From poets-turned-painters like Sylvia Plath, to rockstars-turned-chainsaw-artists like Cherie Currie from The Runaways, artists often cross into other genres. To celebrate the launch of alt-pop sensation Lights’ new album and graphic novel combination Skin & Earth, we’ve put together a list of the greatest musicians-turned-authors of all time!
1. Patti Smith
Image Via Vanity Fair
Rock icon and poet Patti Smith was 2010 the winner of the National Book Award for her incredible memoir Just Kids, as well as the author of some twenty books including poetry collections, memories, lyric collections, novels and prose, in addition to being one of the most lauded rock musicians of all time. Smith rose to stardom in the seventies with her band The Patti Smith Group, alongside the likes of Bob Dylan, Janice Joplin, Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix to name but a few.
She was known for her poetic lyrics, and energetic performances. After settling down to raise a family with her husband, Fred Sonic Smith, she turned to writing to channel her creativity. Despite returning to music, and being inducted into the Rock’N’Roll Hall of Fame, Smith has continued to produce new writing consistently, with her latest publication being The New Jerusalem, a prose poem in the tradition of John’s Revelation. Smith’s creativity seems to flow in all directions, from music, to art, to poetry, to prose, and she continues to inspire each new generation of artists.
Image Via Lights
Lights has sold out tours internationally, and, through her first three records, has amassed a fanbase of over two million. Winner of two JUNO awards for music that has garnered over 100 million streams in the USA alone, Lights has a pretty impressive music career, to say the least. However, her vast creativity doesn’t stop there. Feeling that she was not getting all she wanted to say out through her music, Lights created the character of En, something of an alter-ego— a fictional character from a fictional world who has come to life in Lights’ new graphic novel Skin & Earth. Skin & Earth corresponds directly to Lights’ new album of the same name, an unprecedented and totally original meeting of talents.
Lights has said that writing and illustrating the graphic novel has helped to express herself in ways she hadn’t before. “In the past, Lights wouldn’t write about being angry or Lights wouldn’t write a song about fighting or Lights wouldn’t write about sex,” she says. “So En is me in another dimension, and I was able to write about all the things that I never wrote about before.”
3. Nick Cave
Image Via NME
Spooky Australian crooner Nick Cave is best known as lead singer of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Before the Bad Seeds, Cave fronted band The Birthday Party, who are credited with starting the gothic rock genre. He’s known for the intensity of his lyrics and preoccupation with themes of religion, love, death and violence. Despite a music career spanning decades, that has seen him duet with the likes of Kylie Minogue, as well as generally being seen as a cultural icon, Cave is also a successful writer.
Cave co-wrote, scored and starred in the 1988 film Ghosts… of the Civil Dead (1988) as well as writing the screenplay for 2005 film The Proposition. He is the author of two novels. And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) follows the story of “a mute born to abusive parents in the American south… [and is] as any fan of Cave’s music would expect: full of religion, violence and madness, and peopled with gothic weirdos and doomed visionaries.” The Death of Bunny Munro (2009) follows Bunny Monroe, “whose constant womanising and alcohol abuse comes to a head after his wife’s suicide. He and his son go on an increasingly out-of-control road trip around Brighton, over which looms the shadow of a serial killer making his way towards Brighton, as well as Bunny’s own mortality.”
4. Courtney Love
Image Via People
So you may not have known about this one—but rocker Courtney Love, frontwoman of grunge band Hole, is also co-author f a manga series. In 2004, Love teamed up with manga mogul Stu Levy, who is also known as DJ Milky, to create the manga series Princess Ai. The titular Princess is a rock star in love with a sensitive musician, but she is also “a winged amnesiac alien who inexplicably finds herself in Tokyo, and has to work out how she got there while defending her country, Ai Land, from violent demons.”
Originally published in three volumes, the Princess Ai universe has now grown to include an Ai colouring book, Ai short stories, an Ai comic strip and, if you’re really keen, Ai poetry by DJ Milky.
5. Colin Meloy
Image Via Pitchfork
Colin Meloy rose to stardom as lead singer and songwriter of indie-rock outfit The Decemberists, and if you’re at all familiar with The Decemberists, it won’t be too much of a surprise to learn that Meloy has made a foray into the world of fiction. His lyrics often focus on historical incidents and folklore, and the band are known for encouraging audience participation and staging “reenactments of sea battles and other historical events.”
Naturally, he is also the author of Wildwood, ‘a fantastic tale that transpires in the woods outside of Portland, Oregon. Babies are stolen, animals assemble militias and a fantasy novel of above-average quality emerges from the Northwestern woods.’
Featured Image Via Vanity Fair, People, Drowned in Sound