Top 6 Biographical Audiobooks For Music Lovers

March 23, 2011

1.       The Man Called Cash by Steve Turner

In this audiobook, author Steve Turner covers everything from Johnny Cash’s early childhood in Dyess, Arkansas, (where his family struggled to survive during the Great Depression), the tragic death of his older brother, his training in the Air Force, and how he met his future soul mate, June Carter. (In the first two chapters of the book readers/listeners get a personal glimpse into John and June’s final days together before her death).

The book is also packed full of personal portraits which help depict the many stages of Cash’s life, and at the end of the book Turner includes an interview with “The Man in Black” himself, as well as a chronological history of his life, and a discography of his albums.

2.       Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix by Charles R. Cross

Charles R. Cross has been proven to be one of the most exceptional biographical authors of his time, which is evident when reading this book. The biography covers everything from Hendrix’s tumultuous childhood in Seattle where he lived with his alcoholic parents, to his musical discovery in London, England. Cross includes as many as 300 interviews with Hendrix’s family, friends, and fellow musicians to describe his short life, and of course covers his tragic death at the age of 27. (Cross spends a great deal of time in the book touching on whether Hendrix’s death was a tragic accident or a suicide, as many of his close friends have been led to believe).

Cross is well known for his unbiased opinions when writing about his musical heroes, thus much of the book covers many facts and true stories about Hendrix’s life that may come as a shock to some die-hard fans. One of the most touching interviews in the book would have to be when Cross interviews Hendrix’s father (Al Hendrix), who discusses how the young James Marshall was passed on from house to house to live with relatives and neighbors during the 1950s.

3.       The Life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart by Perry Keenlyside

This audiobook will take you back in time to Vienna during the 1700s, and helps paint a historical picture of Mozart’s fascinating childhood and career. Mozart was commonly referred to as a “child prodigy” because he was forced into the limelight at a young age due to pressure from his family, and he actually wrote his first symphony at the tender age of six. But despite his success and talent, Mozart’s story is as sad as the music he composed.

Author Perry Keenlyside quotes many of Mozart’s personal letters as well as excerpts from his diary, and also includes snippets of his many operas, symphonies, and much more. The audiobook is just over 3 hours in length, and is narrated by Nigel Anthony, a British theatre and television actor.

4.       Clapton: The Autobiography by Eric Clapton

What better to way to hear about Eric Clapton’s life than to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth? He may have written it himself, but Clapton does not shy away from describing the many ups and downs of his musical career and personal life, from his struggles with drug addiction and the accidental death of his son Conor in 1991. Even Stephen King praised Clapton for his autobiography, and described him as being “honest…even searing and often witty.”

Clapton also spends a great deal of time in the book describing his lengthy musical history and career with The Yardbirds, Derek and the Dominos, Blind Faith, and Cream, as well as his relationships with many of his famous friends, such as George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Phil Collins, Pete Townshend, and much more.

5.       When Giants Walked the Earth: A Biography of Led Zeppelin by Mick Wall

If you know anything about the history of Led Zeppelin, then you already know how interesting this biography will be. Not just limited to sex, drugs, and rock and roll, this audiobook covers everything how the band met, fights between members, the death of John Bonham in 1980, and even the mysterious death of Plant’s son Karac in 1977. The book also tackles many infamous rumors that have plagued the band for the past few decades, like their “sex slave” groupies, and the “real” relationship between Plant and Page.

Author Mick Wall is described as a “veteran rock journalist,” and used numerous interviews with Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham, and even their former manager Peter Grant to help paint a historical picture of one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

6.       Heavier Than Heaven: A Biography of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross

And last but certainly not least, this book is another biography written by Charles R. Cross that will ultimately paint your musical hero in an entirely different light. (In other words, if you’re the type of Nirvana fan who thinks “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is the great Nirvana song ever written, then this book is for you). Although the book does cover Cobain’s tragic suicide, Cross also spends a great deal of time describing Cobain’s childhood as well as his personal struggles in his desperation to become famous before his Nevermind fame.

Because Kurt Cobain was notorious for making up stories about his life and childhood, Cross used more than 400 interviews as well as excerpts from Cobain’s personal diaries, to help describe the many contradictions of Cobain’s story (and personality).

Bio: Alexis Bonari is currently a resident blogger at College Scholarships, where recently she’s been researching grants for Native Americans as well as Perkins loans. Whenever this WAHM gets some free time she enjoys doing yoga, cooking with the freshest organic in-season fare, and practicing the art of coupon clipping.

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