Inspired, no doubt, by the critical and commercial success
of recent volumes by Keith Richards and Patti Smith (the
latter of which won a National Book Award in 2010), a host of
musicians have entered the memoir game of late,
crowding bookstore shelves with backstage tales of guitars,
groupies and how that No 1 hit has always been
Not all of these artists enjoy the respect showered upon
Neil Young and his classic-rock cronies. But in publishing,
as in pop, light voices sometimes carry heavy loads.
The Who mastermind has served for decades as one of rock's
most fearless seekers, and in this long-anticipated book he
plunges headlong into red-letter episodes including Who
bassist John Entwistle's unexpected 2002 death and
Townshend's 2003 arrest on child-pornography charges (he was
Most rock 'n' roll line: "I had no doubt whatsoever
that if I had failed to deliver The Who an operatic
masterpiece that would change people's lives, with Pinball
Wizard I was giving them something almost as good: a hit."
Unlike most cred-obsessed rockers, the Duran Duran bassist
presents his (and the band's) story as one of substance in
the service of style.
And his natural raconteur's wit lends Duran's ruthless
ambition some crucial charm.
Most rakish line: "Now, as the dark streets of
Birmingham flashed past the cab, we plotted an audacious goal
for this band of ours that had so far written only 10 songs:
to headline shows at Hammersmith Odeon by '82, Wembley by '83
and New York's Madison Square Garden by '84. It was a plan
that seemed perfectly achievable."
One of the MTV generation's first superstars, Lauper is still
best known for bouncy early-'80s hits such as She Bop and
Girls Just Want to Have Fun.
Here, though, she traces her music - in chilling, no-nonsense
language - back to a chaotic childhood streaked with abuse.
Most revealing line: "So when my mom came home from
work one day and said she was in love, we all were happy for
her and thought it would be better. But unfortunately, she
married a paedophile who beat and bullied her."
This Arkansas-born belter leads Gossip, a fiery disco-punk
trio whose cult-fave renown seems not quite to justify a
Aware of that, perhaps, Ditto's tone vacillates curiously
between Bildungsroman and kaffeeklatsch.
Most digressive line: "My friend Lyndell is an amazing
hairdresser, and she has recurrent dreams that her hands are
cut off and she can never work with hair again, slicing locks
into feathering cascades, blunting a bob, building a
sculpture with a can of hairspray and a fistful of bobby
- Mikael Wood