Why guitarists should read biographies

Musical heroes

We all have our musical heroes.

Usually we discover them early on in our guitar playing experience.

Heroes can be a wonderful guiding light that give us something to aim for, and drive us on to take our guitar playing to greater heights.

Sometimes it’s our heroes that motivate us to take up guitar playing in the first place.

Musical heroes can also seem to be an alien breed though. This is particularly true when we view them through the lens of the media and listen to near perfect recordings and impeccable studio production.

It can be tempting to think that they possess something magical that we normal humans just don’t.

Biographies of our heroes

Reading for guitaristsWhen you read a biography however, you see a different truth.

Whether it’s Prince, Sting, Frank Zappa, or Marilyn Manson, we nearly always learn how hard most of these musicians worked at their careers.

It’s in biographies that we often learn of their sacrifices, the risks they were willing to take, the help that some of them received along the way.

We read of how fortunate some of them were to meet the right people at just the right time and how they made the most of that good fortune.

It’s in biographies that we see how ‘business savvy’ many of these musicians were, and how this helped them achieve their success.

The reality of a musician’s life

It would be delusional to suggest that the musicians above aren’t talented; they clearly have talent by the truckload. But there is far more to their success than talent alone.

If you’re an aspiring guitarist, it’s very good for you to get an insight into how things really were for those who found success.

You can see what things were like before they made it big.

You can read about their struggles and the problems they had to overcome.

You can learn about the many failures that they experienced, and what they’re learned from them.

You can see how they made the best of the opportunities that presented themselves.

Reading biographies grounds us and helps us to see the reality of trying to earn a living as musicians.

This is a good thing and it’s very different to what record companies and magazines would like us to believe.

A biography is a dose of careers education in story-form.

I’m not one to linger in the past; to me the best time is always now. But if I had started reading biographies earlier I would definitely have done some things differently.

Over to you

If you haven’t read any biographies of musicians yet, why not get started now?

You’ll almost certainly come way from them with some useful knowledge and insights.

If you’d like some suggestions, head over to my Recommended reading for guitarists page where I share with you some of my favourite biographies and other books that I’ve enjoyed and learned from over the years.


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