Phil Collins’ memoir, Not Dead Yet, comes out today! The book promises a candid (and irresistible) account of music, fame, and alcoholism, and apparently disputes the rumor that Collins broke up with his second wife via fax—though I wouldn’t know for sure, since my review copy still hasn’t arrived.
Once your patrons have finished Not Dead Yet—and they’re all going to read it, since I’m certain everyone in the world adores Phil as much as I do—they’ll be sure to want more. So stock up on these memoirs from other drummers, linked to their excerpted Booklist reviews below.
Baby Plays Around: A Love Affair with Music, by Helen Stapinski
While establishing herself as a freelancer in 1990s New York, Stapinski married her Daily News reporter boyfriend and covered everything from Yu’pik tribal music to the sex lives of night-shift-working women, like the Wall Street drudge who wanted to start a band and needed a drummer. Fortunately, Stapinski used to sneak into her brother’s room to play his pearly white Ludwig kit.
Life in Double Time: Confessions of an American Drummer, by Mike Lankford
Lankford’s view of rock and roll life on the road is decidedly unromantic, peopled as it is largely by anonymous musicians, fans, drunks, and roadies. Little details like the hazards of playing the blues on cold, grimy nights in small midwestern towns make his tales of a traveling band in pursuit of the fabled big break ring true: “You could empty a hall in thirty minutes if your tunes weren’t danceable.”
Punk Rock Blitzkrieg: My Life as a Ramone, by Marky Ramone
How would rock history have changed if Marc Bell had nailed his audition for the New York Dolls? Well, he could have been the drummer for three of the most influential New York bands of the 1970s, instead of merely two. After a short, turbulent stint with Richard Hell and the Voidoids, Bell replaced Tommy Ramone, changed his stage name to Marky Ramone, and started playing the “Cretin Hop” with possibly the most instantly recognizable rock band ever.
Strange Things Happen: A Life with The Police, Polo, and Pygmies, by Stewart Copeland
This enjoyable, none-too-revealing, anecdotal memoir isn’t exclusively about his days with The Police. Copeland thoughtfully recalls much else before, after, and indeed, during his tenure in the trio—the wildly successful Police reunion tour that began in early 2007, of course, but also his childhood in Beirut (his father was a CIA agent), his early and ongoing passion for drumming (“I just could not stop”), feeling like an outsider while attending college in California, and his relationships with fellow Police members Andy Summers (respectful) and Sting (complicated).