The Ten Best: Music biographies

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The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White

The Life and Times of Little Richard by Charles White

This man was the inspiration for everyone from Jimi Hendrix to The Beatles. From humble beginnings to the birth of rock'n'roll's most enduring tunes, find out who Long Tall Sally was, and marvel at tales of orgies with Buddy Holly. In his own words, "it'll make your toe stick up in your boot".

(£9.95, Omnibus Press)

Hammer of the Gods: Led Zeppelin by Stephen Davis

Led Zeppelin invented the rock'n'roll template. Apart from making blistering rock anthems ("Whole Lotta Love", "Stairway to Heaven"), they challenged fans by releasing albums of different directions, had their own jet, dabbled with devil worship, and threw televisions out of windows. Rock on!

(£7.99, Pan)

Free Spirit by Angie Bowie

This biography, written after Angie's split with David Bowie, gives the juicy perspective of the behind-the-scenes story of Ziggy Stardust. Angie reveals how she found the Hunky Dory star in bed with Mick Jagger, and spills the beans on the bizarre exorcism in David's LA pool during one of his particularly paranoid periods.

(Available secondhand from

Madcap: The Half-Life of Syd Barrett, Pink Floyd's Lost Genius by Tim Willis

As a founder member of Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett took them from their chemically enhanced experimental roots to the height of fame in swinging Sixties London. Fame eventually took its toll and he became alienated from the group. Madcap shows the genius of his augmented awareness - and deterioration - over the years and paints a haunting picture of life in the Sixties. Shine on you crazy diamond.

(£7.99, Short Books)

Straight Life: The Story of Art Pepper by Art & Laurie Pepper

Art Pepper was an alto-sax player whose recordings span from the late Fifties to the Seventies. He fought a battle with heroin throughout his life, but still recorded some fantastic records with great musicians, including with the legendary Miles Davies on the Kind of Blue album.

(£12.99, Mojo Books)

The Dirt: Mötley Crüe by Neil Strauss

Mötley Crüe specialise in wearing leather, spandex and "poodle" rock hairdos. Their mission throughout the Eighties? To out-drink, out-drug and out-womanise all who went before them. This LA outfit's antics are the stuff of legend.Currently making a comeback, they are still selling out shows the world over.

(£12.99, Regan Books/Harper Collins)

Stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham

For those expecting an "I know who killed Brian Jones" exposé from the former manager of The Rolling Stones, don't bother. Instead, this is a trawl through the early life of the greatest exponent of the music-hustle these islands have ever produced. Loog Oldham writes with a poetic sharpness that makes all other attempts to tell the tale of the Sixties pointless.

(£7.99, St Martin's Press)

Walk This Way: The Autobiography of Aerosmith by Stephen Davis

The rollercoaster ride of Aerosmith, chronicling the heady heights of their fame, and their drink- and drug-fuelled excesses. Steven Tyler and his band members relate their personal experiences, with support from the wives, managers and friends who were there for the ride.

(£12.99, Perennial)

Wonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess by Danny Sugarman

Danny Sugarman was Jim Morrison's protégé and briefly managed The Doors and Iggy Pop, so who better to write about rock'n'roll life in LA? As well as glamour and excess, there's a lot of smack and sadness. Although Sugarman lived the dream, you feel he only just lived to tell the tale.

(£9.99, Abacus Books)

Smile: The Official Story of The Beach Boys' Lost Masterpiece by Dominic Priore

Brian Wilson should be every music fan's favourite madman. After Pet Sounds, the talented and tortured Beach Boy embarked on a project to record Smile, an album that had a chaotic gestation period of 40 years. Dominic Priore, dubbed by Mojo magazine as "the world's foremost Smile-ologist", has written the story of Smile, pinning down one of pop music's most enduring legends.

(£12.99, Sanctuary Publishing)

Simon Bartholomew is in The Brand New Heavies. The Brand New Heavies single "Surrender" is out today