100 books like One Two Three Four

By Craig Brown,

Here are 100 books that One Two Three Four fans have personally recommended if you like One Two Three Four. 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 Small Town Talk: Bob Dylan, the Band, Van Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Friends in the Wild Years of Woodstock

Peter Jones Author Of Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

From my list on musicians and music from all genres.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have two major passions in life: music and writing. I started learning guitar aged 16, and my friends and I formed a band as soon as we possibly could. My first professional job was writing about pop music for a monthly magazine, and much later in life, I discovered jazz. Now I’m a bass-player, jazz singer, and composer who works with some of the finest jazz musicians in London, and I play regularly at Ronnie Scott’s club. As well as the Donald Fagen biography, I’ve also written biographies of the great jazz singers Mark Murphy (for me, the greatest of them all) and Jon Hendricks.

Peter's book list on musicians and music from all genres

Peter Jones Why did Peter love this book?

When I was growing up, the fabled 1969 Woodstock music festival was a byword for the alternative drop-out culture of hippiedom then at its height.

Even today, people remember it and the town that gave it its name (although it's actually located 40 miles from the site of the festival). What’s perhaps less well known is that Woodstock first became Hippie Central several years before, after Bob Dylan and his manager Albert Grossman moved there, and it continued to attract musicians and artists long afterwards.

This book tells an often shocking tale of excess – drink, drugs, and sexual shenanigans. (And incidentally, Donald Fagen now divides his time between Woodstock and New York.)

By Barney Hoskyns,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Town Talk as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Think "Woodstock" and the mind turns to the seminal 1969 festival that crowned a seismic decade of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. But the town of Woodstock, New York, the original planned venue of the concert, is located over 60 miles from the site to which the fabled half a million flocked. Long before the landmark music festival usurped the name, Woodstock-the tiny Catskills town where Bob Dylan holed up after his infamous 1966 motorcycle accident-was already a key location in the '60s rock landscape. In Small Town Talk, Barney Hoskyns re-creates Woodstock's community of brilliant dysfunctional musicians, scheming…


Book cover of Black Culture and Black Consciousness: Afro-American Folk Thought from Slavery to Freedom

Peter Jones Author Of Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

From my list on musicians and music from all genres.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have two major passions in life: music and writing. I started learning guitar aged 16, and my friends and I formed a band as soon as we possibly could. My first professional job was writing about pop music for a monthly magazine, and much later in life, I discovered jazz. Now I’m a bass-player, jazz singer, and composer who works with some of the finest jazz musicians in London, and I play regularly at Ronnie Scott’s club. As well as the Donald Fagen biography, I’ve also written biographies of the great jazz singers Mark Murphy (for me, the greatest of them all) and Jon Hendricks.

Peter's book list on musicians and music from all genres

Peter Jones Why did Peter love this book?

I make no apology for including this immense and important work. So much of the music I love originated with the kidnapping of black people from Africa.

This book shows how not merely the music of Africa but whole swathes of culture now considered “American” were imported along with the slaves. How did they cope with being ripped from their homeland, transported across the Atlantic in chains, and forced to work in the fields of an alien land?

Levine lays it all out, including everything from Black religion to Black comedy, and despite what you might think, it’s a real page-turner.

By Lawrence W. Levine,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Black Culture and Black Consciousness as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When Black Culture and Black Consciousness first appeared thirty years ago, it marked a revolution in our understanding of African American history. Contrary to prevailing ideas at the time, which held that African culture disappeared quickly under slavery and that black Americans had little group pride, history, or cohesiveness, Levine uncovered a cultural treasure trove, illuminating a rich and complex African American oral tradition, including songs,
proverbs, jokes, folktales, and long narrative poems called toasts-work that dated from before and after emancipation. The fact that these ideas and sources seem so commonplace now is in large part due this book…


Book cover of Raving Upon Thames: An Untold Story of Sixties London

Peter Jones Author Of Nightfly: The Life of Steely Dan's Donald Fagen

From my list on musicians and music from all genres.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have two major passions in life: music and writing. I started learning guitar aged 16, and my friends and I formed a band as soon as we possibly could. My first professional job was writing about pop music for a monthly magazine, and much later in life, I discovered jazz. Now I’m a bass-player, jazz singer, and composer who works with some of the finest jazz musicians in London, and I play regularly at Ronnie Scott’s club. As well as the Donald Fagen biography, I’ve also written biographies of the great jazz singers Mark Murphy (for me, the greatest of them all) and Jon Hendricks.

