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Book Publishers Would Kill for a David Bowie Autobiography


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Music sales might be down in general (though up this year slightly), but there's been no shortage of people who want to read about rock & roll. Keith Richards, Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, and Patti Smith all have had memoirs on the New York Times' Bestsellers List in recent months, and Pete Townshend, Morrissey, and Billy Joel (sort of) have autobiographies in the works.

While it seems like all the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees have traded in their instruments for Microsoft Word, there are a few bios that publishers would kill to nab. The Guardian writes that Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, and David Bowie would all command epic pay days if they stopped writing lyrics long enough to document their own stories. Bowie's life story is especially drawing interest; one publisher tells the Guardian that his memoir would be the "big white whale" of rock bios.

The thing is, Bowie does have a sort of memoir in the works, since he's never been do things the conventional way. His upcoming photobook Bowie: Object will feature 100 pictures of things that mean something special to the rocker "annotated with insightful, witty and personal text written by Bowie himself." Bowie's manuscript was due to its publisher Penguin in December, but there's been no word since. Regardless, it's unlikely Object would cover the more sordid, infamous moments from Bowie's legendary life.

There have been plenty of solid books written about the Thin White Duke -- Hugo Wilcken's examination of Low for the 33 1/3 series is an especially essential read -- but all of them come from the perspective of an outsider-looking-in, and not from Bowie himself. Perhaps part of the reason Bowie hasn't written an autobiography is because he doesn't remember much of his own life.

As documented in the Wilcken book, there was a stretch of years where Bowie subsisted solely on vitamins, peppers, milk, and cocaine, and his hard living at that time reportedly left huge gaps in his memory. Bowie has gone on record as saying he remembers little about recording 1976's Station to Station, so any Bowie-penned chapters on that era of his life would likely be a fleeting collection of (still fascinating) memories. Then again, Ziggy Stardust's life story has already been excellently told in Bowie's own music and onstage personas, so maybe he'd rather let that do the talking.

[Photo:  Jamie McCarthy/]

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