Novelist Tom Wolfe coined the 1970s "The Me Decade"—responding to 1960s hippie communalism with asserted individualism. And singers and musicians from that decade are certainly voicing themselves now 40 years out.
The '70s witnessed the golden age of so much music—heavy metal, country, R&B, and disco. You name it. In his memoir, Iron Man: My Life in Black Sabbath and Beyond, guitarist Tony Iommi, the band's cofounder and leader, and undisputed originator of heavy metal, discusses the band's formation—high points and low: on his last day of work at a sheet metal factory, the 17-year-old accidentally cut off the tips of two of his fingers, to which he later glued thimbles so he could continue playing. (Former band member Ozzy Osbourne also publishes this season, Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy.)
Influential rock critic and former Rolling Stone editor Ben Fong-Torres will pay tribute in the eponymously titled book to the Southern California rock band the Eagles, a sure product of that decade, which formed in 1971 and disbanded in 1980, and sang about taking it easy.
Also recording in L.A. was Texas-born country singer Kenny Rogers—the famed "Gambler"—who tells his story for the first time in Luck or Something. No surprise that this season sees a continuation of books on Michael Jackson. In You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother's Eyes, Jackson's brother Jermaine sheds intimate light on Michael, whose first solo record Off the Wall was released in 1979. (Two other Jackson books will publish this fall, Man in the Music by Joseph Vogel, and My Friend Michael: Growing Up with the King of Pop, by Frank Cascio.)
In the similar R&B tradition, Nile Rodgers, founder of the band Chic and former member of Parliament Funkadelic, tells his story as producer, songwriter, and performer in the world of disco: Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.
In Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the '70s, Rolling Stone critic Will Hermes turns his attention to the New York music scene, a hot spot that included innovations in punk, disco, salsa, jazz, and minimalist composers.
Rolling back the years, we find bios on two of the great pop icons of the 1960s—Lennon and Jagger. Tim Riley, who has written extensively on the Beatles, narrows his sights in Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music, which at 800 pages promises to be the definitive study. In Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue, Marc Spitz, who wrote last year's bio on David Bowie, places the Rolling Stones' frontman at the front of a cultural revolution.
Moving even further back, all the way to the 1950s, is the autobiography by the "King of Calypso," Harry Belafonte. Writing here with Michael Shnayerson, Belafonte in My Song transports readers to his Jamaican and Harlem beginnings.
Finally in The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun, Robert Greenfield, author of a slew of music bios, offers this comprehensive study of the man whose influence spanned all these decades—the Turkish-born producer who, at Atlantic Records released the music of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Bobby Darin, the Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin.
PW's Top 10 Music
My Life in Black Sabbath and Beyond
Tony Iommi. Da Capo, Nov.
Luck or Something Like It
Kenny Rogers. William Morrow, Oct.
Ben Fong-Torres. Running Press, Oct.
You Are Not Alone: Michael: Through a Brother's Eyes
Jermaine Jackson. Touchstone, Sept.
Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny
Nile Rodgers. Spiegel & Grau, Oct.
Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Music Made New in New York City in the '70s
Will Hermes. Faber & Faber, Nov.
Lennon: The Man, the Myth, the Music—The Definitive Life
Tim Riley. Hyperion, Sept.
Jagger: Rebel, Rock Star, Rambler, Rogue
Marc Spitz. Gotham, Sept.
Harry Belafonte, with Michael Shnayerson. Random, Nov.
The Last Sultan: The Life and Times of Ahmet Ertegun
Robert Greenfield. Simon & Schuster, Nov.