100 books like Dusty

By Lucy O’Brien,

Here are 100 books that Dusty fans have personally recommended if you like Dusty. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood

Zoë Howe Author Of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

From my list on music biographies written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

Zoë's book list on music biographies written by women

Zoë Howe Why did Zoë love this book?

The definitive, authorised Johnny Thunders biography, beautifully written by a beloved confidant of the late New York Doll. With a star like Thunders, lesser writers would give in to the temptation to mythologise, but Antonia is a balanced, clear-eyed biographer, presenting her friend’s complex story with style, compassion, grace, and honesty. Nina is the bohemian queen of decadence and rock ‘n’ roll’s darker side, and this book is one of many jewels in her crown.

By Nina Antonia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The official biography of the New York Dolls and Heartbreakers' guitarist. ‘Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood’ is the cult bible of all things Thunders. It is the definitive portrait of the condemned man of rock'n'roll, from the baptism of fire and tragedy that was the New York Dolls, through the junkie punk years of the Heartbreakers and beyond. It is an unflinching account of a unique guitarist whose drug problems often overshadowed his considerable style and talent. Johnny was a hugely influential figure in both the glam-rock and punk eras and his music and style still resonates today.

Nina Antonia…


Book cover of The Saga of Hawkwind

Zoë Howe Author Of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

From my list on music biographies written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

Zoë's book list on music biographies written by women

Zoë Howe Why did Zoë love this book?

Carol Clerk was something of a rock star in her own right: a major force in music writing, Clerk’s tough, witty voice continues to resound years after her untimely passing. Her biography of countercultural hippy icons Hawkwind is fascinating, and she weaves together the voices, memories, tales, and travails with effortless brio. Like Nina Antonia, she had a kinship with the musicians she wrote about, garnering stories with ease because they trusted her, and rightly so.

By Carol Clerk,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Hawkwind emerged in 1969 from Ladbroke Grove, the heartland of London's counterculture, to become a 'people's band' supported by bikers and hippies alike as they staged free gigs, benefits and protests and welcomed the involvement of any number of creative people - writers, poets, dancers - from within their community. They have had more line-up changes than their only remaining founder member Dave Brock, can remember. Motorhead's Lemmy and legendary Cream drummer Ginger Baker were just two of the musicians sacrificed along the way as the band went head to head with the police, customs, the taxman - and each…


Book cover of My Rock 'n' Roll Friend

Zoë Howe Author Of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

From my list on music biographies written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

Zoë's book list on music biographies written by women

Zoë Howe Why did Zoë love this book?

Musician and author Thorn places Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison in the spotlight in this warm, often fiery book which, as a sometime drummer, I loved and related to very keenly. It is a love letter, as so many biographies are, albeit as much to a friendship as it is to an artist. But it is also a reflection on how women interact, how women navigate the music industry, how creative, clever women (like female biographers!) are often dismissed, trivialised, undermined, even silenced. Women will get great strength from My Rock ‘n’ Roll Friend, and as for men, well, the world would probably be a better place if more chaps connected with this book.

By Tracey Thorn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked My Rock 'n' Roll Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Entertaining, affectionate and righteous' Guardian
'Says so much about being a woman' Cosey Fanni Tutti

A TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

In 1983, backstage at the Lyceum in London, Tracey Thorn and Lindy Morrison first met. Tracey's music career was just beginning, while Lindy, drummer for The Go-Betweens, was ten years her senior. They became confidantes, comrades and best friends, a relationship cemented by gossip and feminism, books and gigs and rock 'n' roll love affairs.

Morrison - a headstrong heroine blazing her way through a male-dominated industry - came to be a kind of mentor to Thorn. They…


Book cover of Sweating Tears with Fat White Family

Zoë Howe Author Of Barbed Wire Kisses: The Jesus and Mary Chain Story

From my list on music biographies written by women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a music biographer, and whenever I’ve hinted that the world of rock biography is a bit of a boys’ club, someone will bark names of famous female musicians who’ve written autobiographies at me. All brilliant, but biography is a different animal. It demands sensitivity, trust, intuition, empathy: the writer is presenting the story of another, wooing a publisher, balancing multiple perspectives, being a detective, asking strange questions, penetrating the skin, probing often forgotten places. Female music writers frequently face assumptions ranging from the dismissive to the salacious before being neatly sidelined, but this is changing – slowly.  I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate some rare queens of the art here.

Zoë's book list on music biographies written by women

Zoë Howe Why did Zoë love this book?

I love to see different takes on music biography: shifts away from conventional formats are a happy place for me. Stripe, inspired by the 90s series Star Test (which I was obsessed with too) takes on the notorious Fat White Family, presenting them in all of their demonic rock ‘n’ roll depravity through exclusive interview material. Cradduck’s folklorically inspired illustrations in the Rough Trade edition complement the text with grotesque perfection.

