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What music biographies have you enjoyed?

SophFFS 19 Nov 10 - 05:11 AM
Spleen Cringe 19 Nov 10 - 05:22 AM
breezy 19 Nov 10 - 05:56 AM
Spleen Cringe 19 Nov 10 - 06:29 AM
koko2315 19 Nov 10 - 06:34 AM
GUEST,JohnMc 19 Nov 10 - 06:47 AM
theleveller 19 Nov 10 - 06:51 AM
Dave Hanson 19 Nov 10 - 06:59 AM
GUEST,Desi C 19 Nov 10 - 07:25 AM
GUEST,Eddy B 19 Nov 10 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 19 Nov 10 - 07:49 AM
Spleen Cringe 19 Nov 10 - 07:50 AM
Thomas Stern 19 Nov 10 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 19 Nov 10 - 08:14 AM
SteveMansfield 19 Nov 10 - 08:27 AM
Dave Sutherland 19 Nov 10 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Neil D 19 Nov 10 - 10:55 AM
Fred McCormick 19 Nov 10 - 11:28 AM
Will Fly 19 Nov 10 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 19 Nov 10 - 12:46 PM
Cool Beans 19 Nov 10 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,bankley 19 Nov 10 - 12:59 PM
Jack Campin 19 Nov 10 - 01:33 PM
oldhippie 19 Nov 10 - 02:20 PM
Cool Beans 19 Nov 10 - 04:13 PM
BrooklynJay 19 Nov 10 - 05:38 PM
Fred McCormick 20 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM
Stringsinger 20 Nov 10 - 12:19 PM
alanabit 20 Nov 10 - 04:43 PM
Nathan in Texas 20 Nov 10 - 09:36 PM
Fidjit 21 Nov 10 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 21 Nov 10 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 21 Nov 10 - 08:35 AM
meself 21 Nov 10 - 08:52 AM
meself 21 Nov 10 - 08:54 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Nov 10 - 02:05 PM
Ernest 21 Nov 10 - 02:15 PM
alex s 21 Nov 10 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Doc John 21 Nov 10 - 02:35 PM
alanabit 21 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM
meself 21 Nov 10 - 04:39 PM
Edthefolkie 21 Nov 10 - 06:14 PM
buddhuu 21 Nov 10 - 07:08 PM
BTNG 21 Nov 10 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,Tattie Bogle 21 Nov 10 - 07:53 PM
GUEST,Tattie Bogle 21 Nov 10 - 07:55 PM
alanabit 22 Nov 10 - 09:55 AM
GUEST 22 Nov 10 - 07:14 PM
ChanteyLass 22 Nov 10 - 10:51 PM
Allen in Oz 22 Nov 10 - 10:59 PM
open mike 22 Nov 10 - 11:43 PM
open mike 22 Nov 10 - 11:56 PM
Stringsinger 23 Nov 10 - 11:55 AM
Nicholas Waller 23 Nov 10 - 04:10 PM
Fred McCormick 24 Nov 10 - 11:05 AM
Cool Beans 24 Nov 10 - 04:09 PM
Susanne (skw) 29 Nov 10 - 04:09 PM
Desert Dancer 29 Nov 10 - 04:29 PM
mandotim 29 Nov 10 - 04:42 PM
keberoxu 09 May 16 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,HiLo 09 May 16 - 06:57 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 09 May 16 - 08:45 PM
GUEST,silver 10 May 16 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 10 May 16 - 11:05 AM
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Subject: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: SophFFS
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 05:11 AM

And why?

What folk related biographies have you enjoyed?

I've been wanting to get my hands on a copy of Clinton Heylin's 'No More Sad Refrains' for a while but I believe it's out of print.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 05:22 AM

Me too, Sophie. The cheapest you can get it on Alibris is £36.00...

Other good ones recently devoured at Spleen Towers include-

"America Across the Water" - Shirley Collins
"White Bicycles" - Joe Boyd

And not about folk, but recently read and very good: "A Very Irregular Head" by Rob Chapman (Syd Barrett), Space is the Place by John F.Szwed (Sun Ra) and Eye Mind by Paul Drummond (Roky Erickson)


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: breezy
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 05:56 AM

'I'm Glad I Practised' by Derek Brimstone

An amusing insight into the man and his years as a pro singer.

loadsa stories

Its like listening to him .

