Freddie Mercury, the iconic lead singer of Queen, was one of the greatest showmen in all of rock music. His powerful voice, amazing stage presence, and magnificent style captured the hearts of millions of fans. Over the last twenty years since the tremendous singer’s early departure from life, several books have been written about the man, as well as his band, Queen. Yet, none of the former writings have captured the true essence of Freddie Mercury the way that Lesley-Ann Jones has in her new book on the legend titled, Mercury.
Delving deep into the rich history of Freddie Mercury from his humble beginnings in Zanzibar to his move to India, and later, England, and right through his rise to fame with Queen, Jones is able to leave no stone unturned and she brings to life the character that Freddie Mercury was. Jones’ insight helps us to understand why Freddie Mercury became the man he was. From rigid anti-homosexuality laws in his native country to leaving his parents at seven years of age to study in a foreign land, there were many events taking place in young Freddie’s life that would shape his persona for years to come.
Jones’ dedicated research and exhaustive interviews with the people that knew Freddie provided the fuel for the content for this biography. It also helps that she knew the man well, from covering Queen in her rock-journalist days. Having toured with the band and being part of their Live Aid conquering, Jones was able to see things about both Freddie Mercury and Queen that most people would not have access to. In Mercury, she is able to bring these key insights to life.
While not exactly linear in timeline, Mercury is a well written biography that covers the life and times of Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara. The early part of the book is fascinating with facts of Mercury’s early life, documenting the entire culture and lifestyle that he was raised in before being sent to India for better schooling. It is here that we learn the true inner being of Freddie Mercury and see bits of his life that would mold and shape him into the man that he was to become.
Mercury covers everything that one would want to know about the lead singer of Queen. From the initial meeting with his future band members, to his lack of understanding regarding his sexuality, to his deepest, truest love (a female), every aspect of Freddie Mercury’s life is portrayed as if we were living alongside of him. Life’s tragedies, triumphs, and reactions from family members and friends alike, are all documented on the written page with a passion that shows Jones’ affection for her subject. It’s as if Jones was writing a biography on a close and personal friend, and in some ways, she was.
And what may not be covered as intimately in the detailed writing of Lesley-Ann Jones is certainly captured in the photos that are contained within Mercury. Photos from all periods of the singer’s life are included as an intimate visual guide to what it was like to be Freddie Mercury. The pictures help to enhance the spectacular written portrayal that Jones provided.
If you are looking for a great read about a wonderful, talented, gifted musician, Mercury is worth the time. This is a beautiful remembrance of one of the most beloved singers in all of music history. The story is told in an entertaining and riveting way, filled with many details and little known facts. For any fan of classic rock, Mercury is a worthy addition to your literature collection.
Iron Maiden fans have plenty to be excited about this summer. Not only is the band touring North America, performing hits from the “Maiden England” days, but there is also a brand new biography out encapsulating every excruciating detail. On June 26th, just as Iron Maiden will be launching their North American tour, Voyageur Press will release Iron Maiden: The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast written by Neil Daniels.
There is no need to search any further for the complete playbook companion to one of the greatest bands in the history of music. Neil Daniels biography of Iron Maiden is a magnum opus that nothing can compare to. Any other book on the band (and there are plenty) is just not as grand as The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast. This biography has everything that an Iron Maiden fan could want and more.
Containing hundreds of photographs of the band from their earliest days all the way to their last tour behind The Final Frontier this book will leave even the die-hard Maiden fans starry eyed. A photo of every album and single cover is captured alongside full color photographs of concert tickets, tour posters, and flyers from the earliest days of the band’s existence. Concert Tour T-shirts, magnificent shots of Bruce Dickinson and the band in action, as well as the days of Paul DiAnno and Blazy Bayley, are all captured within. Setlists from every tour are posted and tour dates, direct from Steve Harris’ journal, are also included.
Have you ever wondered whatever to former members of the band, like original lead singer Paul Day and former drummer, Clive Burr? There is an incredible where are they now section at the end of the book informing fans where all of these former members have ended up over the years.
An intimate portrait/review of every Iron Maiden album, written by some of the biggest names in rock journalism, is the icing on the cake of this magnificent read. Starting with the self titled debut and running all the way through The Final Frontier, writers such as Mick Wall, Garry Bushell, Gavin Baddeley, and Ian Christie all cover their intricate, detailed, review of each Iron Maiden studio album released over the last 30-plus years.
