It’s World Book Day, which means you’ll need some new reading matter to get to grips with. Here are 20 we’d recommend, starting with England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage (1991) – the ultimate book on The Sex Pistols, as well as punk’s wider cultural impact.
Wonderland Avenue, by Danny Sugerman (1989). A personal account of his days managing the Doors and Iggy Pop, Sugerman looks back at his self-destructive, addiction-ridden life and the rock’n’roll lifestyle of LA in the early ’70s.
Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground , by Michael Moynihan and Didrik Soderlind (1998). A harrowing, and brilliantly written, account of the nightmarish excesses of the mid-90s black metal scene in Norway.
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991, by Michael Azerrad (2001). Azerrad looks at the careers of 13 influential indie underground bands, from Sonic Youth to Mudhoney to Dinosaur Jr., and how they achieved success on their own terms.
Stoned, by Andrew Loog Oldham (1998). Written by the manager and producer of the Rolling Stones back in the ‘60s, this autobiography is all about the birth of the Stones, from the moment he met them to their breakthrough into worldwide fame.
A Decade of Curious People and Dangerous Ideas, by Chuck Klosterman IV (2007). From U2, Britney Spears and The White Strips to essays on leather-trouser etiquette, this acclaimed author and pop culture satirist covers it all.
Freaky Dancin’: Me and the Mondays, by Bez (1998). The Happy Mondays dancer reveals what it was like touring with one of history’s most hedonistic bands during their heyday.
Kill Your Friends, by John Niven (2008). With this pitiless, and extremely funny, satire of the music industry, Niven holds a magnifying glass up to the greed and excess of the Britpop era.
My Magpie Eyes Are Hungry For The Prize, by David Cavanagh (2001). Under Alan McGee, Creation released music from some of the most influential bands of the past 30 years. Here, Cavanagh takes a close look at the inner workings of the iconic label.
The Last Party, by John Harris (2003). Oasis, Blur, Jarvis Cocker’s infamous arse wiggling and everything in between. A historical reference point for anyone who wants to read up on the Cool Britannia pop years of the mid-nineties.
Slash: The Autobiography, by Slash (2007). A first-hand report that chronicles the former G’n’R axeman’s fabled debauchery.
Scar Tissue, Anthony Kiedis (2004). Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Kiedis pulls no punches in a tell-all tale that spans his days in high school, his cycles of drug abuse, his only-in-Hollywood relationship with his father, and the formation of everyone’s favourite Golden State hit makers.
Rip It Up And Start Again, by Simon Reynolds (2008). Reynolds traces the history of the post-punk era in this high-minded account.
Nothing Feels Good: Punk Rock, Teenagers & Emo, by Andy Greenwald (2003). Looking at bands such as Jimmy Eat World, The Get Up Kids, and Saves The Day, Greenwald’s book is unique in its field in that it’s a serious, respectful analysis of emo culture.
John Lennon: The Life, by Philip Norman (2008). Aided by the author’s access to Lennon’s private notebooks and cassette tapes, this is an authoritative account of the Beatle’s life, both before and after fame.
The Libertines Bound Together, by Anthony Thornton (2006). According to Pete Doherty, Thornton is “a better writer than Lester Bangs.” High praise indeed. Accompanied by over 100 photographs of the band, Thornton tells the story of Doherty and Carl Barat, and how they shook up British music.
Hammer of the Gods, by Stephen Davis (1985). This Led Zeppelin biography is essentially the bible of rock’n’roll debauchery.
Dream Brother: The Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley, by David Browne (2002). The story of musicians dying before their time is the stuff of rock cliche, but few tales are quite as poignant as the intersecting lives of Jeff and Tim Buckley. This biography of the father and son points out the eerie parallels between their lives.
Chronicles: Volume One, by Bob Dylan (2004). For the first time this particularly private folk-hero takes control of the pen. This is the first of his planned three-volume memoir. Catnip for Dylanologists.
2 Stoned, by Andrew Loog Oldham (2001). The second of his autobiographies, the Rolling Stones’ manager tells the story of the legendary band, this time with help from Nik Cohn, Marianne Faithfull, David Bailey, and Pete Townshend, amongst others.