Let’s talk books! I’ve been busy devouring famous musician biographies over the past few months – guitarists in particular. In fact, it has almost become an addiction – my Amazon wishlist has grown way out of control!
Some are hilarious, others are shocking, most are inspirational and/or motivational. Almost always you’ll gain valuable knowledge and insights that will lead to you becoming a better guitarist/musician yourself.
60 Musician Biographies Every Guitarist Should Read
In light of my recent addiction, I decided to raid my wishlist and put together this list of some of the best famous musician biographies, autobiographies, diaries and memoirs. I’m not going to pretend that I’ve read all sixty of these, but I certainly plan to! How many have you bagged?
This list of musician biographies is arranged alphabetically by first name. Links to each book have been provided so that you can easily grab your own copy.
I purposely didn’t include any band biographies as I wanted this list to be for individual musicians only. Maybe we’ll do bands next! If you feel that there’s a glaring omission, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
1. B.B King – Blues All Around Me
The undisputed king of the blues, B.B. King puts his life into words in a story that spans tragedy, triumph, and everything in between–and he tells it just how he plays it, straight from the heart. A true-to-life tale of overcoming monumental odds to succeed as an artist in an often unfriendly world, Blues All Around Me is also the story of how blues music changed during its migration from the Mississippi Delta to urban areas such as Chicago. Rolling Stone calls B.B.’s memoir a “very American success story [told] with the lyricism and leisurely pace of a born storyteller.”
2. Bob Dylan – Chronicles
The celebrated first memoir from arguably the most influential singer-songwriter in the world, Bob Dylan. Through Dylan’s eyes and open mind, we see Greenwich Village, circa 1961, when he first arrives in Manhattan. Dylan’s New York is a magical city of possibilities—smoky, nightlong parties; literary awakenings; transient loves and unbreakable friendships. Elegiac observations are punctuated by jabs of memories, penetrating and tough. With the book’s side trips to New Orleans, Woodstock, Minnesota, and points west, Chronicles: Volume One is an intimate and intensely personal recollection of extraordinary times.
3. Brad Paisley – Diary of a Player
Country music star Brad Paisley salutes others in the music world in this funny, personal, and fascinating portrait of what it’s like to be country’s leading guitar hero. Brad Paisley is one of country music’s leading men—admired as a recording artist, a performer, a songwriter, and a guitar slinger. This was not always so. In Diary of a Player, Paisley for the first time fully retraces his entire musical and personal journey to date. And it all began with a loving grandfather who gave eight-year-old Brad Douglas Paisley a Sears Danelectro guitar—the Christmas gift that would alter Brad’s life forever.
4. Brian ‘Head’ Welch – Save Me From Myself
The incredible story of a controversial rock star, his secret addiction to methamphetamines, and his miraculous salvation through Jesus Christ. Candid and inspiring, Save Me from Myself is a rock ‘n’ roll journey unlike any other.
5. Bruce Springsteen – 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, humor, and originality found in his songs.
He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination, leading up to the moment he refers to as “The Big Bang”: seeing Elvis Presley’s debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. 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 candor, 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.
6. Buddy Guy – When I Left Home
According to Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, Buddy Guy is the greatest blues guitarist of all time. An enormous influence on these musicians as well as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck, he is the living embodiment of Chicago blues.
When I Left Home tells Guy’s picaresque story in his own unique voice, that of a storyteller who remembers everything, including blues masters in their prime and the exploding, evolving culture of music that happened all around him.
7. Carlos Santana – The Universal Tone
Carlos Santana’s unforgettable memoir offers a page-turning tale of musical self-determination and inner self-discovery, with personal stories filled with colorful detail and life-affirming lessons. The Universal Tone traces his journey from his earliest days playing the strip bars in Tijuana while barely in his teens and brings to light the establishment of his signature guitar sound; his roles as husband, father, recording legend, and rock guitar star; his indebtedness to musical and spiritual influences — from John Coltrane and John Lee Hooker to Miles Davis and Harry Belafonte; and his deep, lifelong dedication to a spiritual path that he developed from his Catholic upbringing, Eastern philosophies, and other mystical sources. It includes his recording some of the most popular and influential rock albums of all time, up to and beyond the 1999 sensation Supernatural, which garnered nine Grammy Awards and stands as arguably the most amazing career comeback in popular music history.
