Despite having one of the longest titles I ever seen for a book before, Double Talkin’ Jive, the new account from former Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, and Cult (among many others) drummer Matt Sorum (with assistance from authors Leif Eriksson and Martin Svensson) is a relatively short read. And although not quite as detailed as the last biography I read (ironically another drummer, Dave Grohl), it’s no doubt still a ride full of intriguing stories.
Having seen Sorum play several times over the years – first with The Cult in 2001, twice with Velvet Revolver in 2005 and ’07, and most recently touring with Motorhead in 2009 – it makes it all the more interesting to hear what was actually going on behind the scenes during many of these eras and then some.
And unlike a lot of other bios I’ve read, Sorum doesn’t waste too much time analyzing his upbringing or past traumas, but gives readers just enough insight into his background, going through many of the chapters with a rapid frequency. But the highlights are indeed that of his initiation into global titans Guns N’ Roses, up to his eventual bitter exit.
Even if none of Sorum’s former bands were up your alley, it shouldn’t be too hard to find some sort of interest in his life experiences. Give it a try and you might just find out why.
I had no idea I needed even more knowledge regarding the life of Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx, until I started reading his latest book, The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx. But while much has already been written/published on the pioneering musician’s life, there was still a lot to uncover.
From his early childhood bouncing around from place to place after his father left, to discovering music and eventually seeking stardom via the west coast, there’s surprisingly no shortage of new stories to behold here. Perhaps the most fascinating are the lesser known ones; Sixx finally dives deep into the history of pre-Crue acts such as Sister and London, and working with the likes of W.A.S.P. frontman Blackie Lawless (among others).
It’s unfortunate Sixx often doesn’t get the due respect he deserves. Sure, as a bassist his playing may be simple. But as a songwriter and as an overall musician, his talent is nothing short of impressive. Do yourself the favor of getting to know him a little better by reading this book, and you might just be glad you do.
Although I’ve seen two of the bands he fronted during his lifetime (Black Sabbath and Dio Disciples, a group made up mainly of former members of the Dio band), and have been lucky enough to even meet his former wife/manager Wendy Dio, I regrettably never had the chance to catch the incomparable Ronnie James Dio while he was still with us on this Earth.
This long overdue, posthumous autobiography, Rainbow in the Dark, describes the first half of the life of one of rock’s greatest warriors with amazing detail. From forming the foundations of early groups like Elf and Rainbow, to reaching epic proportions with Sabbath and Dio, it’s a fascinating look into the life of one of rock’s last true class acts.
Wendy Dio also helps add some personal insight along the way as well; whether discussing tumultuous break ups with former bandmates and business partners such as Ritchie Blackmore and Tony Iommi, or the invention of the “devil horns” in those early Sabbath days, everything is covered perfectly. The only downfall? Unfortunately the story ends (as it also begins) in 1986, with Dio rising to the heights of headlining Madison Square Garden. Although it does make for a perfect ending story wise, it does leave more to desire. One can only hope there is more material out there for a part two, and the gap is eventually bridged.
There’s been countless literature dedicated to the late Eddie Van Halen (much of which I’ve read, some I’ve even written personally myself) over the years. But this new collection by authors Brad Tolinski and Chris Gill, might just be the best thing ever transcribed on the legendary Van Halen guitarist.
Covering everything from his early youth as an immigrant struggling to adjust to American life along with his older brother (and Van Halen drummer) Alex, to rising to the pinnacle of rock stardom, this take on Eddie’s life somehow feels fresh, even virtually knowing his full life story by heart prior to reading.
Using both new and archived interviews from numerous associates (such as former bassist Michael Anthony and brief frontman Gary Cherone) of Van Halen’s to help tell the story makes for a fascinating read as well. It’s also refreshing to see every detail of Van Halen’s history as a band, including their earliest incarnation as a trio with Eddie up front on vocals and Mark Stone on bass, covered here.
The sudden loss of Eddie Van Halen late last year was the perfect example of not knowing what one had before it was gone. But Eddie will (rightfully so) be discussed and remembered for future generations to come; Eruption only helps to further solidify his legacy.
I’ve been fortune enough to cross paths with Anthrax bassist Frank Bello more than once at this point in my lifetime; in 2010, I was able to photograph each and every one of his manic mannerisms on stage with his band. Then in 2019, I was even luckier to have the chance to speak with him on behalf of Rewind It Magazine. And just last month, I was finally able to take my wife and son see him and Anthrax perform at Welcome to Rockville in Daytona Beach, FL.
Already having a pretty good idea of what he’s like as a person firsthand, I can honestly say his life story reads as though one is having a direct conversation with him. Author Joel Mciver does his best to keep Bello’s often-jumpy thoughts in line, while the one and only “God of Thunder” himself, Gene Simmons of KISS, offers his most sincere thoughts on Bello in a heartfelt forward that sets the tone nicely early on.
Sure, I could see Bello’s often brash, street-wise (perhaps even “too blunt” at times) dialogue here definitely being a turn off for some. But if you can get over that (and the book’s lengthy title), chances are you might not only like Fathers, Brothers, and Sons…, but possibly even take something from the wisdom Frank tries to pass down to readers. From one bassist (and now father) to another, my respect for Bello has always been up there. But the more and more I learn about him, the more that respect grows even further.
The moment I first saw those big, beautiful, uh…eyes, staring back at me from the cover of Elvira’s new memoir, I knew I had to get my hands on them…I mean it! And while we’ve all known her as simply the sexy mistress of the dark for so many decades now, the woman behind the character herself, Cassandra Peterson, paints a vivid picture of just how she transformed from a normal small town girl, to the voluptuous vixen she would eventually become.
