‘Memoir of a Roadie’ – by Joel Miller – Book Review

I get a lot of emails every day asking me to review this person or interview that person, but honestly, I don’t have time to explore the new artists or their music. I can’t keep up with the albums I want to review as it is so to add anything new ones in to the mix is impossible. And let’s be totally honest, most of the stuff I get is so bad, it is nauseating. Then one day I got a request to review a book. That hasn’t happened very often. I actually took the time to read the email and I loved the concept. It is a true story about life on the road and touring with bands. The book was called…this will take awhile…’Memoir of a Roadie: Axl said I mad a great cup of tea…Scott Weiland liked The Carpenters…& Ozzy likes Rosé’ and it was written by Joel Miller. I am going to just call it ‘Memoir of a Roadie’.

Joel Miller’s book covers the time in his life when he was a roadie.  It was only a few short years, back around the early 2000’s, but Joel experienced so much.  You get a realistic view of what goes on in the life of a roadie.  Joel toured with bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Guns ‘N Roses, Poison and The Cranberries and each tour gives us some funny moments, some insane moments and some very sad moments.  The book covers his hard, but fun life on the road in his early 20’s as well as the hardships of his life with not being on the road and the dysfunctions of his family.

Do you get stories about sex, drugs and rock & roll…Duh!!  But it is the storytelling of those events that makes this book a fun, fast-paced read.  Fast-paced because you don’t want to put it down.  The chapters are numerous, but short which helps keep a well paced book interesting and page-turning.  You’ll get to hear a lot about his jobs with telemarketing, working on movie sets and doing whatever he could to make ends meet.  And there is a portion of the book that deals with his tough relationship with his dad who was a Jaguar mechanic and who was sort of friends with Jay Leno.  Heck, Joel even got to go over to Jay’s and see that car collection.  When Joel’s dad was nearly dying, he had Jay call his dad and we get another funny moment in the book.  Jay seems like a really nice guy. Continue reading “‘Memoir of a Roadie’ – by Joel Miller – Book Review”

Kiss – ‘Kiss: 1977-1980’ by Lynn Goldsmith – Book Review

I know…you are probably sick of Kiss related posts at the same time I am doing the Kiss Review Series and I am sorry. I am in a Kiss Zone right now and everything is KISS, KISS, KISS!!! And on my continuous Kiss hunt, I found another book that was all about Kiss that I want to discuss.

This is a book right up my alley and education level. It is a picture book with very few words…YEAH ME!!! It is Kiss: 1977-1980 by Lynn Goldsmith. Lynn is a celebrity portrait photographer and was one of the very first female Rock Photographers. Lynn has been asked numerous times to photograph Kiss and this book encompasses all of those meetings and pictures from all of the sessions she had with the band. Those sessions were only from 1977-1980 which was a very interesting and transforming time for the band. It was coming out of Alive II, the solo albums, in to Dynasty and Unmasked where the music changed and Peter left. It goes up to where Eric Carr joins the band and has his first photo shoot with the band.

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‘START WITH A DREAM: A Drummer’s Journey from Rock & Roll to T.V. to Broadway’ by Joey Cassata – Book Review

As a gift this past Christmas, I was really excited to read “Start With a Dream: A Drummer’s Journey from Rock & Roll to T.V. to Broadway” by Joey Cassata.  I had heard Joey on 3 Sides of the Coin talking about it and I was a huge fan of his show ‘Z Rock’ and his band Z02 so this was a no brainer.

I started this book back in late December and early January.  I painstakingly got through about 100 pages and put it down.  I didn’t pick it up again until my vacation at the end of July.  I was bound and determined to finish the book while on vacation and I did.

So why was the first 100 pages so hard to get through?  Basically it was Joey talking about his childhood, I mean young childhood and his love for Kiss and Wrestling and Drumming.  He talked about it and talked about it and talked about it.  I felt he spent way too much time in this area.  I know he was building up to show what his motivations were, but I was able to pick up on that pretty quickly.

