ock biographies are tricky things. Just because you like a certain band or artist, doesn't mean you'll like to read about them, and even if you would, it can be hard to separate the interesting rock biographies from the wretched ones. But 2012 saw the release of several autobiographies from some of rock's biggest names, and they've turned out to be pretty damn good.


My Cross to Bear
by Greg Allman

Greg Allman's life has had enough drama for 10 lives— his prodigious drug use, his drinking, his multiple marriages, the tragic death of his brother Duane, not to mention the usual insanity of a rock and roll lifestyle—and this book covers it all. Among other things, Allman reveals that one of his former wives (he won't say which) had him committed to a mental institution, talks about how his testimony against Allman Brothers Band associate Scooter Herring tore the band apart, and dishes about his dislike of ex-wife Cher's singing (of the album they recorded together‚ Allman and Woman, Allman says "That record sucked, man"). Allman isn't afraid to dis some of his contemporaries, either: he calls Noel Redding's band Fat Mattress the worst band of all time and puts down the Grateful Dead for having "no groove at all."


Roll Me Up& Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road
by Willie Nelson

Not so much an autobiography as it is a book of random memories and observations interwoven with diary entries, song lyrics, and testimonials from friends, bandmates, and family members. "You shouldn’t be reading this BS, it could ruin you for all time to come," Nelson warns readers. "You could end up a social outcast like me, an outlaw!” 

There's not a lot of great writing in Roll Me Up and Smoke Me. In fact it reads like it was written and edited by a massive stoner. Which, of course, it was, but a stoner who has led an incredible life, has gone from poverty to superstardom, has battled the U.S. Government over taxes, and now enjoys hanging out in Maui with his celebrity friends.


Rod The Autobiography
by Rod Stewart

Rod Stewart's book is full of juicy details about the debaucherous life of a rock star, but it fails to answer the essential question: what the hell happened to Rod Stewart? How did he go from being quite possibly the greatest rock singer of all time, to making some of the worst music in the history of recorded sound? It's probably not fair to expect that level of self-awareness from an autobiography, although he does admit that his hit "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" has become “a pink toilet seat hung around [his] neck for the rest of [his] life.” Rod's book has great stories about trashing hotel rooms and airplanes, taking cocaine through anal suppositories, and exactly how the infamous "stomach pump" rumors (Stewart was said to have gotten his stomach pumped after felating a group of sailors) got started.


Who I Am
by Pete Townshend

The Who guitarist reveals much about some dark chapters in his life in his autobiography. From being molested as a child, to the deaths of former Who members Keith Moon and John Entwistle, to the scandal over his arrest on child pornography charges, Townshend has a lot to say. He's not afraid to boast either, and he proudly mentions how he invented the power chord, predicted the internet, and influenced Jimi Hendrix's stage persona. Whether you believe these claims or not, Who I Am still makes for a compelling read.


Waging Heavy Peace
by Neil Young

Anyone who has followed the long, strange trip that is Neil Young's career, already knows that Neil is a man who is capable of going from inspired brilliance to frustrating strangeness and back again many times over. For those people, it should come as no surprise that this autobiography is not your typical rock star tell all. In no particular order, Young talks about his family, his music, his love of vintage cars, and the various tragedies he's endured, from the deaths of close friends and associates like Danny Whitten and David Briggs to the cerebral palsy that afflicts his two sons, Ben and Zeke. But much like his erratic yet ultimately rewarding musical output, Waging Heavy Peace may be confusing at times and could have done with a bit more editing, but you're guaranteed to come away with plenty to think about.