Here in the continuing music and writing series, we attempt to look at different angles where the musical and literary worlds have intersected. This week we’ll look at some musicians who attempted at some point to conquer the writing world. Sometimes it was a great success, and other times not so much.
It may interest you to know former and deceased Doors singer Jim Morrison has a page on Amazon – as an author. He published at least two known poetry volumes during his lifetime. The first, The Lords and the New Creatures, was first published in 1969. It continues today as an Amazon paperback purchase. Other writings were assembled and published after his death. As for his poetry’s quality – well, let’s just say it’s as hedonistic and indulgent as The Doors’ infamous lyrics.
Glenn Danzig (The Misfits/Samhain/Danzig), adult comic books
The Misfits and Danzig singer is no stranger to comics – The Misfits themselves were inspired by b-movies, underground comics and late night TV thrillers. So when Glenn had himself some capital acquired, he went about fulfilling his vision in another way, by starting Verotik (Link NSFW). Verotik is a horror-erotica house, focusing on gory and graphic titles. It’s exactly the kind of material you’d expect from Mr. Danzig, whom has put semi-nude figures on his album covers, and is unashamed to discuss dark material in all his work. Think of Heavy Metal magazine, R. Crumb, and Charles Addams meeting up, and you’ve got the basics of Verotik’s imagery and subject matter.
Gene Simmons (KISS), men’s magazines and comic books
Gene Simmons is an avowed comics fan with a background in publishing. As a young Israeli immigrant in New York, he once worked for Vogue as a typist. He also collected Marvel, DC and other comics in his youth, and even made a side business buying and selling used comics. If you know what a mimeograph was, well, Gene once operated one. He even started his own zines long ago, one of them called Stiletto. So it really makes sense that once the man born Chaim Witz became Gene Simmons of Kiss, he’d jump into publishing at his first chance. This came with the original Kiss comic book in the 1970s, which was likely Simmons’ idea. Later though he’d try to start his own version of Maxim, called Gene Simmons’ Tongue Magazine. It wasn’t successful so Simmons went back to his longtime love, comic books, and started Simmons Comics Group. Sadly, that venture wasn’t long for this world either, so it’s back to the drawing board for Kiss’ fire-spitting demon.
Claudio Sanchez (Coheed and Cambria), comic books
Sanchez was mentioned once before, due to his band’s numerous concept albums floating around The Amory Wars, a long-running musical and literary sci-fi series. Sanchez has branched out further though, with Kill Audio, a surrealist comic focusing on a troll named for the book, who lives in a world where music and reality are intricately linked.
Leonard Cohen (Solo artist), novels and poetry
The deep-voiced Canadian singer is known for his dramatic songs that scan human emotion’s whole range; however, Cohen has also attempted success in writing. He’s put out nine poetry books and two novels. One of them, The Favourite Game, was well received in its day. Game takes the reader into the Jewish burgs of Montreal, where the protagonist goes on a long, self-discovering journey between Canada and the United States.
Nick Cave (The Birthday Party/Bad Seeds/Grinderman), novels, plays, poetry, and screenplays
From his foreboding voice, gothic lyrics, and intensity, Cave delivers nearly each song like a withered, desperate street preacher. It’s no wonder then he brought this to the page, through several lyrical and poetry collections. He’s also published several novels, including And the Ass Saw the Angel and The Death of Bunny Munro. Cave’s writing has even made it to the screen. He has a writing credit for The Independent and is attached to another adaptation of The Crow.
Steve Earle (Solo artist), short stories
Before his prison stint, Steve Earle was a promising songwriter in the vein of Kris Kristofferson and other “outlaw” country singers, albeit he was about a decade or so late on the scene. Surviving a figurative trip to hell and back, Earle lived and learned many stories along the way. Most he channels into song, like his big hit, “Copperhead Road,” but he finally attempted publishing with Doghouse Roses. He followed that with I’ll Never Get Out this World Alive. Like his songs, the stories are about hard livin’ and hard lessons.