Around this time last year, a homely-looking Scottish woman named Susan Boyle walked onto the stage of “Britain’s Got Talent” and belted out a still-stunning version of the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical “Les Miserables.” Though she fell just short of winning that season of “Britain’s Got Talent,” she still signed a record deal and released I Dreamed a Dream, one of the best-selling albums of 2009 (it has moved over eight million copies worldwide). Now she will get the chance to tell her whole story, as she has signed a deal to write her autobiography, which will be distributed by British imprint Transworld in the fall. The tome is set to be titled “The Woman I Was Born to Be” and will recount her astronomical rise to fame. “[I'm] writing this book to try to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” she said in a statement.
Though “The Woman I Was Born to Be” seems bound to become a best-seller, it has some stiff competition if it intends on being mentioned among the greatest music-related biographies ever written. Can it stand up to the following entries?
“Hammer of the Gods”
Since Led Zeppelin is one of the greatest and most mythic rock bands of all time, it only makes sense that they have one of the best rock bios ever written. Though some people swear by Mick Wall’s (probably more accurate) “When Giants Walked the Earth,” it’s hard to beat “Hammer of the Gods” for the sheer spectacle.
While hardly remembered in the rock and roll pantheon (a true travesty), Mötley Crüe lead one of the most debauched lifestyles in the history of metal. All of their best stories are in “The Dirt,” a hard-hitting, fast-paced tome about the insanity of their collective existence. Most of the stories in “The Dirt” are so insane that you assume they have to be fake, but then you realize that they are so over-the-top that they have to be true.
Like a Johnny Cash song, the Man in Black’s autobiography is simple, straightforward, occasionally violent and always hard-hitting. He talks about his hardscrabble early life and his staggering success with an unflinching eye and a sharp nose for bull.
“Dear Boy: The Life of Keith Moon”
The drummer of the Who was known both as one of the finest skinsmen in history (mostly because he just hit the drums so hard) and as one of the hardest partiers on the ’70s rock scene (which ultimately lead to his undoing). “Dear Boy” explains how he became the way he was, with a sharp look at his early life and a pretty good breakdown of his complicated psychology.
“Lords of Chaos”
Norwegian black metal is a vaguely impenetrable genre deeply rooted in mythology, and yet it still manages to find audiences around the world. This book centers not only around the music but also the more extreme aspects of these bands — most notably genre legends Mayhem, whose singer committed suicide and whose guitarist was murdered by a member of a rival band.
What’s your favorite music biography? Let us know in the comments!