From Introduction titled, "I Wanna Rock!"
I’ve never played the guitar. It has never even occurred to me to pick up a guitar, or any instrument for that matter. At the age of thirteen; my time often spent mowing the neighbor’s lawn with my Sony walkman, Ratt’s Out of the Cellar cassette blasting away into my ears, thinking about how cool Stephen Pearcy was as he sang “She Wants Money”. I didn’t even know what she wanted money for; I just knew it was for bad reasons. It was always bad reasoning and bad decisions. That’s what made Stephen Pearcy cool.
Returning to my bedroom I would place the cassette back into its proper case (the one with Tawny Kitaen crawling on the cover before David Coverdale made her famous), remove Motley Crue’s Shout At The Devil, and stare at my walls covered by pictures torn our of Hit Parader, Circus, and Metal Edge magazines. Most of the photographs were not live shots, but rather poses of the lead singer; usually with their lead guitarist (the one exception being that Nikki Sixx was a bass player and always posed with Vince Neil). I never understood why Eddie Van Halen had to be in the same shot as David Lee Roth. Why not include the whole band? In addition to David Lee Roth, Vince Neil, and Stephen Pearcy you would find Bret Michaels and Axl Rose hanging on my wall, but never Kip Winger, it was just too much hair, even for a thirteen year old metal head.
In the pictures they wore eye shadow, lipstick, and lots of women’s lace. Their interviews told tales of sexual debauchery and drug use. I was not gay nor did I use drugs nor was I having sex. These were the lead singers of their respective heavy metal (or glam rock as would later be known) bands that belted out the lyrics of rebellion songs such as “Round and Round”, “Heaven’s On Fire”, the latter seemed like a rebellious anti-Christianity song, now after watching the video appears to be an ode to group sex, and “Ten Seconds To Love”, another song I wouldn’t fully understand the meaning to for a couple of years.
To this day I am able to list all of Motley Crue’s songs, in order, from their Too Fast For Love album through Dr. Feelgood (I still have not been successful listening to Generation Swine through its entirety). At one point I owned six Ratt albums. To this day I will defend the band Poison (not musically, but as a cohesive unit that made some of the best party songs ever). Sebastian Bach is a great lead singer and his work on Skid Row’s second album should have won a Grammy. There I said it. I can also honestly say that I will buy every new Motley Crue album for as long as I live.
Back to my bedroom: I remember sitting, looking up at a shirtless David Lee Roth. He had pouty lips, blood shot eyes, and was holding a bottle of Jack Daniels. These were my heroes. Twenty years later I found myself in Los Angeles, on Sunset Boulevard, steps away from The Whiskey where Motley Crue, Ratt, Wasp, and Poison all played. Standing there, the temperature was seventy-five degrees yet I still got goose bumps. I was thirty-four years old at the time.
As a teenage boy in Wisconsin I had nothing in common with any of these bands or individuals (nor do I today). Still, these were the coolest people I knew at the time and to this day am still fascinated by them.
It was around 1991 when these types of heavy metal acts were declared dead by Kurt Cobain and the grunge movement out of Seattle. Out went the pop guitar sounds laced with sleazy lyrics, the large amounts of Aqua Net hair spray, and eye shadow. In came a new rock that supposedly sounded better depressed, draped in flannel while eating a granola bar. Not surprisingly this movement didn’t last too long (although part of this is probably related to the fact that many of the grunge stars died), giving way to a whole new genre of music known as “boy bands”. Almost ten years would pass until rock would return to the mainstream.
During the eighties the phrases “heavy metal”, “hard rock”, and “hair bands” were scary to most. The music was direct, in your face with no apologies. However, during the “dead years” something happened. “Heavy Metal” became retro, classic, and given a second listen. The same fans that turned their back on these bands realized the hole that was left and they wanted it back. The bands made to look cool for MTV, wear excess on their sleeve, and put on over the top concerts was back in demand. Which brings us to where we are today. Welcome to the revival.
So why now? Why these same bands? Was it grunge that killed the eighties glam acts? For the latter, I say no. For me, I pinpoint the end of the eighties was ten minutes after The Nelsons premiered there video “After The Rain”.
Today’s culture is realizing what they missed from the eighties. The same way soccer moms listen to Madonna, the accountant that used to shot gun Bud Lights listening to Dokken wants their youth back. During the eighties your average heavy metal ticket buyer A: Had long hair and was considered a hippie, i.e. pothead B: Was an outcast, and C: Liked the idea of incorporating a cigarette lighter into their music. These fans are still around today. The have mixed themselves into middle class society. They do your taxes. They pour your coffee. They police your streets. In addition to the adults that grew up with this genre of music young music fans are also just now discovering Van Halen, Motley Crue, and Guns N Roses and they want more.
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 is 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 in network TV. Who would have guessed 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, this comeback of sorts has become their legacy, bigger and more lasting than the millions of records sold in the eighties.
On Jon Bon Jovi (Bon Jovi)
"...Wearing tight acid washed jeans, Jon Bon Jovi made no qualms about putting "pop" back into rock. Videos focused on his ass made it appear there was an unspoken jeans rivalry between Jon and Joe Elliot of Def Lepard..."
On Rob Halford (Judas Priest)
"...I have to rethink everything regarding Rob Halford since he came out of the closet, turning from ferocious front man of Judas Priest to fierce. In hindsight there were signs. The video for "Hot Rockin" was pretty much just a bunch of guys working out in a gym. Hello!!..."
On Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)
"...Sebastian Bach and Skid Row made music for the kids smoking cigarettes behind the school. Music for the kids that owned denim jackets, but didn't have the money for fancy patches (instead, forced to scribble SKID ROW across the back with a black Sharpie). Essentially, Sebastian Bach made music for the bad kid in The Breakfast Club..."
Rock Stars is twenty-eight mini-profiles detailing strengths, weaknesses, and X factors ranging from Kip Winger's hair, David Lee Roth's use of the microphone, to Bret Michaels reality series comeback.
Think Behind The Music on cocaine.
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