Warts and all in new pop memoirs
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Like a lot of other rock and pop stars the singer and keyboard player Gregg Allman read Life, the autobiography of the Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards when it was published in 2010. 'Outstanding,' Allman said, praising Richards's book for mixing picaresque episodes and musicological lore.
That Richards also got a reported $7 million advance and had a best seller, with more copies sold of his book than his two solo recordings combined, did not go unnoticed either, especially by book editors and managers of rock stars. Thanks to Life and, the punk rocker Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids, the market is being deluged with pop memoirs and autobiographies.
This spring Allman, 64, published his own memoir, My Cross to Bear. He described the book as 'the good, the bad and the ugly' of his 40-plus years as a member of the Allman Brothers Band, a legendary Don Juan and a consumer of drugs and alcohol.
"Are there a lot of warts in there?" he asked. "Did I show my panties? Is there something I should take back? It's a little bit late in the game for that."
Other recent offerings include Carole King's memoir, A Natural Woman and books by blues patriarch Buddy Guy, three former members of Guns N' Roses, the folk singer Judy Collins, the guitarist Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, the folk-pop singer-songwriter Shawn Colvin and the rocker Sammy Hagar.
In October, Harper is to publish Who I Am, the memoir of the Who's Pete Townshend. Neil Young's memoir, Waging Heavy Peace, is due too. Graham Nash, another member of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, recently announced that he is writing a memoir, as has Carly Simon.
At a time when record sales are plummeting, the reasons for the memoir surge seem to be personal and artistic as well as commercial. For many of the pop stars of the 1960s and '70s, writing a memoir is a way to round out their musical career, albeit in a new genre.
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