8. Chuck Berry – Brown Eyed Handsome Man
Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry draws on dozens of interviews done by the author himself and voluminous public records to paint a complete picture of this complicated figure. This biography uncovers the real Berry and provides us with a stirring, unvarnished portrait of both the man and the artist.
Berry’s career rise was meteoric; but his fall came equally quickly, when his relations with an underage girl led to his conviction. It was not his first (nor his last) run in with the law. Bruce Pegg offers the definitive, though not always pretty, portrait of one of the greatest stars of rock and roll, a story that will appeal to all fans of American popular music.
9. Danny Gatton – Unfinished Business
Danny Gatton was a players’ guitar player, hailed by both Rolling Stone and Guitar Player as the greatest unknown guitarist anywhere. His legend has only grown since his untimely suicide in 1994, along with appreciation for his blinding speed, effortless genre-hopping, flawless technique, and never-ending appetite for tinkering and problem-solving. Drawing from first-hand interviews with dozens of friends, family members and fellow musicians, Unfinished Business places Gatton’s musical contributions into context, and documents his influence on those peers who admired him most, including Albert Lee, Vince Gill, Arlen Roth and Lou Reed.
10. Dave Grohl – Times Like His
Across the entire body of Foo Fighters albums, the whole legendary Nirvana tale, the pre-history in the nascent Seattle scene and Grohl’s flirtations with Queens of the Stone Age and his super group side project Them Crooked Vultures, this is an utterly comprehensive, insightful chronicle of Dave Grohl’s remarkable life. Drawing on new interviews with key figures in the Grohl story, this definitive biography includes the stories of the 2007 multi-platinum opus Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, 2011’s Wasting Light, which saw Grohl reunited with Nirvana producer Butch Vig, and Sonic Highways, their homage to classic rock.
11. Dave Mustaine – A Heavy Metal Memoir
From his early, crazy days as a founding member of Metallica, Dave Mustaine has seen and experienced everything in the world of rock n’ roll. From his young triumphs and ignominious ouster from the band for his hard-partying ways to his later rule over Megadeth, one of the most successful heavy metal bands of all time, Mustaine tells it all. Outrageously candid and in-your-face, this is classic rock memoir in the vein of Slash, Motley Crue: The Dirt, and Sound of the Beast—an insider’s look at the loud and sordid world of heavy metal.
12. Dimebag Darrell Abbott – Black Tooth Grin
Black Tooth Grin is the first biography of “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, the Texas-bred guitarist of the heavy metal band Pantera, who was murdered onstage in 2004 by a deranged fan—24 years to the day after John Lennon met a similar fate.
Darrell Abbott began as a Kiss-inspired teenage prodigy who won dozens of local talent contests. With his brother, drummer Vinnie Abbott, he formed Pantera, becoming one of the most popular bands of the ’90s and selling millions of albums to an intensely devoted fan base. While the band’s music was aggressive, “Dime” was outgoing, gregarious, and adored by everyone who knew him.
From Pantera’s heyday to their implosion following singer Phil Anselmo’s heroin addiction to Darrell’s tragic end, Black Tooth Grin is a moving portrait of a great artist.
13. Don Felder – Heaven and Hell
The Eagles are the bestselling, and arguably the tightest-lipped, American group ever. Now band member and guitarist Don Felder finally breaks the Eagles’ years of public silence to take fans behind the scenes. He shares every part of the band’s wild ride, from the pressure-packed recording studios and trashed hotel rooms to the tension-filled courtrooms, and from the joy of writing powerful new songs to the magic of performing in huge arenas packed with roaring fans.
14. Duane Allman – Skydog
This is the definitive biography of Duane Allman, one of the most revered guitarists of his generation. Skydog reveals the complete story of the legendary guitarist: his childhood and musical awakening; his struggling first bands; his hard-won mastery of the slide guitar; his emergence as a successful session musician; his creation of the Allman Brothers Band; his tragic death at age 24; and his thriving musical legacy.
15. Duff McKagan – It’s So Easy. And Other Lies
A founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver—and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee—shares the story of his rise to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, his personal crash and burn, and his phoenix-like transformation.
In a voice that is as honest as it is indelibly his own, Duff—one of rock’s smartest and most articulate personalities—takes readers on a harrowing journey through the dark heart of one of the most notorious bands in rock-and-roll history and out the other side.
16. Elvis – Last Train to Memphis
Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley is the first biography to go past the myth and present an Elvis beyond the legend. Based on hundreds of interviews and nearly a decade of research, it traces the evolution not just of the man but of the music and of the culture he left utterly transformed, creating a completely fresh portrait of Elvis and his world.
17. Eric Clapton – The Autobiography
With striking intimacy and candor, Eric Clapton tells the story of his eventful and inspiring life in this poignant and honest autobiography. More than a rock star, he is an icon, a living embodiment of the history of rock music. Well known for his reserve in a profession marked by self-promotion, flamboyance, and spin, he now chronicles, for the first time, his remarkable personal and professional journeys.
Clapton is the powerfully written story of a survivor, a man who has achieved the pinnacle of success despite extraordinary demons. It is one of the most compelling memoirs of our time.
18. Fieldy – Got the Life
From Reggie “Fieldy” Arvizu, legendary bassist of nu-metal pioneers KORN, comes Got the Life: a no-holds-barred look at his extreme highs, drug- and-booze-fuelled lows, and, finally, redemption through a conversion to Christianity. Got the Life is simultaneously an insider’s look at rock n’ roll superstardom—the good, the bad, and everything in between—and a survivor’s story of a life brought back from the precipice by a new found belief in religious salvation.
19. Frank Zappa – The Real Frank Zappa Book
The brash and outrageously funny autobiography of music legend Frank Zappa–now in trade paperback. Here is the real story of how he became the state of the art in weirdness, as only he can tell it: wild rock ‘n’ roll road stories, confrontations with bureaucratic idiocy, and more. Black-and-white photographs and line drawings throughout.
20. George Benson – The Autobiography
Over the span of his illustrious five-decade career, George Benson has sold millions of records, performed for hundreds of millions of fans, and cut some of the most beloved jazz and soul tunes in music history.
Benson: The Autobiography follows George’s remarkable rise from the ghettos of Pittsburgh to the stages of South Africa, and everywhere in between. George Benson is an unparalleled storyteller, and his tales of scuffling on the Chitlin Circuit with jazz legend Brother Jack McDuff, navigating his way through the recording studio with Miles Davis, and performing with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, Rod Stewart, Chaka Khan, Count Basie, and Lou Rawls will enthrall devotees of both music history and pop culture.
21. George Harrison – I Me Mine
Cherished by fans and collectors, I Me Mine is the closest we will ever come to George Harrison’s autobiography. This new edition has been significantly developed since the 1980 original; now printed in color, and with previously unseen archive material, the book covers the full span of George Harrison’s life and work.
22. Gregg Allman – My Cross to Bear
For the first time, rock music icon Gregg Allman, one of the founding members of The Allman Brothers Band, tells the full story of his life and career in My Cross to Bear. No subject is taboo, as one of the true giants of rock ’n’ roll opens up about his Georgia youth, his long struggle with substance abuse, his string of bad marriages (including his brief union with superstar Cher), the tragic death of brother Duane Allman, and life on the road in one of rock’s most legendary bands.
23. Jaco Pastorius – The Extraordinary and Tragic Life
A fitting tribute to the troubled genius who revolutionized electric bass playing and bridged the gaps between jazz, R&B, rock and funk. From his early days in R&B club bands through his international stardom with fusion group Weather Report and on to his solo career and tragic death at age 35, this book portrays the life and music of Jaco Pastorius, the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest bass player.”
