100 books like The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs

By Greil Marcus,

Here are 100 books that The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs fans have personally recommended if you like The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of There Was a Time: James Brown, the Chitlin' Circuit, and Me

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

Alan Leeds does a wonderful job presenting his eyewitness experiences as part of the James Brown entourage in the 1960s and beyond. The reader can’t wait to find out what happens next in the riveting story he presents of Soul Brother No. 1, the “hardest working man in show business.” It’s a fascinating tale, which presents Brown as an innovative musical force, determined artist, forceful businessman, and unpredictable personality. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at the Chitlin’ Circuit when soul music was taking off as a dynamic new genre—as recalled by a young, Jewish kid from Queens who joined James Brown’s team and learned the music business at the hand of the performer who mastered it.

By Alan Leeds,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked There Was a Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As seen in the Wall Street Journal!

“Alan Leeds was a protegé of James Brown and a true historian of the world that nurtured the great entertainer. Alan was a witness to the vibrant black music scene of the ’60s and ’70s—whose book is both a memoir and a document of a lost world of sound.”—Nelson George, an American author, columnist, music and culture critic, journalist, and filmmaker

A behind-the-scenes look at the Chitlin’ Circuit during American’s most vital period of soul music—from the eyes and ears of a young, Jewish kid from Queens who joined the team of the…


Book cover of Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

This is an in-depth look at the life and career of the magnetic Otis Redding Jr., soul singer extraordinaire. We learn tons about Redding’s family background and his hometown of Macon, Georgia (also the hometown of Little Richard). Redding died at 26 in a 1967 plane crash just as he was starting to climb to the heights of the music industry. Even so, he left behind a much-admired body of work though his time was cut so tragically short. The author did an enormous amount of research for the book, then crafted an energetic and easy-reading story that captures the remarkable journey that was Otis Redding’s—from preacher’s son to charismatic soul singer who touched millions.

By Mark Ribowsky,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When he died suddenly at the age of twenty-six, Otis Redding (1941-1967) was the conscience of a new kind of soul music. Berry Gordy built the first black-owned music empire at Motown but Redding was doing something as historic: mainstreaming black music within the whitest bastions of the post-Confederate south. As a result, the Redding story-still largely untold-is one of great conquest but grand tragedy. Now, in this transformative work, Mark Ribowsky contextualises Redding's life within the larger cultural movements of his era. What emerges in Dreams to Remember is not only a triumph of music history but also a…


Book cover of Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

Joni Mitchell’s career extended long after the 1960s, but that was the decade when she burst on the scene with her distinctive voice and incredible song-writing and musical abilities. This book provides in-depth details of how she went from being an unknown blonde girl from Saskatchewan to an undisputed folk music superstar with songs like no one else. As Leonard Cohen put it: “She was like a storm.” To present Joni’s story, the author conducted interviews with Mitchell and her childhood friends, and with the many others who played important roles in her life—including Cohen, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, and David Crosby. Along the way, David Yaffe reveals the backstory behind all of Joni’s songs. It’s a fascinating book.

By David Yaffe,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"She was like a storm." ―Leonard Cohen

Reckless Daughter is the story of an artist and an era that have left an indelible mark on American music.

Joni Mitchell may be the most influential female recording artist and composer of the late twentieth century. In Reckless Daughter, the music critic David Yaffe tells the remarkable, heart-wrenching story of how the blond girl with the guitar became a superstar of folk music in the 1960s, a key figure in the Laurel Canyon music scene of the 1970s, and the songwriter who spoke resonantly to, and for, audiences across the country.

A…


Book cover of How Sweet It Is: A Songwriter's Reflections on Music, Motown and the Mystery of the Muse

A.J.B. Johnston Author Of Kings of Friday Night: The Lincolns

From my list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up with the music of the 1960s. Going to packed, pheromone-heavy dances featuring The Lincolns—Nova Scotia’s most popular and most soulful band—were a huge part of my teenage years. Those experiences implanted a deep love of R&B, and somehow or other pointed me in the direction of becoming a writer. It’s a bit of a mystery how it all works. In any case, of all my books, none was as much fun to work on as Kings of Friday Night. It has received lots of love, including from readers who grew up far from the time and place I write about. Long live local bands! And live music everywhere!

A.J.B.'s book list on rock ‘n’ roll in the 1960s

A.J.B. Johnston Why did A.J.B. love this book?

If you know the music of the 1960s, you know that Lamont Dozier was at the heart of the hit-producing machine that was Motown Records. He was one-third of the Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team that came up with hit after hit for an amazing number of celebrated artists. Later, after leaving Motown, Dozier continued to be a creative musical force (and still is today). He contributed his song-writing talents to over 100 Top 10 singles and was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This book is a window into Dozier’s musical world—in the 1960s and beyond. Dozier recalls what it was like to grow up in Detroit when he did and then reveals his experiences collaborating with some of the greatest musical talents of the era.