I reckon he just might have a few copies, he misses the business, nobody calls him , he's had a pacemaker fitted, hasnt played his Tama for a while.

His tales of times in the desert and his insight and views on so many aspects are honest from a genuine hero and entertainer, a dissappearing breed.

he lives in Hemel Hempsted , Herts England


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 06:29 AM

Forgot the "why?" part of the answer.

Shirley Collins' and Joe Boyd's books are entertaining, well written, chock-full of anecdotes and a great participant's-eye perspective on a couple of really key eras in post-war musical history.

The Barrett book is a sympathetic, well written and comprehensive biography of a wonderful figure in rock music history that manages to get past the usual lurid speculation and sensationalism that books about Barrett are often mired in. The Erickson book is the first serious attempt to tell the tale of a vastly underrated figure in the story of American psychedelic rock - its also a cautionary tale about the intersection between drugs, music, mental illness and counter culture - that again is sympathetic without too much lurid voyeurism. The Sun Ra book, as well as being a celebration of a true musical original, gives a valuable insight into a pioneer in the field of musicians taking control over their own careers and destiny - and for a black artist in 50s America to do so, given the state of the music biz and the levels of racism in that era, makes the story all the more remarkable. It also puts the case audmirably that Ra's oft-repeated assertive that he was from Jupiter was a sane and rational response to a racist society...

I'd also add Colin Harper's wonderful Bert Jansch biography -"Dazzling Stranger". Again its well written, and paints a brilliant picture of the urban Scottish folk scene of the early sixties and then the London scene and Bert's place in it. And it resulted in me having a few weeks of near-obsessive playing of Bert's albums, especially "Jack Orion" and "Rosemary Lane", which can never be a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: koko2315
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 06:34 AM

The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir
Dave Van Ronk


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,JohnMc
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 06:47 AM

Hamish Imlach's and Ralph McTell's; also, "McGinn of the Carlton".


(Brian McNeill wrote a novel about a busker, I believe.

Then there's the Biog of Roy Willamson by his daughter.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: theleveller
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 06:51 AM

Agree with Spleen Cringe about 'Dazzling Stranger' - it brought back fond memories of the folk scene of the 60s, especially all-nighters at Les Cousins.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 06:59 AM

Can't You Hear Me Calling, the life and times of Bill Monroe, Hamish Imlach and Ewan McVicar's ' Cod Liver Oil And The Orange Juice ' and ' Class Act ' Ben Harkers biography of Ewan MacColl. Oh and of course Ewan's own book ' Journeyman ' all good stuff.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 07:25 AM

I've just finished Val Doonican's 'My story, My Life' excellent read for nostalgia buffs


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Eddy B
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 07:47 AM

Hit Man-David Foster-some good insights into the recording world and his associations with some other great recording artists.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 07:49 AM

"Music on my Mind", the autobiography of Harlem stride piano player Willie "The Lion" Smith. Strangely, I'm not a big fan of that style of playing, but the book is very evocative and captures an amazing period in popular music history when the piano was king.

Another book that I really love is "The Flamencos of Cadez Bay" by Gerald Howson which is the story of an Englishman who travels to Spain in the 1950s to learn flamenco guitar. The book is full of humour and a weird array of fascinating characters. And, is - most importantly - a great insight in to the last years of the golden age of flamenco music.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 07:50 AM

I'll second Dave H's recommendation of the Bill Monroe book...


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 08:00 AM

Recently finished reading a really interesting book - large part of it dealing
with the folk revival, particularly the Greenwich Village folk scene in the
sixties, but also Philadelphia, Miami and Woodstock. The other major elements
deal with growing up in the 1940's/50's as a 'red diaper' baby, and end with
a transition to radical feminism-early 1970's.
A time machine bringing vividly back to mind the late 50's-early 60's - music in the village and visits to the Folklore Center.
The book is an autobiography/memoir by ALIX DOBKIN titled MY RED BLOOD (lovely title, drawn from Dylan Thomas, but having multiple meanings), published last year.
Read it through in a few sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it.
When I first saw the film REDS I got a similar "old home week" feeling - these were events, people, whom I admired and had read about, a time of lively disputation, ideas, energy, creativity, commitment - quite exhilarating!
If anyone has read it, please let me know your feelings about it.
Don't know if anyone knows of ALIX DOBKIN - her fame came AFTER the period covered by this book. About 1974 she published an LP aimed at the radical feminist/lesbian community titled LAVENDER JANE LOVES WOMEN (actually a pretty enjoyable record - always wondered why she didn't make it on the 'folk scene'...). It spawned
the "women's music" industry. But that came AFTER the time of this memoir.
Best wishes, Thomas.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 08:14 AM

