The best books of rock and roll romantic memoirs of the 60s and 70s

Who am I?

My Indiana singing group was transplanted and reformed into a popular rock band In mid-60s California. We survived San Francisco's East Bay dive bars, thrived in the City's North Beach topless clubs, appeared in several Hollywood rock clubs, opened a showroom/lounge at Caesars Palace, and performed for two years at the Flamingo Hotel. We were discovered by big-name managers, signed to a famous producer, recorded in the best studios, and released several records with a well-known record label. Though we didn't quite make it to the top rung, we checked all the boxes in our journey. In the 70s, I became a personal manager in Hollywood and eventually opened and operated a Sunset Boulevard recording studio. My two books are a passionate retelling of my musical journey. As I worked on them, I turned to memoirs of other musicians and singers for inspiration. These are a few of them.

I wrote...

Night People

By Larry J. Dunlap,

Book cover of Night People

What is my book about?

Night People is a fast-moving adventure and romance-filled memoir that reads like a novel! A young Midwestern singer and his friends experience the transformative power of love, loss, and music in a West Coast adventure in the chaotic 1960s. Larry and his new band quickly dive into a breathtaking journey through mob-run nightclubs, Las Vegas showrooms and backrooms, famous Hollywood night spots, top West Coast recording studios, celebrity managers--and passionate romance. Everything they've ever dreamed of seems just around the corner.

Their story is set against the backdrop of the West Coast in a historic era of cultural, political, musical, and sexual upheaval-- and the draft! In the tumultuous nights the band inhabits, where things and people are too easily found and lost—everything Larry thought he knew about life, love, and himself is challenged.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me

Larry J. Dunlap Why did I love this book?

In 1964 Pattie Boyd, a beautiful young Carnaby Street model working as an extra on the Beatles "A Hard Day's Night," sat next to George Harrison at lunch. He told her, there and then, he wanted to marry her. And in 1966, he did, and they made news around the world. George, always known as the shy Beatle, wrote the evocative song "Something" for his striking Covergirl wife. Meanwhile, Eric Clapton, who had gotten to know the Beatles, had become such a close friend of George's that he invited Eric to play guitar on Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." But Eric saw Pattie and became obsessed with his friend's wife beyond reason and pursued her relentlessly. While she was flattered, his affection went largely unreciprocated, driving him to the depths of despair, self-imposed isolation, and addiction.

Pattie describes how stressful and painful her marriage had become as George became openly promiscuous, especially following the Beatles' journey to India to study Transcendental Meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who changed his life—and apparently his morality. When Clapton, now leader of Dereck and the Dominoes, brought the intensely emotional rock classic "Layla," he'd written for her, fresh from the studio to play for her secretly, her resolve weakened. Soon they were meeting furtively, and though George was angry when he found out, he did not try to stop them. It was as though his friendship with Clapton was more important to him than his marriage. The passion unwinding between this strange triangle is spellbinding and my first choice for this category of books.

By Pattie Boyd, Penny Junor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Wonderful Tonight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • For the first time, rock music’s most famous muse tells her incredible story

“A charming, lively and seductive book . . . The appeal of Wonderful Tonight is as self-evident as the seemingly simple but brash opening chord of ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’”—The New York Times Book Review

Pattie Boyd, former wife of both George Harrison and Eric Clapton, finally breaks a forty-year silence and tells the story of how she found herself bound to two of the most addictive, promiscuous musical geniuses of the twentieth century and became the most legendary muse in…

Book cover of Clapton: The Autobiography

Larry J. Dunlap Why did I love this book?

Eric Clapton's early childhood was difficult. He'd been born illegitimately, complicating his relationship with his birth mother. His primary consolation came from playing the guitar. His fantastic talent as a young guitarist made him a cult favorite in the British nightclub scene until the entire world discovered him as a superstar in his first band, the short-lived, Cream. But his memberships in Blind Faith, Delaney and Bonnie, and Friends, and Derek and the Dominoes were also fleeting despite producing some of the most timeless songs in rock history.

All of his weaknesses rose to the top when he convinced Pattie Boyd to leave George Harrison and live with him in 1974. Pattie began traveling with Clapton as he began touring the U.S. In 1979, he and Pattie finally married, with Harrison present as an invited guest. While it seemed that Clapton had everything he had ever wanted, he was sinking into the depths of alcoholism and addiction. Though there is much more to this tangled web, Clapton seems to admit that much of Pattie's allure for him was more about her being George's wife than his single-minded obsession. In both Clapton's autobiography and Pattie Boyd's book, this affair is a glimpse into the incredible life these people lived in the fabulous rock years of the sixties and seventies. There must be a lesson for all of us in here somewhere.

By Eric Clapton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Clapton as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eric Clapton is far more than a rock star. Like Dylan and McCartney he is an icon and a living legend. He has sold tens of millions of records, played sell-out concerts all over the world and been central to the significant musical developments of his era. His guitar playing has seen him hailed as 'God'. Tracks such as "Layla", "Sunshine Of Your Love", "Wonderful Tonight" and "Tears In Heaven" have become anthems for generations of music fans. Now for the first time, Eric tells the story of his personal and professional journeys in this pungent, witty and painfully honest…

Book cover of Boys in the Trees: A Memoir

Larry J. Dunlap Why did I love this book?

Carly Simon was an icon of the 70s pop and folk scene. She grew up in an atmosphere of wealth and privilege as the daughter of the half-owner of Simon & Shuster Publishing. Despite these advantages, she suffered from many of the same insecurities teenagers experience when their parents were not attentive and live weird lives themselves. They did, at least, support her choice of a music career.

