into a biography. It's possible it even predates his 'I'm A Celebrity' appearance, but don't quote me on that.


Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #25 on: December 02, 2017, 08:16:10 PM »
I enjoyed very much Will Carruther's Playing the Bass with Three Left Hands.  About him rather than the bands and music, but there's still a lot about Spacemen 3, Spiritualized and J Spaceman and Sonic Boom.  I tore through it in about 4 hours.

Brundle-Fly

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2017, 08:20:16 PM »

I suspect he meant 'out of date', as in, Ryder has sone a lot of stuff since 'Hallelujah' that would make it into a biography. It's possible it even predates his 'I'm A Celebrity' appearance, but don't quote me on that.

Of course! Got me melons in a twist.

Serge

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #27 on: December 02, 2017, 08:21:41 PM »
You know you talk so hip man.

Howj Begg

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Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2017, 12:34:18 AM »
Been enjoying two music books lately:

A Man called Destruction the bio of Alex Chilton by Holly-George Warren. Learnt so much from this, feel like I understand the enigmatic Mr Chilton much better. His background, as a neglected kid with arty alcoholic parents, experiencing the death of his beloved older brother, seems absolutely crucial to understanding his character and ambitions. Loved discovering his involvement in loads of other bands, The Cramps, Panther Burns, Teenage Fabclub, The Replacements, and his collabs with Alan Vega, The dbs...

Mystery Train- Greil Marcus. Yeah Im late, but it's good, isnt it? His overarching themes are tenuous, but his analysis of There's a Riot Goin on, "Sail Away", Stage Fright, sent me back to those records with newfound enthusiasm.

Re: Band Biographies
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2017, 05:13:37 AM »
Lol Tolhurst's book on The Cure is pretty good. Honest and well written.