Legs McNeil’s List of the Ten Best Rock & Roll Books of All Time!


1. Billion Dollar Baby by Bob Greene (Atheneum)
Columnist Bob Greene travels with the Alice Cooper Band and plays Santa Claus during a Christmas tour and gets beat up by the band as the finale every night.Perhaps the funniest rock & roll book ever written. Highly recommended!

2. Hellfire by Nick Tosches (Avalon)
The biography of Jerry Lee Lewis reads like fucking prayer, probably the finest rock bio ever written. Highly Recommended!

3. A Twist of Lennon by Cynthia Lennon (Avon Books)
Cynthia Lennon’s lovely memoir of being married to Beatle John Lennon. Basically it’s what author Albert Goldman stole from to write that horrid book “The Lives of John Lennon.” He need not bothered. Cynthia’s book remains one of the best first hand reports on the inside of Beatlemania.

4. Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil & Gillian McCain (Grove/Atlantic)
Hey, it’s my fucking list! Fuck you! (So write your own Top Ten List of the Best Rock & Roll Books and I promise to publish it on this website!)

Nate Smith's torn copy of Please Kill Me

5. Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan (Simon and Schuster)
Bob travels around, comes to New York and makes a record. Then skips around a bit. Hey Bob, hurry up and finish Volume Two, but try to keep this one more linear!

6. Life by Keith Richards and James Fox (Little, Brown and Company)
Keith remembers and does a pretty good job. Oh, and Jagger was– and is an asshole.


7. Just Kids by Patti Smith (Ecco)
I wanted to dislike this book, but Patti knows what her audience wants and delivers. It’s a lovely book chock full of innocence and romanticizing the “Artist,” but short on reality. As I said, Patti knows what her audience wants and delivers it. Yes, you too can be an artist and fall in love with a gay S&M photographer and author a splendid memoir re-writing history.

8. Papa John by John Phillips and Jim Jerome (Doubleday)
Scathing account of the Sixties and Seventies rock & roll scene. (Only he forgets to mention his affair with daughter Mackenzie. I guess there are still some taboos left.)

9. The Dirt: Confessions of the Worlds Most Notorious Rock Band by Tommy Lee, Vince Neil, Nikki Six, Mick Mars and Neil Strauss (HarperCollins)
I never read it, but skimmed through it when my publisher, Cal Morgan told me Please Kill Me was used as the model for it. Gillian really loved it. So did Fred Geller, the postmaster of the little town I live in. On those two recommendations, it made the list, but I could never get into Mötley Crüe.


10. England’s Dreaming by Jon Savage (Faber &Faber)
The Rise and Fall of the Sex Pistols and English Punk Rock.