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Power Chord: One Man’s Ear-Splitting Quest to Find His Guitar Heroes – Thomas Scott McKenzie

powerchord

 { Note: I’ve been a bit lazy about getting my recent book reviews written. I read this book in early March. }

Since I’ve been taking guitar lessons recently, my reading interests have also turned in this direction. I came across this book while searching the Seattle Public Library online for interesting sheet music, so I thought I’d check it out and give it a read.

Power Chord is McKenzie’s account of his tracking down and interviewing the metal guitar heroes of his youth (and beyond). This turns out to be a motley set of characters, including:

  • Steve Vai
  • Oz Fox (Stryper)
  • Ace Frehley (KISS)
  • Bruce Kulick (KISS)
  • Warren DeMartini (Ratt)
  • Kip Winger (um, Winger)
  • Stacey Blades (L.A. Guns)
  • Phil Collen (Def Leppard)
  • Glenn Tipton (Judas Priest)
  • Rudy Sarzo (bass player for Quiet Riot, Whitesnake and Dio)

The actual stories of the guitarists and their bands are pretty interesting, especially since many of them are past their heyday but continue to perform on smaller tours at venues like casinos and county fairs. However, I found myself disliking the author and the ongoing backstory / context of his project. For one thing, he’s constantly coming across as a Republican, frat boy,  guitar nerd which put me off (apologies to any of my readers who fit this description).  Right from the beginning of the book, he talks about his lifelong obsession with KISS and similar groups and describes his lovingly-maintained collection of eleven expensive guitars. However – HE DOESN’T ACTUALLY PLAY THE GUITAR!?! He has this weird fascination with the idea of his ‘guitar heroes’ and constantly obsesses about it, but he seems somehow disconnected from the reality of what being a guitar player is really like. To his credit, he does go into some of this with his interviews and he even decides to start taking lessons during the course of his project.

If you’re at all interested in the stories of iconic guitar players from the late 70’s through early 90’s, there’s probably something in this book for you. Hopefully you can put up with the author better than I could.

4 comments

  1. Oh, this is SO going on my reading list. Thanks!!!!! I know the author will annoy me, but Rudy Sarzo (who I met once!), Kip Winger AND Oz Fox? I’m sold 😉

  2. Did you run across any Raffi sheet music? Ray really likes “Baby Beluga” these days.

  3. Long live Ronnie Dio, thats all i gotta say.