The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast is more than just photographs and memorabilia replicas, it is also a well written, detailed portrait of Iron Maiden throughout the years. Starting in the earliest days of Steve Harris’ vision of the band and running through The Final Frontier tour, Neil Daniels has left no stone unturned. Paul Di’Anno’s departure from the band and the introduction of Bruce Dickinson is covered in great detail.
Capturing the latest information regarding Di’Anno’s departure (it was NOT about drugs) and segueing into Dickinson’s arrival (he was one of twelve finalists for the coveted lead singer position) Daniels provides well documented, well researched details that only an expert biographer would think to include. With his smooth writing style, Daniel pulls the reader into the story of Iron Maiden as if they were a fly on the wall, witnessing everything (good AND bad) that has happened in the long, storied history of one of the greatest metal bands of all time.
Ian Daniels also delves into the Blaze Bayley years and recaptures the essence of the mid-nineties and all of the changes that Iron Maiden went through bringing in this new lead singer. The split from Dickinson was not on the best of terms and the negative comments of the former lead singer, as well as the fan backlash to this new singer are all provided for die-hard fans to remember and, in some instances, to learn about. Low ticket sales, smaller venues being played, and boos from fans in North America all helped to contribute to the departure of Blaze after 1998’s Virtual XI. It was a trying period for the band and Daniels leaves out no details in his writing.
Ending with the return of Bruce Dickinson and the last decade of Iron Maiden history (2000 – 2010), The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast covers it all. The incident with the Osbournes during the 2005 Ozzfest tour is covered in great detail and the facts are laid out for the reader to determine. The following re-conquering of North America and the band’s first top ten American album is documented as the next steps in Maiden history. From there, Daniels details the final current years of Iron Maiden and leaves the door open for the future of the band.
If you are a fan of Iron Maiden, then The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast is a must own book for your collection. If you are a casual fan wanting to learn more about Iron Maiden and their amazing history, then consider this your Bible. Anything that you ever wanted to know about Iron Maiden is all captured in permanent ink. From the well written scripture to the amazing photographs, to the awesome images of every Iron Maiden album and single cover, The Ultimate Unauthorized History Of The Beast is an Iron Maiden fan’s dream come true.
Reviewed By Ryo Vie (www.twitter.com/ryovie)
In the prologue to Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy (And Other Lies), Duff tells an anecdotal tale of his daughter’s thirteenth birthday party. It was going to be a huge, grand event, complete with a DJ, catered food and lots of his daughter’s friends. There was just one small issue. His daughter refused to let him, or his wife, step foot in the backyard. It just wasn’t cool to have your parents trolling around at your birthday party.
As an avid fan of Guns N Roses since the mid-eighties, I found this story hysterical. Here is one of the biggest rock icons of the day, who was mauled by devoted fans over the years, being told that he isn’t cool enough to hang out with his daughter’s friends. Duff would be an embarrassment to this growing teenage girl. This was the life of Duff McKagan circa 2011.
The opening introit leads to the kick start of the journey that was (and still is) the life of Duff McKagan, former bassist for one of the biggest rock and roll bands in the history of music. The modern day version of Mr. McKagan is quite a contrast to the early life of a young, hungry musician who moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, California, with a dream of putting together one of the most dedicated rock bands in the world.
The opening chapters of It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) are beautifully crafted and formatted in perfect harmony. The book starts with the early roots of Duff McKagan in Seattle and is intertwined with his early days in Los Angeles. Rather than giving us the linear path of his life, Duff decided that it would be more compelling to twist the early days of L.A. with flashbacks of his arrival on the Hollywood scene. The payoff is intense reading that can’t be put down. Even if you aren’t a fan of Guns N Roses (which I find hard to believe), It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) is still must read material.
Duff shows us the inner workings of Hollywood via the late 80s. Here, a young man came with no money, a dream, and a drive to form one of the greatest bands in the world. While a lot of young musicians at the time were pounding the streets of L.A. in search of leading the next great rock band, the difference with Duff was his determination. Nothing was going to come between him and his dream. In the early years, that held true, as Duff was more concerned with his music than anything else. That, and the fact that he could not afford anything more than cheap Nighttrain wine, helped keep him level headed enough to become a founding member of Guns N Roses along with Slash, Steven Adler, Izzy Stradlin, and one Axl Rose.
