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A Summer of Rock Books

Well, here it is the third day of March, which means summer in Australia is technically over. As I sit here in 30 degree heat looking at a cloudless, sparkling blue sky with just a mild, cooling breeze – that’s hard to credit.

Nevertheless, it’s as good a time as any to summarise my summer reading.

All in all, I devoured 13 books by and about rock musicians. All but two are about Australian musicians, and all but two were written by the artists themselves.

And, I have to say, they are all very readable. From the big, detailed cinerama biogs to the cryptic, poetic and enigmatic self portraits, they are all good – which surprised me. I thought there would be a dud. Or two. But no.

OK, some could do with a stronger edit, and some facts may be disputed, but these are recollections – let them rock.

In order of reading:

The Angels by Bob YatesTitle: The Angels
Author: Bob Yates with Rick Brewster and John Brewster
About: The Angels
Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2017
Pages: 368
Blurb: “A band that changed Australian music forever.” Jimmy Barnes
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 

Working Class Man by Jimmy BarnesTitle: Working Class Man
Author: Jimmy Barnes
About: Jimmy Barnes
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2017
Pages: 512
Blurb: A memoir of running out of time. Behind the legend, beyond the cliches … Australia’s greatest rock’n’roll story is also a story of surviving
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: Yes
 
 
 

Tex by Tex PerkinsTitle: Tex
Author: Tex Perkins with Stuart Coupe
About: Tex Perkins
Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Published: 2017
Pages: 352
Blurb: “Tex is the realest dude out there. He is a born stone stud-symbol. I wish I was more like Tex.” Iggy Pop
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 
 

Detours by Tim RogersTitle: Detours
Author: Tim Rogers
About: Tim Rogers
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2017
Pages: 352
Blurb: “A beautiful writer, Tim Rogers takes you where you want to go.” Robert Forster
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 
 

Will it Be Funny Tomorrow, Billy? by Stephen CummingsTitle: Will it Be Funny Tomorrow, Billy?
Author: Stephen Cummings
About: Stephen Cummings
Publisher: Hardie Grant
Published: 2009
Pages: 198
Blurb: A kind of music memoir.
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 
 

The Best Years of Our Lives by Richard ClaptonTitle: The Best Years of Our Lives
Author: Richard Clapton
About: Richard Clapton
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 2015
Pages: 344
Blurb: Welcome to the party that never ends
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: Yes
 
 
 
 
 

Born to Run by Bruce SpringsteenTitle: Born to Run
Author: Bruce Springsteen
About: Bruce Springsteen
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 2016
Pages: 528
Blurb: “A fascinating insight into the Boss’s character, his passion and his craft as a great American songwriter.” Weekend Australian
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 

Life by Keith RichardsTitle: Life
Author: Keith Richards with James Fox
About: Keith Richards
Publisher: Little Brown
Published: 2010
Pages: 576
Blurb: “Spellbinding” – Time, “Fiercely entertaining” – San Francisco Chronicle, “One of the greatest rock memoirs ever” – Rolling Stone
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 

Tragedy by Jeff ApterTitle: Tragedy
Author: Jeff Apter
About: Bee Gees, Andy Gibb
Publisher: Echo Publishing
Published: 2015
Pages: 282
Blurb: The sad ballad of the Gibb Brothers
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 
 
 

Every Day of My Life by Beeb BirtlesTitle: Every Day of My Life
Author: Beeb Birtles
About: Beeb Birtles
Publisher: Brolga Publishing
Published: 2017
Pages: 300
Blurb: “Beeb Birtles is a true legend of Australian music. He was in Zoot when I got to know him in the ’60s and then he blazed a trail for other Aussie acts as a key part of Little River Band … What a story!” Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 

1001 Australian Nights by Dave GraneyTitle: 1001 Australian Nights
Author: Dave Graney
About: Dave Graney
Publisher: Affirm Press
Published: 2011
Pages: 242
Blurb: “Funny, wise, narcissistic, deluded and anarchic. Pure genius.” Nick Cave
Does the title come from a song: No
Is French’s mentioned: Yes
 
 
 
 

Something Quite Peculiar by Steve KilbeyTitle: Something Quite Peculiar
Author: Steve Kilbey
About: Steve Kilbey
Publisher: Hardie Grant
Published: 2014
Pages: 288
Blurb: The Church. The music. The mayhem.
Does the title come from a song: Yes
Is French’s mentioned: No
 
 
 
 
 

Big Blue Sky by Peter GarrettTitle: Big Blue Sky
Author: Peter Garrett
About: Peter Garrett
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 2015
Pages: 456
Blurb: “not just a beautifully written biography, but also a social, cultural and political history of great depth and moment” John Birmingham
Does the title come from a song: Sort of
Is French’s mentioned: Yes
 
 

 

While my summer sojourn is over and my reading rate will drop, top of the list for my next forays into Australian rock memoirs are Dave Graney’s Workshy and Rob Snarski’s You’re Not Rob Snarski.
 
But in the meantime, I have some hefty tomes by Eric Clapton, Elvis Costello and Pete Townshend to keep me busy.
 

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