The 25 Best Music Memoirs

Tune In to Our 26 Favorite Music Memoirs


January 21, 2020
With the new Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees announced and the 2020 Grammy Awards handing out their gilded gramophones, we’ve had our ears out for stories that follow our *other* favorite thing to listen to: music. In the following list, we’ve gathered 26 pitch-perfect memoirs from music legends in a variety of genres and styles. By turns bold, brash, and moving, these listens shed light on the sold-out shows, backstage drama, and sometimes dark underbelly of the recording industry, while highlighting the charisma, creative energy, and pure artistry that had us hooked from the very first
soundwave. —Alanna, Audible Editor
    • By: Bruce Springsteen
    • Narrated by: Bruce Springsteen
    • Length: 18 hrs and 12 mins
    • Release date: 12-06-16
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 8,737 ratings
    • Written and narrated by The Boss himself, Audie Award winner Born to Run is a cornerstone of the rock autobiography genre. From his working-class childhood in Freehold, New Jersey, to headlining Super Bowl XLIII’s halftime show, Springsteen’s reflections on life, work, and music are as lyrical and authentic as the career-defining album that shares this title’s name.
    • An Audio Memoir
    • By: James Taylor
    • Narrated by: James Taylor
    • Length: 1 hr and 33 mins
    • Release date: 01-31-20
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 15,452 ratings
    • Few singer-songwriters are as beloved as James Taylor, and in this Audible Original, the folk icon explores his tumultuous youth with remarkable candor. Unearthing the trials of forging his way through addiction, mental illness, and a turbulent home life at the very outset of his career, Taylor shares intimate details of his life that paint his work in an entirely new light. An innovative audio performance read in Taylor’s own voice, Break Shot also features exclusive unreleased scores and recordings that fans of the Fire and Rain musician won’t want to miss.
    • The Autobiography
    • By: Eric Clapton
    • Narrated by: Simon Vance
    • Length: 10 hrs and 31 mins
    • Release date: 10-09-07
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 870 ratings
    • To many young guitarists just starting out, Eric Clapton is akin to a deity—an artist whose riffs, licks, and borderline transcendent playing ability have rendered songs like Layla and Wonderful Tonight timeless anthems. While it may seem like Clapton had it all, in this self-titled memoir, he unearths his demons and the darkness that lingered beneath the gleam of rock stardom. From the depths of addiction to the death of his young son, Clapton has survived unspeakable pain; it is a privilege—and an inspiration—to hear his story of strength and perseverance.
    • Travels on the Healing Road
    • By: Neil Peart
    • Narrated by: Brian Sutherland
    • Length: 15 hrs and 54 mins
    • Release date: 04-24-13
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 851 ratings
    • Rush drummer and lyrical maestro Neil Peart passed away in 2020, leaving behind a legacy of musical influence and a legion of loyal fans. In Ghost Rider, Peart also demonstrated a skill for storytelling, chronicling a destination-free motorcycle journey across North America—an expedition that he hoped would bring him reprieve from grief and heartache in the wake of an unthinkable loss.
    • A Memoir
    • By: Debbie Harry
    • Narrated by: Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Clem Burke, Alannah Currie, Gary Valentine
    • Length: 8 hrs and 57 mins
    • Release date: 10-01-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 451 ratings
    • Debbie Harry, the brash, bleached, effortlessly cool front woman at the helm of New Wave pioneer Blondie, is certainly familiar to most music aficionados. But in her memoir, Face It, Harry provides a glimpse into her highly private personal life, detailing moments that range from activism to addiction, all set against the backdrop of the grimy yet glamorous 1970s punk scene.
    • Elton John Official Autobiography
    • By: Elton John
    • Narrated by: Elton John, Taron Egerton
    • Length: 11 hrs and 47 mins
    • Release date: 10-15-19
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 4,139 ratings
    • In Sir Elton John’s official autobiography, Me, the popstar-turned-living-legend offers a revelatory look at the story behind his meteoric rise to fame. With narration from Taron Egerton, who delivered a Golden Globe-winning performance of John in the biopic Rocketman, this listen is at once uproarious and moving, exploring moments that range from larger than life—think disco-dancing with the Queen—to more intimate events, like getting sober and finding love.