Duff recreates the early days in vibrant detail, and for fans who have read Slash’s autobiography, It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) is the perfect companion piece, as we are able to see familiar stories through the eyes of another band member. Reading the early stories made me yearn for a memoir from Axl, thus completing the views from all three of the biggest players in the band.
McKagan does not hold back throughout It’s So Easy (And Other Lies). He delves into the story and gives the readers all of the dirt. He retells classic moments of GNR history with the clear perspective of sobriety and even takes responsibility for his part in how the band fell apart. He is quick to point out not only the lows of living a life with Axl Rose as a bandmate, but also the highs. Duff holds no grudges and appears to have no regrets. His memories of Axl are painted both in anger (especially for Axl’s constant lateness) and in fondness (remembering how Axl was there for Duff during several times of need).
Through it all, McKagan gives us his life story in beautiful, crisp detail leaving out none of the good times, or the bad. We are able to journey with him to the darkest pits of drug and alcohol abuse. We writhe in pain as his pancreas burst and he begs for death. We rejoice in jubilation as Duff takes on the challenge for his life and comes back from the brink of death to become completely sober and dedicated to his music once again. And through it all, we secretly hope that one day, there will be a full band Guns N Roses reunion. While his other bands (Velvet Revolver and Loaded) are great, we always want the original back together.
If you are a fan of Guns N Roses, the Hollywood metal scene, or just rock and roll in general, It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) is definitely worth picking up. McKagan’s story is one of redemption and overcoming personal demons to live life on a greater level. It is a story that will touch anyone who reads it and resonate with your inner champion.
It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) is now available in paperback from Touchstone Books, wherever books are sold and on the Amazon Kindle.
I don’t get anywhere near enough time to read in 2011, but when I do, I love to read rock biographies. They often provide an interesting, behind the scenes look of the careers of the bands I have followed for decades.
RATT drummer, Bobby Blotzer needs no introduction to the readers of this site. He has been one of my favorite drummers for as long as I have been listening to RATT. I first saw him play back in 1986 with RATT, and have never forgotten that show. I could not resist picking up his new book.
His book, Tales of a RATT: Things You Shouldn’t Know is a pretty good read. Some of the stories in this book are laugh out loud funny. Literally no one is safe in this book. Want the behind the scenes dirt on RATT? It is in there. Want to read some good stories that include Don Dokken, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Blackie Lawless, Keith Richards, Ozzy Osbourne, Matthias Jabs, Steven Tyler and more? It is in there too!
“Blotz” doesn’t hold back any punches, and gives a interesting, and sometimes not so nice look on many of the musicians we have all loved. In his defense, he doesn’t exactly paint himself as an angel either. I am glad he took the time to tell the stories that no one in else in RATT has.
My only real issue with this book is that the stories tend to bounce around, and the editing job could have been a lot better. I have found some infrequent misspellings amongst other errors. The average editing job really wasn’t enough of a distraction to keep me from enjoying this book.
If you are a fan of RATT, and have read and enjoyed the biographies, The Dirt, or Slash, you will likely enjoy Tales of a RATT. (If you like to download your books, this book is now available on the Kindle!) Check it out!!
Rating: Out of 10
The Heroin Diaries is written in a Daily Journal type of form, with lots of excerpts by a large cast of individuals who were involved in Nikki’s life in 1987.
Everyone helps Nikki fill in the blanks, and no one holds back any punches. Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Doc McGhee, Vanity, Slash are just a few of the individuals who help Sixx to recall his life in 1987.
The Heroin Diaries is a very easy read, but can be a book that is hard to put down, once you get started.
1987 was an interesting year for Motley Crue. They embarked on their Girls, Girls, Girls world tour. The management of the band kept the Crue on a grueling tour schedule that helped keep Nikki Sixx on a path of self destruction.
After finishing The Heroin Diaries, It amazes me that Motley Crue is still a band, and Nikki Sixx is still alive and well. This book should be the non-owners manual of the Rich and Famous. Every rocker on the planet ought to read this. It is the perfect example of what NOT to do when you gain success in the music business.
I enjoyed the book. It gave me a a lot of insight on Nikki Sixx’s twisted life. Motley Crue fans need to check it out.
Rating: Out of 5