The Illustrated Oral History of Heavy Metal’s Debauched Decade
First off, I hate the term “Hair Metal.” Always have – always will.
By the time that term was coined and being used it was no longer applicable IMO. For example, MOTLEY CRUE were definitely considered ‘Heavy Metal’ on their first two albums. But by the time Theater of Pain and Girls, Girls Girls rolled around their look and style had moved on or morphed into something altogether different.
For me, bands like POISON, WARRANT, L.A. GUNS, CINDERELLA, WINGER, FASTER PUSSYCAT and GREAT WHITE were not Metal, but indeed the “hair metal” or “cock rock” (as we used to call it) moniker was more befitting. Having said that…
When I first laid eyes on the cover and book title I was rolling my eyes and needless-to-say, I wasn’t expecting much from this book nor was I looking forward to it upon receiving a review copy in the mail.
Boy was I wrongo.
I guess the old ‘never judge a book by its cover’ saying holds true.
First off, the book is a rather large HARDCOVER (think coffee table) binding. I’m impressed with the print quality and color photos throughout.
Folks, this is the most elegantly and ingeniously designed Popoff book ever (see samples below)…I’m just in awe with what they did with it!
Here’s the publisher hype:
The Big Book of Hair Metal tells the explosive history of hair metal in a burst of color, facts, figures and outrageous quotes, so many and so rich of unseen material, that this book serves as the ultimate encyclopedia of the form.
An oral history jacked up by mountains of trivia, dates, sales figures, concert milestones, gold and platinum designations…. there’s never been a history so complete, a tale so fully and entertainingly told.
Piles of kaleidoscopic photography and memorabilia shots make each page come alive, as every major event in the long life of glam metal—from its birth in the UK glitter rock movement of the early ‘70s, through the supposed “death” of glam by grunge, and beyond—is commemorated using the novel approach of oral history combined with hard facts, specific dates, detail that brings back those happy memories of al those bands trying to be seen and heard on the Sunset strip.
Martin Popoff, author of 48 books on heavy metal, is a known authority on this particularly happy and fondly remembered form of heavy metal, a genre that still accounts for healthy album and concert ticket sales year in, year out.
The Big Book of Hair Metal makes use of Martin’s archive of [mostly unpublished] interviewed footage from the following bands, most of which Martin has interviewed multiple times, names you know and love such as…
…Autograph, Badlands, Bang Tango, Black ‘N Blue, Blue Murder, Bulletboys, Cinderella, Damn Yankees, Dangerous Toys, Def Leppard, Dokken, Enuff Z’Nuff, Europe, Extreme, Faster Pussycat, Firehouse, Great White, Guns ‘N Roses, Hanoi Rocks, Helix, Jackyl, Keel, Kick Axe, Kingdom Come, Krokus, L.A. Guns, Lillian Axe, London, Love/Hate, Loverboy, Motley Crue, Mr. Big, Night Ranger, Poison, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Rough Cutt, Saigon Kick, Skid Row, Slaughter, Stryper, Tesla, TNT, Twisted Sister, Ugly Kid Joe, Vixen, Warrant, W.A.S.P., White Lion, Whitesnake, Y&T and Zebra.
In addition, Martin has talked to producers, managers, club owners, concert promoters, photographers, label executives, and many of the bands from an earlier era who, during the ‘80s, became, to varying degrees, part of the glam story, namely Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ted Nugent, Ozzy Osbourne, Saxon, Scorpions, Triumph, Van Halen and many more. Then there are glam “revival” bands, plus instrumental originators such as Sweet, The Runaways, Starz, Angel, Legs Diamond, Foreigner and Boston .
Finally, Martin had at his fingertips, a vast research archive of magazines covering this period, perfect for the odd pertinent quote he couldn’t find in his personal conversations with these rockers.
All told, Martin proposed a work wider in scope—and indeed intellectual heft— than simply Hollywood. The Big Book of Hair Metal encompasses the roots of glam, concert trends, production trends, the club scene, flyering, the power ballad, the impact of MTV, vocal styles, shredding, glam’s crossovers with shock rock, punk and early metal, regional scenes around the world, fashion, finer points of the music business and of course, plenty of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
The focus is on this [almost entirely and uniquely] American music, as it existed from approximately 1983 through 1991. This is the golden era of glam metal, and its locus and focus is in Los Angeles. The celebration of that period serves as the trunk of the book, but with myriad connections and comparisons made, illustrative quotes regularly fleshing out the tale.
With respect to images, for the project, Martin had at his fingertips a near endless supply of photography plus on the memorabilia side, a vast collection of LPs, CDs, 45s, backstage passes, and a huge collection of advertisements for albums and for gigs/tours, used to illustrate entries throughout the book. Ergo there goes hundreds of shots, along with over 80,000 words of text, spread over 225 yummy 8 3/4” x 11 1/4” pages, full color throughout, hard cover like hard candy.
Martin Popoff has been described as the world’s most famous heavy-metal journalist. He has penned more than 40 books on hard rock, heavy metal, and record collecting, including Voyageur Press’ Rush: The Illustrated History. He has also worked in film and television, his most recent projects being Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage and VH1’s Metal Evolution.
He was editor in chief of the now-retired Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles, Canada’s foremost metal publication for 14 years, and has also contributed to Revolver, Guitar World, Goldmine, Record Collector, BraveWords, Lollipop, and Hard Radio, with many record label band bios and liner notes to his credit as well.
He lives in Toronto with his wife and son.