By Lamont Dozier, Scott B. Bomar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Sweet It Is as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As part of Motown’s legendary songwriting and production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, Lamont Dozier is responsible for such classics as “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch),” “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “Heat Wave,” “Baby Love,” “It’s the Same Old Song,” “Nowhere to Run,” “You Keep Me Hanging On,” “Reach Out I’ll Be There,” “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved by You),” and many more. After leaving Motown, he continued to make his mark as an influential songwriter, artist, and producer with hits such as “Give Me Just a…


Book cover of Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead

Stuart Coupe Author Of Roadies: The Secret History of Australian Rock'n'roll

From my list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist).

Why am I passionate about this?

Stuart Coupe is an Australian music journalist, author, band manager, promoter, publicist, and music label founder. He's best known for his work as a rock writer with Roadrunner, RAM (Rock Australia Magazine), The Sun Herald, and Dolly magazine; the music labels, GREEN Records and Laughing Outlaw; and the author of books including The Promoters, Gudinski, Paul Kelly and Roadies. Coupe is a former manager of the Australian bands the Hoodoo Gurus and Paul Kelly and is currently a presenter on Sydney radio stations 2SER and FBi Radio. He's also known for his writing as a reviewer of crime fiction for the Sydney Morning Herald and for founding the Australian crime fiction magazine, Mean Streets.

Stuart's book list on The Grateful Dead (from a music journalist)

Stuart Coupe Why did Stuart love this book?

As good a history of the Dead as you’re likely to find. Scully spent nearly two decades as close to the band as you could get without actually being a member. Great stories and anecdotes and a wonderfully drawn and evocative history of the band from their very early acid-drenched days in the 1960s through to their evolution as one of the most important and loved bands in American music history.

By Rock Scully, David Dalton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As a manager for the Grateful Dead, Rock Scully was with the band from its early days in San Francisco to the years it spent touring the globe as one of the most enduring legends in music history. In Living with the Dead , Scully gives a complete account of his outrageous experiences with the band, during years that saw the Grateful Dead transform from a folksy revivalist band to psychedelic explorers of outer space. In addition to close-up portraits of band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Pigpen, Phil Lesh, Micky Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, Scully brings into the story…


Book cover of Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division

Marc Schuster Author Of Frankie Lumlit's Janky Drumkit

From my list on making noise.

Why am I passionate about this?

Music is a major passion of mine. I’m highly involved in making and promoting independent music both locally and internationally via social media. The primary focus of all my endeavors is promoting a do-it-yourself ethos. Whenever I work with musicians, I’m always fascinated by how their creativity allows them to do a lot with a little. Hence, I suppose, the story of Frankie Lumlit. It’s a story about falling in love with music and finding a way to make it even when the world says no.

Marc's book list on making noise

Marc Schuster Why did Marc love this book?

I’ve loved the music of Joy Division for years, and bassist Peter Hook is a master storyteller. Through a series of anecdotes strung together with track-by-track analyses of the Joy Division albums and recollections of specific gigs, Hook examines the band’s brief and idiosyncratic history in intimate detail. For example, Hook and drummer Stephen Morris were both under suspicion for the Yorkshire Ripper murders because Hook’s van had been seen in the neighborhood where the murders took place; they were actually just there to play some gigs, but Morris was taken in for questioning due to his antsy demeanor. Key takeaway: Joy Division made a lot of mistakes on the road to pop stardom, but Hook wouldn’t have had it any other way.  

By Peter Hook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Joy Division changed the face of music. The sound of music. The meaning of music. Godfathers of the current alternative scene, they reinvented rock in the post-punk era, creating a new sound -- dark, hypnotic, intense - that would influence U2, Morrissey, R.E.M., Radiohead and many others. The band's image, once subversive and alienating, has become an internationally renowned 'look' well documented by photographers Anton Corbijn, Kevin Cummins and graphic designer Peter Saville.

Inspired by the attitude, energy and sound of Punk, particularly the Sex Pistols, Peter Hook and his old school friend Bernard Sumner started a band which continues…


Book cover of Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock'n'roll as Literature and Literature as Rock 'n'roll

Daniel de Visé Author Of King of the Blues: The Rise and Reign of B.B. King

From my list on music books to build a record collection.

Why am I passionate about this?

Music has obsessed me since I got my first record player, around age five, and learned how to play the stack of used Beatles records that seeded my collection. I could probably pick a favorite music book from every decade of my life, and this list isn’t far off.

Daniel's book list on music books to build a record collection

Daniel de Visé Why did Daniel love this book?

Lester Bangs ranks as one of the great music writers and as a high priest of gonzo, the new-journalism approach that posited the writer as the dominant character in rambling, straight-from-the-typewriter pop-cultural manifestos published in Rolling Stone and Creem and their ilk. I think Lester rivals Hunter Thompson and Joan Didion as the most potent and enduring voice of that era. He’s one of my favorite writers. I don’t think he wrote anything but record reviews.