By Adelle Stripe, Lisa Cradduck,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Sweating Tears with Fat White Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A revealing examination of the dysfunctional songwriting partnership at the heart of one of Britain’s most unpredictable and controversial contemporary rock ’n’ roll bands, Sweating Tears with Fat White Family  features candid interviews by author Adelle Stripe with Fat White Family singer Lias Saoudi and guitarist Saul Adamczewski. From childhood traumas to adult squalor and critical success, it is a tale of bitterness, humour, excess, cruelty, and the vile affections that bind this exceptional pairing on their continued Orphean descent into the underworld.
This exclusive edition features demonic engravings by printmaker Lisa Cradduck, inspired by Berber folklore and the grotesque…


Book cover of Me: Elton John

Ian Gittins Author Of The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star

From my list on rock biographies that go the extra mile.

Why am I passionate about this?

After years as a London-based music journalist for publications such as Melody Maker, Q, and The Guardian, I turned to ghostwriting rock autobiographies and discovered how much more satisfying it is to tell someone’s full, unadulterated life story rather than to feed on carefully cultivated scraps gleaned from half-hour interviews. I never imagined anybody would be as lewdly transparent as my first memoir subject, Nikki Sixx, but many others have run him close—not least Judas Priest singer Rob Halford, in 2020’s appositely named Confess. Its follow-up, Biblical, is imminent. Does it go the extra mile? I don’t think it will disappoint…

Ian's book list on rock biographies that go the extra mile

Ian Gittins Why did Ian love this book?

Autobiographies by genuine A-listers can prove disappointing experiences, as the superstars in question tread delicately lest they puncture their carefully cultivated public images. Not so Sir Elton John, who in Me worked closely with Guardian writer Alexis Petridis to deliver a racy, rambunctious, scurrilous account of his serial misdoings. Everyone had always known that Elton John was doing crazy shit. Nobody had grasped that he was doing quite as much as this.

By Elton John,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life. Me is the joyously funny, honest and moving story of the most enduringly successful singer/songwriter of all time.

The Sunday Times bestseller with a new chapter bringing the story up to date.

'The rock memoir of the decade' - Daily Mail
'The rock star's gloriously entertaining and candid memoir is a gift to the reader' - Sunday Times
______________

Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed…


Book cover of Nina: A Story of Nina Simone

Lisa Rogers Author Of Beautiful Noise: The Music of John Cage

From my list on music innovators.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since childhood, I’ve wondered about people who led inventive, innovative lives. How did they get their inspiration? Where did their ideas come from? How did they take that inspiration and change the world? I found information, but not the answers I was looking for, at the library. When I became an elementary library teacher, new forms of biographies – beautiful picture book biographies about people of all kinds – became available. My students loved them and so did I, and I became inspired to write for children. I’m excited that my first two picture book biographies, which received starred reviews, are out in the world – with more coming your way!

Lisa's book list on music innovators

Lisa Rogers Why did Lisa love this book?

I’m always fascinated by the transformative moment – how and when people decide to use their voices for change.

Nina Simone’s musical talent was recognized early, and she faced discrimination early, too. As the Civil Rights Movement grew, Simone at first focused on building her career. Her transformative moment was born of rage at the murder of civil rights leader Medgar Evers and the Birmingham, Alabama, 16th Street Baptist Church bombing that killed four young girls and severely injured another.

Protest songs poured out of her, and she became the fearless voice of the Civil Rights Movement. Powerful and inspirational!

By Traci N. Todd, Christian Robinson (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Nina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

What is this book about?

A BIG ISSUE BOOK OF THE YEAR

Longlisted for the UKLA Book Awards

This illuminating and defining biography from bestselling author Traci N. Todd, with illustrations from award-winner Christian Robinson, tells the story of Eunice Waymon, who grew up to become Nina Simone - and shares her bold, defiant, and exultant legacy with a new generation.

With passion and unparalleled skill, Traci N. Todd and Christian Robinson bring this iconic singer's story to young readers and their families. Meet young Eunice, who sang before she could talk, and journey with her from the piano stool she shared with her father…


Book cover of Rage to Survive: The Etta James Story

Maureen Mahon Author Of Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

From my list on African American women who shaped popular music.

Why am I passionate about this?

Over many years of being an African American fan of rock music, I’ve learned that the combination of my gender, race, and musical taste can be disconcerting to people who expect Black women to adhere to a limited set of cultural interests. My frustration with these kinds of assumptions, my awareness that rock has deep roots in African American musical culture, my curiosity about the experiences of African American women who participated in rock and roll, and my desire to make sure that they are part of the stories we tell about the music’s history led me to write Black Diamond Queens: African American Women and Rock and Roll

Maureen's book list on African American women who shaped popular music

Maureen Mahon Why did Maureen love this book?

One of my favorite memoirs, Rage to Survive is a no-holds-barred dive into the life and times of powerful singer who traversed the genres of rock and roll, blues, and R&B during her decades-long career. James tells compelling stories about her tough upbringing on the west coast and her teenage immersion into sex, drugs, and early rock and roll (check out her 1955 hit “The Wallflower”); shares her experiences touring in the segregated south during the 1950s; offers gossip about well-known musical figures; and reflects on her development as an artist navigating the recording industry in the fifties, sixties, seventies, and eighties. Throughout she offers insights about love, loss, motherhood, hard knocks, bad choices, addiction, and personal and professional triumphs. James speaks with passion, humor, and honesty. 

