The Ten Best Books About Colorado Music

There's an old adage that is often attributed to Frank Zappa but, according to, actually originated with actor and musician Martin Mull. It goes, "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Despite the fact that it's meant as a slight, we've always liked the line because, when you find the right building, it's easy to dance about it like loons. Great music writing can be invigorating, and here are ten examples that hit home. Literally.

10. Colorado Rocks, by G. Brown “A half-century of music in Colorado” is the subhead of this highly rated volume, which features some of the world’s most beloved musicians waxing lyrical about their experiences in the Rocky Mountain state. From Bob Seger to the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix to David Bowie — the recollections are gratifying, reinforcing the impact that this place has had on some of the very best. The inclusion of Gary Glitter is regrettable in hindsight.

9. The Denver Folk Music Tradition, by Paul A. Malkoski Local music historian Paul Malkoski delves into the history of the Swallow Hill Music Association and the Denver Folklore Center, founded to bring together performers like Joan Baez, Pete Seeger and our own Judy Collins. He gives credit to founder Harry Tuft (who wrote the foreword), and explores the last fifty-plus years of Denver folk music. Whether you’re a hardcore folkie or a music fan with a passing interest in the genre, there’s some fascinating local history here.

8. Denvoid and the Cowtown Punks, by Bob Rob Medina An anecdotal collection of stories from the 1980s Denver punk scene, this little gem is decorated with authentic art from fanzines of the day. Those who were there can revel in the joyful nostalgia, reliving the chaos that’s recounted in oh-so-vivid detail and the shows by bands like Frantix, Bum Kon, and Angel Hair. Those who weren’t can view it all vicariously through Medina’s wide eyes.

7. Ginger Baker: Hellraiser, by Ginger Baker Yes, the Cream drummer is English. But he lived in this part of the world, in Parker, for the majority of the 1990s, and still considers Colorado at least one of his homes. Gooba-gobble, we accept him, one of us. His autobiography is a tremendously honest and, in parts, gnarly read. Yes, he thinks he’s the best drummer in the world, but we’re not arguing.

6. The Glenn Miller Conspiracy: The Never-Before-Told Story of his Life — and Death, by Hunton Downs There will always be an audience for books about Glenn Miller because of the level of mystery surrounding his death. Pulitzer Prize nominee Hunton Downs, a retired military man himself, hints in this fascinating read that there might be a bit of a coverup still going on today. Did Miller really die over the English Channel in World War II? We might never know, but at least there are people like Downs who will keep digging.
Read on for five more of the best books on Colorado music. 

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