grim rock autobiographies
January 3, 2007 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have good examples of rock autobiographies or biographies which give an honest account of life on the road?

I'm not so much interested in the groupie-anecdote genre, more like books which give accounts of the grim reality & utter boredom... along the lines of Henry Rollins' "Get In The Van", Bruce Thomas's "The Big Wheel" about life on the road with Elvis Costello, maybe Julian Cope's Head On/Repossessed? That kind of thing? All suggestions most welcome.
posted by rhodri to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Not exactly life on the road, though it does cover their many tours and things. Inside out, by Nick Mason, the drummer in Pink Floyd.

He has a sharp sense of humor and you won't feel like you wasted your time.
posted by micayetoca at 8:24 AM on January 3, 2007

I believe this fits the bill: On A Cold Road by Dave Bidini.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:25 AM on January 3, 2007

Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad. Particularly the section on Dinosaur Jr.
posted by loiseau at 8:26 AM on January 3, 2007

Jez from Swervedriver has a new book out called Rider. Sounds along the lines of what you are looking for:

An autobiographical look at life on the road with a rock band. A collection of thoughts, observations & experiences - funny, tragic, poignant or just plain ludicrous - by an author who was a touring musician in the 1990s.
posted by Otis at 8:27 AM on January 3, 2007

On a Cold Road: Tales of Adventure in Canadian Rock by Dave Bidini of the band Rheostatics is part autobio (it recounts the sometimes-harrowing time his band toured with the Tragically Hip) but is also interspersed with stories from the road from the likes of The Guess Who, Kim Mitchell, Bruce Cockburn, Ronnie Hawkins, and even Tommy Chong.

The very subjects make it a very Canadian book, but it sounds like what you're looking for.

From the back of the book:
Dave Bidini, rhythm guitarist with the Rheostatics, knows all too well what the life of a rock band in Canada involves: storied arenas one tour and bars wallpapered with photos of forgotten bands the next. Zit-speckled fans begging for a guitar pick and angry drunks chucking twenty-sixers and pint glasses. Opulent tour buses riding through apocalyptic snow-storms and cramped vans that reek of dope and beer. Brilliant performances and heart-sinking break-ups.
posted by Robot Johnny at 8:28 AM on January 3, 2007

Oh, and A Riot of Our Own" by Johnny Green (roadie for the Clash.)
posted by loiseau at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2007

The Motley Crue autobiography (The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band has some commentary regarding the monotony of being on the road. It also has a TON of "groupie-anecdote" stories, though, so I don't know if this is what you're looking for.
posted by inigo2 at 8:29 AM on January 3, 2007

Ian Hunter's "Diary of a Rock Star" (penned during the Mott the Hoople years) was the first of the ultra honest accounts, and quite interesting.
posted by Scram at 8:31 AM on January 3, 2007

definately second "Our Band could be Your Life". Great read. also, not so much about road but a good read too is "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star", a book written by the drummer of Semisonic (you remember "Closing Time"?) about being signed, getting big, and then fading away. very well written
posted by ShawnString at 8:34 AM on January 3, 2007

Marilyn Manson's autobiography entertained me. but then, I'm easily amused
posted by matteo at 8:38 AM on January 3, 2007

"The Dark Stuff" by Nick Kent is a compilation of articles, but you get a feel for how real life worked for the Sex Pistols and the Pogues, among others.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:59 AM on January 3, 2007

I just finished "One Train Later" by Andy Summers of The Police and am still smarting from the doe-eyed bookseller's innocent remark that she "had never heard of that group".
I am 44.
Yesterday I was wearing parachute pants and pogo-ing.
"Don't Stand So Close To Me", indeed.
Fun and fast read, however.
posted by Dizzy at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2007

Another nod for On a Cold Road. Bidini's a great writer and storyteller. Plus, touring in Canada is anything but an easy road.
posted by hamfisted at 9:09 AM on January 3, 2007

Get in the Van: On the Road with Black Flag is a pretty accurate representation from Henry Rollins about a touring punk rock band back in the day before cell phones, map quest, and umm, any type of support for punk rock.

It's a great read until the last few chapters which are pretty much Henry bitching and complaning and living in a shed behind Greg Ginn's house.
posted by punkrockrat at 9:30 AM on January 3, 2007 [1 favorite]

I second the Black Flag book, it's really good and gritty.
posted by jessamyn at 9:38 AM on January 3, 2007

On The Road With Bob Dylan
posted by amyms at 9:47 AM on January 3, 2007

The True Adventures of the Rolling Stones, by Stan Booth. Good snapshot of the times as well as an unusual (smarter than usual) contribution to the rock-journalist-hangs-out-with-band genre. Oh, and in that spirit, watch the movie Almost Famous.
posted by scratch at 10:09 AM on January 3, 2007

Dead Milkmen online diary (a blog before blogging became monotonous) of a six month tour in '86.
posted by iurodivii at 10:12 AM on January 3, 2007

similar to what iurodivii posted...Jon Wurster of Superchunk has several tour diaries from tours, and they're entertaining. here's the main page
posted by Brando_T. at 10:21 AM on January 3, 2007

Sleazegrinder's GIGS FROM HELL, and Michael Ruffino's GENTLEMANLY REPOSE.
posted by polexxia at 12:12 PM on January 3, 2007

1995 tour diary from the late, great Six Finger Satellite. Will give you a taste of what life is like on the road for a bunch of psychopaths.
posted by otio at 12:23 PM on January 3, 2007

This may be a bit more "upscale" than what you're looking for but U2: At The End of the World is a personal favourite for behind-the-scenes with a huge rock band as they circle the globe.

"Music journalist Flanagan (Written in My Soul) followed rock superstars U2 on the road, into the studio and into their private lives for three years to collect material for this authorized biography. It provides an interesting, if almost too comprehensive, account of day-to-day life for members of one of the most popular bands."
posted by Jaybo at 12:54 PM on January 3, 2007

An excellent, sex-fueled and typically vicious account from Steve Albini of Big Black's final tour. Also, it's a web page so you get it for free.
posted by pollystark at 5:38 AM on February 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

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