Though she started singing as a sister act, she'd begun to establish herself as a songwriter and singer when she came back into contact with James Taylor. She'd met him earlier as a teen and created a fantasy relationship, even then predicting she would marry him someday. Simon confirmed herself as a superstar with "You're So Vain" overshadowing Taylor's current single at the time. After a romantic marriage and two children, things began to unwind. Taylor is a serially promiscuous husband with no shame. Simon takes a trip of her own through depravity in trying to deal with her issues. Though the book ends with her divorce from Taylor, it is wonderfully and honestly written. And like other books by musical stars of this era, it was eerily beautiful and descriptive of the difficulty many of these artistic people had in staying within the lines.

By Carly Simon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Boys in the Trees as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 New York Times Bestseller A People Magazine Top Ten Book of the Year 'A sensational memoir ...brilliantly well written. Carly Simon is incapable of writing a boring sentence can forgive anything for the unparalleled brilliance of her writing' - Lynn Barber, Sunday Times 'Hugely affecting memoir ...heartfelt and remarkable' - Fiona Sturges, Independent Carly Simon is a household name. She was the staple of the '70s and '80s Billboard charts and was famously married to James Taylor with whom she has two children. She has had a career that has spanned four decades, resulting in thirteen top 40…

Book cover of I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie

Larry J. Dunlap Why did I love this book?

New York Times bestseller, I'm With The Band hit bookshelves in 1987. It has been translated and reprinted all over the world. This memoir is a remarkably stylish, exuberant, and sweetly innocent tale of the most famous groupie of the 60s and 70s. You might want to dismiss this book as a salacious, sensationalized tell-all, but that would be because you haven't read it. It's widely understood that Miss Pamela was the inspiration for Penny Lane, the groupie character in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous movie. It's also been reported that Kate Hudson, who acted the role, kept Des Barres's pictures pinned all over her dressing room during the shoot.

Growing up, Des Barres idolized the Beatles and daydreamed about meeting and dating Paul McCartney, her favorite Beatle. In her own way, the wispy young girl turned Beatles fandom into a new type of devotion: that of a groupie. As soon as Pamela Des Barres graduated from high school in 1966, she left the San Fernando Valley, headed for the Sunset Strip. Over the next ten years, she befriended rock idols and plunged into the drugs, danger, and rapture of the free-spirited 60s. She hit the road with Led Zeppelin; cohabited with Don Johnson; rejected a date with Elvis Presley; and befriended Robert Plant, Gram Parsons, and Ray Davies. Her list of affairs included Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon, Waylon Jennings, Chris Hillman, Noel Redding, Jim Morrison, and more. She was often a trusted advisor and pal, helping design stage-ware, standing by them through drugs and alcohol use and abuse, retaining friendships beyond break-ups and later relationships. She was in the thick of the most revolutionary renaissance in the history of modern popular music.

Warm, witty, and sexy, this kiss-and-tell–all stands out as the perfect love story of a girl's love affair with the music and the men who created it during one of rock 'n' roll's most thrilling eras.

By Pamela Des Barres,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked I'm with the Band as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pamela Des Barres was a regular on the Sunset Strip, where she knocked on rock stars' backstage doors and immersed herself in the drugs, danger, and ecstasy of the freewheeling 1960s. Over the next 10 years she had affairs with Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon and Jim Morrison, among others. As a member of the GTO's, a girl group masterminded by Frank Zappa, she was in the thick of the most revolutionary renaissance in the history of modern popular music. Warm, witty, and sexy, this kiss-and-tell-all stands out as the perfect chronicle of one of rock 'n' roll's most…

Book cover of Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac

Larry J. Dunlap Why did I love this book?

Four weeks after its release, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album hit number one on Billboard and remained there for thirty-one weeks. But the band itself was disintegrating. John and Christine McVie's seven-year marriage was on the edge of divorce as recording started. And the ethereal Stevie Nicks and mercurial Lindsey Buckingham's relationship had fractured explosively, only ceasing when the mics were on for recording. Mick Fleetwood had discovered that his wife and mother of his two children was having an affair. And if that wasn't enough, Fleetwood and Nicks would soon begin a fleeting dalliance. If this album didn't hit, Fleetwood Mac would implode, but its extraordinary success, despite the emotional maelstrom surrounding the band, kept them together: everybody desperately needed the money.

The author of this book, an audio engineer in training at Producer's Workshop, a Hollywood studio where my own band recorded a few years earlier, fell in love with Lindsey Graham during their mixing sessions there. She was just about to experience first-hand all of this band's dysfunction, the mayhem drug use and alcohol abuse were creating. Over the next nine years, she would endure the backstabbing chaos that produced all the painfully biographical songs of the Rumours album. Eventually, one of Buckingham's compulsively paranoid rages nearly killed her. Though it took years to walk away from the musical genius, and a man she still loved, she finally escaped. And again, we see inside the lives of superstar musicians and singers who loved, hated, and obsessed over themselves and each other in such appalling ways.

By Carol Ann Harris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Storms as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Fleetwood Mac were recording and then touring with their classic Rumours - at the time the fastest-selling album in history - they were one of the biggest music acts in the world. But behind the facade of their tuneful, breezy, memorable pop songs was a world of internal animosity and strife, drug use, incestuous sexual shenanigans and wild partying which, as the band took a new direction with the follow-up album Tusk, inexorably spiralled into darkness and chaos. One might expect such excess from Aerosmith - but...Fleetwood Mac? Carol Ann Harris was the girlfriend of Fleetwood Mac's singer and…

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Book cover of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

Maryka Biaggio Author Of The Model Spy: Based on the True Story of Toto Koopman’s World War II Ventures

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What is my book about?

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In London she attracted the attention of Lord Beaverbrook, the William Randolph Hearst of England. She soon became his confidante, companion, and translator, traversing the Continent and finding herself caught in the winds of impending war. Beaverbrook introduced her to influential people, including a director at…

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