10 Music Biographies To Read Before You Die

Reading the biography of an artist we hold dear to our hearts can be a riveting experience. However, there are certain music biographies that go beyond mere fanfare and resonate with a wider audience, delving into the lives of groundbreaking artists and the impact they’ve had on the world. From Los Angeles to Liverpool, and even Trench Town, Jamaica, here are 10 music biographies that manage to permeate far beyond the sphere of their existence, leaving a lasting impression on readers and music enthusiasts alike.

1. Brian Wilson: The Definitive Biography

The life of Brian Wilson, co-founder of The Beach Boys, is vividly portrayed in this rock page-turner. Despite the challenges he faced, including struggles with mental health and the influence of a controversial doctor, Wilson’s musical genius shines through when you can guess the song title from just a few seconds of any song. The biography captures the beauty and depth of his music, making it a compelling read for both fans and newcomers to his artistry.

2. The Real Frank Zappa Book

Frank Zappa’s autobiography is a witty and insightful journey through his life and career. With his signature caustic humor, Zappa takes readers on a tour of the music industry and shares his unique perspective on creativity and artistry. This autobiography is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding the mind of a true musical maverick.

3. Miles: The Autobiography

Miles Davis, the legendary jazz musician, reveals his life story with unapologetic honesty. From his early days as a rebellious young talent to his triumphs and struggles in the music world, Davis’ autobiography is a testament to his unwavering determination and relentless pursuit of progress. A must-read for jazz enthusiasts and those seeking inspiration from a true musical icon.

4. In Search Of The La’s: A Secret Liverpool

This biography explores the enigmatic world of the Liverpool band, The La’s, and their elusive frontman, Lee Mavers. With deep insights into Mavers’ life and musical journey, the book unveils the true essence of the band’s musical canon, beyond their one-hit wonder status. The author skillfully delves into the hidden realms of The La’s and presents a comprehensive analysis of their influential but brief musical career.

5. Ruthless: A Memoir

Jerry Heller, the co-founder of Ruthless Records, takes readers on a gritty and captivating journey through the world of West Coast rap. The heart of the memoir lies in its tribute to Eazy-E, the pioneering rapper and entrepreneur who left an indelible mark on the music industry. A tale of creative integrity and business acumen, Eazy-E’s story is an inspiration to aspiring artists and entrepreneurs alike.

6. Paul McCartney – Many Years From Now

Barry Miles provides a sympathetic portrait of Paul McCartney, the iconic British songwriter. Through in-depth interviews, McCartney shares the story of his post-war childhood, his meeting with John Lennon, and the collaborative genius behind their legendary songs. While McCartney’s honesty may sometimes be challenging, this biography offers a fascinating glimpse into the heyday of 1960s London and the evolution of a musical genius.

7. Bob Marley: The Untold Story

Chris Salewicz’s biography of Bob Marley goes beyond the man and delves into the roots of his timeless songs. The book offers a rich backdrop of Jamaican history and musical culture, shedding light on Marley’s impoverished beginnings and his unwavering commitment to spreading messages of love, unity, and Rastafari. A must-read for those seeking a deeper understanding of Marley’s profound impact on music and society.

8. Life by Keith Richards

Keith Richards’ memoir is a lesson in resilience and musical dedication. Despite his reputation for wild living, Richards proves to be a fiercely disciplined musician who values his craft above all else. The book is a testament to the delicate balance between artistic indulgence and creative brilliance, making it a valuable read for aspiring rock stars and music enthusiasts.

9. Light My Fire: My Life with The Doors by Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek’s intimate portrait of The Doors and his friendship with Jim Morrison adds to the mystique surrounding the band and its enigmatic lead singer. The biography captures the essence of the 1960s California music scene and provides valuable insights into the band’s creative process and camaraderie. A must-read for fans of The Doors and anyone interested in the cultural impact of their music.

10. The Tao Of Wu by RZA

RZA, the rapper and producer of the Wu-Tang Clan, offers a philosophical journey into his mind and the creative process behind the group’s revolutionary music. Inspired by various philosophical traditions, RZA’s book provides compelling world ideas and valuable insights into his unique production techniques. This book is a treasure trove for fans of the Wu-Tang Clan and those intrigued by the intersection of music and philosophy.


Music biographies have the power to transport readers into the lives and minds of their favorite artists. The 10 biographies mentioned above go beyond the surface and reveal the depths of creativity, struggle, and triumph that have shaped the music industry and left a lasting impact on society. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or simply curious about the lives of musical legends, these biographies offer a fascinating journey into the world of music and the human spirit. So pick up a book and immerse yourself in the stories of these remarkable artists. You won’t be disappointed.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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