Peter's book list on musicians and music from all genres

Peter Jones Why did Peter love this book?

I grew up in south-west London, and still live here.

My formative years were spent going to rock gigs in local clubs, pubs, and colleges, when bands like Genesis, Black Sabbath, the Soft Machine, and Pink Floyd were still playing in small venues. Queen’s Brian May went to my school, as did half of the Yardbirds.

This book reflects that era, particularly the amazing goings-on at Eel Pie Island in Twickenham, where gigs were held in a crumbling hotel infested with hippies and other ne’er-do-wells… including me and some of my closest friends.

By Andrew Humphreys,

Why should I read it?

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


Book cover of Music: A Subversive History

Annik LaFarge Author Of Chasing Chopin: A Musical Journey Across Three Centuries, Four Countries, and a Half-Dozen Revolutions

From my list on bringing music to life history listening joy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took piano lessons as a kid, but my teacher was imperious and boring. In my mid-30s I started thinking about it again, and my partner bought me a state-of-the-art Yamaha keyboard as a Valentine’s Day present. I found a wonderful teacher, Rafael Cortés, who worked at a community music school a few blocks from my office. Every piece we worked on began with a conversation about the composer, the period in which she/he wrote the piece, and the other artists–painters, sculptors, poets–who were working then. I fell in love with both playing and learning about music, and more than 30 years later, I’m still taking weekly lessons with Rafael. 

Annik's book list on bringing music to life history listening joy

Annik LaFarge Why did Annik love this book?

This is the most fun you’ll ever have reading about music history, guaranteed. Gioia focuses on outsiders, renegades, and people at the margins of society who launched musical innovations that were later adopted – and legitimized – by leaders of mainstream culture.

“So don’t be surprised,” he warns early on, “if a woman’s erotic love song gets turned into a scriptural utterance by a king. That’s how the history of music unfolds, especially for anything innovative or transgressive.”

I especially appreciated how, in examining music’s 4,000-year history, Gioia never fails to highlight contributions by women, which sets his book apart. 

By Ted Gioia,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The phrase "music history" likely summons up images of long-dead composers, smug men in wigs and waistcoats, and people dancing without touching. In Music: A Subversive History, Gioia responds to the false notions that undergird this tedium. Traditional histories of music, Gioia contents, downplay those elements of music that are considered disreputable or irrational-its deep connections to sexuality, magic, trance and alternative mind states, healing, social control, generational conflict, political unrest, even violence and murder. They suppress the stories of the outsiders and rebels who created musical revolutions and instead celebrate the mainstream assimilators who borrowed innovations, diluted their impact,…


Book cover of As Time Goes By

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in 1954, the same year as rock and roll. I am a product of the era that spawned me. I was that kid at school who would rather read his music mags than his school books. Over a rich and varied career, I have turned those passions into my profession. I have been a singer in a band, a music journalist, a broadcaster with the BBC national radio network, and have had several music related books published by major publishers. I have also been an academic specialist in my field and have managed to turn all those lifelong interests into a Ph.D. and an M.Phil.

Rob's book list on music books that will make you think differently about music and the people who make it

Rob Chapman Why did Rob love this book?

I grew up with the Beatles. I went from 8 to 16 in the time it took the band to go from Love Me Do to Let It Be. I measure my own growth from infancy to adolescence during their lifespan.

The Beatles were more than a band to anyone of my age. They were a planet we all lived on. There have been hundreds of books about them, but few are more insightful than this one by their suave and urbane press officer.

Derek started off his career as a hard-bitten newspaper hack of the old school. Working with the Beatles changed his life. I can relate to that. The Fab Four changed all our lives. 

By Derek Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked As Time Goes By as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'The sharpest memoir written by one of the Beatles' inner circle.' Observer

Derek Taylor's iconic memoir is a rare opportunity to be immersed in one of the most whirlwind music sensations in history: Beatlemania. As Time Goes By tells the remarkable story of Taylor's trajectory from humble provincial journalist to loved confidant right at the centre of the Beatles' magic circle. In charming, conversational prose, Taylor shares anecdotes and reminiscences so vivid and immediate that you find yourself plunged into the beating heart of 1960s counterculture. Whether watching the debut performance of 'Hey Jude' in a country pub or hearing…


Book cover of The Beatles Complete Scores

Rich Maloof Author Of Jim Marshall - The Father of Loud: The Story of the Man Behind the World's Most Famous Guitar Amplifiers

From my list on books by musicians, for musicians.

