Canadian rock biographer Jeffrey Morgan has a new book out titled Alice Cooper Confidential: Confessions! Secrets! Fan Mail! Morgan wrote for many years for iconic 70s & 80s rock mag Creem, being invited by the legendary Lester Bangs. Creem was the next biggest music publication after Rolling Stone. Morgan became Alice’s official biographer writing Alcohol and Razor Blades, Poison and Needles: The Glorious Wretched Excess of Alice Cooper, All-American, which came in the 1999 box set The Life and Crimes of Alice Cooper. With Alice Cooper Confidential, Jeffrey Morgan puts together a pile of Alice features, most notably being pages of fan mail (emails) from AC fans who want to contact Alice. Interesting to read, as so many fans have no problem inviting Alice over for a BBQ, a birthday party, a wedding, out for a game of golf – you name it! Or they just want to share some odd story about something to do with him, most of which will leave you shaking your head. Beware if you think you wrote to him in the past! Elsewhere this138 page coffee table read book is full of fantastic photos from every era of Alice’s career, on & off stage (cool to see the late Nash the Slash’s early photos of the AC band in Toronto), various other images! Most interesting is a previously unpublished interview from 2009. An interesting addition to any Alice fan’s collection.
I’ll admit I don’t read a lot of books…in full, but rock bios are always of interest, and this one penned by Welsh musician John Sloman definitely is of interest. Sloman has had a lengthy roller-coaster ride of a career in the music business, having once fronted Lone Star (featuring Paul Chapman, pre UFO) and then Uriah Heep, and going on to tour with Gary Moore, Paul Young, and has recorded a number of solo albums (his latest Two Rivers, having just recently come out!). Lost On Planet Artifice takes us through John’s journey growing up in Grangetown, Cardiff (Wales) – his childhood, his intro to music, girls, his first band,… I do not usually read a book beginning to end, but more so pick out chapters and bits I want to know about first, then go back and forth, so picking up this 400+ page monster I went right to the Heep content to start! It goes without saying that this book should be a must-read for any Heep fan, and in particular those that either brushed over John’s 18 months in the band or lay the blame of the band’s demise in 1980/81 squarely with him. John finally gets to tell his version of events after decades of being dumped on by former band members, misguided fans, and unknowing journalists. So some stories may be a bit shocking, but worth the read. John has a natural knack for writing, and relaying recollections and events, as well as a pretty detailed memory.
Beyond the Heep era, John’s career would come across even more painful periods, such as the details of his time with Gary Moore, his solo album deal(s) and recording with Todd Rundgren. John’s story is a very brave and honest one, as he not only gets out all the things he’s bottled up over the years, but also talks about the depression and anxiety various situations and setbacks brought up, and how he dealt with them. Despite the ‘name’ and rock star tag, John’s story is. about his everyday struggles – as a musician trying to earn a living, as well as dealing with family and personal tragedies. Lost On Planet Artifice is Not one of those retrospective rock star books that simply recounts how great they once were! It also includes John’s insight into worldly issues, which some may take or leave (John’s well read on many topics, so I’m good with it). Throughout this you want to route for the guy that some big break or payday with finally go his way, as in later years John has threatened a few times to quit making music altogether, but he carries on, and anyone who’s heard his latest album Two Rivers, knows he still has plenty to offer. I think Two Rivers makes a great companion to his story here, so I’m guessing it won’t be his last! John seems a natural at writing as well, so hopefully there’ll be another book!? *There’s also a few pages of black & white photos, most of which have never been seen.
An excellent read and can be easily purchased for a good price on Amazon.
The latest in the ‘visual biography’ series from Canadian rock writer Martin Popoff just happens to be on the mighty Uriah Heep. A project I had a slight hand in. And having said that – has made it hard for me to write much about it It is a very nice coffee-table book, chalk full of photos from throughout the band’s history, with photos mainly coming from fellow Heep fans who were fortunate to have seen the band over the decades, with different line-ups. So credit must go to those who contributed their photos, and time in scanning as well.
The visual history also comes with a timeline of Heep’s history, noting many birthdays, important dates, related releases, etc…
It is a fine addition to an avid Heep fan’s collection. It is heavy (weight), but will make for a cool conversation piece.
For the record, someone commented ‘enough with the Heep books‘ – well, I for one am in favor of seeing more, and preferably more from those (players & participants) who were there. Uriah Heep was/is a major band in the golden era of heavy rock, an era that will disappear sooner than later. So, if you’ve got something to say, photos you’re stashing, recordings you’re holding on to, unprinted interviews to share — Now is the time!
*For more info and to order please check out the link below. +Martin also has copies of his Thin Lizzy book in the same series.