Sunday, July 30, 2006

Book Review: "Life on Planet Rock" by Lonn Friend (2006)

The editor of late 80s/early 90s heavy metal bible RIP! has delivered the book that I've been waiting for since Fargo Rock City.

From his "fly on the wall" vantage point, the reader gets an inside look at why Axl Rose seemed like such an asshole on the "Illusion" tours; the tension between Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora; Alice Cooper's religious conversion; how Metallica's Black Album came to be: the money-making mind of Gene Simmons; what was going through Ian Astbury's mind as he fronted the Doors of the 21st Century; why Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder rejected the way business was done and how they fought to change it; and in my opinion, the sickest, filthiest, most depraved episode involving any rock musician ever (see pages 221-223 for details), all seen through the eyes of a very human individual who loves the music and the men and women who make it.

Beginning with his days at Hustler under the tutelage of Larry and Althea Flynt, Lonn Friend is really just an ordinary guy who found himself in extraordinary circumstances. "Life on Planet Rock" is far above and beyond any run of the mill tell-all with exaggerated myths and cheap re-packaging of old Circus articles. If you've ever wondered what separates one unsigned band from another in the ears of the record company execs, how guys in bands really hang together (or not) and manage each other's egos, or how rock journalists balance living in a 1200-square foot house with their wife and kid while jetting around the world in the company of rock royalty, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.

An instant classic which belongs on your shelf right beside "The Dirt" and "Hammer of the Gods".

(Oh, and speaking of Zeppelin, the episode referred to above makes even the fish incident look tame in comparison.)

Overall rating: 10/10


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