Awaiting the Miles Davis' autobiography as I write; meanwhile here's a few I might heartily recommend:

Chris Welch's 'Ginger Geezer' - a hilarious and harrowing account of the life & times of Vivian Stanshall

John Kruth's 'Bright Moments' - the genius of Rahsaan Rolank Kirk given masterly treatment.

Daevid Allen's 'Gong Dreaming' parts one & two - as idiosynratic an approach to autiobiography as you'd expect, both highly readable, especially part two with many fascinating insights into the classic period of Gong Family.

In this respect Graham Bennett's 'Out-Bloody-Rageous' might be the only book on the Soft Machine but it's well worth a look.

David Nolan's 'Confusion' - a highly entertaining look at the life of the great Bernard Sumner of Joy Division / New Order / Bad Lieutenant fame, with interjections from the sainted Barney himself.

I'm currently on with Peter Hook's 'The Hacienda : How Not to Run a Club' which I picked up in Fop (Manchester) a few weeks back for £3 - as rioutous an account as you might expect; I'm just up to point where theyt meet Sham 69 on Ibiza whilst recording Technique.

I think my favourite of all music writing over the last few years has to be Deke Leonard's 'Rhinos, Winos and Lunatics: The Legend of Man, a Rock'n'Roll Band' which is as perfect as it gets.

I wonder why can't Folk Writing be as much fun as these? I was just about slitting my wrists during 'The Imagined Village' - a fine book, but as dull as the revival when compared to real music & the writing thereof, although Bob Copper's 'Song for Every Season' is a must. And I must check out Michael Goddard's 'Mark E. Smith and The Fall: Art, Music and Politics' - part of the Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series...


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 08:27 AM

Ciaran Carson's 'Last Night's Fun' - not really a biography as such, more of a meditation on his relationship with traditional music, but a great read I take every opportunity to recommend to anyone who'll listen.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 10:21 AM

Agree with the comments regarding "Class Act" and "Journeyman".
My particular favourite is "The Safest Place in the World" (re-issued as "Blowin' the Blues") by the late Dick Heckstall - Smith which gives a captivating view of the early modern jazz and blues scene in the UK.
I might be a bit biased but there is nothing dull about Pete Wood's "The Elliotts of Birtley" when it comes to writing about folk music.
Looking forward to reading "Composing Myself" re the life and music of Jack Bruce.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 10:55 AM

"Delta Blues" by Ted Gioia delivers chapter long bios of several musicians. It's an excellent history of blues music.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 11:28 AM

There are at least two first class biographies of Woody Guthrie.

Woody Guthrie; A Life, by Joe Klein, was published in the early 1980s. So it's a little out of date.
Rambling Man, by Ed Cray. Published 2006, so it includes quite a lot of material which is not in Klein.

Both are important reads but, if you can only afford the one, I'd go for the Cray.

There is also Hard Travelin' by Robert Santelli and Emily Davidson. I've never seen this book, so I can't comment. Does anyone else know anything about it?


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 11:47 AM

"Dazzling Stranger" is excellent, as is "A Song For Every Season".

I've also thoroughly enjoyed two books about The Band: "Across The Great Divide" by Barney Hoskyns, and "This Wheel's On Fire" by Levon Helm. They came out around the same time and complement each other very well.

I also liked Philip Norman's "Buddy" (Holly) and "Richard Thompson: Strange Affair", by Patrick Humphries. Oh - and enjoyed "Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll: The Life of Ian Dury", by Richard Balls.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 12:46 PM

In answer to Fred McCormick;
"Hard Travelin'" is a collection of articles by various writers and folks that knew Woody and well illustrated.

Another excellent book is "Woody, Cisco & Me" by Jim Longhi which I found most enjoyable.

Another is "A Mighty Hard Road" by Henrietta Yurchenco assisted by Marjorie Guthrie.