From becoming a go-go dancer (and eventually a Vegas showgirl), to her days as a “junior groupie” hanging out with the likes of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix (among others), to her inevitable path to Hollywood stardom, and all the way up to present day (including of course her recent coming out of the closet), Peterson puts it all out there on the table. There’s of course plenty of sides to her that most of us have likely never considered before that are covered, including even some dark moments of abuse and/or sexual assault.
I’ve always found it interesting gaining real insight into the lives of the celebrities I’ve grown up admiring. Cassandra Peterson’s Elvira persona is one of the very first women I can really remember desiring at a young age, and in hindsight, helped play a huge part in my actual taste in women in general. But upon reading her memoir, I realized I knew so little about her up until now; I’m glad that has finally changed.
Part memoir, part motivational material, Lessons From My Life in Rock ‘n’ Roll dives deep into the life of Twisted Sister guitarist (and one time Rewind It Magazine interviewee) Jay Jay French and what ultimately lead him to rock stardom, falling into obscurity, then rising to the top again.
From start to finish, it’s a fascinating look at a life that once started ordinarily enough, and it’s easy to relate to his years as a rebellious teenager in New York, taking and dealing drugs, and causing unrest for teachers and authority figures alike.
And his path to rock warrior status was far from the easy route that most would expect; French (with the help of Farber) details how it was a long, hard fought road, filled with numerous ups and downs along the way. But he shares his learned experiences and wisdom with readers in hopes of just maybe enlightening some of them a little.
Although I might not see eye-to-eye with him on every issue (at least not as far as politics are concerned), French is someone I do have great respect for. His book goes to show, that although you may think you know the performer you see on stage every night, there’s sometimes far more to them than simply what meets the eye.
I’m not going to lie, I had no idea what to expect when I first learned that Karate Kid Part III actor Sean Kanan was releasing a “motivational” book (I tend to be a tad on the skeptical side when it comes to such publications). But almost instantly after picking it up, I immediately understood what Kanan was trying to achieve here with his new book, Way of the COBRA.
When I interviewed Kanan this past May (before having read the book), he explained to me firsthand; “Way ofthe COBRA is set up with the structure that you are a student of my dojo – the dojo of cobra life – and I’m the sensei. And ‘cobra’ is an acronym formed from the words character, optimization, balance, respect, and aubundance. And a ‘cobra’ is really somebody who is living their best, most authentic life.”
Kanan uses examples from his own life; from his relentless pursuit landing (and nearly losing, after a near-fatal injury) the role of Mike Barnes in K.K. III, to numerous other instances throughout his life. Many of the points Kanan makes throughout manage to resonate on some deep level, yet he never comes off as ‘preachy’ or ‘absolute’ in his quest. Instead, it can be equated to that of a parent passing down their years of experience and wisdom to their child.
If you’re currently seeking some much-needed guidance, or are just looking for a fresh perspective in your life, Way of the COBRA may not have all of the answers you need, but it’s a damn good starting point.
Back in the ’80s, everyone had their favorite member of the so-called ‘brat pack,’ the group of young actors famously dubbed so by the media. I suppose if there was ever one member of said club that I related to the most, it would have to be the slightly aloof, yet seemingly down-to-Earth Andrew McCarthy. Known for his roles in such popular films as St. Elmo’s Fire, Pretty In Pink, and Weekend at Bernie’s, McCarthy has made a career for himself in more recent years as a writer and director.
Unlike so many biographies of its kind, Brat is written with style and eloquence, empathizing well thought-out ideas and stories over the standard ‘tell all’ memoirs that border on bragging about excessive sex and drug usage. Here McCarthy details his childhood growing up in New Jersey (another thing we also share in common), the spark that fueled the fire for his love of acting, and the filming of all of the previously mentioned films and then some. And somehow he even manages to do all this in just over two hundred pages, making it a quick read for those who might suffer from shorter attention spans.
The only complaint I might have here? Unfortunately there is no behind-the-scenes detail of the immortal Weekendat Bernie’s II; McCarthy simply (and swiftly) glances over it as an embarrassing after thought, though most will likely forgive him for that. Still, if you’re like me and salivate over any and all ’80s trivia, then Brat will likely be just as up your alley as it was mine.
With renewed interest in the decade of decadence continually growing each year, there’s no shortage of various media information on ’80s hard rock (a.k.a. ‘hair’ or ‘glam’ rock) and heavy metal out there these days. But this new book by rock journalists Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (with a brief forward by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor) is truly the new bible on ’80s hard rock and heavy metal.
Largely tracing it’s roots back to the influence Van Halen had on the movement in the mid to late ’70s, here the two authors put together a collection of interviews that includes numerous musicians, producers, promoters, magazine editors, and the like, to help tell the tale of arguably one of rock’s greatest eras. Various key members of such staple acts as Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Dokken, L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P., Poison, Cinderella, and Warrant, – as well as numerous Rewind It Magazine interviewees from over the years – including Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, Jack Russell of Great White, Brian Forsthye of Kix, and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row (among many others), are just some who help recall the foundation of the genre that changed it all in great detail.
The perspective is unique and fresh, despite some of the stories already found in other published works (many of those involved have previously published their own individual biographies). There’s even a brief but brilliant collection of many never-before-seen photos included as well. In short, Nothin’ But a Good Time is a rollercoaster ride of literature from start to finish, and one of the best of it’s kind currently available on the subject. It simply ‘don’t get better than this.’