Here are eight music books you need to check out this fall. And to get you started, check out an exclusive excerpt from uber-manager Shep Gordon’s memoir below.
1) They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food, and Rock’n’Roll by Shep Gordon (Ecco, Sept. 20)
In 1968 I was driving in Los Angeles, looking for a place to stay. I pulled into the Landmark Motor Hotel, which was built in the 1950s and looked very Southern California modern. The man behind the desk looked like a character actor from a James Cagney movie — which it turned out he had been. He gave me a good rate on the only unit available, a two-bedroom suite.
I settled in and took a hit of acid. On the one hand, the job I had headed to California for had ended in less than a day. I had enough money for maybe a month, and no prospects. On the other hand, I was on my own in Hollywood, high as a kite, and for the first time in my life I had nobody to tell me what to do. I was simultaneously scared to death and thinking, “Wow, man, look at you!”
Around midnight I stepped onto the balcony. Down by the pool, I heard a girl scream. For some reason, whenever someone is in trouble my instinct is always to be the guy on the white horse. I hurried down the stairs. Ahead, vague figures tumbled around beside the pool. For some reason my brain went right to rape and I went to separate them. That’s when the girl punched me in the mouth. “We’re f–ing,” she said, “Would you please leave us alone?” I made a hasty retreat to my room, feeling more like a schmuck than a hero.
The next afternoon I went down to the pool, where some people my age were lounging around in the shade. The girl among them asked, “Are you the guy who interrupted us last night?” She told everyone the story, and they all started laughing. Then she introduced herself. She was Janis Joplin. Lounging on pool chairs were Jimi Hendrix; Lester and Willie Chambers of The Chambers Brothers; Bobby Neuwirth, Bob Dylan’s road manager; and Paul Rothchild of Elektra Records.
2. Born to Run
By Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster, Sept. 27)
Springsteen has been working on his memoir since 2009 — nuff said.
3. Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap
By Ben Westhoff
(Hachette, Sept. 13)
For the 20th anniversary of Tupac’s death, the former LA Weekly music editor traces the rise and legacy of West Coast rap; early reviews call it “definitive.”
4. Good Vibrations: My Life As a Beach Boy
By Mike Love with James S. Hirsh
(Blue Rider Press, Sept. 13)
Often portrayed as the bad guy in Beach Boys lore, Love makes the case for himself.
5. I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir
By Brian Wilson and Ben Greenman
(Da Capo Press, Oct. 11)
Less interested in settling scores than Love, Wilson delves into his battle with mental illness and how he created the band’s pioneering sound.
6. Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout
By Laura Jane Grace
(Hachette, Nov. 15)
The Against Me! frontwoman chronicles her gender dysphoria and emergence as an influential punk artist, interspersing her memoir with journal entries.
7. Absolutely on Music: Conversations
By Haruki Murakami with Seiji Ozawa
(Knopf, Nov. 15)
Japanese novelist Murakami goes deep with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s conductor emeritus, chronicling two years of the longtime friends’ discussions; critics peg it as “High Fidelity for classical music fans.”
8. 18 and Life on Skid Row
By Sebastian Bach
(Dey Street Books, Sept. 27)
The former Skid Row singer says he wrote this memoir alone, taking Keith Richards’ and Duff McKagan’s books as inspiration; he pushed the release from spring to fall to add more to the story (including, he has said, 116 photos).