By Etta James, David Ritz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the great women of American music, equally at home singing blues and jazz, Etta regales us with tales of her chaotic childhood, the stars she has known, and her troubled trip to stardom in this mesmerizing autobiography.


Book cover of Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina and Richard Farina

Amanda Cockrell Author Of Coyote Weather

From my list on the Sixties and the Vietnam War era.

Why am I passionate about this?

Almost all of my books have been historical novels, but this one is the one most dear to me, an attempt to understand the fault line that the Vietnam War laid across American society, leaving almost every man of my generation with scars physical or psychic. My picks are all books that illuminate the multiple upheavals of that time.

Amanda's book list on the Sixties and the Vietnam War era

Amanda Cockrell Why did Amanda love this book?

If there is any cultural icon that defines this era, it is music.

Positively 4th Street chronicles the personal and musical lives of these four, a portrait of extravagant, quarrelsome genius and the transformation of folk music from academic song-collecting to an era-defining musical form, by way of Greenwich Village, the anti-war movement, and shifting personal entanglements.

By David Hajdu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Positively 4th Street as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When twenty-five-year-old Bob Dylan wrecked his motorcycle near Woodstock in 1966 and dropped out of the public eye, he was already recognized as a genius, a youth idol with an acid wit and a barbwire throat; and Greenwich Village, where he first made his mark, was unquestionably the center of youth culture.

In Positively 4th Street, David Hajdu recounts the emergence of folk music from cult practice to popular and enduring art form as the story of a colorful foursome: not only Dylan but also his part-time lover Joan Baez -- the first voice of the new generation; her sister…


Book cover of The Voice of Egypt, 1997: Umm Kulthum, Arabic Song, and Egyptian Society in the Twentieth Century

Raphael Cormack Author Of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s

From my list on popular culture along the Nile.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer and an Arabic to English translator, with a PhD in Arabic Theatre from the University of Edinburgh. In recent years, I have gravitated towards the history of popular culture and the demi-monde in the Middle East. The stories of singers and dancers say much more to me than the conventional subjects of histories of the Arab world – politicians, soldiers, etc. Through them, we can see the Middle East in a way that we seldom see in the West means much more to a lot of the people who live there.

Raphael's book list on popular culture along the Nile

Raphael Cormack Why did Raphael love this book?

The essential biography of Umm Kulthum for the English reader. Danielson tells the story of the Arab world’s most famous singer, one of the greatest performers of the 20th century. This book charts her life from the small village in the Nile Delta where she grew up to the heights of global superstardom. It also paints a picture of the world that she moved through, which intersected with the world depicted in Midnight in Cairo. This is a necessary read for anyone interested in Arabic music.

By Virginia Danielson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Voice of Egypt, 1997 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Umm Kuthum was a celebrated musical performer in the Arab world, and her songs still permeate the international airwaves. This, the first English-language biography, chronicles her life and career. In particular, it examines her popularity in a society which discouraged women from public performance. The text examines the careful construction of Kulthum's popularity; from childhood her mentors honed her abilities to accord with Arab and Muslim practice, but ultimately, she created her own idiom from local precedents and traditions, and developed original song styles from both populist and neo-classical traditions. Danielson seeks to show how Umm Kulthum's music and public…


Book cover of Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten

Lisa Tolin Author Of How to Be a Rock Star

From my list on children’s books for future rock stars.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am not a rock star but I do play a mean (computer) keyboard. My debut picture book, How to Be a Rock Star, was inspired by my musical children and our endless hours jamming as a family band. I was always on the lookout for books to inspire my little rock star, and because they were hard to come by, I wrote one! These books will inspire your budding musician, or just help you embrace a spirit of creative play in any way they want to rock.

Lisa's book list on children’s books for future rock stars

Lisa Tolin Why did Lisa love this book?

When my son was a rocking toddler, he needed everything just so—a twisted guitar strap could ruin his gig. We both drew inspiration from Elizabeth Cotten, who managed to play guitar despite being left-handed and teaching herself upside down and backwards. By the age of 11, Cotten had written “Freight Train,” one of the most famous folk songs of the last century. Take that, perfectionism.

By Laura Veirs, Tatyana Fazlalizadeh (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elisabeth Cotten was only a little girl when she picked up a guitar for the first time. It wasn't hers-it was her big brother's-and it wasn't strung right-she was left-handed. But she flipped that guitar upside down and backwards and taught herself how to play it anyway. By eleven, she'd written "Freight Train," one of the most famous folk songs. And by the end of her life, everyone from the California beaches to the rolling hills of England knew her music.

This lyrical, loving book from acclaimed singer-songwriter Laura Veirs and debut illustrator Tatyana Fazlalizadeh tells the story of the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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