5 Books that Rock

Grady Hendrix, author of Paperbacks from Hell and Horrorstör, has a new fiction book coming out on September 18th. And it is so, so, so good. The book is called We Sold Our Souls, and it is definitely horror – with a clever Faustian twist and some social commentary that won’t go unnoticed. To go along with this rock music theme, I want to share with you my 5 favorite books about rock music:

5. Hellraisers by Axel Rosenburg

This book gets an extra bonus because it has a lot of pictures in it – glorious ones from Led Zeppelin to Motley Crüe. Covering the history of heavy metal from its beginnings to newer bands like Mastadon, Hellraisers does a great job balancing photographers, insider gossip, and interviews. Favorite Quote: “Given its narcotics obsession, it’s only fitting that nu metal ended like a drug trip-one day, everyone sort of woke up on the beach, saw what they were wearing, and bailed. Unlike grunge’s perceived execution of glam, there was no song or era that killed nu metal. But it died. It died hard.”

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4. Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal

If you listen to rock music and/or heavy metal, and you don’t own this book, you need to click here and order your copy NOW! This is the only book you need to read to get a well-rounded and essential education in heavy metal music. Louder Than Hell is comprised of a numerous variety of interviews from Alice Cooper to Corey Taylor of Slipknot. Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman do a great job assembling these interviews into a chronological order, balancing them sparingly with background information. Favorite Quote: “I came up with the term death metal during an English class in high school. I figured speed metal and black metal were already taken, so I said “death metal” because the word wasn’t associated with Venom or anybody else. We wanted to piss people off and send everybody home. And that can’t be, like, ‘flower metal.'”

3. The Five by Roger McCammon

This is the only fiction title that made the list, there just aren’t a lot of good ones out there. Grady Hendrix’s We Sold Our Souls is definitely one, but for the most part books about rock and roll tend to feel fake and overloaded with pop culture references. Most often, these books just don’t stand the test of time. The Five does because McCammon is a genius writer and the book doesn’t spend a lot trying to convince the reader to buy into a rock and roll setting. The rock and roll part happens naturally and the real power of the book is in larger themes of loyalty and friendship. It is also an extremely tense and violent book, with imagery that will imprint on your soul. Favorite Quote: “Nothing was pretty about the death of a band.”

2. Lords of Chaos by Michael Moynihan

This book. I once read my copy of this book on a greyhound bus to Flagstaff. Needless to say, no one even attempted to talk to me the entire way there. It has that effect on people. The book is fascinating in its in-depth exploration of Satanic death metal. You don’t even have to like death metal because the book becomes a dramatic true crime story halfway through, with the murder of Euronymous by his bandmate Varg Vikernes. A totally readable and compelling look inside a musical sub-genre. Be warned, the book includes a variety of very graphic images. Favorite Quote: “This gave rise to popular jokes like: ‘Why don’t Satanists drive cars? Because walking is really hellish.’ Funny enough, to be sure, but reality was more bizarre.”

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1. The Dirt by Motley Crüe and Neil Strauss

This isn’t just my favorite rock music book, but one of my favorite books of all time. This book records every detail of the lifestyle of the members of Motley Crüe, from celebrity marriages to drug addiction, to crazy backstage moments. At the core is the fact that the boys in Motley Crüe have lived life and remain friends (after some fighting and drama, of course). Unlike Tommyland or The Heroin Diaries, The Dirt tells the story of all the members of the band, and every page is good. Neil Strauss is a master at getting the best from his subjects, and Motley Crüe is no exception. Seriously, read it. Favorite Quote: “I’ve already spent ten years of my life apologizing for that band. As their manager, that’s all I really did. Apologize. For years afterward I’d walk into a hotel lobby and the receptionist would call to me, ‘Mr. McGhee.’ And I’d run up and drop to my knees and say, ‘Oh, Jesus, I’m really sorry.’ They’d look at me funny and say, ‘No, nothing’s wrong. You have a telephone call.’ And I’d breathe a sigh of relief and thank the good Lord above that I wasn’t managing Mötley Crüe anymore.”