Johnny Cash: The Life
By Robert Hilburn
Little, Brown, 679 pages, $35
The Man in Black’s many fans will find this huge, sympathetic yet critical study of his serial rises, falls, betrayals and redemptions definitive. More casual followers may choose to skim.
Celebrating Bird: The Triumph of Charlie Parker
By Gary Giddins
University of Minnesota, 195 pages, $18.95
Early on, Stanley Crouch shared his research on Parker with the gifted jazz writer Gary Giddins. The result is this splendid, heavily illustrated little 1987 study, now reissued with a new introduction.
Willin’: The Story of Little Feat
By Ben Fong-Torres
DaCapo, 278 pages, $30
Probably the most underrated band in rock ’n’ roll history, Little Feat (Willin’, Dixie Chicken) finally gets its due. Focus is properly on its presiding spirit, the brilliant and doomed Lowell George.
By Donald Fagen
Viking, 159 pages, $28.50
Half of the hyperliterate duo that made up Steely Dan (Dirty Work, Rikki, Don’t Lose That Number) talks about the figures who shaped his growing up in Cold War New Jersey.
Wild Tales: A Rock and Roll Life
By Graham Nash
Crown, 360 pages, $33
Likeable veteran of iconic bands The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash (and Young) takes us from his modest English youth to rock stardom and the love of Joni Mitchell. Lots of sex and drugs and anecdotes.
Robert Plant: A Life
By Paul Rees
HarperCollins, 360 pages, $24.99
The voice and “Golden God” of Led Zeppelin charts his days with rock’s loudest and wildest band, the deaths of his son and a bandmate, and his rebirth, after Zep’s demise, as a solo artist
Tune In: The Beatles, All These Years Vol. 1
By Mark Lewisohn
Crown, 932 pages, $45
The Fab Four get the Churchillian treatment. This monster tome, the first of a proposed trilogy, has everything, and I mean everything, you could conceivably want to know about John, Paul, George and Ringo.