Why am I passionate about this?

My tenure as editor-in-chief of Guitar magazine is well behind me now, but it always lights me up to create content for musicians, and to absorb it. These are my people, you see, a community of curious, empathic, chronically late daydreamers and night owls, good listeners all. I’m not qualified to comment on Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory or Stravinsky’s Poetics of Music, but neither do I want to talk about rock-star memoirs or fawning fictionalizations. No fanfare here, thank you. Instead, these are five books in which musicians may recognize some element of their creative self and come away with a little more fuel for the fire.

Rich's book list on books by musicians, for musicians

Rich Maloof Why did Rich love this book?

That’s right; it’s an entire book of musical notation. Like I said, this list is for players, not civilians.

I love that every note on every original Beatles record is transcribed here, right down to Ringo’s drum fills on “You Won’t See Me” and the guy saying “number nine” a hundred times on “Revolution 9.”

I love sitting down with my kid, who plays guitar, and discovering exactly how to recreate the parts we can’t work out by ear. I love seeing how the Beatles fit the gears together to make the wheels turn on these songs and how they used chords and notes that I have on the piano at my house, too.

By The Beatles,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

(Transcribed Score). A fitting tribute to possibly the greatest pop band ever - The Beatles. This outstanding edition features full scores and lyrics to all 210 titles recorded by The Beatles. Guitar and bass parts are in both standard notation and tablature. Also includes a full discography. Songs include: All You Need Is Love * And I Love Her * Baby You're a Rich Man * Back in the U.S.S.R. * The Ballad of John and Yoko * Blackbird * Can't Buy Me Love * Come Together * Drive My Car * Eleanor Rigby * From Me to You *…


Book cover of The Beatles: The True Beginnings

Mike Southon Author Of The Beermat Entrepreneur: Turn Your good idea into a great business

From my list on the hidden mysteries of business, science, and nature.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 40 years and now pass on that knowledge to mentees and university students. The key to success in business is being able to attract and then learn from mentors, who, in my opinion, always should provide their knowledge, wisdom, and connections free of charge. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to go down ‘The Dark Side’, especially if the pursuit of money and power becomes overwhelming. Many famous billionaires are not especially nice people. But there are many nice businesspeople out there and I aspire to be one of those, hence my pursuit of a daily advancement in esoteric, hermetic, and other knowledge.

Mike's book list on the hidden mysteries of business, science, and nature

Mike Southon Why did Mike love this book?

Nobody really understands why The Beatles are still so popular over 50 years after they last played together. Rory Best is the brother of Pete Best (famously replaced in The Beatles by Ringo Starr) and the son of Neil Aspinall (the Beatles Road Manager who later ran Apple Corporation - The Beatles’ own company). This book tells the story of the true origins of The Beatles, centred around his mother, Mona Best, and The Casbah Coffee Club.

By Pete Best, Rory Best, Roag Best

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Casbah Coffee Club, which opened in Liverpool on August 29, 1959, was the brainchild of Mona Best, the mother of Pete Best. It is well known that Pete Best was the drummer for The Beatles in their early days in Liverpool and Hamburg. But less well known is that The Beatles’ origins were in fact at Pete’s mother’s club-it was at the Casbah and with Mona Best’s blessing that the greatest popular music phenomenon of the twentieth century began.

And now, the basement club where The Quarrymen, The Silver Beatles, and finally The Beatles played over 90 times before…


Book cover of I Me Mine

Spencer Leigh Author Of Little Richard: Send Me Some Lovin'

From my list on the Beatles.

Why am I passionate about this?

We all know Little Richard’s great hits like "Long Tall, Sally", "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" and Little Richard’s life was as wild as his records. It’s excess all areas as Spencer Leigh tells the story of Little Richard in Send Me Some Lovin. It is a biography of someone who transformed popular music. Spencer Leigh was born in 1945 and hearing Little Richard for the first time in 1956 changed his life. He is a world expert on the Beatles and he has written a series of music-based biographies – Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel – all of which are full of facts and opinions.