Then of course there are Woody's "Bound for Glory" and "Born to Win".

I think that covers Woody.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 12:50 PM

"Doo-Dah: Stephen Foster and the Rise of American Popular Culture," by Ken Emerson. I agree with those who liked Dave Van Ronk's book and Joe Klein's biography of Woody Guthrie.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,bankley
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 12:59 PM

'Before the Fame' by Stompin' Tom Connors

'Death of a Rebel' about Phil Ochs

'Gilles Vigneault, mon ami' by Roger Fournier


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 01:33 PM

The Memoirs of Hector Berlioz (just read the first paragraph and you'll be hooked).


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: oldhippie
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 02:20 PM

I'll have to read the Alix Dobkin book, "Good Old Dora" was a really popular women's music request in the 80s.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 04:13 PM

Another. "Lonesome Traveler," biography of Lee Hays, by Doris Willens.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: BrooklynJay
Date: 19 Nov 10 - 05:38 PM

Definitely "Lonesome Traveler", but I recently read another book about Hays (with a lot of his published and unpublished writings) called "Sing Out Warning, Sing Out Love" that I would highly recommend.

As far as the books on Woody Guthrie by Joe Klein, Ed Cray and Jim Longhi respectively, I would say they should all be read; each book has gaps and/or flaws that require reading the others to fill in the story and get a more rounded picture. At least, that's my opinion. There's also a book on Guthrie by Elizabeth Partridge that, though aimed at slightly younger readers, is worth looking at.

I also found "The Life and Legend of Leadbelly" by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell well worth my time.

Ditto Dave Van Ronk's autobiography.

I have to admit, though, that when I saw the title of this thread I immediately thought of a "biography" that wasn't a book: the film "Alice's Restaurant."


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 05:21 AM

Hootenany: I'd definitely recommend Jim Longhi's book. Bound For Glory certainly deserves reading, but with a very large pinch of salt.

I don't think anyone has yet mentioned How Can I Keep From Singing, David King Dunaway's excellent biography of Pete Seeger.
Also, Peter D. Goldsmith's Making People's Music: Moe Asch and Folkways Records.

There's also Dave Arthur's biography of A.L. Lloyd which seems to have been in the pipeline forever. Does anyone know what's happened to it?


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 12:19 PM

I'm not a rock and roll fan. Most of it is mundane, simplistic and shows lack of musical sophistication. (Not so with folk music because it details the culture of a community in its choice of lyrics. It also has a subtlety that rock, being a billboard kind of gross, empty salesmanship in the music industry lacks. I know, but you'll say you have to listen to so-and-so and such and such. Well, I have. I transcribed Jimi Hendrix solos for guitar students, monitored the airwaves during the 60's and the 70's, even read biographies of the Beatles etc. and still have come to the same conclusion. That's why I was surprised and almost shocked to read Dave Crosby's autobiography, "Long Time Coming" (I can't exactly remember the title.) He describes in colorful detail the times of growing up in the drug-laced culture of the Sixties, the people he knew, and how that impacted on rock. I was affected.

Here's the point. It was about what he went through personally. Pete Seeger should pay attention to this in his copious writing about "ideas" and lack of personal human interest about himself. I don't want to read about what someone preaches. I want to read about how they felt, their problems, their triumphs, their successes and their reasons for thinking or feeling like they do. Dave Crosby is the last person in the world that I would have thought could to that for me. He succeeded, not in getting me to like rock but to
understand how it could happen.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: alanabit
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 04:43 PM

I enjoyed Chris Albertson's "Bessie" on Bessie Smith. It is also full of background information and gives you a feel for the spirit of the times. John Chilton's book on Louis Armstrong was another good read. I am not really a jazz fan, but it held my attention. I have read a pile of books about the Beatles and the Stones and few of them left me with the feeling that I knew the subjects any better. Bob Brunning's book on the British Blues scene was too much a lot of lists and not anecdotal enough to make me want to read it again - although he obviously was right in the middle of it and knows his stuff. I read the Klein book on Guthrie, which I thought was genuinely honest and well researched. To date I have not read about many folkies, but maybe some books will emerge.
"Lady Sings The Blues", a ghost written "autobiography" of Billie Holliday is a good read without really ever telling you the whole story. I suspect that a really good Billie Holliday biography will never be written.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Nathan in Texas
Date: 20 Nov 10 - 09:36 PM

Bill Gaither - It's More Than the Music: Life Lessons for Loving God, Loving Each Other -

Willie Nelson - An Autobiography


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Fidjit
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 04:02 AM

"Owning Up" The Trilogy, George Melly.
With "Scouse Mouse" and "Rum, Bum and Concertina"

I came into folk music via Trad Jazz and Skiffle.

So, Also

Skiffle, the definative inside story, by Chas McDevitt

Reason ? It's my roots.

Chas


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 04:40 AM

Started on the Miles Davis autobiography last night & was transported into an undreamed of world of delights though genteel folkies be warned that it does feature an abundance strong language though I found myself rejoicing at the various nuances (and innumerable instances) of the word motherf***er...

Otherwise...

Robert King's book on Henry Purcell is worth seeking out, and the last word on Frank Zappa has to be Ben Watson's Negative Dialectics of Poodle Play. Earlier on Spleen mentioned Szwed's Sun Ra biography Space is the Place, but if you can get a hold of it The Earthly Recordings of Sun Ra is an equally readable guide to pretty much everything he recorded with cross indexings of musicians, albums and song titles so the book becomes a compelling narrative of the overall musical work that was Sun Ra's tenure on Planet Earth (however so out of date given the amount of unknown recordings that have surfaced since he departed - from Doo-Wop demo sessions in late 50s Chicago to a 28 CD box set of his entire residency at the Detroit Arts Center Xmas/New Year 1980-81).

Another fine book is Michael King's Wrong Movements - A Robert Wyatt History taking us through a 30-year chronology of recording & concert dates intercut with biographical passages, press cuttings, photographs and contributions from musical associates. In all, it's a triumph of music writing which gets closer to its subject than a conventional biog might.

Hmmmm - now I'm thinking about Biopics, which are invariably turgid. How anyone could take a subject like Johnny Cash and come out with the utterly woeful Walk the Line is beyond me. And whilst I enjoyed Control it never quite trounced its genre (in the way Debbie Curtis's Touching from a Distance does) - bringing me back to countless biopics all of which use The Glenn Miller Story as a blueprint. Maybe they should have given it to Shane Meadows...

Exceptions welcome...


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 08:35 AM

I've just started reading Adam Gussow's " Mister Satan's Apptrentice-A Blues Memoir". It's a great read about a young New York harmonica player who - bravely - gets involved in the Harlem blues music scene.
Adam is now a blues harmonica guru and has loads of wonderful tuition videos on Youtube.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: meself
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 08:52 AM

Coming Through Slaughter - an exceedingly creative and poetic take on the life of early jazz cornetist Buddy Bolden.

Hard Times, No Bread by jazz bassist Babs Gonzales.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: meself
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 08:54 AM

Whoops! Coming Through Slaughter is by Michael Ondaatje.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 02:05 PM

I must agree, "Coming through Slaughter" is an amazing work. Mostly fiction, but it puts across the times and the feel of the man better than any true depiction I know.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Ernest
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 02:15 PM

"The Songman" by Tommy Sands


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: alex s
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 02:26 PM

Alanabit, try and get hold of Louis Armstrong's autobiography, it's excellent.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Doc John
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 02:35 PM

'Adventures of a Ballad Hunter' by John Lomax about collecting material for the Library of Congress is interesting. You learn about his attitude too. Yes all the Woody Guthrie books are interesting and I too would advise reading them all to fill in the gaps. Liked the Lead Belly and Shirley Collins books too. Must get the Phil Ochs biography.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: alanabit
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM

Thanks for the tip Alex. I shall have a look next time I am in the UK.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 03:08 PM

Land Where The Blues Began, by Alan Lomax.
Highly recommended.
Gave our old copy away to a friend in hospital, but got another recently from The Book Depository - also highly recommended - post free to anywhare.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: meself
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 04:39 PM

Father of the Blues - autobiography of W. C. Handy. A must-read for anyone remotely interested in the African-American strand of music and life in the US of A.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Edthefolkie
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 06:14 PM

"Gustav Holst" by daughter Imogen. Intro by Ralph Vaughan Williams no less. Superb book, lots of good anecdotes like the concert which was so packed out that some of the audience had to sit on the instrument cases (5 men and a dog on a double bass one).

