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Kindred Spirits

nerdgirl.jpgGlam fans, if you've been keeping up then you know that I've read both books I purchased for vacation. Last night, I bought another book to read in the airport for my long wait tomorrow. While weeding through the massive Virgin store at Downtown Disney, I decided on Nerd Girl Rocks Paradise City: A True Story of Faking It In Hair Metal L.A. I wasn't too sure about the book, but I thought it might be at least a little amusing, so I went ahead and plunked down cash for a paperback copy.

Apparently, the book is based around the of aspiring music critic "Soffee." Along the way she falls into the trap of thinking she is in the same league as her subjects and succumbs to alcoholism. According to Booklist she finds her way to sobriety and clarity -- to the point of penning her memoirs. I'll post a review when I'm done.

Eric and I ate dinner at Downtown Disney last night, too. During our meal a DJ keep spinning some records with videos projected on a giant screen. This man must be a kindred spirit because he played a whole lotta glam, including Poison and Def Leppard.

Here's one of those videos: Poison performing "We're An American Band."


The Life and Times of Gene Simmons

kissmakeup.jpgAt the turn of the millennium shock-rocker, turned movie star, turned mogul Gene Simmons set out to write his autobiography. Though KISS and Make-Up (Three Rivers Press 2001) isn’t a groundbreaking work of literature, it does provide the reader with a better understanding of what makes the demon tick.

The best portion of the book is the beginning. Learning about the poor boy with the given name of Chaim Witz and how he began to form a very pragmatic world view. After Gene’s father left his family, it was just the boy and his mother alone in Israel. While telling of his boyhood, Gene paints a fairly rosy picture of life in poor Israel. While he and his mother were broke and alone, he said they were happy. An overprotective mother, Gene tells some pretty funny stories of the lengths his mother would go to keep her little boy safe.

Assimilation into American life is also a major part of the book. Gene moved to America at a fairly young age, but still had trouble communicating with other children. He couldn’t speak English and he felt like an outcast. This is when he became obsessed with television and comic books -- two forces that would prove instrumental in making KISS an international marketing phenomenon. It was during the assimilation process that Gene Witz became Gene Klein. When it was time to get serious about music, Klein became Simmons – simple as that. KISS and Make-Up has a very matter-of-fact voice, capturing Gene’s true business personality.

Readers must wade through pages of early sexual experiences and exploits before the story of KISS really begins. Finally, Gene introduces his readers to the original members of the band. Gene speaks fondly of Paul Stanley throughout the book and less so of guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss. In fact, Gene’s tone toward Ace is one of general disgust. Both Frehley and Criss had drug problems, which eventually separated the original version of the band. Still, Gene’s tone makes it pretty clear he’s not an easy man to work with, especially when (at the beginning, anyway) KISS was an equal partnership.

So it goes. Gene Simmons recounts his relationships with Cher and Diana Ross, plus countless flings. His authorial voice changes again with the introduction of long-time girlfriend Shannon Tweed. While never married, Simmons and Tweed have been together for more than two decades and have two children together. The demon writing about his children is pretty endearing, if not a little corny. Still, it’s pretty easy to notice priority shifts as the book moves along. Gene also makes the statement that Psycho Circus might be the final KISS record, period. He makes so much money from the KISS brand and his reality show on A&E he doesn’t need to make a new record. Still, die hard fans are clamoring for some music, and Gene guarantees his fans always get their moneys worth.


Somewhere in Music Hell...

The music on cruise ships is really bad.

I mean, bad.

I'm not talking about the hokey Las Vegas style shows. I mean the music that is piped through the corridors, bars, pools...everywhere.

Over the past five days, I've heard more B-52s, Ricky Martin, Backstreet Boys and Mariah Carey than I care to remember. I actually own several Mariah Carey albums because I think she has an amazing vocal range, but I can only handle her in small doses.

During the midnight buffet last night (don't judge me!) I finally heard a little rock: Van Hagar and "Dreams." It was over in a flash, and then it was back to boyband hell.

I wonder if the music on the Motley Cruise will be the same Beach Boys flair, or will the crew cater to a harder crowd? I certainly hope so, or I may shake.

Tomorrow, we leave the boat and head for Disney World. That means more bad music but at least there is ice cream in the shape of a mouse head. Ah, small joys.



Everybody (Still) Wants Some

vanhalen.jpgRock writer Ian Christe broke major ground with his book Sound of the Beast: The Complete Headbanging History of Heavy Metal. Now, Christe is back with a shockingly clear view of life behind the iron curtain that is Van Halen. Through Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga (Wiley & Sons 2007), Christe gives his readers a chance to relive the glory days of Sunset Strip glam Metal, while exploring the complex relationships between the brothers Alex and Eddie Van Halen.

