Sebastian Bach - "18 And Life On Skid Row" (Book Review)

January 2, 2017
"Rock 'n' Roll is, and always will be, a vicious game," Sebastian Bach writes in his candid and entertaining new memoir, "18 And Life On Skid Row". "Shitty deals. Getting ripped off. Underpaid. Rock 'n' roll will chew you up and spit you out. Rock 'n' roll is not for the weak. Rock 'n' roll is not for the faint of f***ing heart, either. So get the f*** over it."

Do you still want to be a singer in a famous rock band, kids?

Sebastian Bach (real name Bierk) saw tremendous success in multi-platinum hard rockers Skid Row with their 1989 self-titled debut and 1991 sophomore smash Slave To The Grind. But before you could say "Monkey Business," Bach found himself on the outside looking in, fired from Skid Row after only three studio albums.

Baz's early life was incredibly interesting, from being born in the Bahamas, growing up in Canada, and being very close to his father, David, who taught art at Humboldt State University. We learn how Sebastian got his name, how he started singing in the choir and then became obsessed with KISS in 1975. After making a name for himself in Madam X, fame and fortune followed when he was chosen to front the New Jersey-based Skid Row. The band saw early commercial success with four hit videos on MTV and an opening slot on Bon Jovi's 1989 New Jersey arena tour. Skids' second tour supporting Slave To The Grind saw the music scene shifting a bit. I saw Skid Row at Denver's McNichols Arena in February 1992 (for a whopping $13.15) and you couldn't help but notice opening acts Soundgarden and Pantera were quickly working their way up the rock 'n' roll ladder. Skid Row killed it that night, but by 1995, their darker third album, Subhuman Race, didn't generate platinum-level sales.

Unfortunately, Sebastian doesn't provide much insight into his December 1996 dismissal from Skid Row. For all his crystal clear recollections and (hilarious) stories of excessive drug use and alcohol abuse with fellow rockers Axl Rose, Ace Frehley and Vince Neil, Baz only offers "nobody really understands why we broke up" when discussing being fired. Frustrating. Bach also glosses over his 2010 divorce after being married for almost 20 years, "I really don't feel like writing about it in this book, because it's so much of a bummer."

Baz goes into great detail about his post-Skid Row career including successful stints on Broadway with "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," starring on TV's "Gilmore Girls," tragically losing his home in Hurricane Irene in 2011 and happily meeting his new wife Suzanne.

Bach continues to record new albums and tour as a solo artist, but acknowledges the changes in the music business with VIP packages and fans that just want to meet the band and "get a picture for their Facebook profile" instead of actually buying your new album. You get the feeling there's unfinished business with his former Skid Row bandmates, who are now touring with their fourth lead singer. He writes, "The songs we made in Skid Row were made by five people. Yes, I would like to hear those songs, one more time, played by those exact five people who played them on the records, in my lifetime. Will it happen? Who knows?"

With a ton of rare photos and 448 pages of content, "18 And Life On Skid Row" is a must-read for mothertruckers who grew up with the one-and-only voice of "Youth Gone Wild" and "I Remember You" blasting in their car stereos.

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