15 Must-Read Books for Lovers of Punk
Posted on August 22 2018
Punk blessed our eyes and ears in the mid 70's and produced amazing artists like The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Any punk would know though, of course, that there's more to punk than music.
Think you're a punk? Read these books and ask yourself again.
Here is a list of cool punk rock books for any aspiring or hardcore punk.
Please Kill Me
From Iggy Pop and Lou Reed to the Clash and the Sex Pistols (the first time around), Please Kill Me goes backstage and behind apartment doors to chronicle the sex, drugs and power struggles that were the very fabric of the American punk community.
Our Band Could Be Your Life
The story of post-punk indie rock in America, and the bands whose do-it-yourself ethic paved the way for the grunge phenomenon of the 1990s, from obscure beginnings to the point a decade later when the mainstream sat up and took notice. This sweeping chronicle of music, politics, drugs, fear, loathing, and faith has been recognized as an indie rock classic in its own right.
This is the ultimate book on punk, the Sex Pistols, and their time in the late 1970s. Full of anedcote, insight, and exclusive interviews, it tells the sensational story of the meteoric rise and rapid decline of the last great rock'n'roll band and the cultural moment they came to define.
Girls To The Front
This is the epic, definitive history of Riot Grrrl, the radical feminist uprising that exploded into the public eye in the 1990s and included incendiary punk bands Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Heavens to Betsy, and Huggy Bear. A dynamic chronicle not just a movement but an era, this is the story of a group of pissed-off girls with no patience for sexism and no intention of keeping quiet.
Rip It Up And Start Again
This is the essential book on post-punk music, and a must for any serious fan. Full of anecdote and insight, and featuring the likes of Joy Division, The Fall, Pere Ubu, PiL and Talking Heads, Rip It Up and Start Again stands as one of the most inspired and inspiring books on punk music ever written.
Get In The Van
As a member of the seminal punk band Black Flag, Henry Rollins kept detailed tour diaries that form the basis of Get in the Van. Rollins' observations range from the wry to the raucous in this blistering account of a six-year career with the band - a time marked by crazed fans, vicious cops, near-starvation, substance abuse, and mind numbing all-night drives.
Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs
Punk has been romanticised and embalmed on TV, in books and on the catwalk. An English youth revolt that became a world-wide fashion statement, punk's idols were the Sex Pistols, and Johnny Rotten was its sneering antichrist. Seventeen years later, John Lydon (aka Rotten) looks back at himself, the Pistols and the 'no future' disaffection of their time.
American Hardcore: A Tribal History
Hardcore punk was an underground tribal movement created with anger and passion but ultimately destroyed by infighting and dissonance. This oral history includes photographs, discographies, and a complete national perspective on the genre. The book went to the screens in 2006 to become American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986.
Gimme Something Better
Outside of New York and London, California's Bay Area claims the oldest continuous punk-rock scene in the world. Gimme Something Better brings this outrageous and influential punk scene to life, from the notorious final performance of the Sex Pistols to Jello Biafra's bid for mayor. Gimme Something Better chronicles more than two decades of punk music, progressive politics, social consciousness, and divine decadence, told by the people who made it happen.
Despite Everything: A Cometbus Omnibus
Initially a showcase for underground music reviews, Cometbus has evolved to include interviews, essays, short stories and reader forums. Covering everything from travel adventures to dumpster diving, this unique 'zine forms a literary soundtrack for the lives of its readers. Despite Everything contains dozens of photos, illustrations, and the best material from all 48 issues of Cometbus, one of the original and best US punk 'zines.
Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys
After forming The Flowers of Romance with Sid Vicious in 1976, Albertine joined The Slits and made musical history in one of the first generations of punk bands. The Slits would go on to serve as an inspiration to future rockers, including Kurt Cobain, Carrie Brownstein, and the Riot Grrrl movement in the 1990s. This is the story of what it was like to be a girl at the height of punk: the sex, the drugs, the guys, the tours, and being part of a brilliant pioneering group of women making musical history. Albertine recounts helping define punk fashion, struggling to find her place among the boys, and her romance with Mick Jones.
I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp
From an early age, Richard Hell dreamed of running away. His father died when he was seven, and at seventeen he left his mother and sister behind and headed for New York City, place of limitless possibilities. He arrived penniless with the idea of becoming a poet; ten years later he was a pivotal voice of the age of punk, starting such seminal bands as Television, the Heartbreakers, and Richard Hell and the Voidoids, whose song "Blank Generation" remains the defining anthem of the era.
We Got the Neutron Bomb
Taking us back to late ’70s and early ’80s Hollywood, pre-crack, pre-AIDS, pre-Reagan, We Got the Neutron Bomb recreates word for word the rage, intensity, and anarchic glory of the Los Angeles punk scene, straight from the mouths of the scenesters, zinesters, groupies, filmmakers, and musicians who were there.
Patti Smith's first book of prose, the legendary American artist offers a never-before-seen glimpse of her remarkable relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe in the epochal days of New York City and the Chelsea Hotel in the late sixties and seventies.