The best books about the early lives of rock stars

Liisa Kyle Author Of Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity
By Liisa Kyle

Who am I?

As a life coach and author of two dozen self-help books, I’ve spent the past twenty years helping people to be more creative. I love reading about the early lives of artists because it is an engaging way to learn about the creative process. Even rock stars have doubts, insecurities, regrets, and setbacks. Yet, fueled by their passions, they persist. They overcome their obstacles and pursue unique paths to success. These books are inspirational and informative for anyone with a creative dream.

I wrote...

Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity

By Liisa Kyle,

Book cover of Be More Creative: 101 Activities to Unleash and Grow Your Creativity

What is my book about?

Yes, you can be more creative! This activity book features 101 opportunities for you to express yourself in new ways; get inspired; explore different ways to innovate; stimulate your creative juices; use your imagination; play; boost your ingenuity; get energized; invent novel solutions to challenges; blast creative blocks; experience and learn new things; inject more fun in your life, and learn about yourself.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music

Why did I love this book?

Before he was part of Nirvana or Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl was a kid frenetically banging drum sticks on pillows, playing along with his favorite records. He eventually saved up for a drum kit and his one and only drum lesson, in which he learned that he had been holding the sticks backward. From humble beginnings, Dave stayed remarkably humble and appreciative of the twists and turns of his musical career. Reading the book feels like you are sitting down with him backstage, sharing a beer as he shares highlights of his life with candor and humor.

By Dave Grohl,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Storyteller as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

So, I've written a book.

Having entertained the idea for years, and even offered a few questionable opportunities ('It's a piece of cake! Just do four hours of interviews, find someone else to write it, put your face on the cover, and voila!'), I have decided to write these stories just as I have always done, in my own hand. The joy that I have felt from chronicling these tales is not unlike listening back to a song that I've recorded and can't wait to share with the world, or reading a primitive journal entry from a stained notebook, or…

Just Kids

By Patti Smith,

Book cover of Just Kids

Why did I love this book?

You do not have to be a fan of her music to be captivated by Patti’s beautifully written account of her fascinating life living in the fabled Chelsea Hotel in New York City in the seventies, shacked up with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, of all people. Their relationship and fledgling creative careers intertwine with other artists and future celebrities, making this a document of a unique, influential artistic community.

By Patti Smith,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Just Kids as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“Reading rocker Smith’s account of her relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, it’s hard not to believe in fate. How else to explain the chance encounter that threw them together, allowing both to blossom? Quirky and spellbinding.” -- People

It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.

Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence…

Book cover of Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970

Why did I love this book?

In the space of one year (1970), the Beatles broke up, James Taylor became an overnight star, and Simon and Garfunkle reached the height of their popularity, Crosby Stills Nash & Young formed a wildly successful group and then disbanded. Their stories intertwine in unexpected ways, embroidered with interactions of dozens of other rock icons who would shape the music of the seventies. 

By David Browne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Set against a backdrop of world-changing historical and political events, Fire and Rain tells the extraordinary story of one pivotal year in the lives and music of four legendary artists, and reveals how these artists and their songs both shaped and reflected their times. Drawing on interviews, rare recordings, and newly discovered documents, acclaimed journalist David Browne allows us to see,and to hear,the elusive moment when the '60s became the '70s in a completely fresh way" (Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution ).

Book cover of Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon--And the Journey of a Generation

Why did I love this book?

This is a compelling, detailed history of three influential singer/songwriters – Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon. Their early careers were wildly different, yet intersected in unexpected ways as they each found their unique paths to success. What I love most about this deftly written account is that specific songs are set in their historical context, so you better understand what was happening with the artist at that time and gain new insights into the songs that still resonate today, fifty years later.

By Sheila Weller,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Girls Like Us as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking and irresistible biography of three of America’s most important musical artists—Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon—charts their lives as women at a magical moment in time.

Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Carly Simon remain among the most enduring and important women in popular music. Each woman is distinct. Carole King is the product of outer-borough, middle-class New York City; Joni Mitchell is a granddaughter of Canadian farmers; and Carly Simon is a child of the Manhattan intellectual upper crust. They collectively represent, in their lives and their songs, a great swath of American girls who came of…

Book cover of Boys in the Trees: A Memoir

Why did I love this book?

This is a candid autobiography of an unlikely rock star. Relying on her early journals, Carly Simon conveys the details of her privileged childhood and storybook career as a singer/songwriter. Woven through her musical accomplishments are her relationships – primarily her marriage to James Taylor – but also with Warren Beatty, Mick Jagger, Jack Nicholson, Cat Stephens, and Kris Kristofferson. 

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…

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