It contains a lovely photo of Holst's composing room at St Paul's Girls School, Hammersmith. Incredible to think that "The Planets" came into being in this little schoolroom.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: buddhuu
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 07:08 PM

'Humours of Planxty' by Leagues O'Toole.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: BTNG
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 07:19 PM

Across the Great Divide: The Band and America by Barney Hoskyns

not really biographies as such but

Million Dollar Bash
Bob Dylan, The Band, and the Basement Tapes
by Sid Griffin

and

Legendary Sessions: Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited
by Colin Irwin


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Tattie Bogle
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 07:53 PM

Reading through Ralph McTell's autobiography of his childhood and earlier days: "As Far as I can tell".
Then I've got Barbara Dickson's and John Peel's to read.
Also enjoyed Billy Connolly's biography written by wife Pamela.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Tattie Bogle
Date: 21 Nov 10 - 07:55 PM

Oh, and looking forward to Ian Green's: just about to be launched: Ian used to run the Police Folk Club in Edinburgh, and went on to set up his own record producing company, Greentrax: many respected Scottish artists record on his label.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 09:55 AM

I read "Father of the Blues" too and like meself can heartily recommend it.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 07:14 PM

"Cod Liver Oil and the Orange Juice" - Hamish Imlach: I can hear him regaling us with those anecdotes and that chuckle if I close my eyes. What a personality and he's still so much missed.
He said he could have written three parallel ones. All true.
I'm in it and still alive to tell the tale.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 10:51 PM

Fire in the Rain . . . Singer in the Storm (Holly Near's autobiography)


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Allen in Oz
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 10:59 PM

" Joan Baez" Autobiography

AD


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: open mike
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 11:43 PM

not musical but the biographies i have read
are Tony Hillerman author of Jom Chee and Joe Leaphorn mysteries
and Farley Mowat author of Never Cry Wolf, and other books/movies


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: open mike
Date: 22 Nov 10 - 11:56 PM

Follow the Music is about jac holtzman and Electra records...included is a c.d.
and Christine Lavin has recently published an autobigraphical book
Cold Pizza for Breakfast


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 11:55 AM

The best books on Woody Guthrie are not Joe Klein's. "Cisco, Woody and Me" accurately describes Woody's personality written by Joe Longhi who served with them in the merchant marine.

Ed Cray's "Travelin' Man" is by someone who actually knew Woody in California as did I.
Ed's writing style is witty and sharp.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Nicholas Waller
Date: 23 Nov 10 - 04:10 PM

It's from a rather different angle than most music bios, but Ian Copeland's autobiography Wild Thing is a good read. Brother of manager and record co founder Miles III and Police drummer Stewart, Ian Copeland was mainly a booking agent in the 70s-90s. He discovered The Average White Band, toured Wishbone Ash (who rehearsed in his parents' basement) and dealt with several pre-punk bands in London. He then broke a lot of New Wave British bands in the US, such as Squeeze, The Cure and The Police, through relentless gigging in small clubs under the radar of the bigger venues and agencies.

All that stuff is interesting enough - plus squiring Marianne Faithfull and Courtney Cox, though he is mostly discreet about that - but he was also a soldier in Vietnam and spends time on that, and he was an academic fuckup and rebellious teen expat - when his siblings were more like straight arrows - in 1960s Beirut (hence "wild thing"). Actually, I discovered his book first through a segment that was then online when I was searching for stuff on Beirut a few years ago. He was ten years older than me and apparently lived about 300 yards away from me when I was a toddler in Beirut in the early 60s (his father Miles Copeland Jr was CIA station chief there, and a friend-cum-watcher of Kim Philby). Through friends, I got to meet his mother and daughter in France earlier this year; unfortunately, IanC died in 2006.

One folkish character we meet in London a few times is Al Stewart, as IanC was a flatmate of Stewart's manager. I like Al Stewart a lot, but sadly the bio of him by Neville Judd is a bit of an organisational mess and clunkily written. Conflicting opinions here, and I am at the less-flattering end of the range.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 11:05 AM

I don't think anyone's mentioned it yet but Last Cavalier: The Life and Times of John A. Lomax, 1867-1948; by Nolan Porterfield, is an absolute must for anyone interested in American folk music.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Cool Beans
Date: 24 Nov 10 - 04:09 PM

Okay, Frank, I picked up Ed Cray's "Travelin' Man" on your recommendation. I like it so far (the introduction).


