Book Review: Still Alright: A Memoir By Kenny Loggins with Jason Turbow (Hachette Book Group)

By: Jesse Striewski

Growing up a kid in the ’80s, Kenny Loggins to me was simply “the movie soundtrack guy,” as faceless in my mind as the famous “voiceover guy” for all of the big movie trailers back in the day. Of course it wasn’t until later in life I started realizing these were actual people with lives that I never gave much consideration to, with many other artists such as Loggins eventually becoming more human to me.

Reading his book I discovered even more about him than I ever expected to, perhaps even a bit more than necessary if I’m being honest (Loggins’ memoir is a tad more detailed than many others I’ve read in the past, often teetering on the brink of boredom). In fact, I nearly forgot completely that he experienced his first success prior to being a solo artist with Loggins & Messina, and had even written/co-written such classics as “Your Mama Don’t Dance” and “Danny’s Song.”

Loggins goes over every chapter of his life’s journey without missing a single note, sharing with audiences all of the highs and lows that come along with pop stardom. At times it’s a fascinating ride, while at other moments you want the point to be reached already (and on a side note, I think Loggins and I are complete opposites as far as politics are concerned, not surprising).

But I have to give thanks where it’s due; if not for hearing that opening guitar riff from “Danger Zone” the first time I saw Top Gun all those years ago, I might never have fallen in love with rock music the way I did (okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it was a definite mind/eye-opening moment for me nonetheless). If you’ve ever felt remotely the same about Loggins’ music, you’ll likely enjoy the ride as well.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Book Review: The First 21: How I Became Nikki Sixx By Nikki Sixx (Hachette Books)

By: Jesse Striewski

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.

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

Book Review: Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen By Brad Tolinski and Chris Gill (Hachette Books)

By: Jesse Striewski

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.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars