David Blackburn

Across the literary pages | 18 July 2011

The Observer reports that publishers are seeking out five major music stars who are to write their memoirs, such was the success of Keith Richards’s book and the life.

‘Call them the Big Five. Game hunters have their wish-list of trophy animals, and rock music has its own – the elite group of rock stars yet to be bagged for publishing deals. This month, after HarperCollins snapped up the autobiography of Pete Townshend of the Who after a bidding war, publishers’ sights are firmly set on the few remaining major talents to have held back from a book deal. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Robert Plant and Bruce Springsteen are on that list, but at the top for many in the book industry is David Bowie.


Over the last year, memoirs by members of the Rolling Stones, Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses have reached the bestseller lists. As a result, a further series of stadium names – all now in their fifties and sixties, some against the odds – have decided to chronicle their lives and times, turning 2011 into the year of the rock memoir. Turning the volume up well beyond 11 with tales of fast living and hard drinking, rockers Patti Smith, Steve Tyler and Sammy Hagar of Van Halen have all been vying for space in the book shops. In Britain, the autobiography of the slightly younger Shaun Ryder is due to be published later this summer.’


Judy Golding, daughter of William Golding, tells the Telegraph’s ‘Way With Words Festival’ of her struggle to describe him in her memoir.

“I need to make these two men one . . . the warm, embracing man I adored, and the indifferent, sometimes self-centred, occasionally cruel man, who could drink too much, could be crushing, contemptuous, defeating, deadening.



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