All profit supporting special needs music education and Help Musicians

Autobiographies, Biographies and books on Music and Musicians

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Among many others...
Duke -the life of Duke Ellington by Terry Teachout is a good read.

Louis Armstrong, Master of Modernism by Thomas Brothers concentrates on Louis' development into a dazzling World class trumpeter through the 1920s. Lots of good information, but strangely repetitive though as the writer keeps returning to two of Louis' recordings - Cornet Chop Suey (admittedly a great one) and Big Butter and Egg Man (very good by any standards but not in my view one of his greatest).

Lester Leaps In - the life and times of Lester Young by Douglas Henry Daniels. Good factual information about Pres' life, but it's set in a social context rather than a musical one and the analysis of his musical achievement isn't as complete as I expected; I think what musical analysis there is has been supplied by others. Lewis Porter's Lester Young Reader may be better in this respect but I've yet to read it.

John Hammond On Record is a very interesting autobiography by the wealthy Vanderbilt descendent with a social conscience who discovered Teddy Wilson, Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Pete Seager, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and others. Seen by some as aggressive and exploitative, he was certainly assertive and perhaps sometimes foolhardy, but he made a major difference to both music and social relations.

Trombonist Dicky Wells' autobiography (I forget the name now) is a very readable and personal account of life in big bands and his own battle with alcoholism, including some very funny anecdotes. Likewise Count Basie's own autobiography Good Morning Blues is worth a read.

Like Trimmy I keep a copy of Alyn Shipton's New History of Jazz. It's the best reference work I have read and I often go back to it. Likewise the Rough Guide to Jazz as a reference to musicians.


A couple of British jazz musos bios.

Dizzy Gillespie Was At My Wedding : An Autobiography by Dick Pearce - Dick's not much of a writer but I forgive him that because the book is full of hilarious anecdotes. It had me embarrassing myself by laughing out loud on train. There are some very sad bits too.

Flying High, A jazz life and beyond - Peter King. I've heard Peter play many times but never realised quite how much he's struggled with drug addiction. It turns out that he's a world class model aircraft designer too.
Saxholder Pro

Members online

Help!Mailing List
Top Bottom