Reviewed: August 2018
Released: May 2018, Zen Man Publishing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reviewer: Lord Of The Wasteland
The name Bobby Rock should be familiar to anyone who lived through the eighties hard rock and metal scene. His ripped physique was recognizable behind the kit of Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Nelson, Nitro, Hardline and in recent years, Lita Ford but Rock is also known to be one of the nicest guys in the business. Rock’s other pursuits include health and fitness, veganism, teaching at drum clinics, as well as penning several books. His latest, THE BOY IS GONNA ROCK, chronicles the tumultuous period of 1985-1989, Rock’s years spent with Vinnie Vincent Invasion. At 310 pages, it seems like a lot of space to cover four years of history (there is a bit of pre-VVI lead-up and about forty pages of post-VVI overview) but things move along pretty briskly keeping the reader intrigued.
Bobby Rock’s humble beginnings defy the usual rock star dysfunction and for a book that covers a typically debaucherous period, there is very little excess on display. Readers looking for mud-slinging will also be disappointed as Rock takes the high road on most occasions. Hot off a highly-publicized ousting as Ace Frehley’s replacement in KISS, Vinnie Vincent’s personality issues are stuff of legend and while Rock doesn’t hold back in laying out some of the Vincent’s behavioral quirks, he is constantly praising the eccentric guitarist’s musicianship and songwriting. The band dynamic is a strange one with bassist/producer Dana Strum portrayed as the brains behind the operation, Vincent as the mad genius, and vocalist Mark Slaughter and Rock as the tee-totaling, wet-behind-the-ears newbies caught up in the awe of their surroundings. VVI only released two albums—1986’s INVASION and 1988’s ALL SYSTEMS GO—before imploding under mismanagement, failed potential and Vincent’s bizarre behavior. Rock’s painful description of the studio tracking process for INVASION hits the nail on the head and signals that all is not right from the get-go. Vincent’s isolation from the rest of the members becomes more pronounced over time leading to an eventual mutiny before the second album’s cycle in 1988 that would split the band permanently. Vincent’s increasingly erratic behavior lead to him disappearing from public for nearly twenty years under a cloud of lawsuits, broken promises and personal tragedies, while Strum and Slaughter would seamlessly transition into the highly-successful Slaughter in the 1990s.
THE BOY IS GONNA ROCK was a big surprise to me. After seeing Rock on a recent KISS podcast and with the oddly-timed resurfacing of Vinnie Vincent, my curiosity was piqued enough to shell out $25 for the book. It is well-written, reader-friendly and possesses more than enough charm to surpass the many other band/musician bios that have crossed my desk. Vinnie Vincent Invasion was an oddity at the time and remains enigmatic and highly-influential thirty years later. Rock’s informative and in-depth first-hand account (the first memoir from anyone associated with the band) handles the topic respectfully and avoids the tawdry path it could have taken. Fans of the band will not be disappointed.
Publisher: Zen Man Publishing