Whether through letters, lyrics or rare photos, a number of this season’s books capture the magic of the music we love so much.

Acclaimed Beatles biographer Hunter Davies has gathered, for the first time, all of John Lennon’s correspondence in a groundbreaking collection. The John Lennon Letters, published on what would have been Lennon’s 72nd birthday, includes almost 300 letters, notes, doodles, handwritten Beatles set lists, grocery lists and lyrics to never-recorded songs. Ranging from 1951 to Lennon’s reclusive years with Yoko Ono in the late 1970s, this fascinating volume contains thank-you notes to family and friends; love notes to Cynthia, his first wife (including a homemade card that celebrates their first Christmas together); a page from a homemade book, A Treasury of Art and Poetry, that he wrote when he was 11; and letters to record executives and other Beatles. With affection and insight, Davies provides elegant introductions to each of the book’s sections, setting each of the items into the fuller context of Lennon’s life and times.


Fifty years after they kicked off their rollicking and raucous career at The Marquee Club in London, the Rolling Stones continue to prance across stages with their hard-driving anthems celebrating sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. The band marks the anniversary with The Rolling Stones 50, by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood. More than 1,000 illustrations from the archives of the Daily Mirror chronicle now-legendary events in the Stones’ career—from the band’s first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show to the 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway. Captions from band members accompany the photographs; in a concert photo of the Stones in the Brighton Ballroom in 1964, packed with fans screaming, fainting and fist-fighting, Jagger remarks that “it was getting to be the same old thing, night after night. There was every chance that someone would get seriously hurt if this kept up.” Because it contains many rare and never-before-seen photos, this essential collection is a perfect gift from the Stones to their fans.


An entire generation of guitarists grew up imitating Jimi Hendrix’s blazing guitar solos. Yet, as Hendrix’s sister, Janie, illustrates so forcefully in her lovingly crafted collection, Jimi Hendrix: The Ultimate Lyric Book, Hendrix excelled as much at lyrics as he did at licks. Published in time for what would have been Hendrix’s 70th birthday, this collection of handwritten lyrics, some scribbled on hotel stationery, offers powerful insights into Hendrix’s passionate imagination and lyrical genius. Photos accompany each song, bringing to life Hendrix’s enduring legacy and his ability, in his sister’s words, to build a “bridge from past to present to future.”

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