Bob Dylan in America by Sean Wilentz is part a biography and part a cultural-historical study. Originally released in 2010, the book not only chronicles Dylan’s life journey and music career in the early 60’s, but it also explores the social, political, and cultural background at that time. Wilentz portrayed many aspects that gave influence on Dylan’s works, from the folk revival, to Beat literature, to the nation social-political situation.
Originally published in 1993, Ramones: An American Band by Jim Bessman is a well-written biography of Ramones, iconic American punk rock band with indisputable influence in music. Bessman is a music journalist who actually knew the band. And it gave him vast access to Ramones and their inner circle. With such access, Bessman conducted many interviews where he collected valuable stories and anecdotes from the band members and their family, friends, and crew.
First published in 195, Hammer of the Gods by Stephen Davis (subtitled The Led Zeppelin Saga) is a controversial biography of legendary rock band, Led Zeppelin. Davis used to be a journalist for the Rolling Stone magazine and joined the band for two week while they did their U.S. tour in 1975. Davis did numerous interviews with the band members, tour crews, friends, and even lovers. From those interviews, Davis retells many colorful and shocking stories of unbelievable “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” madness connected with Led Zeppelin. All band members and most people around them denied most of the stories. However, who is telling the truth here?
First published in 2001, Heavier Than Heaven by Charles R Cross is a bestselling Kurt Cobain biography. With the intention of writing a definitive book on Kurt, Cross conducted hundreds of interview and years of research. All the hard work is reflected in how book presents deep and multidimensional perspective on Kurt Cobain. It wonderfully chronicles Kurt’s life journey, how art and music (especially punk rock) became his savior, his success as the “godfather” of grunge with his legendary band, Nirvana, and sadly, how that monumental success brought a tragic end for him.
Nirvana success was a global music phenomenon that came to a sudden stop when the band singer/songwriter, Kurt Cobain, tragically took his own life in 1994. Same as with many geniuses in music history, there were many amazing, exceptional, and sometimes weird things about him. Most of those things were expressed in Kurt’s songs, with his band Nirvana. However, many others were kept secret in his more personal diaries, notes, (unsent) letters, and artworks. In the book Journals by Kurt Cobain, private documents of a great icons are revealed to public for the first time.
First released in 1993, Come as You Are by Michael Azerrad is a magnificent book about one of the greatest rock bands in history, Nirvana. From hours of intimate interviews with all band members (Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, and Dave Grohl), Azerrad dug out many unknown stories (some were true, some might be not) about the band from the band members themselves. Come as You Are: The Story of Nirvana stands out among other Nirvana or Kurt Cobain books because it is the only one that delivered personal interview with Kurt and published before his death.
Focusing mainly on the events that took place between 1980 and 1986, American Hardcore: A Tribal History by Steven Blush portrays what actually happened in the hardcore punk scene. Just in that short period of time, many things happened in such profound and impactful ways.
Grunge Is Dead by Greg Prato (fully entitled Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music) is a brilliantly revealing book about grunge and Seattle music. It was written based on more than 130 interviews with the musicians and people who were actually in the scene. As a result, Prato successfully delivered an extensive oral history of Seattle underground music scene, pre and post grunge hysteria in the 90’s. From those massive interviews, Prato offered new perspectives on big names of that era such as Nirvana (and Kurt Cobain), Pearl Jam (and Eddie Vedder), Alice in Chains (and Layne Staley), the Melvins, Mudhoney, and many others.