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 29 Nov 10 - 04:09 PM

I'd second the recommendations for Tommy Sands' 'The Songman' and Hamish Imlach's memoirs (for which, btw, we have to thank Ewan McVicar as well, who sat him down with a tape recorder and edited the result into a highly readable text).

Not a music biography as such, but Tim Neat's biography of Hamish Henderson gives a rounded picture of Hamish's achievements. I tremendously enjoyed vol 1 and am looking forward to vol 2.

Also: "Er ruehrte an den Schlaf der Welt", a biography of German singer Ernst Busch (from my home town of Kiel, but with a unique career in Berlin both before and after World War II) by Jochen Voit. Not available in English yet, though.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Nov 10 - 04:29 PM

Not mentioned yet -- "Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone? The Carter family and their legacy in American music", by Mark Zwonitzer with Charles Hirshberg, covered a lot of interesting ground: not only their own story, but the people they affected, like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, etc.

Additional seconds on the Woody Guthrie biographies, both Klein and Cray, 'How Can I Keep from Singing' (Dunaway on Pete Seeger - I need to re-read since the 2008 update), and the John Lomax biography.

I also need to read about Alan Lomax and I want to get Shirley Collins's 'Across the Water'.

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: mandotim
Date: 29 Nov 10 - 04:42 PM

'Innocent When You Dream', a collection of interviews and conversations with Tom Waits is very good; Waits likes to feed journalists on highly creative bullshit, but in doing so reveals a great deal about his character and ideas.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: keberoxu
Date: 09 May 16 - 05:29 PM

Just started Maire/Moya Brennan and her fifteen-year-old autobiography, The Other Side of the Rainbow. She actually had a grandfather who told her a story about encountering the end of a rainbow, a leprechaun, and a crock of gold when she was a little girl. Before a copy of the book came into my hands, I read where someone had asked her if she would write another volume of memoirs, and she was not for it: it was the hardest thing she'd ever done, comparing it to the labor of four or five record albums, and took so much out of her.

It's a little paperback book, and yet I can see that it will take a long time to read, slowly and carefully. She must have drawn the line somewhere, to stay within good taste, and yet it has to be said that her writing is rich in detail both good and bad. If I read right, she is a recovering alcoholic, so her book is yet another way of coming clean. When the book was published, it said Maire on the cover, even though now she goes by Moya. Anyone else look at it?


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 09 May 16 - 06:57 PM

I really enjoyed "life" by Keith Richards, the story of a man on both an intellectual and musical journey. a very smart guy sharing his life. great read,
I also really enjoyed "under The Ivy" , a biography of Kate Bush , one of the most influential musicians of the last forty years. hopefully a better biography will appear, but so far this will have to do.Good but not great.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 09 May 16 - 08:45 PM

More Than a Life - The biography of John Meredith an Australian icon written by Keith McKenry.

A superb read and a real insight into the Australian traditional folk music scene running (almost) parallel to the English revival.

I am aware that the scene in Australia can be even more fractious than the petty differences on the English scene that occasionally or perhaps all too often occur. However for all his percieved faults John Meredith is a man I would have loved to have met and known.

In a different vein the autobiography of Steve Waugh the Australian cricket captain is a delight - and it is not all about cricket but describes a man with real depth.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,silver
Date: 10 May 16 - 10:15 AM

"The Mountain of the Women" by Liam Clancy, and "Theo - An Autobiography" by Theo Bikel. Both guys were great storytellers. Especially Liam makes his childhood come very much alive.

Also enjoyed "Daybreak" by Joan Baez, "The Incompleat Folksinger" by Pete Seeger, "Bound for Glory" by Woody Guthrie, and "How can I keep from singing" by David Dunaway.


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Subject: RE: What music biographies have you enjoyed?
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 May 16 - 11:05 AM

We Called it Music by Eddie Condon started the journey for me. My mum bought it for me from the remaindered bin in Woolworths when I was fifteen. over fifty years ago.
A picareseque adventure through America with a great guitarist encountering Bix Beiderbecke, Al Capone. Bessie Smith etc.

Any other biography you can get of Bix is worth looking at. The Sudhalters, Jean Paul Lyon, etc. they all help


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