The book is divided into three sections, appropriate since Van Halen has employed three different frontmen over 30 years of rock. The first section, “Runnin’ With the Devil” chronicles the formative years, and the time with David Lee Roth. The next section, “Top Of the World” chronicles the band’s time with Sammy Hagar and massive album success. The final section “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?” focuses on short-lived singer Gary Cherone, Eddie Van Halen’s ongoing battle with alcoholism, and the band’s uncertain future.

Starting with the history of the Van Halen family, readers learn how music was available at a very young age to Alex and Eddie. Just as gigs with father Jan van Halen were expected at an early age, so were excesses like smoking, drinking and sex. The book chronicles the frustration of Jan and his attempts to become a professional musician, eventually moving his family from Holland to California and Americanizing his surname in the process. Once the van Halen clan, the family was suddenly Van Halen and looking for work as a band of traveling minstrels.

While explaining the early life of the Van Halen brothers; Christe also intertwines the histories of bassist Michael Anthony (originally Sobolewski) and singer David Lee Roth. For both Anthony and Roth, music as a career choice was met with some disdain from their respective families. Only Jan Van Halen gave his sons carte blanche to their future when it came to musical aspirations. One of the most amusing facts in The Van Halen Saga is when Christe recalls that Eddie Van Halen’s mother worried about her son’s future so much she insisted he enroll in computer classes at DeVry Institute of Technology in Phoenix, Arizona. He never attended a single class.

Readers gain an understanding and appreciation of the work ethic that the Van Halen brothers, Anthony and Roth all put into making their band the biggest act in the land. Playing nearly every night at any gig available, Van Halen got a great start through word of mouth and a few hundred popular cover tunes. Alex Van Halen ran the business end of things for quite some time while Roth put every ounce of his energy into creating a stage show bigger than any other band on the Sunset Strip. Eddie Van Halen and Michael Anthony practiced their craft and created the music of a generation.

The book takes a painful turn when talking about the initial departure of Diamond David Lee Roth. Recalling the split, Christe shoots down the middle, careful to not take sides in this ongoing turf war. While the Hagar years seemed happy and successful to many on the outside looking in, the Van Halen Saga paints a less-rosy picture. Constant bickering, creative differences and alcoholism eventually tore this version of the band apart. The problems that started with Roth only snowballed with Hagar, pitting the Van Halen brothers against the more docile Hagar and Anthony. While Hagar would fight back, Michael Anthony remained a laid-back diplomat. Eventually, it becomes clear that Alex and Eddie Van Halen were taking Anthony for granted and effectively began to write him out of the band.

Christe recounts with gory details the nasty departure of Sammy Hagar. While Hagar went on to build a tequila empire the Van Halen brothers began bouncing back and forth, looking backward to Roth and forward to a new singer. As Michael Anthony’s role in the band began to constantly diminish, he started performing with Hagar, further incensing the Van Halen brothers.

Throughout the entire history, Christe is exceptionally careful in his word choice. While some would use the words “painful,” “embarrassing” or “disrespectful” to describe the way Eddie and Alex treated David Lee Roth after the Hagar departure, Christe simply recounts the facts and lets readers make their own judgments.

Toward the end of the book, Christe recalls the mistake of hiring Gary Cherone as new lead singer and the recording process of Van Halen III. Here, readers learn that Eddie Van Halen played the bass lines for Michael Anthony, further relegating him to the back of the bus. Christe ends the book with the very embarrassing Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the surprising absence of David Lee Roth (Anthony and Hagar attended). Only at the very end of the work does Christe inject his opinion, expressing the desire for a reunion tour with David Lee Roth. While we all know the band is planning a massive fall stadium tour, it is without bassist Michael Anthony. Instead, Eddie’s teenage son Wolfgang will fill the role. Like many, Christe sees this as a slap in the face of fans, and an undue pressure on a young boy. Most would vehemently agree.


Dangerous Toys Recall

As the countdown to Rocklahoma 2008 continues, several glam Metal fans continue to speculate about next year's lineup.

One of the bands being tossed around as a possible performer is Texas based Dangerous Toys. The band released a debut album in 1987, plus three more albums after their debut before disbanding. Not so long ago the band reunited announcing plans for a new album.

Here's the video for "Scared" from the self-titled debut album.

So, what are your thoughts on this "Teas'n Pleas'n" band?


Tickets (May Be) Needed

Yesterday, Van Halen issued a new press release, proclaiming the immediate success of their upcoming fall tour.

Several cities, including Toronto and Chicago sold-out immediately, and the band added a second show in those cities. The band also added a show in our nation’s capitol.

Here’s the press release:

(LOS ANGELES, CA) August 20, 2007 Tickets for the first Van Halen tour in more than 22 years with David Lee Roth as lead vocalist went on sale this weekend and resulted in immediate sell outs in multiple markets around the country, including Charlotte, Detroit (Palace), 2 shows in Toronto, 2 in Chicago and one in Philadelphia. Tour producer Live Nation immediately added additional shows in Philadelphia (WachoviaCenter 10/3) and Detroit (Joe Louis Arena 10/20) which will go on sale this Saturday, August 25th.

