Rock and Roll Summer Reading Guide

The first day of summer is June 21. By now, your vacations should be all planned out, or maybe you’ve got the whole season off and are just going to spend the long days relaxing. No matter what you choose, having a book to flip through — be it via an e-reader or going old school with a physical copy — is an essential part of summer.

Rock Music Menu has been scoping out some of the best music books that have come out over the past few months, from chronicling a notorious party band to the changing of the rock scene at the dawn of the millennia, there is plenty to choose from. Here is this year’s Rock and Roll Summer Reading Guide.

Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001—2011
By Lizzy Goodman

The late 90s were a weird time for rock music. The grunge well had been tapped dry; Kurt Cobain was dead, Alice in Chains stopped touring, Soundgarden broke up and all the b-list bands had run out of material. The Brtipop of Oasis and Blur never caught on in the States. While critics were hailing electronic music as the “next big thing,” it never came to pass.


Leave it to New York City, the hotbed of so many musical uprisings over the years, to be the place which brought back rock and roll. ‘Meet Me in the Bathroom’ is an oral history of all the bands that rose up in the early aughts, with members of The Strokes, The White Stripes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Interpol just some of the big names who take part in the discussion of the rock and roll revolution representing the first decade of the new century. At 622 pages, it’s an indispensable piece of music history from those who lived it.

The Three Lives of Jimmy Page
By Martin Power

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page has always been one of the most mysterious figures in music. He’s always kept everything close to the vest, making him an intriguing subject for certain. Using new and exclusive interviews Martin Power tells the full story of Page’s long career. Starting with the early Sixties session scene when the teenage Page contributed to recordings by The Who, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and many more, going on to explore his time in The Yardbirds, the band that would eventually become Led Zeppelin. The material is supported by album reviews, rare photographs, a full discography and candid conversations with Page’s friends, managers and musical collaborators, making for the most detailed of tomes on the guitarist.

A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen
By Noel E. Monk

Van Halen is one of those bands whose career has been like one, long soap opera. Sadly, not much has been written about them with definitive veracity, relying mainly on secondhand accounts. Of course there are respective memoirs by David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar, the former a rambling, scatterbrained test of reader’s patience and the latter a vehicle for taking animosity filled potshots at Eddie Van Halen. Now comes ‘Runnin’ with the Devil,’ written by Noel Monk, who was manager of the band from 1979 to 1985 and road manager in 1978.

An insider’s view of the band at their most hedonistic provides some details even the most hardcore fan wouldn’t know. Among them are how the iconic VH logo was actually appropriated from a Jimi Hendrix poster, how badly bassist Michael Anthony was treated both personally and financially and despite how brilliant Eddie is on guitar, he’s as equally dim when it comes to common sense. The book is hardly a hatchet job on Van Halen, more of a matter-of-fact tale on what it was like to work with them and see one of the most thrill ascents in music history.

Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars
By Virginia Hanlon Grohl

When it comes to current rock and rollers, no one seems to be having more fun at it than Dave Grohl. The former Nirvana drummer and now Foo Fighters frontman is one of the most genuine artists — and fans — of music. Grohl’s mom Virginia watched her son’s star rise, and often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children’s fame? Did they worry about their children’s livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children’s passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour?

Virginia decided to seek out other rock star mothers to ask these questions, and so began a two-year odyssey in which she interviewed mothers of such notables like Dr. Dre, Michael Stipe of REM, Amy Winehouse, Adam Levine and Mike D of The Beastie Boys. It’s a fascinating look at one of the rarely explored aspects of gaining worldwide popularity — how does a parent handle it?

The Love Story of One Band and the Whole World
By Rob Sheffield

What is there left to say about the most popular band in history, one which has had millions and millions of words put down on the page about? Apparently plenty — if it’s approached in the right manner. Rob Sheffield, the brilliant music writer of the memoirs Love is a Mix Tape and Talking to Girls About Duran Duran, is back with a collection of essays telling the story of what The Beatles means to a generation who grew up with the music via their parents’ stereos and images on t-shirts.

Sheffield asks the questions, “What do the Beatles mean today?” “Why are they more famous and beloved now than ever?” And, “Why do they still matter so much to us, nearly fifty years after they broke up?” Dreaming the Beatles tells the story of how four lads from Liverpool became the world’s biggest group, then broke up, and then somehow just kept getting bigger.

To contact music columnist Michael Christopher, send an email to Also, check out his blog at

Source link