By Lester Bangs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Until his death aged thirty-three in 1982, Lester Bangs wrote wired, rock 'n' roll pieces on Iggy Pop, The Clash, John Lennon, Kraftwerk, Lou Reed. As a rock critic, he had an eagle-eye for distinguishing the pre-packaged imitation from the real thing; written in a conversational, wisecracking, erotically charged style, his hallucinatory hagiographies and excoriating take-downs reveal an iconoclast unafraid to tell it like it is. To his journalism he brought the talent of a great a renegade Beat poet, and his essays, reviews and scattered notes convey the electric thrill of a music junky indulging the habit of a…


Book cover of No One Here Gets Out Alive

Jeff Apter Author Of Bad Boy Boogie: The true story of AC / DC legend Bon Scott

From my list on rock and roll.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an Australian author, staring down the barrel of middle age. I’ve been writing about music for the past 30 years. I’ve written 25 books; my subjects have included Keith Urban, the Bee Gees, Angus and Malcolm Young, Daniel Johns of Silverchair, among others. During my career, I’ve also had interesting encounters with such legends as Aretha Franklin, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Helen Reddy. I live (currently in lockdown, yet again) with my very tolerant wife, my two children, and a house full of animals. (Real animals, that is, not the kids.)

Jeff's book list on rock and roll

Jeff Apter Why did Jeff love this book?

This was the book that inspired me to start writing. It’s a page-turning bio of the short life and very fast times of Jim Morrison from The Doors, and it made me realise you could write about music without resembling some giddy fanboy — Morrison comes off as a rock and roll poet and a drunken bozo. It rates with the best biographies I’ve read, regardless of topic or genre.

By Jerry Hopkins, Danny Sugerman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked No One Here Gets Out Alive as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A portrait of Jim Morrison is based on seven years of research and tells the story behind his musical genius, worship of darkness, rejection of all forms of authority, and tragic death when his life spun out of control. Reissue.


Book cover of Shock Mount

Barbara Kellyn Author Of Morning Man

From my list on romance if you’re a sucker for witty banter.

Why am I passionate about this?

Is there any better foreplay than great wordplay? Not in my book! After years of studying the romcom repartee gospel according to Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers, I know this much is true: what’s said on the lips is first sparked in the hips! As a rom-com writer recently crowned “the Queen of Banter” by a reader (blush), I bow to the greats who taught me that witty banter is a symptom of unrealized or unsatisfied attraction. And as a lover of skillfully-written sparring, I squirm with delight whenever a sly remark, slick comeback, or sexy euphemism makes potential paramours pop. Want to enchant her? Use banter!

Barbara's book list on romance if you’re a sucker for witty banter

Barbara Kellyn Why did Barbara love this book?

Rock star romances have been my jam since back when my teen bedroom walls were filled with Tiger Beat pinups. The beautifully-orchestrated banter that keeps the beat of a rock and roll love affair fraught with hit and miss encounters helps build the tension towards a satisfying crescendo. (Full disclosure: I begged author Kelly Kay to disclose her real-life inspiration, and it was exactly who I’d pictured!) The hotel pool scene where Meg and rockstar Ian do nothing more than talk (fully clothed) lives rent free in my head as one of the steamiest scenes I’ve ever read. 

By Kelly Kay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

★★★★★"I LOVE this book."
A rockstar romance love triangle without crossover, and everyone gets a happily ever after. And it all begins with a spilled glass of wine and a broken watch.

If Meghan Hannah's not falling down, she's falling in love.

She's a mess of herself and always has been. She's an expert at putting her foot in her mouth, tripping over nothing, and being a very loyal friend but love, not so much. But she thinks she has finally got it all figured out. Until she spills her wine on the wrong Rock Star. Now Meg needs to…


Book cover of Who I Am: A Memoir

Julian David Stone Author Of No Cameras Allowed: My Career as an Outlaw Rock and Roll Photographer

From my list on rock and roll and rock and roll stars.

Why am I passionate about this?

Julian David Stone is an author, screenwriter, photographer, and filmmaker. He shot dozens of the 1980s greatest acts by sneaking his photography equipment into concerts such as Prince, U2, the Police, David Bowie, R.E.M., the Ramones, Elvis Costello, the Talking Heads, the Grateful Dead, Joan Jett, and many, many more. Other work include screenplays for Disney, Paramount, Sony, and MGM. He is also the writer and director of the hit cult comedy feature film, Follow the Bitch, which has played to packed houses all around the country and received numerous awards.

Julian's book list on rock and roll and rock and roll stars

Julian David Stone Why did Julian love this book?

I found this to be one fo the best of the never-evening parade of rockstar autobiographies. Townshend is very honest about his complex personality and his shortcomings, and reading this, you can easily trace how this informed so much of The Who’s amazing music — and the stories of all the craziness of the early days of The Who are a blast, to boot.

By Pete Townshend,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Raw and unsparing...as intimate and as painful as a therapy session, while chronicling the history of the band as it took shape in the Mod scene in 1960s London and became the very embodiment of adolescent rebellion and loud, anarchic rock ‘n’ roll.”   — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

One of rock music's most intelligent and literary performers, Pete Townshend—guitarist, songwriter, editor—tells his closest-held stories about the origins of the preeminent twentieth-century band The Who, his own career as an artist and performer, and his restless life in and out of the public eye in this candid autobiography, Who I…


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