An additional stop was also scheduled for Washington, DC's VerizonCenter (11/1), extending Van Halen's historic trek to 29 dates in all. Tickets for the Washington, DC date will go on sale this Friday, August 24th. In addition, tickets for the band's October 30th show at Boston's TD Banknorth Garden go on sale this Saturday, August 25th.

A complete list of confirmed dates is attached and more information and tickets are available at Additional announcements regarding on sale dates will be made in the coming weeks. Individuals who have the Citi® / AAdvantage® card, the official credit card of the tour, will be offered access to purchase preferred seats to all U.S. shows.

Fans can enjoy the ultimate Van Halen experience including concert pre-show parties, backstage access, premium seating and more. For additional details go to Fans are encouraged to also check in at for additional information.

Van Halen remains one of the most important and influential bands of all time. Formed in Los Angeles in 1974, the band quickly won a loyal hometown fan base with their electrifying live shows. From the moment they released their self-titled 1978 debut album, Van Halen shook the foundations of rock, thanks largely to Roth's peerless showmanship, Eddie Van Halen's revolutionary guitar virtuosity and their songwriting abilities. It changed rock music forever.

The band's first album proved one of the biggest selling rock debuts, with key tracks like "Eruption," "Running with the Devil," "Jamie's Cryin'," "You Really Got Me" and "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" leading the way. The next year, the band followed up with "Van Halen II," which included the hit "Dance the Night Away."

Subsequent albums like "Women and Children First" (1980), "Fair Warning" (1981) and "Diver Down" (1982), along with worldwide touring, solidified the band's reputation for innovative and unparalleled live performances. Classic Van Halen tracks from the early 80's include "Everybody Wants Some," "Unchained", "And The Cradle Will Rock", "Beautiful Girls", "Mean Street" and "Somebody Get Me A Doctor" just to name a few.

With their sixth album, released in, and titled "1984", Van Halen rose to stratospheric heights. Recorded at Eddie Van Halen's 5150 Studios, the multi-platinum smash yielded one of Van Halen's signature hits, "Jump," which remained #1 on the Billboard charts for an astounding five weeks straight. Other hits from the album include "Panama," "Hot For Teacher" and "I'll Wait."

The band's record of achievement is hard to top. Presented with two Diamond Award RIAA Certified Status' for their albums "Van Halen" and "1984", Van Halen joins an elite short list of two time Diamond Award honorees in the history of the music industry. The Diamond Award is presented to an artist for album sales of 10 million or more units. They are also in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most #1 hits on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart than any other band in history.

Inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame in March of this year, Van Halen has produced a treasured body of work that fans will admire for decades to come.

The news of the immediate sell-out sent me into a panic. What if I don’t get seats? What if I miss one of the biggest concerts of the year (second to only Rocklahoma, of course)?

Is it wrong to buy tickets from a scalper? Does this hurt the band, or are the members of the new Van Halen so rich, should I not care?

Let me know your thoughts on scalpers.

I tend to hate these illegal ticket brokers, but if it means getting a good seat to see a legendary band, I guess I’ll go there.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to secure a handful of tickets, through the (almost illegal) Ticketmaster.


Two for the Road

vanhalen.jpgIt's vacation time, and while preparing for my cruise I purchased two books for the trip. Most people read trashy romance novels or mysteries.

I read heavy metal.

I'm really looking forward to Everybody Wants Some: The Van Halen Saga. With a release date of August 24, I got lucky when the Borders Books by my house screwed up and placed the book on the shelves days early. The latest work by rock writer Ian Christe, The Van Halen Saga is the "first definitive biography of the American rock band."

Here's what the official editorial review has to say about Everybody Wants Some:

How did a pair of little Dutch boys trained in classical music grow up to become the nucleus of the most popular heavy metal band of all time? What's the secret behind Eddie Van Halen's incredible fast and furious guitar solos? What makes David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar so wacky? And, are all those stories about groupies, booze bashes, and contract riders true? The naked truth is laid bare in Everybody Wants Some—the real-life story of a rock 'n' roll fantasy come true.

kissmakeup.jpgThe other book I picked up is Gene Simmons: Kiss and Make-Up. This is a 2003 title and I'm anxious to learn more about the money mogul. For all the flack Gene Simmons receives from fans, I must admit he is a marketing genius and the man can turn water into cold hard cash. He created the biggest marketing brand in music and classic KISS are still favorites of millions of rockers.

I'll be reading the Van Halen book first. My goal is to have a review posted before the street release date so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to purchase the book. Since this is a first run release, it's currently available in hard cover only, and costs around 30 bucks. The KISS book is paperback and available for about 15 dollars.

Hopefully, I'll be reading in just a few short hours. I have to stand on-line during the lengthy embarkation process, then pass muster before I can lounge by the pool.