Reference – Books

This section provides a selection of representative books relevent to the R&B music genre and derivatives.

A new list being updated.


Title and Description
The Story of Motown

The first book ever published in America about the legendary Motown Record Company.

In January 1959 Berry Gordy borrowed $800 from his family and founded the Detroit-based record company that in less than a decade was to become the largest black-owned business in the United States. It also became one of the most productive and influential producers of popular music anywhere in the world, mainly by combining the best features of black and white American popular music.

Author: Peter Benjaminson

Published by: Rare Bird Books

Date: Latest revised edition 2018

Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans

Rhythm and Blues in New Orleans is a comprehensive history documenting the rise and development of a unique musical form. Originally published in Great Britain under the title Walking to New Orleans, this revised edition has interviews and information chronicling the careers and music of the major R&B artists.

Author: John Broven

Published by: Pelican Publishing

Date: 2016

The Rough Guide to Soul and R&B

The definitive guide to the genre’s greatest singers, musicians, songwriters and record labels, encapsulating the entire history of soul music from gospel and doo-wop, through funk and disco, to hip-hop and R&B.

Author: Rough Music Guides

Published by: Rough Guides

Date: 2006

Could This Be Magic?: The Story Of Doo-Wop

This book tells the story of doo-wop from the start and has profiles of key musicians and players along the way. We follow the music through the 1960s to the present and see how it has been taken up by other performers. In particular, it shows the virtues of British doo-wop, which has been all but ignored. It also looks at doo-wop in the rest of the world.

Author: Spencer Leigh

Published by ‘Beatles, Liverpool and More Ltd’

Date: 2020

The Real Rhythm and Blues

Mose Allison, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Tina Turner, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker: these and other rhythm and blues artists created the style, the riffs, and the attitude that rock ‘n’ rollers just couldn’t resist. But what exactly is R&B, and how does it differ from the blues, or from soul? Go back to the roots of this powerfully influential music, and see how it synthesized gospel, blues, and jazz to create a brand-new sound; how stage showmanship became crucial to its success; and how it crossed over from an exclusively black to an integrated audience. You’ll meet early artists, such as Mamie Smith and Louis Jordan, who paved the way for R&B, and look into the important role played by radio disk jockeys, as well as the independent labels that recorded these musicians.

Author: Hugh Gregory

Published by Cassell Illustrated

Date: 1998

History of Rock & Roll, Volume 1: 1920-1963

Ed Ward covers the first half of the social history of rock & roll in this definitive book. Beginning in the 1920s when blues, country, and black popular music played over the air waves and the first independent record labels were born, this first volume of a two-part series finishes in December 1963, just as an immense sea-change begins to take hold and the Beatles prepare for their first American tour. Ward introduces you to the musicians, DJs, record executives, and producers who were at the forefront of the genre. Sharing story after story of some of the most unforgettable and groundbreaking moments in rock history, Ward reveals how different sounds, harmonies, and trends came together to create the sound we all know and love today.

Author: Ed Ward

Published by Flatiron Books

Date: 2017

History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964-1977

Rock historian Ed Ward shares the behind-the-scenes stories of the musicians, DJs, record executives, concert promoters, and producers who were at the forefront of this incredible time in music history. Chronicling the years 1964 through 1977, this latest volume covers the most exciting era of rock history which saw a massive outpouring of popular and cutting-edge music. Ward expertly weaves together an engrossing narrative that not only covers the most famous stars like the Beatles, the Stones, Hendrix, and Dylan but also the artists trailblazing new territory in the same era such as Aretha Franklin, George Clinton, Elton John, and more. For all music lovers and rock fans, this sweeping history will reveal how different sounds, harmonies, and trends came

Author: Ed Ward

Published by Flatiron Books

Date: 2019

The History of R&B and Soul Music

R&B and soul music has historically been written and produced by black Americans to reflect the African American experience in the USA. This book covers a range of styles within R&B, including boogie-woogie, Doo-Wop, jump blues, and 12-bar blues, Motown soul, 70s funk, urban contemporary, and hip hop soul.

Author: Stuart A Kallen

Published by Lucent Books

Date: 2013