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Finally, Some Good News

Attention Aerosmith fans: Bassist Tom Hamilton says he's cancer free.

The legendary rocker was diagnosed with throat cancer last spring. While the rest of the band toured with Motley Crue (Route of All Evil), Hamilton stayed behind, undergoing extensive radiation treatments. Several musicians filled in for Hamilton during the year-long tour.  

Expect a new album from the Bad Boys from Boston in 2007 with another tour.

The Route of All Evils tours was one of the highest grossing live shows of the year. Experts estimate the bands made a million dollars per each show. The bands played about 40 shows in total. That's a lot of dough.







The "Dirt," Indeed.

therealdirt.jpgFinished The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band. Oh, what a read!

The biography of Motley Crue is so good, it makes you want to roll around on the floor. It's one of those rare books that suck you in, and make you obsess about the storyline, characters , plot and eventual outcome. In this case, the stories and characters are real, and knowing this, I'm baffled how the guys in the Crue are still alive.

I've read quite a few music biographies, but this one is so far above the rest. The band doesn't sugarcoat their drug use, and man, did they use drugs. They also don't sugarcoat their sexual exploits, failed marriages, money troubles or rivalries with band members, other musicians, and their inner selves.

Let's start with the drugs. I mentioned before that Nikki Sixx has a planned biography called The Heroin Diaries. When I was first learning about that book project, I was confused. I didn't think there would be enough material for two books considering The Dirt  is so complete. I'll go ahead and assume that I'm wrong. The human body is truly amazing and resilient. And life, like always, ironic. Here are these four men, who are literally (and openly) trying to commit slow suicide through drugs, alcohol and a berserk lifestyle. Fast forward a decade, singer Vince Neil has a daughter that dies from cancer when she's just four. All the money and medical treatments couldn't save her, so Neil drinks even heavier after her death. She had a pure body, he shoots his full of poison. There's a brief moment in the book that hints at this revelation, although I'm not sure Neil really gets it. After all, it was just a few months ago he was so drunk he nearly stumbled off a stage during a solo gig.

The money issues confused me the most in the book. This is one area that didn't have a lot of explanation, just comments like "his wife took all his money," etc. There is one section that talks about Sixx and the amount he blows on, well, blow. It's something like a thousand a day for years and years on top of a 40 thousand dollar a month mortgage. At one point, Neil was so broke, the band would do special shows just so he could pay his bills. Another time, during a poorly received tour, Mick Mars was so broke he couldn't contribute 75 thousand to help the band. Being a poor nobody makes me sick when I think how much money these guys wasted when so many people are starving to death in this country.

Now to the enigma of the book and the band: Mick Mars. He has the fewest chapters, and they have a completely different tone then the rest of the book. He suffers from a rare disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis that basically destroys your spine and makes living very painful. So, during the book, Mars doesn't really dwell on his disease, except to say that he feels guilty for not being able to move around on stage like the other guys. Plus, he's way older, so he wasn't really into the wild debauchery the other three always seemed to enjoy. According to the book, he didn't cheat when he was married and never fell off the sobriety wagon. He was just the outsider, trying to fit in. Now that I think about it, no other band member mentioned Mars'  rare condition. All through the book, Tommy says "silence equals death," and they were never really there for each other, including when Mars was at his sickest.

So, that's the final point. While the men acted as a party unit to create havoc in the world, they never really considered themselves more than a band. When you're with the same four people for more than 25 years, you have to start thinking of each others as more than coworkers and more like family. Or, at the very least, friends.







Hello, Mr. Brownstone.

Does the prevalence of drug use in the 80s correlate to the success of hair bands?

Think about this: 60s and the summer of love, drug use among musicians was common. The  music wasn't heavy, except in tone and message. In the 70s, the drugs got a little harder, and so did the music.

Led Zeppelin, perhaps the greatest rock band of all time, preferred acid, cocaine and alcohol as their poison of choice.

Then came the 1980s. The decade of decadence. It seemed like every rock band on the Sunset Strip and beyond were into every designer (and non-designer) drug under the sun.

This drug use shaped the music and the way bands were marketed.

Once thought of as the drug of junkies, 80s musicians (and not just hair band types) turned to heroin as a way to escape "normal" life. Under the guise of a numb stupor, some of the best rock anthems were born. And then every star (if they wanted to survive) had to kick the habit, undergo some rehab, and suffer all over again.

Musicians destroyed their bodies, their brains, and the chemical balances that keep people from murdering a room full of innocent strangers.

So they turned back to music as an outlet. And most fell off the wagon. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The harder the drugs, the harder the rock.