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Kiss Kompendium – The First Complete Collection

I was out vinyl digging with my two daughters and we stopped by an Antique Mall as the girls love to look at all the old antiques. I don’t argue as there are numerous booths with vinyls that I can check out and heck, you never know what else you are going to find.  The girls didn’t find anything, but I certainly did…and it wasn’t vinyl.

It was this 3″ thick book called ‘Kiss Kompendium: the First Complete Collection’.  I knew instantly what it was when I saw it…okay, I think my daughter saw it first and told me “look dad, a Kiss book”.  Yes, a Kiss book.  One I had been looking to find for quite some time and Wow!! There it was.  I immediately grabbed and carried it around the store until I could pay for it.  And let me tell you, that was a mistake.  By the time we walked up and down the rest of the aisles, my arms were jelly.  This book is not light in the very least.

What is the book you ask.  It is the complete collection of Kiss Comic Books.  Now, I don’t own a single comic book and don’t really care for them all that much. Nothing I don’t like about them other than I collect music, not comic books.  But I also collect Kiss and this fits that bill nicely.

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“My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N’ Roses” by Stephen Adler with Lawrence J. Spagnola – Book Review

Wow, I think the title really sums up this book.  Steven Adler’s biography details one of the most destructive paths of any rock star out there.  The many overdoses, heart attacks, strokes, it is amazing this many is still alive let alone still able to talk or ever play.  Wait, lets not forget the suicide attempts and the times he spent as a quest of the penitentiary system.  I’m exhausted just thinking about what he went through.

This biography popped up on Amazon for the Kindle at the amazing price of $0. And I will say it was worth more than that price.  I really did enjoy reading his story even though it is the same story as a lot of rock stars except maybe more destructive and he actually survives.  It is told as if Steven is sitting there with you and talking to you and it is a simple, fast-paced and easy read which helps make it a little more enjoyable.

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‘Take It Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato – Book Review

Welcome to a two-fer Book Review of ‘Take it Off: Kiss Truly Unmasked’ by Greg Prato.  Not only am I doing a review but my friend Deke over at Thunder Bay Arena Rock is doing one as well.  So click on his name and go read his when you are done with this one.  I am sure his will be better!!

A little backstory on Kiss during the Unmasked years.  I was a teenager during most of this time and I discovered Kiss for myself in these years. I say that because I was introduced to Kiss in the 70’s as I had one brother in particular that was huge in to the band.  He had posters and magazine pictures plastered all over his bedroom all…and I mean ALL over it.  I listened to all the 70’s albums, but I was seeing it through his eyes.  In 1982 with Creatures of the Night, I was now buying Kiss and loving Kiss on my own.

After the Lick It Up album came out, I finally got to see them live and I saw them live 3 times during the Unmasked years.  I bought every album during this period and have them today in some form or fashion.  So, needless to say, I am a huge fan of the Unmasked years so when I heard about this fantastic book by Greg Prato, I had to have a copy.  And I got one as a Christmas gift.  So, no more waiting, let’s review the book.

Greg’s book covers the entire era of Kiss without makeup.  All the way from 1983’s ‘Lick It Up until 1997’s album ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’.  And if you didn’t know, that is 12 albums mixed with Studio albums, live albums and compilation albums as well as one tribute album.  And here they are…

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Gene Simmons – ‘Kiss and Make-Up’ – Book Review

I was walking through an Antique Mall as my daughter had found another great place to buy used vinyl.  We came to a booth that didn’t have a ton of books, but there was one book there that immediately caught my eye.  It was the Gene Simmons’ autobiography called “Kiss and Make-Up”.  I had not read yet, so I grabbed it.  And at only $5, it was a steal.

And what did I think?  It was okay.  It was an easy read, but there was really nothing surprising or earth shattering.  I did forget he dated Diana Ross, but I knew about Cher so no shocker.  I had forgotten about some of the movies he did, but not ‘Runaway’ as I loved that one.