    • By: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz
    • Narrated by: Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz, various
    • Length: 12 hrs and 41 mins
    • Release date: 10-30-18
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 5,258 ratings
    • Simultaneously trailblazing and rowdy, the eclectic sounds of the Beastie Boys have stayed with us long after their initial debut (as a hardcore band!) in 1981. Since then, the unlikeliest of hip-hop superstars have become a household name. In this stellar autobiography, Adam Ad-Rock Horowitz and Michael Mike D Diamond—alongside a star-studded cast of celebrity cameos—detail the band’s history and explore their indelible legacy, including moving tributes to their late bandmate, Adam MCA Yauch.
    • By: Patti Smith
    • Narrated by: Patti Smith
    • Length: 9 hrs and 50 mins
    • Release date: 07-26-11
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,803 ratings
    • Winner of the 2010 National Book Award for nonfiction, Just Kids is not only a triumph in rock memoir—it’s a triumph in memoir, period. In her own voice, punk poet laureate Patti Smith tells of her scrappy early days in New York as a budding artist, supported and enthused by her friendship with the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This listen is just as gorgeously written and performed as you’d expect—a delicate, breathtaking rumination on a generation of lost souls.
    • By: Common
    • Narrated by: Common
    • Length: 5 hrs
    • Release date: 05-07-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,656 ratings
    • A standout on this list, Common is a bona fide jack-of-all-trades: rapper, writer, activist, and actor, with a Grammy, Oscar, and Golden Globe to his name. In this memoir, the celebrated performer shares his thoughts on faith, self-love, family, and community, bolstering his mindful, inclusive message with stories of the people, places, and events that shaped his thinking.
    • Volume One
    • By: Bob Dylan
    • Narrated by: Sean Penn
    • Length: 5 hrs and 3 mins
    • Release date: 10-14-04
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 848 ratings
    • When Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016 for his exquisite contributions to the American songwriting canon, naysayers questioned whether Dylan’s lyrical achievements directly translated to literary greatness. Those cynics may want to take a listen to Chronicles: Volume One, a memoir that illuminates Dylan’s career with rhythm and expression, intertwining taut observations with glimmering, imaginative prose.
    • (Explicit Version)
    • By: Sophia Chang
    • Narrated by: Sophia Chang
    • Length: 8 hrs
    • Release date: 09-26-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,230 ratings
    • Though you may not know her by name, Sophia Chang is one of the most ferocious, fearless figures in the music industry. Striving past societal expectations, Chang shunned, then shattered, the model minority myth, managing hip-hop and R&B stars such as Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, and D’Angelo. In this Audible Original memoir, Chang illustrates the pivotal moments of transformation that preceded and followed her journey as one of the first Asian women working in the genre.
    • By: 50 Cent, Robert Greene
    • Narrated by: 50 Cent, Robert Greene
    • Length: 8 hrs and 16 mins
    • Release date: 09-08-09
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 3,590 ratings
    • In a cross-genre listen that’s part memoir and part self-dev, The 50th Law offers advice and accounts from Grammy-winning rapper Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent. With some help from best selling author Robert Greene, Jackson crafts a manifesto against fear and self-doubt, sharing inspirational anecdotes about the power of perseverance and the secrets behind his success.
    • By: Keith Richards, James Fox
    • Narrated by: Johnny Depp, Joe Hurley
    • Length: 23 hrs and 5 mins
    • Release date: 10-26-10
    • Language: English
    • 4 out of 5 stars 4,696 ratings
    • Practically synonymous with the rock autobiography genre, Keith Richards’s Life is a rollicking, unfiltered look at the life and times of a classic rock paragon. Beyond crafting some of our favorite guitar riffs for the Rolling Stones—from the dreamy, drawn-out whine of Gimme Shelter to the jaunty build of Jumpin’ Jack Flash—the legendary wild man also shares a great deal of insight on the frenzy of fame, bandmate quarrels, and life on the road. Narrator Johnny Depp, who worked alongside Richards in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, effortlessly captures the author’s slow, measured drawl.
    • A Memoir
    • By: Kim Gordon
    • Narrated by: Kim Gordon
    • Length: 7 hrs and 14 mins
    • Release date: 02-24-15
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,590 ratings
    • Underground alt-darlings Sonic Youth spearheaded the experimental noise rock movement in New York, skyrocketing bassist and founding member Kim Gordon into the limelight. Gordon, a stylish, rough-around-the-edges artist unafraid to trample over uncharted territory, details the band’s history, her position as a role model for young women in the alt-scene, and the moments that defined her personal life in this earnest, fan-favorite memoir.
    • Confessions of Punk Rock's Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout
    • By: Laura Jane Grace, Dan Ozzi
    • Narrated by: Laura Jane Grace
    • Length: 6 hrs and 49 mins
    • Release date: 11-15-16
    • Language: English
    • 5 out of 5 stars 1,057 ratings
    • Laura Jane Grace is best known as the front woman of Florida-founded punk band Against Me! and her solo project, Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers. But in her memoir, Tranny—named to reclaim the slurs hurled at her over the course of her life—Grace offers a far more intimate look at her life, detailing her search for identity, beating back repression and despondency along the way. Built upon journal entries that date back to her childhood, Tranny details the difficulties and excesses of the rock lifestyle, pitfalls made all the more complicated by an ongoing search for self-discovery.
    • The Autobiography
    • By: Miles Davis
    • Narrated by: Dion Graham
    • Length: 16 hrs and 56 mins
    • Release date: 02-01-12
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 941 ratings
    • In terms of musical legends, there’s no one quite like the late, great Miles Davis. Davis was the most influential and acclaimed artist in jazz, a genius who always seemed to be ahead of the curve on each new development or style. In Miles, Davis is more candid than ever, starkly detailing his struggles with addiction, his battle for sobriety, and the crippling violence of racism in both the music industry and America at large.
    • By: Tina Turner
    • Narrated by: Heather Alicia Simms, Tina Turner - introduction
    • Length: 8 hrs and 8 mins
    • Release date: 10-16-18
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 522 ratings
    • With a decades-spanning career and relentlessly energetic stage presence, Tina Turner is nothing short of an icon in the worlds of rock, soul, R&B, and pop. In My Love Story, Turner rebuffs years of tabloid coverage, taking control of the narrative and detailing moments of her life, ranging from the heartbreaking to the chart-topping. Unafraid and as spirited as ever, Turner offers listeners her hard-won understanding of how to draw boundaries in overcoming domestic abuse and how to find love and joy again.
    • A Memoir
    • By: Carrie Brownstein
    • Narrated by: Carrie Brownstein
    • Length: 7 hrs and 4 mins
    • Release date: 10-27-15
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,530 ratings
    • When they first hit the scene in Olympia, Washington, in the early ’90s, Sleater-Kinney found their niche in the Riot Grrrl movement, an underground punk subculture that rejected patriarchy in all forms—beginning with the male-dominated scene. Since then, Sleater-Kinney has moved on to indie rock, but one thing remains consistent: guitarist Carrie Brownstein bounding around the stage, tying everything together with slick riffs and distinct vocals. In the lyrically named Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, Brownstein shares her history with the label-resistant band, crafting a raw, genuine memoir in the process.
    • By: Prince
    • Narrated by: Esperanza Spalding, Adepero Oduye, Dan Piepenbring
    • Length: 3 hrs and 4 mins
    • Release date: 10-29-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 470 ratings
    • The tragic loss of Prince in 2016 struck a global nerve—after all, there was something about the physically diminutive superstar with an enormous presence that felt eternal. For fans, The Beautiful Ones is a must-listen, a memoir that unravels the famous persona to reveal Prince Rogers Nelson, an observant, bright-eyed boy from Minnesota. While the Purple One passed away before completing this pop autobiography, this listen is fleshed out with the inclusion of scrapbooks of writing and the original treatment for his definitive film, Purple Rain—resulting in a touching reminder of the talent, spirit, and unbridled genius Prince brought into this world.
    • A Memoir
    • By: Flea
    • Narrated by: Flea
    • Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
    • Release date: 11-09-19
    • Language: English
    • 4.5 out of 5 stars 1,190 ratings
    • While many of the selections on this list focus on the years spent touring and recording, Acid for the Children is a music memoir that deliberately does not focus on the active period of fame. Flea, the bassist for the funk rock group Red Hot Chili Peppers, instead chooses to hone in on his years prior to worldwide fame, exploring his childhood and adolescence. His compelling search for a place to belong and his introduction to the world of music and bohemian life that would inspire his career make for a fascinating, warm listen that’s full of life.
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