Sunday, October 13, 2019

Ten of the best music biographies

Holly George-Warren is a two-time Grammy nominee and the award-winning author of sixteen books, including the New York Times bestseller The Road to Woodstock (with Michael Lang, 2014) and the new biography Janis: Her Life and Music (2019).

She is also the author of A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man (2014), Public Cowboy No. 1: The Life and Times of Gene Autry (2007), The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years (2009), Bonnaroo: What, Which, This, That, the Other (2012), Cowboy! How Hollywood Invented the Wild West (2002), Punk 365 (2007), Grateful Dead 365 (2008); and the children's books Honky-Tonk Heroes and Hillbilly Angels: The Pioneers of Country & Western Music (2006), Shake, Rattle & Roll: The Founders of Rock & Roll (2001), and The Cowgirl Way (2010).

One of George-Warren's ten favorite music biographies, as shared at Publishers Weekly:
The One: The Life and Music of James Brown by RJ Smith

I read this fascinating account of James Brown’s turbulent life before starting a biography of Alex Chilton, and the deep background on Brown’s ancestors in Georgia inspired me to try to dig up Chilton family history in Mississippi. Smith’s writing on the Godfather of Soul’s music–including “the one,” the funk beat he invented–is sharp, while the story of his career ups and downs is mesmerizing.
Read about the other entries on the list.

--Marshal Zeringue