It was interesting to read about his childhood as it did explain a lot about who he is and why he is the way he is.  Gene is definitely full of himself and you know what, that is okay.  He knows it and I was worried I would like him even less after reading this, but I didn’t. I actually like a little more.  I feel I understand him a little more.

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‘Slash’ by Slash & Anthony Bozza – Book Review

As a Guns ‘N Roses fan, this book was a no-brainer when it went on sale on Amazon.  You will notice a trend on my book reviews in that I always get the books when they are on sale, dirt cheap.  Best way to buy them.  Slash has always been this larger than life Guitar God with his trademark black Top Hat, long curly hair covering his face and a cigarette sticking out of his mouth.  And of course, that is why that picture is the cover of the book.  You instantly know who it is.

The book came out in 2007 and it covers the periods of his childhood, through Guns ‘N Roses rise and fall, Slash’s Snakepit and all the way up to his band at the time Velvet Revolver.  It is a journey filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  You get to see what influenced him in life and what drove him forward to succeed.  I would say you get everything as he lays it all out on the table.  He isn’t afraid to paint himself in a negative light either.

After reading this book, I am amazed that Slash is actually still alive.  He started doing drugs, drinking and having sex at an extremely young age.  His parental supervision was  interesting as his parents were very artsy and lived a very bohemian lifestyle.  At a young age, he was surrounded by famous people, including the late David Bowie.  He started out skateboarding and eventually discovered the Guitar and then his focus changed.  School was never important, but even less so when he started playing guitar.

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Billy Idol – “Dancing With Myself” – Book Review

I have been a fan of Billy Idol since the day I heard (and saw) “White Wedding” on MTV back in the very early years of the station.  The music and his image with that Elvis curling of his lip had me from day one.  So, when Amazon had the book for the Kindle for $2.99 I had to get it and finally sat down and read it.  The book came out in October 2014 by Simon & Schuster and obviously tells the story of his life.  It is an autobiography which is why I wanted to really read it. It is straight from the man himself not someone taking stories from various sources who might have even been there.

The book covers his life from a child when they moved to the U.S. and then back to the U.K. all the way up to his last album (and my favorite Billy Idol album) released in 2014, ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’.  I am actually playing it as I am writing and I will do a review of that one someday.  The book covers all the bands, the sex, the drugs, the albums, the sex, the drugs, the ups & downs, the sex, the drugs and so much more.  Did  I mention it covers the sex and the drugs?

He freely talks about his sexual escapades and what rock & roll biography doesn’t which is why that is really the least interesting thing about the book.  The drugs are typical for a rock & roll biography as well, but for this part, it is important in his life story.  It was interesting to hear how messed up he was during the recording of the albums, the tours and his life in general.  At times, his commentary about being high painted this very vivid image and he takes you on this stranger journey momentarily and you realize just how fucked up he really was.  It is amazing he is still alive.

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‘Runnin’ with the Devil’ by Noel Monk and Joe Layden – Book Review

Runnin’ with the Devil: A Backstage Pass to the Wild Times, Loud Rock, and the Down and Dirty Truth Behind the Making of Van Halen by Joe Layden and Noel E. Monk…now that is a mouthful for a book title.  The book takes you on the journey of the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen and for some the true era of Van Halen.  The story is from the point of view of their Tour Manager and later Manager Noel E. Monk.

Before we get in to it, if you want to read a much better review of the book, go see my friend Deke at his blog as it was his review that made me get this when Amazon offered on the Kindle for only $2 (or was it $3)…either way it was cheap and worth that price.

The book picks up with Noel coming in as their tour manager for the tour supporting their incredible debut album ‘Van Halen’.  We don’t get any insight into the making of that album or really any album for that matter as Noel didn’t go to the studios while they were recording (or rarely ever did). We also don’t get any information on their forming or even their time with Gene Simmons which would have been nice, but again, this is not a band member telling the story and I had to get over that fact.

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