24. James Hetfield – So Let It Be Written
With James Hetfield at the helm, Metallica went from being thrash pioneers to heavy metal gods. He overcame adolescent upheaval and personal demons—including his parents’ divorce, his mother’s untimely death and severe alcoholism—to become metal’s biggest star.
So Let It Be Written does justice to the many hats Hetfield has worn, with his strong leadership, signature vocal style, powerful guitar-playing and masterful songwriting. Author Mark Eglinton uses exclusive, firsthand interviews—with prominent rock stars and key figures in Hetfield’s life—to construct the definitive account of Hetfield.
25. Janis Joplin – Love Janis
A revealing and intimate biography about Janis Joplin, the Queen of Classic Rock, written by her younger sister.
Laura Joplin shows us not only the public Janice who could drink Jim Morrison under the table and bean him with a bottle of booze when he got fresh; she shows us the private Janis, struggling to perfect her art, searching for the balance between love and stardom, battling to overcome her alcohol addiction and heroin use in a world where substance abuse was nearly universal.
26. Jeff Beck – Hot Wired Guitar: The Life of
The definitive account of Jeff Beck’s journey from his childhood in 1940s South London to the world-wide success of 2010’s album Emotion and Commotion and beyond. Supported by full album reviews, rare photographs and an up-to-date discography, Hot Wired Guitar is the most complete and comprehensive account of the life and times of Jeff Beck, the man who took the electric guitar and showed the world just what could be done with just six strings and ‘one hell of an attitude’.
27. Jerry Garcia – An American Life
He was there when Dylan went electric, when a generation danced naked at Woodstock, and when Ken Kesey started experimenting with acid. Jerry Garcia was one of the most gifted musicians of all time, and he was a member of one of the most worshiped rock ‘n’ roll bands in history. Now, Blair Jackson, who covered the Grateful Dead for twenty-five years, gives us an unparalleled portrait of Garcia–the musical genius, the brilliant songwriter, and ultimately, the tortured soul plagued by his own addiction. With more than forty photographs, many of them previously unpublished, Garcia: An American Life is the ultimate tribute to the man who, Bob Dylan said, “had no equal.”
28. Jimi Hendrix – Room Full of Mirrors
It has been more than forty-five years since Jimi Hendrix died, but his music and spirit are still very much alive for his fans everywhere. Charles R. Cross vividly recounts the life of Hendrix, from his difficult childhood and adolescence in Seattle through his incredible rise to celebrity in London’s swinging sixties. It is the story of an outrageous life–with legendary tales of sex, drugs, and excess–while it also reveals a man who struggled to accept his role as idol and who privately craved the kind of normal family life he never had. Using never-before-seen documents and private letters, and based on hundreds of interviews with those who knew Hendrix–many of whom had never before agreed to be interviewed–Room Full of Mirrors unlocks the vast mystery of one of music’s most enduring legends.
29. Jimmy Page – Jimmy Page
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page is the photographic autobiography and visual history of the world’s most iconic guitar player. With incredible attention to detail, Page has chosen hundreds of photographs representing significant moments in his career: from a schoolboy with a rock-a-billy quiff through his extensive work as a session musician; including The Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, ARMS, The Firm, Outrider, Coverdale & Page and Page & Plant; playing with Roy Harper and The Black Crowes; collaborating with P. Diddy and performing with Leona Lewis at the closing ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
30. Joe Perry – Rocks: My Life In and Out of Aerosmith
Rocks is an unusually searching memoir of a life that spans from the top of the world to the bottom of the barrel—several times. It is a study of endurance and brotherhood, with Perry providing remarkable candor about Tyler, as well as new insights into their powerful but troubled relationship. It is an insider’s portrait of the rock and roll family. Full of humor, insight, and brutal honesty about life in and out of one of the biggest bands in the world, Rocks is the ultimate rock-and-roll epic.