Spencer's book list on the Beatles

Spencer Leigh Why did Spencer love this book?

I love seeing the scraps of paper on which George wrote his songs like "Something" or "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

I love seeing all his crossings-out and he offers some good commentary too. George comes over as a thoroughly nice person, but you do need strong wrists to read this book. (Gosh, I’m recommending heavy books!)

By George Harrison, Derek Taylor, Olivia Harrison (editor)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"For me, the essence of this book is the lyrics and I believe they stand the test of time because they are written about man's eternal quest, dilemmas, joys and sorrows. George's lyrics were, in my opinion, the most spiritually conscious of our time" - Olivia Harrison

Cherished by fans and collectors, I Me Mine is the closest we will come to George Harrison's autobiography. This new volume has been significantly updated since the 1980 original. For the first time I Me Mine - The Extended Edition covers the full span of George Harrison's life and work, exploring his upbringing…


Book cover of The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles

Glenn Dixon Author Of Bootleg Stardust

From my list on the Beatles (from someone who loves them).

Why am I passionate about this?

The first record I ever bought was Magical Mystery Tour when I was no more than twelve or so. It’s what made me want to be a musician myself. I’ve got every Beatle record and I am the kind of guy to study carefully who played what, who wrote what, and how they put it all together. Just before Covid shut down everything, I even went to Abbey Road studios where we recorded some of the songs for my novel (we wrote and recorded all the songs of the fictitious band Downtown Exit). Working in Abbey Road was a dream come true – to record in the same rooms that the Beatles used. Imagine that. It was wonderful.

Glenn's book list on the Beatles (from someone who loves them)

Glenn Dixon Why did Glenn love this book?

The Love You Make is pure pop pablum. It’s almost tabloid-like in its recounting of the Beatle’s relationships, their drug use, and their many petty squabbles. Written by Brian Epstein’s assistant (Brian Epstein, of course, was the Beatles’ manager), Brown has some stories to tell. Full of photos too. This one’s a lot of fun if you don’t take it too seriously.

By Peter Brown, Steven Gaines,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Here is the national bestseller that Newsday called “the most authoritative and candid look yet at the personal lives…of the oft-scrutinized group.” In The Love You Make, Peter Brown, a close friend of and business manager for the band—and the best man at John and Yoko’s wedding—presents a complete look at the dramatic offstage odyssey of the four lads from Liverpool who established the greatest music phenomenon of the twentieth century. Written with the full cooperation of each of the group’s members and their intimates, this book tells the inside story of the music and the madness, the feuds and…


Book cover of Dreaming the Beatles: The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World

Glenn Dixon Author Of Bootleg Stardust

From my list on the Beatles (from someone who loves them).

Why am I passionate about this?

The first record I ever bought was Magical Mystery Tour when I was no more than twelve or so. It’s what made me want to be a musician myself. I’ve got every Beatle record and I am the kind of guy to study carefully who played what, who wrote what, and how they put it all together. Just before Covid shut down everything, I even went to Abbey Road studios where we recorded some of the songs for my novel (we wrote and recorded all the songs of the fictitious band Downtown Exit). Working in Abbey Road was a dream come true – to record in the same rooms that the Beatles used. Imagine that. It was wonderful.

Glenn's book list on the Beatles (from someone who loves them)

Glenn Dixon Why did Glenn love this book?

Like none of the others, Dreaming the Beatles is more like a series of reflections from someone who came along well after the Beatles. The book was published in 2017 and it’s a fond look back at what still remains. Not so much a direct history as a sort of compendium of remembrance with chapters like “The Importance of Being Ringo” or “The Cover of Abbey Road.” A distinct pleasure to read.

By Rob Sheffield,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An NPR Best Book of the Year • Winner of the Virgil Thomson Award for Outstanding Music Criticism

“This is the best book about the Beatles ever written”  —Mashable

Rob Sheffield, the Rolling Stone columnist and bestselling author of Love Is a Mix Tape offers an entertaining, unconventional look at the most popular band in history, the Beatles, exploring what they mean today and why they still matter so intensely to a generation that has never known a world without them.

Dreaming the Beatles is not another biography of the Beatles, or a song-by-song analysis of the best of John…


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