18 And Life On Skid Row (Book Review)
Released: 2016, Harper Collins
Always controversial, always popular, Sebastian Bach is one of the last true 'Rock Stars'. Instead of burning out or fading away he actually stays busy making music, touring, acting (stage and TV) and now we can add writing a book to his long list of accomplishments.
18 AND LIFE ON SKID ROW is the soon-to-be released (as of time of writing) autobiography of Sebastian Bach. Dey Street released this very nice book, a generous 400+ pages, tons of photos, and a 'Bachography' which is incomplete but I do have an advance copy from the publisher so that may be rectified. 18 AND LIFE ON SKID ROW is your classic 'Rock Star' biography. It starts with the hook, a flashback to an infamous fight he had and then flashes back even farther to a standard chronological retelling of his life story.
I have a bit of an affinity for Bach. Maybe it is because we are close to the same age, hung around the same places in Toronto, maybe cuz he is a Canadian dude, maybe because he is a fellow Rush fan and Kiss fan but essentially there are some commonalities between us. Bach is a very entertaining storyteller, often landing on his feet after a spectacular fall, usually caused by his own hand. His resilience and love of music shines through. I found some of the stories about his reality shows and broadway plays especially interesting because here in Canada we don't get VH1 or the touring versions of his various plays. He is pretty honest, for example he says, he doesn't want to tell the story of his divorce because in his words it is a 'bummer'. I respect that, people may be curious but it is none of their business..so in that sense it is not a 'tell-all'.
I'm not totally thrilled with the book title. Bach while never truly denying or burying his past is generally a forward-thinking guy and is fairly adamant that his solo career is lucrative, rewarding and fun. The poor guy must have been asked if there will be a Skid ROW reunion a million times and I'm sure it drives him up the wall. Even the question is incorrect in a sense because the band never broke up! He got fired so their can't be a 'reunion' ... he could rejoin the band... but as stated he doesn't want too because he is happy and stable in his solo career. Let's face it, people like to live in the past and Bach was in Skid Row for about 10 years...and that was 20 years ago. I get the feeling that the title of the book may have been a 'strong suggestion' by the publisher to capitalize on what, admittedly, was his greatest period of media exposure and financial success, namely, 1989-1993 (or so) as the singer of Skid Row. The clever Skid Row reference in the title is probably a necessary evil to try to entice the casual consumer who may recall him from the (so-called) glory days but have never bought one of his many fine solo albums.
While better than some autobiographies, Bach tends to skip out on a lot of detail of his solo career and later years. He is the quintessential rocker, so we get regaled with lots of cool late 80's early 90's party stories about Jack Daniels and doing cocaine with Lars of Metallica and getting beat up by Hell's Angels, but not much technical detail about his actual career. I would have like some more mention of his collaboration with Mike Chlasiak for example, but I realize that the 'average' reader doesn't care as much, they WANT to hear the Ace Frehley cocaine car-crash stories, not who was the bassist on his third solo album. I'm not suggesting I am 'above average' but I would have like to see a bit more credit given to his very solid career post-Skid Row. There is enough material missing that there could easily be a second book. Oddly enough he says the same thing.
18 AND LIFE ON SKID ROW was about what I expected, namely a conventional but top-notch and highly entertaining autobiography by one of the last few true rockers who made it out of the late 80's alive to see a measure of continued success. This is a great Christmas gift for the older casual fans who fondly remember the first two Skid Row albums and the die-hard Bach supporters who follow him to this day.