Released: 2008, Bazillion Points
Nightwish quite rapidly became one of the most successful and most influential bands in a relatively short period of time. Back in 2006 it was announced that their biography covering the first 10 years 1996-2006 would be issued in Finnish. I had hoped someone would translate and issue this book. Fast forward to 2008 and the good people at Bazilion Points have released the updated, translated edition.
ONCE UPON A NIGHTWISH is a very well put together book. The oversized paperback has dozens and dozens of photos on big glossy plates. At approx. 320 pages the book includes many, many little extras like tour riders, some technical data about stage set-ups, a detailed discography, a list of every show they have every done to that point and more. All this extra detail really is the icing on the cake. Everything is Nightwish fan could wish for is here in glorious detail. Author Mappe Ollila has unprecedented access to the band and there are interviews with a huge cast of characters.
The text of the book is really monumental. It covers in standard chronological detail, the lives of the various members. I believe people really like to read a true rags to riches success story with elements of pathos. Well, the band members may not have strictly come from rags but the author details the early lives of the various members from their humble beginnings in small towns in Finland. Founder and primary composer Tuomas seems a bit reclusive and introspective but he also wears his heart on his sleeve as he talks candidly about his comfortable and relatively happy childhood to his inspirations, hopes and dreams.
In case you are not familiar with the bands history, at a certain point while they were at the height of their power, the band very publically fired their lead singer, Tarja. This move was akin to the loss of Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson and David Lee Roth from their respective bands. It was a very public feud and it is detailed here. The author and band have chosen to be very transparent and from the very start p. 16 discuss her dismissal from the band. They even publish, unedited, the letter they wrote to fire her. That takes balls. Ollila also publishes Tarja’s response as well.
The author treads carefully trying not to choose sides but tends to lean slightly in favour of the band. According to the author Tarja is going to release her own biography detailing her version. Ollila says that allegedly Tarja’s manager (and husband) has asked for so much money for a publishing advance that no publisher has accepted the project. Reading the story Tarja comes across at times as a bit of a Prima Donna and the band come across at times, as a bunch of drunken louts. It is no wonder the two sides clashed and eventually split.
ONCE UPON A NIGHTWISH is a phenomenal book, even if you are not a specific fan of the band, this tale documents the massive rise of band and the inner workings of the ours, the recordings, the managers, lawyers, record companies and all the adventures on the road. It sounds like it was a hell of a ride. As for people who are already fans of the band, this book is an essential addition to your library.