31. Joe Satriani – Strange Beautiful Music
ft-hailed as the Jimi Hendrix of his generation, living guitar legend Joe Satriani has long transcended stylistic boundaries with a sound that raises the bar like a new horizon for the broader genre of instrumental guitar rock. Joe’s 6-string secrets have astounded listeners around the world for nearly 30 years.
In Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir, Satriani and coauthor, music biographer Jake Brown, take fans on their first authorized tour of the story behind his climb to stardom.
32. John Fogerty – Fortunate Son
Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the most important and beloved bands in the history of rock, and John Fogerty wrote, sang, and produced their instantly recognizable classics: “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Born on the Bayou,” and more. Now he reveals how he brought CCR to number one in the world, eclipsing even the Beatles in 1969. By the next year, though, Creedence was falling apart; their amazing, enduring success exploded and faded in just a few short years.
FORTUNATE SON takes readers from Fogerty’s Northern California roots, through Creedence’s success and the retreat from music and public life, to his hard-won revival as a solo artist who finally found love.
33. John Lennon – The Life
Phillip Norman, whose 1981 classic Shout! is considered the definitive biography of The Beatles, returns with John Lennon: The Life. This New York Times bestseller is an intimate look at the troubled genius who—along with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—changed the shape and sound of popular music forever. From his early Liverpool days and heartbreaking childhood tragedies through the heady roller-coaster ride that was The Beatles and far beyond—his prolific post-“Fab Four” career, his turbulent marriage to Yoko Ono, his peace crusade, and his shocking death on the New York City streets—John Lennon: The Life is a remarkably fair and honest, utterly enthralling study of an achingly human rock legend.
34. Johnny Cash – Cash
He was the “Man in Black,” a country music legend, and the quintessential American troubadour. He was an icon of rugged individualism who had been to hell and back, telling the tale as never before. In his unforgettable autobiography, Johnny Cash tells the truth about the highs and lows, the struggles and hard-won triumphs, and the people who shaped him.
35. John Oates – Change of Seasons
John Oates was born at the perfect time, paralleling the birth of rock ‘n roll. Raised in a small Pennsylvania town, he was exposed to folk, blues, soul, and R&B. Meeting and teaming up with Daryl Hall in the late 1960s, they developed a style of music that was uniquely their own but never abandoned their roots. John uncovers the grit and struggle it took to secure a recording contract with the legendary Atlantic Records and chronicles the artistic twists and turns that resulted in a DJ discovering an obscure album track that would become their first hit record. This is not your typical rock and roll story. John was focused creating great music. Along the way he achieved incredible success, battling the ever-changing pop music landscape and coming to terms with complex managerial, business, and personal challenges.
36. Keith Richards – Life
With The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life. Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane. Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones. The Rolling Stones’s first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image as an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women.” His relationship with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones. Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the U.S., isolation and addiction. Falling in love with Patti Hansen. Estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation. Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever.
37. Kurt Cobain – Heavier than Heaven
It has been over thirty years since Kurt Cobain died by his own hand in April 1994; it was an act of will that typified his short, angry, inspired life. Veteran music journalist Charles R. Based on more than four hundred interviews; four years of research; exclusive access to Cobain’s unpublished diaries, lyrics, and family photos; and a wealth of documentation, Heavier Than Heaven traces Cobain’s life from his early days in a double-wide trailer outside of Aberdeen, Washington, to his rise to fame, success, and the adulation of a generation.
38. Lemmy Kilminster – White Line Fever
One of music’s most notorious frontmen leads a headbanging, voyeuristic odyssey into sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll that rivals Motley Crue’s The Dirt and Aerosmith’s Walk This Way. He made Keith Richards look like a choirboy and Mick Jagger look like a nun. And as the head of the legendary band Motorhead, he ploughed his way through so many drugs, so many women, and so much alcohol, that he gave a whole new meaning to the term Debauchery. And he changed the face of music, conquering the rock world with such songs as Ace of Spades, Bomber, and Overkill and inventing a whole new form of music–speed metal. At the age of 57, Lemmy Kilmister remains a rock icon, both for his monumental talent and his hedonistic lifestyle. In White Line Fever, he recounts his incredible, pleasure-filled, and death-defying journey through music history.
