Their Back Pages- Neil Young, Pete Townshend Lead Bumper Crop of Rock Star Memoirs, a Growing Segment of the Publishing Industry

Keith Richards 2010 bestselling memoir, "Life," set the gold standard for other rock stars' success in the publishing industry.

(from Billboard Magazine, October 6, 2012) Grandpa-aged rock gods have found a new frontier to devote their creativity and free time: the publishing industry. After Keith Richards’ 2010 memoir, “Life,” spent 22 weeks on the New York Times Hardcover Best Seller list and has now sold over half a million copies, other classic rock stars are flocking to the newly exposed market. In the past year Steven Tyler, Sammy Hagar, Gregg Allman, and Carole King have all produced subsequent best sellers, solidifying the market for rock memoirs.

With the holiday season coming up, a plethora of new memoirs are hitting the bookshelves this fall. Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Rod Stewart, Willie Nelson, Duran Duran’s John Taylor, Cyndi Lauper, and Kenny Rogers all have books coming out before the upcoming holiday season.

In wake of his new memoir, “Waging Heavy Peace,” Neil Young explains the incentives of an aging musician picking up the pen:

“Writing is very convenient, has a low expense and is a great way to pass the time. I highly recommend it to any old rocker who is out of cash and doesn’t know what to do next.”

Carrie Thornton, Executive Editor at HarperCollins Imprint It Books, attributes much of the recent rock genre memoir success to “the appetite for baby boomer nostalgia.” Another musician literary agent describes the category as “a sweet spot because the largest reading block in our country is the boomers, and they are also by far the largest buyer of hardcovers.”

While Keith Richards received an advance of $7 million for his book, most artists are lucky to get seven figures. One key to high profits for artists is to adapt the mechanics of an album tour to a book tour. Bookstore events and nontraditional events in which the fans can come out and see the artist perform and get a book signed can exponentially increase the number of books sold. E-books add even more enhancements to buyers, such as including unreleased songs with the purchase of the e-book.