The best female musician rock memoirs

Joyce Raskin Author Of My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star
By Joyce Raskin

Who am I?

I am a female musician who has toured and experienced life on the road in the male-dominated world of rock and roll. I am always looking for female musicians (famous and unknown) who led the way to me being able to do what I do. Female musicians still don’t get equal time with their male counterparts. There are still so few women who have been recognized in the media, so reading about them makes me feel less alone. Their memoirs inspire me to keep playing and bring to music what only a female musician can do.

I wrote...

My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star

By Joyce Raskin,

Book cover of My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star

What is my book about?

Rock ’n’ roll isn’t just about sex and drugs. It’s about self-expression, lasting friendships, and self-empowerment. That’s what Alex learns after she starts playing bass for a rock band in this almost true story. Joyce Raskin, author and musician, culls from her memories to create this funny, touching, and honest look at what it’s like to be a teenager, a girl, and a rock star all at the same time. 

Also included are a note from the author, instructions on how to play basic guitar chords, advice on songwriting, and more!

The books I picked & why

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Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.

By Viv Albertine,

Book cover of Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys.

Why this book?

I absolutely loved this book so much that I read it three times. I think that Viv Albertine is one of the most influential women in music. She deserves so much more credit than she has ever gotten. Viv Albertine’s describes her time as lead guitarist playing with the all-female band The Slits from the UK. We follow young Viv as she rejects the repressive notions of the time of what it meant to be a female.

The Slits were an integral part of the 1970s punk scene in the UK alongside bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. We follow her escapades running the back alleys of London; hooking up with boys; breaking hearts; defining what was punk; making her own clothes; hanging out at the sex shop owned by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Mclaren; and surviving on the streets where it was much more dangerous to be a female. For anyone who thinks outside the box you will laugh, cry, be astonished, and impressed by this inspirational story. One female voice can reverberate for generations.

Girl in a Band: A Memoir

By Kim Gordon,

Book cover of Girl in a Band: A Memoir

Why this book?

I was very surprised by this book about Kim Gordon the bassist of the band Sonic Youth. It wasn’t what I was expecting. Kim Gordon was someone I always thought of as very cool and extremely reserved. In her memoir she opens up quite a bit about who she is, as opposed to the persona she had been given in the band Sonic Youth. Playing music was not her first love—it was art. I loved reading about her artistic explorations, traveling with hippies in California, and being a free spirit. She describes tenderly her relationship with her older brother Keller who suffered from schizophrenia and was hospitalized. The Sonic Youth song, “Sister” is about him. The book also describes her painful divorce from Thurston Moore (founding member of Sonic Youth). Kim Gordon redefines herself as much more than just the bass player in a rock band.  

Just Kids

By Patti Smith,

Book cover of Just Kids

Why this book?

I know everyone has raved about this but really it’s amazing. This book by Patti Smith describes her years living in New York with her friend, partner, mentor, and sometimes lover Robert Maplethorpe. Although to me this book’s best parts speak about being a poor artist and making art, Patti Smith is one of my musical heroes. I loved learning about what New York was like in the 1970s. Patti is a true artist in every aspect. She and Robert lived life to the fullest although they had no money and oftentimes were homeless. The book is poetic, raw, and punk—just like her. How Patti continued to create and push herself as an artist is so inspiring. This book is all about living life in the now, and that is where the magic of creation happens.

Hit So Hard: A Memoir

By Patty Schemel,

Book cover of Hit So Hard: A Memoir

Why this book?

I happened to have spent time with Patti Schemel when my band Scarce toured for a month with Hole in 1995. Patti is the real deal when it comes to being a musician. She’s a badass on the drums, and in real life. I really enjoyed the intimate moments she shared about Kurt Cobain. They are tender and sweet, and show a very different side of his public persona. She takes us into the back scenes of what was like to be in a band as it took off, backing up the very unpredictable Courtney Love onstage, and what it means to be a rock star. I also loved that she spent time writing about what it was like to be a lesbian in the male-dominated rock world, where women are seen often as simply something pretty to look at. Her personality really shines through her writing. She’s fierce, honest, and cool. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be a famous rock star, this tells it all good and bad.

Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway

By Cherie Currie, Tony O'Neill,

Book cover of Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway

Why this book?

“Hello daddy, hello mom, I’m you ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb.” Cherrie Currie was the lead singer of the all-female band called The Runaways from Los Angeles, California. Cherrie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Jackie Fox, and Sandy West were young teenage street punks when Kim Fowley (infamous record producer) brought them all together to form their band. The Runaways enjoy cult status to this day, and I very much enjoyed the descriptions of the places they played and shows that are legendary to this day. Cherrie shares with us the punk beginnings of this band with these fierce teenage girls who were swimming in waters a bit too deep and adult for them. Her memoir reveals the ugly truth about how women have been taken advantage of both physically and emotionally by men. Drugs and alcohol take their toll on Cherrie so she’s even unable to make music anymore with the band. But, Cherrie survives and overcomes her demons. For anyone whose life has not taken a straight and normal path, this is your book.

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