Think about it. Listen to music over the past four decades. As the riffs get harder and harder, the drugs get easier  to obtain. Is that a coincidence? Of course not. Am I condoning drug use? Absolutely not. In fact, I'm vehemently opposed to drug use. But that doesn't change the fact that people - millions of people - turn to drugs everyday.

What we have here is a jumping off point. This could be a major cultural study in both psychology and irony.

First, irony. Anti-drug campaigns were bigger in the 1980s than any other time in history, but musicians were pretty open about addiction and the party lifestyle.

I'm leaving psychology for another day because I have another entire entry for this topic.

BREAKING NEWS: Tawny Kitaen enters drug rehab program. Back in May,  police nabbed Kitaen with 15 grams of cocaine. She was charged with felony possession. Kitaen pleaded guilty, and will be allowed to change her initial plea of guilty to not guilty in exchange for time in rehab.

You might recall her famous roles in the Whitesnake videos, and her marriage to the band's lead singer David Coverdale.



When Love and Hate Collide

I truly have a love/hate relationship with VH1 Classic. I enjoy watching my hair band videos. I enjoy the rock documentaries and learn how classic albums were produced. What I hate is the constant repetition, the endless commercials and  worthless promotion.

Or the errors. Errors about music history on a music channel are unforgivable.

During metal week, the channel aired a countdown of the 100 best hard rock groups of all time. Def Leppard came in at number 31. During the short biography that came with the entry, the announcer said "the highs were highs, and the lows were even lower. Drummer Rick Allen lost his arm and guitarist Steve Clark died of alcohol abuse in 1988." That's all well and good except the band on was on tour in support of Hysteria in 1988, and Steve Clark was along for the ride. He died in 1991, while working on the Adrenalize album. There were other mistakes, but this one is the most unforgivable.

The channel also has a bad habit of ":selling" a pet album within fake shows. The series, "Hanging With" is nothing more than a 30 minute infomercial featuring musicians.

Not that musicians don't deserve promotion or air time, but relentless commercial tactics just drive fans nuts.  It's annoying when you can feel a commercial coming. I get it. Commercials pay bills, and networks don't come cheap. But constant commercial and merchandising doesn't just settle salaries; they also cheapen the overall product.

On VH1 Classic, the product is music.

Oh, how unfortunate.



New Acquisition

Purchase: The Dirt, Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band.

I'm pretty excited to read the authorized biography of Motley Crue. The book is over 400 pages and includes color pictures! It's a New York Times bestseller, just one more indication that glam is coming back. That, and the fact that while at the bookstore two men standing near me were wishing that Slayer was on the cover of Metal Edge magazine.

A personal review is forthcoming.

More on the Crue:

Drummer Tommy Lee launches a new clothing line based on his many tattoos. The line is called "People's Liberation for Tommy Lee (PL for TL). Apparently, clothing maker People 's Liberation, Inc., makes high-end clothes. I guess that means a pair of jeans costs more than a hundred bucks. I don't spend a hundred dollars on jeans, but I might look at the clothes to see Tommy's tattoos up close.

Apparently, Crue bassist Nikki Sixx  is writing his own memoir called The Heroin Diaries. The book was due by this Christmas, but has been pushed back to summer. It's drawn from journals Sixx wrote while in rehab during the 80s. I'll probably buy and read that too.

And since we're talking about Motley Crue, "Wild Side" is my song obsession of the week.  Originally off Girls, Girls, Girls, the song sets the mood for the album, tackling issues of sleaze, drug use, and the rise and  fall of society.

I enjoy my metal with a message.






A Word of Advice...

If you party like a rock star, you're going to feel like one the next morning.




Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

Real musicians. A sell-out show on the Sunset Strip every night. A major budget commercial. Poison in 1988? RATT in 1984?

Nope, Metal Skool, 2006.

The glam metal cover band has a real album and was featured in a Discover Card commercial as the band "Danger Kitty." The four musicians are the real deal. The singer, "Michael Star" (real name Ralph Saenz) was the lead singer for L.A. Guns. The guitarist, bassist and drummer also played for famous (or semi-famous) bands.

Metal Skool is glam all the way: big hair, spandex, money, women and management issues. Before the moniker "Metal Skool," the band was known as "Metal Shop." Trademark issues and fighting led the members to a lawsuit, and a new name.

Metal Skool boasts the longest running metal show on the Sunset Strip, and was recently named the best cover band in the world. Musicians like Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Kelly Clarkson, and Taime Downe have all jammed with the band onstage.


Check out the cover of the band's debut CD Hole Patrol. Reminds me of Poison's Look What the Cat Dragged In...or Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil.

If I ever win the lottery, I would definitely hire Metal Skool for a private party. 

The band has a website, but it's very raunchy and very tongue-in-cheek. Checkout, but don't complain to me if you're offended.

Metal Skool is bringing back glam!