Just because you’re kicking back on a beach or sitting poolside sipping a pińa colada, that doesn’t mean you can’t still rock out. You don’t even need to get up, you can just reach for one of these riveting rock & roll reads and experience all the electricity of the music without having to resort to anything as laborious as leaving your lounge chair. Whether you want to get all the gory details of a rock god’s reign or hear first-hand accounts from the rock & roll rebels who raised the punk revolution to a mighty roar, here’s a hand-picked batch of books that boom, bang, riff, and rumble as loud as the legendary lives they chronicle.
By Keith Richards
Even before he penned this monumental memoir, people used to say that Keith Richards wrote the book on being a rock star, but the publication of Life made that statement literal. After decades as a Rolling Stone, there’s not much Richards hasn’t seen, done, or, um, ingested. And his natural knack for storytelling makes his already incredible anecdotes come alive with as much energy as one of his classic Stones guitar riffs.
By Kent Harman
If one single band had recorded the biggest hits by The Beach Boys, The Byrds, The Monkees, and The Mamas and the Papas, they’d be the most famous musicians of the ’60s, right? Well, one band did cut all those tunes and countless hits by other artists, but The Wrecking Crew remained incognito. They were the crack session players who backed nearly every major act that recorded in L.A. in the ’60s. And with these accounts of their historic sessions, the underground legend leaps to the surface at last.
By Legs McNeil
The punk scene that emerged in downtown NYC in the mid ’70s at clubs like CBGB and Max’s Kansas City marked such a major revolution that it’s still echoing across our culture to this day. Not long ago the punk saga was recreated for the silver screen in the film CBGB, but if you really want to know how it all went down, you’ve got to go straight to the source. That’s exactly what pioneering punk scribe Legs McNeil (of Punk magazine fame) did, getting the inside scoop from CBGB stalwarts like The Ramones, Blondie, and plenty more.
By Gregg Allman
Speaking of musicians who’ve inspired movies, there’s a biopic in the works based on this book, so if you read it now you can act all superior and condescending about the film when it finally comes out. But whether you want to watch the screen adaptation or not, it’s pretty tough to resist the story of Gregg Allman in his own words. It seems pretty safe to say that anybody who could shepherd The Allman Brothers Band through more than 40 years and bounce back from drug addiction, a liver transplant, and a marriage to Cher must be a real-deal rock & roll survivor.
By Michael Azzerad
Whether they flamed out as cult heroes, like Husker Du and Black Flag, or found wider audiences, like Sonic Youth and The Replacements, the bands documented here were the original indie rockers, creating a DIY scene from the ground up, and blazing a trail countless other artists would follow for decades to come. What we know as alternative rock today wouldn’t exist without bands like Fugazi and Mudhoney, and what we know about these bands would be a hell of a lot less without this book.