Saturday, February 13, 2010

Research I've read

"Life on Planet Rock" by Lonn Friend (editor of RIP magazine 1987 - 1994)
Morgan Road Books, 1986

Wow. For anybody who loved '80s and/or '90s rock-n-roll (and I know I ain't alone here), this book is it. He offers this quote early on:
"There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music" (John Keats)
I can't argue with that! Fortunately for Lonn, his personality helped him reach out to those whose work he loved. He connected with people immediately, adjusted himself to make artists comfortable, and was allowed into their lives as deeply as the artists' own families.

Unfortunately for Lonn, his own life fell apart because of it. He had a wife and daughter but got divorced. He lost his own identity for a while. I don't condone leaving your family at every opportunity, but Lonn has a box of memories that is priceless.

He says his magazine covered "hard rock" and "metal", though he seems to blur the definitions of those labels. For me, Metallica is metal: hence the name, duh? Whatever. That hardly detracts from the book.

Lonn got started at a Larry Flynt publication. He was there for a few years and that background helped open doors for him as he moved through the music world. If you admire Chuck Berry, you'll want to skip that part.

He makes one big mistake. "Sitting passively in your seat with your toe tapping and head bobbing works for an Eagles or Elton John concert..." 'Scuze me? I've been to Elton shows, and believe me we did not "sit passively". For anybody unfamiliar with rock concerts, sure, we sit sometimes, mostly during ballads. People lucky enough to get floor seats don't hold still or sit much at all. Maybe I misunderstood Lonn, but he seemed to think certain acts under the "rock" label didn't generate much fire during shows.

I was at a Bruce Hornsby show as recently as summer of 2009. You can't confuse Hornsby with Springsteen: they're different types of rock musicians. But, I was still shoved up against the stage barrier and had to listen to people howling "Bruuuuuuuuce" in my ears, waving and jumping and screaming. People pushed themselves in front of me. The only "passivity" happened as joints were passed, don't drop that please!

Again, didn't seriously mar the book. Lonn clearly did a few things right. His daughter thinks of Slash as "Uncle" :)

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