World Book Day 2023: Must-read music biographies and autobiographies

It’s World Book Day! Here are the best music autobiographies and biographies to get stuck into.

Skiddle Staff

Date published: 2nd Mar 2023

Did you know reading can alleviate depression, reduce stress, increase empathy, and even increase your life span? It’s incredible that simply reading words on a page for about 15-30 minutes a day can improve our lives so much.

And today is World Book Day - the perfect time to crack a spine and get reading, whether you’re an avid page-turner or have never read before. 

Since we’re all die-hard music fans, it only makes sense for us to shed a light on the best music autobiography books and a few biographies too. Let’s get stuck in.


The Story of The Streets by Mike Skinner


The voice of a generation, Mike Skinner, was only 22 when he signed a five-album record deal. Crafting lyrics that spoke to British people detailing love, loss, and getting leathered on the weekends over hip hop and UKG instrumentals, it wasn’t long before The Streets developed a cult following in the UK. Partially responsible for giving UK hip-hop its own identity, this book covers his first five albums, sharing personal stories about his upbringing and fame. Winner of NME’s Best Book Award, it’s worth a read if you love a bit of The Streets. 



Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana by Michael Azerrad


Before Nirvana got big, hair metal dominated the scene with hypersexual songs and sexist attitudes. Nirvana changed all of that. And this book dives into the most legendary rock band with extensive interviews. Now, of course, there are a million and one books about Nirvana, but Come As You Are is widely regarded by fans as the best. The book was even read and approved by Cobain, telling author Azerrad, “That’s the best rock book I’ve ever read.” Written before Cobain’s death, a new chapter was added when he passed, and the 30th-anniversary deluxe edition is due to be published in October this year.



Searching for Sugar Man: Sixto Rodriguez' Mythical Climb to Rock N Roll Fame and Fortune by Howard A. DeWitt 


Also a documentary film, Searching for Sugar Man follows Sixto Rodriguez, a rock and roll legend who initially failed to gain recognition in America but was adored in South Africa. Rodriguez was the epitome of mystery, with fans knowing nothing about him except his name and that he was rumoured to have killed himself after releasing his second album. His biography, written by a prolific rock writer and historian, reveals how Rodriguez turned to manual labour to raise his three daughters alone as the music industry continued to ignore him despite his fantastic music. He largely remained a mystery until this book (and the movie) was released. 



The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook


Co-founder of Joy Division and New Order, and co-owner of the legendary Hacienda Club in Manchester back in the day, Peter Hook has had an incredible career in music. In The Hacienda, Hook reveals all about the highs and lows of running such an iconic club that was adored before its tragic fall as police, gangs, and drugs ruined what he had created. Easily one of the best music autobiographies for any rave fan. 



Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz 


A pioneering group that delivered banger after banger with raw, wild energy, Beastie Boys constantly reinvented their sound while remaining instantly recognisable. The Beastie Boys Book follows the group, their history, controversies, and lawsuits, and is full of interesting bits, including rare photos, a cookbook, a graphic novel, mixtape playlists, illustrations, and more. Anyone interested in the third rap group to be introduced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will enjoy this read. 



White Line Fever: Lemmy by Lemmy Kilmister


Lemmy was a force to be reckoned with. We’re almost certain the amount of alcohol and drugs in his system when he was at his wildest could kill an elephant. White Line Fever is an autobiography by the singer and bassist of Motorhead, told with bucketloads of humour and charisma. He was the son of a vicar who abandoned his mother when he was only three months old before being inspired to learn guitar and then forming the legendary metal band. Detailing his debauched adventures, the book is super entertaining, shocking, and hilarious. 



Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far by Stormzy


Near enough out of nowhere, Stormzy was shot into the spotlight as one of the most exciting new musicians of the generation. Headlining Glastonbury, performing jaw-dropping performances on the BRIT Awards stage, calling out the government for Grenfell, and climbing the charts, Stomzy achieved so much for a young man coming from “a place where success doesn't happen." His book details the rise of #Merky, the entertainment brand he created, and touches on topics including violence, police, and mental health. 



Decoded by Jay-Z and Dream Hampton


Okay, so it's not really a proper music biography, but if you love looking into lyrics (which we do), this is a shout! The book is a bit of an autobiography/memoir and part commentary, painting a picture of Jay-Z’s life, upbringing, and struggles, while dissecting dozens of his lyrics, offering anecdotes, explanations, and more.  



There are thousands of music biographies and autobiographies out there detailing just about every corner of music, from rap to country, jazz to metal, pop to dubstep and beyond. In the spirit of World Book Day, why not learn more about your favourite artists by reading a book or two? 



Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.









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