We Got the Beat: Women in Rock

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs/ autobiographies and am particularly enjoying reading biographies about rock musicians. The last few autobiographies that I read and thoroughly enjoyed are about female rock singers. Whether you like to rock with the best of them or just like reading about those who do, the following titles are sure to fit the bill.

Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway by Cherie Currie and Toni O’Neill is gritty, hard to put down and at times disturbing. Cherie Currie was the lead singer for the Runaways – the band in which Joan Jett also got her start. Cherie was spotted at a club by the Runaway’s manager when she was fifteen and was asked to come to an audition. Problems with drugs and alcohol, sexual molestation, a sleazy manager and a terrifying ordeal with a possible serial killer make this book difficult to put down as the reader hopes for some sort of redemption for Currie. The movie The Runaways (starring Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart) examines the relationship between Currie and Jett – but even the movie leaves out some of the most disturbing accounts in the book. Both the movie and the book are highly recommended, however.

If you’re a child of the 80’s you’ll enjoy Belinda Carlisle’s Lips Unsealed: A Memoir. Belinda Carlisle began her music career with a short stint drumming in punk band The Germs and then formed the Go-Go’s, one of the most famous all girl bands that wrote their own material. Carlisle recounts her struggles with relationships, discourse within the band and addiction (drugs, alcohol and food) honestly and pulls no punches. This book also describes life past the Go-Go’s, delving into Carlisle’s career as a solo artist and her marriage to Morgan Mason, a politican and film producer. Throughout the book one is conscious of Carlisle’s vulnerability and low self- esteem, even in the face of great success.

If you want a change of pace from the tales of rock stars’ descent into drug and alcohol abuse, Pat Benatar’s Between a Heart and a Rock Place is a riveting and refreshing read. Born to hard working parents of Polish descent she had a good relationship with her family, even though they struggled financially. A music teacher was instrumental in having Benatar classically trained as a singer and was a great influence on Benatar throughout her adolescence. As Benatar recounts how she formed her band and found success, she discusses the difficulty of being a woman in a male dominated industry and the sexism that came along with that. Executives at her music label wanted her to dress in revealing clothes and also wanted her to hide her long-term relationship with bandmate Neil Giraldo, as they wanted the fans to see her as a sex object. Throughout it all, Benatar kept her integrity and found balance between a career and family, making for a surprisingly interesting story.

-Theresa

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