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Recent Musical Biographies

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You love the music, so here's a roundup of the latest and greatest musical biographies.

Warner, Andrea
Buffy Sainte-Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie has an unparalleled sense of the big picture when it comes to her career and her integrity. Born in Saskatchewan, raised in Massachusetts, Sainte-Marie rose to fame in the folk-music scene in the 60's. There are significant ups (including her Sesame Street work) and downs, but through it all Sainte-Marie survives without becoming bitter. She is still making music (with Tanya Taqac) and working on her Cradleboard Teaching Project, which she founded.

Turner, Tina.
My love story

Turner miraculously survived the beatings of her husband Ike. Her early R&B material is astonishing and sadly underplayed. The book focuses on how Tina survived Ike and began to build her brand. Part DIY business woman and part memoir, Tina has left little of her career to chance, in this empowering book.

Daltrey, Roger.
Thanks a lot, Mr. Kibblewhite

The Mr. Kibblewhite mentioned in the title had the distinction of being the teacher who told Daltrey he would amount to nothing. His memoir is an unflinching look at his life as the singer for one of the greatest rock bands of all time.

Timberlake, Justin
Hindsight & all the things I can't see in front of me

Details his rise to fame, from teen heartthrob to husband and father. In addition to his hit musical career, Timberlake has also shown some good acting chops, and great comic timing, that makes his SNL appearances must watch TV. Lots of anecdotes, photos and details of his life add up to a very enjoyable snapshot of his life so far.

Mike D
BeastieBoysbook

There's much to enjoy about the unlikely trio who went from party bros to much more interesting grownups while still recognizing the inherent goofiness of music fame. Over 500 pages, it's part memoir, part fan-appreciation testimonials, and yes apologies for their bro-rock beginnings.

Brown, Melanie
Brutally honest

Mel B (or Scary Spice to you oldsters) dishes on her terrible marriage, drug use and the enduring power of the Spice Girls.

Norman, Philip
Slowhand

Tells the story of Clapton from his early John Mayal days, to Cream and the impressive solo career with all the hedonistic lifestyle debachaury stories included.

Newton-John, Olivia.
Don't stop believin'

Newton-John has transcended her musical career to become a valued spokesperson for dealing with and surviving cancer. A heartwarming story of her life beginning in Melbourne to her life today.

Wilson, Tom
Beautiful scars

Three time Juno winner Tom Wilson pulls no punches in his gritty biography. Wilson, of Blackie and the Roadie Kings and Junkhouse fame, retells the familiar sex drugs and rock n' roll story, but he infuses it with a soulful creativity that rises well above the average storytelling.

Davis, Stephen
Gold dust woman

Many people already know that the Stevie Nicks/Lindsey Buckingham Fleetwood Mac era was tumultuous at best. Gold Dust Woman isn't really a tell-all as the biography was never authorized. Still, Davis get to all the juicy stuff from Fleetwood Mac, to her solo work, and her return to Fleetwood Mac again.

Chadwick, Julie.
The man who carried Cash

 While this is primarily about the life of Canadian promoter Holiff, the added bonus here is his story of his thirteen year career as the manager to the one and only Johnny Cash. To quote someone more famous than me, it was the best of times and the worst of times. Here you get to read all about it.

Jennings, Nicholas
Lightfoot

Lightfoot is a respectful bio of the Canadian singer-songwriter legend. Lightfoot, who first played Massey Hall as a 12 year old, seems to be a wily protector of his privacy, and Jennings doesn't give a lot of insight. Still, this is a must read for any music fan.

Dickinson, Bruce
What does this button do?

Dickinson, lead singer for Iron Maiden (and his own solo work) forgoes the ghost writer and tells his own story of heavy-metal mayhem. There's no personal dirt here (you may call this a rip-off, I call it classy) but  Dickinson is a good writer, and is unafraid to talk about his cancer scares, his long career and his other passions (piloting planes and fencing). All told, an excellent bio from what seems to be a pretty decent dude.

Goddard, Peter.
The great Gould

You''d think there's little left to say about the enigmatic pianist, yet Goddard, who traces Gould's career from the Goldberg Variations to superstar-dom and beyond, still finds some nuggets to share. Goddard doesn't attempt a deep dive into classical repertoire, so you will have to look elsewhere for that. Overall, a great read of the first (and still relevant) Canadian cultural superstar.

Steffens, Roger.
So much things to say

It's been more than 30 years since his death and Bob Marley, the man and musician continues to resonate with both people and their listening devices. Steffens is clearly a fan and interviews dozens of people who had contact with Marley over his career, from his early days as an outcast teen, to world renowned singer;the assassination attempts and his final battle with cancer. Highly recommended.

Osbourne, Kelly
There is no f*cking secret

There's a real trend toward books with "swearsy" titles, a rebel yell against polite society, if you will. So it is with Osbourne, who has written her story so far in a series of letters to her brother, father, mother, growing up as a celebrity kid, Joan Rivers, and the social media maw that is more hateful than helpful.

Boyd, Liona.
No remedy for love

This is Boyd's second biography: her life as a classical guitarist, her romps with Pierre Elliot Trudeau, her friendship with Prince Philip are all covered, as well as learning to sing and a neurological disorder that has tamed the speed of her fingers.  
 

Brueggergosman, Measha.
Something is always on fire

You may know Measha from singing at the Winter Olympics or perhaps her performances for Queen Elizabeth II. Maybe you don't care about opera at all. That's ok, because you just need to be interested in an honest, spill my guts kind of a memoir to enjoy this read. Brueggergosman has been through a lot in her 40 years, and she brings humour to it all as a mother of two sons and opera diva, and much more.

Yaffe, David
Reckless daughter

Joni Mitchell's career has been both broad in styles and deep in content, so it's not surprising that David Jaffe has written a fan's bio of the superstar. From her upbringing dealing with polio to her life in California, Jaffe digs through all the personal history as well as explores deeply her songwriting genius.

Jones, Dylan
David Bowie

Bowie transcended some many barriers (musically, sexually, culturally) that it can be tough to sift through it all. After his death there was a rush to bring tributes out in print, so it's worth noting that Jones took some extra time to more fully digest his life. It's all here, from his early days to Ziggy, his loves, his art, his music, and beyond. A must read for anyone interested in Bowie at any part of his career.

Doyle, Alan
A Newfoundlander in Canada

Doyle, lead singer of Great Big Sea and his own solo work has become a next generation Canadian cultural icon. It's Doyle's second biography and the stories in this book span the whole east to west of Canada. In many ways this could be considered a love letter to all of Canada in this warm and friendly memoir.