Six Musicians and How They Grew

Cyrus, Billy Ray. Hillbilly Heart. New Harvest: Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9780547992655. $25. MEMOIR
Forget Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) and her screen ups and downs. Here’s a reminder that her dad broke out as a country singer and songwriter with Achy Breaky Heart and sold over 20 million copies of the album Some Gave All‚ the best-selling debut album to date of a solo male artist‚ before going on to a varied career in music and film. Here he writes a story of music, faith, and his travails once he and his family hit Hollywood. A ten- to 15-city tour featuring a new song, Hillbilly Heart, will help push this book; the 150,000-copy first printing suggests big-audience expectations.

Norman, Philip. Mick Jagger. Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. 576p. ISBN 9780061944857 $34.99. BIOGRAPHY
Evidently, Jagger has proclaimed that he will never write a memoir, so we’ll have to depend on once-removed reporting from folks like Norman, author of the best-selling John Lennon: The Life. Norman interviewed many Jagger intimates, including some who have never spoken for the record, and promises to offer a larger, more complex picture of the star. We’ll see, but the book will surely be buzzing throughout 2012, the Stones’s 50th anniversary year. With a 150,000-copy first printing.

Rogers, Kenny. Luck or Something Like It. Morrow. Oct. 2012. 336p. ISBN 9780062071811. $27.99; eISBN 9780062071606. CD: Harper Audio. MEMOIR
The numbers certainly add up: In his 52-year career, pop/country singer Rogers has recorded more than 65 albums (so many it’s hard to count?), including one Diamond, 19 Platinums, and 31 Golds; he’s sold more than 120 million records worldwide and has nearly 250,000 fans on Facebook. His memoir will obviously touch on a lot of music making, plus those whose music making has touched him, from Ray Charles to Dolly Parton. And he’ll be promoting on his annual Christmas & Hits Tour.

Taylor, John. In the Pleasure Groove: Love, Death, and Duran Duran. Dutton. Oct. 2012. 304p. ISBN 9780525958000. $26.95. Downloadable: Penguin Audio. MEMOIR
Founded in Birmingham, England, in the late 1970s by bassist Taylor and Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran went on to define pop music in the 1980s; their vibrant music videos, seen repeatedly on the newly launched MTV, pushed them into the stardust. Taylor offers an account of the band’s music making (the history gets complicated) and his battles with his personal demons, cocaine and alcohol, as he tried to fathom it all. Hey, the band has sold 80 million records, and recent reviews of their reportedly sold-out concerts have a they’ve-still-got-it ring. So there’s an audience.

Townshend, Pete. Who I Am: A Memoir. Harper: HarperCollins. Oct. 2012. 608p. ISBN 9780062127242. $29.99; eISBN 9780062127266. lrg. prnt. CD: Harper Audio. MEMOIR
Townshend has reportedly been working on this memoir for a decade‚ without the help of a ghostwriter. (It says something to see that fact emphasized.) Here he is as a child, raised by a mentally incapacitated grandmother as his parents led an early version of countercultural life; an adolescent, obsessed with music and founding the forerunner of the Who with buddy Roger Daltrey; and a full-fledged rock star wrestling (as rock stars do) with drugs, sex, fame, fortune, and notoriety. With a one-day laydown on October 8 and a 400,000-copy first printing; line up for author appearances in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Young, Neil. Waging Heavy Peace. Blue Rider: Penguin Group (USA). Oct. 2012. 416p. ISBN 9780399159466. $30. MEMOIR
Canadian-born singer/songwriter Young has successfully explored so many different musical styles in his solo and collaborative work that his career could serve as a map of rock music in the last 50 years. Not every musician could have moved so silkily from the gentler sounds of Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, & Nash to the hard-driving rock of Crazy Horse to experimentation that has led to Young’s being dubbed the godfather of grunge. A noncompromiser and an active environmentalist, too; here’s his story.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.