Rock Stars: book review and guest post

Title: Rock Stars
Author: David Grant
ISBN: 978-0-557-18240-4
Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: (December 10, 2009)
Category: non-fiction/ pop culture
Review source: author
Rating: 3.5/5

The purpose of this book is not to promote any one or group of individuals, but rather look at their unique skill sets and how they have been applied to either today’s popular culture or have distinctly influenced the resurgence in heavy metal glam acts we see today. It’s hard to flip on the television and not see one of the eighties front men starring in a reality show, commercial, or making a cameo appearance on network TV. Who would have guessed that Motley Crue would be the special guests on a season finale of a network drama titled Bones, that Ozzy Osbourne would change reality television as a whole, or that Bret Michaels would star in three seasons of a reality show where he bangs as many girls as possible (that was the purpose of Rock of Love correct?)? For many, the comeback of sorts has become their legacy, bigger and more lasting than the millions of records sold in the eighties.

During the 80s I mainly listened to alternative music like Depeche Mode, The Cure and The Smiths. But I also liked dancing to Madonna, Culture Club and Duran Duran. Then there were the people totally into glam rock [some called it Heavy Metal—anyone remember Headbanger’s Ball on MTV?]. If I’m going to read a book about music in the 80s, I must reflect on my own experiences. I could [and did] rock it out to Def Leppard, Guns and Roses and Poison. My friend Gary Kane re-wrote the words to Poison’s “Talk Dirty to Me” to make it “Talk Physics to Me.” And “Pour Some Sugar on Me” will always remind me of Carolyn and trips to her parent’s house on the Cape. We cranked that song over and over again. I never had crushes on any of these guys. I liked the Johns: John Taylor, John Stamos and Johnny Depp. My senior year in high school [1987], I went to see Aerosmith and GNR as well as Poison and Whitesnake. I’m positive I looked out of place.

In Rock Stars, writing in a nicely laidback, friendly style, author David Grant has put together 28 mini-profiles of hair band lead singers such as Joe Elliot [Def Leppard], Jani Lane [Warrant], Kevin DuBrow [Quiet Riot], Kip Winger [Winger], Lita Ford, Sebastian Bach [Skid Row], David Coverdale [Whitesnake], Jon Bon Jovi [Bon Jovi], Axl Rose [Guns N’ Roses], Bret Michaels [Poison] and Steven Tyler [Aerosmith]. Album names were most often based on sex [Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet and Poison’s Open Up and Say Aah!], heavy metal itself [AC/DC’s Back in Black and Guns N’ Roses Appetite for Destruction] and being evil [Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil and Ozzy Osbourne’s Shout at the Devil]. Whitesnake’s responsible for Tawny Kitaen’s rise to fame/ notoriety. More people probably think of the sexy redheaded Tawny shimmying across the hood of a car when they hear the song” Here I Go Again” and not Coverdale. Rock Stars allows readers a little trip down memory lane or an introduction to the highs and lows of hair/glam rock singers in a straight-forward simple manner.

Bret Michaels in the 80s

As Bret Michaels remains in the hospital after suffering from a brain hemorrhage [the latest prognosis sounds positive], I asked author DAVID GRANT if he would write a bit about Bret.

Bret Michaels- today

Over the past few years I have written tens of thousands of words (a conservative estimate) on Bret and his reality shows. I get great enjoyment writing about Rock of Love, Celebrity Apprentice, and the Poison reunion tours, and of course none of this would be possible without the entertainment Michaels brings. One thing I have learned from watching a lot of Bret is that he is the genuine article. Is he a rock n’ roll clown? Maybe, but he has approached his television career in the same way his music career and that is what you see is what you get. Whether it be lipstick, spandex, and cheesy eighties hooks, or trying to nail all of the girls in the Rock of Love shows, it is clear he isn’t changing for anyone. If you don’t like him, no problem, Bret is still going to be Bret which means: have fun, play his music, and have fun. In Celebrity Apprentice we are even more exposed to Michaels blue collar get-it-done attitude. This isn’t too much of a surprise given he’s from Mechanisburg, PA (you just can’t get more blue collar). Bret may not be a trailblazer or musically, the missing Beatle (nor has he ever claimed these areas), but he has found success on his own terms, fighting for what is his. I personally hope he has enough fight to pull through and continue entertaining us for many years to come.
–David Grant

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