The 10 Best Summer Reads for a Classic Rock Freak
School’s out, it’s officially summer, which means it’s time for your assigned summer reading list.
That’s right: We all remember those books we were supposed to read during summer vacation. (A Tale of Two Cities? Really? Great book, but not when you’re 13 years old and there are skateboards to ride and rock concerts to attend.)
The good news: If you love classic rock (which we assume you do, otherwise you would not listen to i-95 or be reading this post), you’re going to like this reading list. Quite simply, it includes some of my favorite classic rock-related books that I have read over the past few years.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are thousands of worthwhile books about rock and roll, but here, in no particular order, are my 10 picks for your summer reading enjoyment:
- Birth of the Loud – A great read about the history of the electric guitar, through the lens of the rivalry between the giants of the guitar industry – Leo Fender and Les Paul. Rock and roll owes much of its sound to these two guys, so if you’re a fan of the music, you’re a fan of these two visionary inventors.
- Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin – What a great title, insofar as it perfectly describes the content. This is a picture book history of the band. It includes many photos you’ve never seen and will definitely love.
- The Show that Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock – When I was in high school, I was a fanatical progrock fan: Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Pink Floyd. I still listen to them all to this day. If you are kindred spirit in your love for all things prog-y, this is a must-read.
- Riot On Sunset Strip: Rock 'n' roll's Last Stand In Hollywood – This chronicles the Los Angeles rock scene circa 1965 and 1966, when an explosion of talent was playing Sunset Strip clubs. The Birds, The Doors, The Mamas & the Papas, to name a few, all got their start on the Strip, during this time. A great slice of rock history.
- Todd – The Individualist – As previously mentioned, I am a HUGE Todd Rundgren fan. I’ve seen him about twenty times and he still sounds (both on the guitar and singing) as good as he did 40 years ago. He comes around the Ridgefield Playhouse at least once a year, so catch him next time. This book is his autobiography. If you like Todd, this is your bible.
- Never a Dull Moment – The author of this book, David Hepworth, is a long-time music critic and writer whose thesis is that there are two main periods in rock history: before 1971 and after. From the Rolling Stones’ “Brown Sugar”, to the Who’s “Baba O’Riley” to “Stairway to Heaven,” Hepworth claims that these songs and albums were so consequential (and so good) that 1971 was, and is, the pinnacle of rock history. I’m sure we could argue with him, but he makes a great case and it is fun reading for classic rock fans.
- Rock Covers – Remember the thrill of seeing new album artwork from your favorite band, in all its vinyl-sized glory? Relive the greatest album artwork of all time with this beautifully produced, vinyl record-sized coffee table book.
- Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The Story of Pop Music from Bill Haley to Beyoncé – The title pretty much tells it all. This book has more of a pop theme to it (as opposed to classic rock), but many of our favorite bands are chronicled in its pages.
- Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd: This is the autobiography by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, who is, in my opinion one of the great drummers in rock history. Not only is he an insanely talented musician, but he is very erudite and a great writer. Love Floyd? Read this.
- Life – Keith Richard’s widely praised autobiography from 2010 rounds out my recommended reading list. It’s Keith Richard’s world; we all just live in it. Find out how it got this way by reading his story.
There you have it – your top 10 classic rock summer reading list. Any recommendations? Email me. I’d love to hear them.