39. Les Paul – In His Own Words
In 2009, the legendary Les Paul passed away at the age of 94. This book is the definitive work on the recording and electric guitar pioneer whose prodigious talents and relentless work ethic single-handedly launched a new era in American popular music. This authentic account of Les Paul’s life is packed with words of wisdom and experience from one of the most important contributors to modern music.
40. Lita Ford – Living Like a Runaway
Fearless, revealing, and compulsively readable, Lita Ford’s Living Like a Runaway is the long-awaited memoir from one of rock’s greatest pioneers—and fiercest survivors. Wielding her signature black guitar, Lita Ford shredded stereotypes of female musicians throughout the 1970s and ‘80s. Then followed more than a decade of silence and darkness—until rock and roll repaid the debt it owed this pioneer, helped Lita reclaim her soul, and restored the Queen of Metal to her throne.
41. Marilyn Manson – The Long Hard Road Out of Hell
In his twenty-nine years, rock idol Manson has experienced more than most people have (or would want to) in a lifetime. Now, in his shocking and candid memoir, he takes readers from backstage to prison cells, from recording studios to emergency rooms, from the pit of despair to the top of the charts, and recounts his metamorphosis from a frightened Christian schoolboy into the most feared and revered music superstar in the country. Illustrated with dozens of exclusive photographs and featuring a behind-the-scenes account of his headline-grabbing Dead to the World tour.
42. Max Cavalera – My Bloody Roots
My Bloody Roots is the brutally honest story of life in two of the world’s best-known heavy metal bands, Sepultura and Soulfly, by one of the global metal scene’s most respected musicians. Much, much more than just another tale of rock ‘n’ roll debauchery, it’s a story of heartbreak and loss–and, ultimately, triumph. In it, Cavalera offers an unflinching account of life growing up in hardship in Brazil–a country not previously known for heavy metal–and the multi-million-selling success, against all odds, of the band he founded with his brother, Iggor: Sepultura. Then, for the first time, he reveals the full story behind his split with the band–after which he did not speak to his brother for years–and the formation of his Soulfly, one of the most critically and commercially successful metal bands of the past two decades. He also goes into unflinching detail on the devastating impact of the deaths of his father, stepson, and grandson; his struggles with drugs and alcohol; and his eventual reunion with Iggor in The Cavalera Conspiracy.
43. Muddy Waters – Can’t Be Satisfied
The epic, rollicking, up-and-down life of Muddy Waters, who went from Mississippi farmhand to musical legend, who invented electric blues and created the template for the rock-and-roll band and its wild lifestyle, is brought into sharp focus in this widely acclaimed biography. As guitarist biographies go, this is one of the best.
44. Neil Young – Waging Heavy Peace
Legendary singer and songwriter Neil Young’s storied career has spanned over forty years and yielded some of the modern era’s most enduring music. Now for the first time ever, Young reflects upon his life—from his Canadian childhood, to his part in the sixties rock explosion with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, through his later career with Crazy Horse and numerous private challenges. An instant classic, Waging Heavy Peace is as uncompromising and unforgettable as the man himself.
45. Nikki Sixx – Heroin Diaries
In one of the most unique memoirs of addiction ever published, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx shares mesmerizing diary entries from the year he spiralled out of control in a haze of heroin and cocaine, presented alongside riveting commentary from people who were there at the time, and from Nikki himself.
Brutally honest, utterly riveting, and shockingly moving, The Heroin Diaries follows Nikki during the year he plunged to rock bottom — and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.
46. Ozzy Osbourne – I Am Ozzy
Okay, you got me, this is no guitarist biography. But it’s the story of Ozzy Osbourne, written by Ozzy Osbourne. Enough said, right? Essential reading.
47. Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now
Based on hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews over a period of five years, and with complete access to Paul’s own archives, Barry Miles has succeeded in letting Paul tell the story of his life as a Beatle in his own words. It includes Paul’s recollection of the genesis of every song that he wrote with John Lennon and the fascinating details about their remarkable collaboration.
48. Prince – Dig You Will the Picture
Uniting a diverse audience while remaining singularly himself, Prince was a tireless artist, a musical virtuoso and chameleon, and a pop-culture prophet who shattered traditional ideas of race and gender, rewrote the rules of identity, and redefined the role of sex in pop music.
A unique and kaleidoscopic look into the life, legacy, and electricity of the pop legend Prince and his wideranging impact on our culture.
49. Randy Rhoads – Crazy Train
Randall Rhoads, born in California in 1956 and cut down in his prime at the age of only 26, has been an immense influence on a whole generation of musicians in rock and metal. He first came to international prominence in 1979, when he was recruited from the cult metal band Quiet Riot to play with Ozzy Osbourne, who had been fired from Black Sabbath for his drink and drug addictions and was in urgent need of a co-writer to kickstart a solo career. How and why Ozzy and Randy went on to find enormous success is one of the key themes of Crazy Train, named after the first and most famous Osbourne/Rhoads co-composition.
50. Robbie Robertson – Testimony
On the 40th anniversary of The Band’s legendary The Last Waltz concert, Robbie Robertson finally tells his own spellbinding story of the band that changed music history, his extraordinary personal journey, and his creative friendships with some of the greatest artists of the last half-century. One musician biography that you should definitely read!
51. Robert Johnson – Escaping the Delta
The life of blues legend Robert Johnson becomes the centerpiece for this innovative look at what many consider to be America’s deepest and most influential music genre. Pivotal are the questions surrounding why Johnson was ignored by the core black audience of his time yet now celebrated as the greatest figure in blues history.
Trying to separate myth from reality, biographer Elijah Wald studies the blues from the inside — not only examining recordings but also the recollections of the musicians themselves, the African-American press, as well as examining original research. What emerges is a new appreciation for the blues and the movement of its artists from the shadows of the 1930s Mississippi Delta to the mainstream venues frequented by today’s loyal blues fans.
52. Sammy Hagar – Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock
Sammy Hagar—legendary lead singer of Van Halen, tells his unforgettable story in this one-of-a-kind autobiography of a life at the top of the charts. From his decade-long journey alongside Eddie Van Halen to his raucous solo career with Chickenfoot and everything in between—the drugs, groupies, and excesses of fame, the outrageous stadium tours, and the thrill of musical innovation—Hagar reveals all in this treasure trove of rock-and-roll war stories. Red is a life-changing look at one of music’s biggest talents—an essential read for music fans and anyone dreaming of becoming rock’s next number one star.
53. Scott Ian – I’m The Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax
I’m the Man is the fast–paced, humorous, and revealing memoir from the man who co-founded Anthrax, the band that proved to the masses that brutality and fun didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Through various lineup shifts, label snafus, rock ‘n’ roll mayhem, and unforeseen circumstances galore, Scott Ian has approached life and music with a smile, viewing the band with deadly seriousness while recognizing the ridiculousness of the entertainment industry.
I’m the Man is a blistering hard rock memoir, one that is astonishing in its candor and deftly told by the man who’s kept the institution of Anthrax alive for more than thirty years.
54. Slash – The Autobiography
For the first time ever, Slash tells the tale that has yet to be told from the inside: how the legendary band Guns N’ Roses came together, how they wrote the music that defined an era, how they survived insane, never-ending tours, how they survived themselves, and, ultimately, how it all fell apart. Slash is a window into the world of the notoriously private guitarist and a front seat on the roller-coaster ride that was one of history’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll machines, always on the edge of self-destruction, even at the pinnacle of its success. Slash is everything Slash is: funny, honest, ingenious, inspiring, jaw-dropping . . . and, in a word, excessive.
55. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Caught in the Crossfire
His blistering guitar playing breathed life back into the blues. Performing night after night – from his early teens to his tragic death at age thirty-five, in tiny pass-the-hat clubs and before thousands in huge arenas – Stevie Ray Vaughan fused blazing technique with deep soul in a manner unrivaled since the days of Jimi Hendrix.
Caught in the Crossfire is the first biography of this meteoric guitar hero. Fueled by drugs and alcohol through a thousand one-night stands, he lived at a fever pitch that nearly destroyed him. His death in a freak helicopter crash in 1990 silenced one of the great musical talents of our time. Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire reveals Stevie Ray Vaughan’s life in all its remarkable, sometimes unsavory detail. It also brings to life the rich world of Texas music out of which he grew, and captures the staggering dimensions of his musical legacy.
56. Tom Petty – The Biography
Born in Gainesville, Florida, with more than a little hillbilly in his blood, Tom Petty was a Southern shit kicker, a kid without a whole lot of promise. Rock and roll made it otherwise. From meeting Elvis, to seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, to producing Del Shannon, backing Bob Dylan, putting together a band with George Harrison, Dylan, Roy Orbison, and Jeff Lynne, making records with Johnny Cash, and sending well more than a dozen of his own celebrated recordings high onto the charts, Tom Petty’s story has all the drama of a rock and roll epic. Now in his mid-sixties, still making records and still touring, Petty, known for his reclusive style, has shared with Warren Zanes his insights and arguments, his regrets and lasting ambitions, and the details of his life on and off the stage.
57. Tony Iommi – Iron Man
Iron Man chronicles the story of both pioneering guitarist Tony Iommi and legendary band Black Sabbath, dubbed “The Beatles of heavy metal” by Rolling Stone. Iron Man reveals the man behind the icon yet still captures Iommi’s humor, intelligence, and warmth. He speaks honestly and unflinchingly about his rough-and-tumble childhood, the accident that almost ended his career, his failed marriages, personal tragedies, battles with addiction, band mates, famous friends, newfound daughter, and the ups and downs of his life as an artist.
Everything associated with hard rock happened to Black Sabbath first: the drugs, the debauchery, the drinking, the dungeons, the pressure, the pain, the conquests, the company men, the contracts, the combustible drummer, the critics, the comebacks, the singers, the Stonehenge set, the music, the money, the madness, the metal.
58. Willie Nelson – It’s a Long Story
This is Willie Nelson’s complete, unvarnished story, told in his voice and leaving no significant moment or experience untold, from Texas, Nashville, Hawaii, and beyond. Having recently turned 80, Nelson is ready to shine a light on all aspects of his life, including his drive to write music, the women in his life, his collaborations, and his biggest lows and highs–from his bankruptcy to the founding of Farm Aid. A must read musician biography!
59. Yngwie Malmsteen – Relentless
Yngwie Malmsteen’s revolutionary guitar style—combining elements of classical music with the speed and volume of heavy metal—made him a staple of the 80s rock scene. Decades later, he’s still a legend among guitarists, having sold 11 million albums and influenced generations of rockers since. In Relentless, Malmsteen shares his personal story, from the moment he burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere in the early 80s to become a household name in the annals of heavy metal. Along the way, he talks about his first bands, going solo, his songwriting and recording process, and the seedy side of the rock business.
60. Zakk Wylde – Bringing Metal to the Children
As a twenty-five-year veteran of the Ozzy Osbourne band and Black Label Society, golden god Zakk Wylde has managed to stay alive against all odds. Now Wylde and his brother-in-Metal Eric Hendrikx take you on a Crusade of World Tour Domination, sharing deranged tales of booze-fueled destruction, laying out battle-tested Rules of the Road, and offering exclusive tips on how not to make it in the business. If you aspire to new heights of Metal mayhem, Bringing Metal to the Children will make you laugh, weep, vomit—and maybe even soil yourself.
Hopefully you’ve managed to find several awesome musician biographies in this article that you fancy reading yourself. However, if you feel that I’ve missed an essential book out, please leave a comment below!