Motley Crue (with Neil Strauss) – The Dirt
Slam dunkin’ into pole position, this is simply the best book ever written about the mythology and misbehaviour of rock’n’roll. We only have a couple of Cr?e tunes on our iTunes, yet underexposure to their music doesn’t detract at all from this sprawling yarn of misanthropy, misogyny and misdemeanour. From sticking their rancid cocks in burritos so their girlfriends won’t smell groupies on them to the genuinely moving passages about various fatalities along the way, this is officially essential reading for anyone who ever wanted to be in a badass rock band.
Danny Sugarman – Wonderland Avenue
A wayward Beverly Hills 13-year old goes to a Doors gig and never looks back. Sugarman becomes Jim Morrison’s confidant, protégé and ultimately his manager in a classic case of monkey see, monkey do. He immerses himself in the archetypal golden age of the rock’n’roll scene, living on a medically unadvisable diet of drink and drugs, all day every day. In emulating the lives of Morrison and later Iggy Pop, whom he also managed, he missed their commercial and critical highs but boy, did he feel the lows – hepatitis and heroin almost did for him at just twenty-one years old.
Julian Cope – Head On
A recollection of the Teardrop Explodes’ scattergun and scatterbrained career, set against the emerging second generation of the Mersey scene at the turn of the 80s, Cope’s tale is one of the most engaging we’ve read. Again, more than a passing familiarity with their music is unnecessary, so entertaining is the story behind it. From acid-fuelled tour bus roof surfing to, well, acid-fuelled pretty much everything, it’s an endearingly honest portrayal of the paranoia, bickering and drudgery behind the façade of perceived Top Of The Pops success.
Marc Almond – Tainted Life
A weighty tome by any rock biog standards, Marc’s autobiography is more like a 448-page torch song. Uniquely featuring a childhood you won’t actually want to skip (although he helpfully points out the page number where Tainted Love starts, just in case), it chronicles the both-ends-candle-burning Soft Cell years, right through to the warts-and-all solo years with its chemical dependencies, self loathing, misplaced advice and misunderstood vice. Candid recollections of what looked to the outsider to be his glory years offer a definite cautionary tale to the pop wannabe.
Boy George – Take It Like A Man George has never pulled any punches. Well, in his acerbic putdowns and opinionated diatribes at least – it’s possible he punched that rent boy he chained up round his gaff a while back. It’s this kind of episode that makes the Boy all the more entertaining, as if a classic rise and fall via gender-bending outrage and clammy smackhead near-death wasn’t enough for a right riveting read. Set against the punk and new romantic years and beyond, this was a long awaited first-person account that never failed to deliver or hideously embarrass those it portrayed.
Stanley Booth – The True Adventures Of The Rolling Stones
Booth immersed himself in the necro-narco world of the Stones as a live-in writer during their hedonistic heyday, and miraculously came out the other side not only with his life, but with this definitive account of what it is to truly dance with the devil. Looking at them now as a well-oiled business machine, it’s perhaps hard to imagine what a bunch of low-moral delinquents the Stones were back in the day, but this story was a definitive blueprint for rock’n’roll excess.