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Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal Paperback – November 12, 2002

3.7 out of 5 stars 35 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a book that never quite gets rolling, Konow, a writer for Guitar World, sets out to give a timeline of heavy metal while answering "three key questions: what went right, what went wrong, and what the hell happened?" He begins in Birmingham, England, which he argues is the birthplace of heavy metal, with its most popular statesman today, Ozzy Osbourne. As a revolt against the hippie movement and in part to save himself from a life of crime, Osbourne formed Black Sabbath. At the same time, Led Zeppelin formed from the "ashes of the Yardbirds," and after finally gathering enough members (Keith Moon of the Who turned them down, quipping that they'd sink "like a lead zeppelin," which is how Jimmy Page decided on the name), held a jam session. Konow continues in a chronological fashion, briefly sketching band bios, triumphs and downfalls. Without exploiting each band's debauchery or disintegration, Konow covers such other metal acts such as Alice Cooper, Kiss, Van Halen, M"tley Cre, Dokken, Def Leppard, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Guns 'n' Roses and many others. The portraits of Alice Cooper and Axl Rose are the most engaging parts of the book. However, the chapters read more like magazine articles than a coherent book. Hardcore metal fans will likely find the book a bit soft and too pop, and they're unlikely to learn any new stories. In the final pages, Konow attempts an analysis of the fall of heavy metal, but by that point, so many bands have risen and fallen that his curt summation is hardly satisfying. This is an inspired personal effort that won't chart.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This book tells the story of heavy-metal music from its beginning in the late '60s through its precipitous decline in the early '90s. Black Sabbath, the first featured band, got its start in 1969 when its members were just out of high school, a scenario that repeats itself with many of the other groups. With Ozzy Osbourne arguably more popular than ever before, thanks to his family's MTV reality show, teens will enjoy reading how he got into music to escape jail or factory work. Most of the stories follow the same pattern-band struggles; band hits it big; band's success is derailed by money, drugs, and personality conflicts. Some of the groups, like Poison, Ratt, and W.A.S.P, will probably seem laughable to today's teens, while Metallica and the members of Motley Crue are still in the limelight. The author has a chatty, anecdotal style and spares no expense as he shares tales of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Often, those who abused drugs died prematurely, cautionary tales that won't go unnoticed. Several pages of notes show that Konow had firsthand access to many of the musicians. Black-and-white photographs, mainly by the prolific Neil Zlozower, open each chapter. There is no discography. This book will be popular with those who enjoy the heavy-metal genre, as well as with those who want to see how to succeed (or not) in the music business.
Jamie Watson, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (November 12, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780609807323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609807323
  • ASIN: 0609807323
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #725,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this back to back with _Sound of the Beast_ by Ian Christie and was pleased to find that they (mostly) cover different material. The first thing you'll notice is that except for obligatory coverage of Black Sabbath, Zepplin, AC/DC, Kiss and Metallica, this book focuses mostly on the LA metal scene, AKA the MTV Bands. This may leave you wondering, "Where the heck is the Black Metal?" even though Konow does cover Venom somewhat, as the progenitor of this style. Europe is pretty much ignored, and it'll probably feel like your favorite band got short shrift. Furthermore, the writing isn't very smooth - the book is mostly a collection of anecdotes and factoids. X did this, Y said that, Z was released and did well but not well enough...

With all that said, though, I enjoyed the book quite a bit. The fact density means that you're learning new things every page, at least if, like me, you weren't really into the scene itself, just the music. And if the book had been as wordy as _Sound of the Beast_, it would have been twice as large without giving you much more information. I had no idea Gene Simmons was born Chaim Witz in Israel. Funny bits like Henry Rollins's description of how bad Venom was on tour ('I expected them to break into Sex Farm Woman at any moment') amused me quite a lot.
Furthermore, Konow's concentration on a smaller population of LA Bands gives this book more depth than Chistie's in several areas. _Sound of the Beast_ just mentions that Quiet Riot's first cd sold 4 million, their second 1 million. Finis. _Bang Your Head_ goes into all the scheming and politics behind this, why their second record doing 'only' 1 million was a disaster, and how Quiet Riot leader DuBrow shot himself in the foot repeatedly.
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Format: Paperback
The best parts in this book are the stories and anecdotes about the bands or the individuals in the bands. Vince Neil is protrayed as the butt of a joke and David Lee Roth is portrayed as a spoiled rich kid turned professional jerk. The stories of the bands are entertaining, because it allows the reader to see just how ridiculous some people can be. However, the book falls short on many levels. Some of the most talented bands of Metal only receive very small sections of the book. I believe that Iron Maiden has a page. Judas Priest has a paragraph. Motorhead, while very influential is only mentioned in sections. The core of the book is made of the L.A. scene, focusing on bands such as Ratt, Motley Crue and Guns and Roses. While these bands were good, they were not the only Metal around in the 80's.

Another disturbing aspect of the book is that Konow claims that Metal was wiped out by the Seattle scene. This is untrue. Konow ignores that Pantera's album, "Far Beyond Driven" debuted at number one the week it was released. Konow also fails to acknowledge that Slayer released some of their most ferocious work in the 90's. I will say that Metal was not as mainstream in the 90's, however to say that it was dead is preposterous. David Konow has written for Guitar World magazine, which I used to read. The late Dimebag Darrel once wrote columns for the magazine well in to the 90's. Dime once said something along the lines of, "Some people think that Metal is Dead, but Metal ain't all assed up yet." I would say to potential readers, that this book is fair. If you want a better read then first check out, "Sound of the Beast" first. That book covers all genre's of metal fairly well and you get more of a history as opposed to the tabloid feaud-like rivalry that "Bang Your Head" offers.
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Format: Paperback
Although some have criticized Ian Christe's book "Sound of the Beast" for focusing too heavily on Metallica, at least he made an effort to cover many, if not most, of the bands and genres out there, even if he just paid 30-second lip service to them. This book, by contrast, is mostly the saga of the 80s hair bands that gained popularity on MTV. It would have been fine if it had had a title that suggested that. Instead, it's represented as some sort of exploration of heavy metal generally, which it most definitely is NOT. Contrary to the title, heavy metal never really "fell", it just branched into different directions and is still very much alive today, as the plethora of European, if not American, festivals suggests. Bottom line, DON'T buy this book thinking you'll get a comprehensive history of metal. Buy this book only if you want to read gossipy stories about Van Halen and the like. Better yet, skip this book entirely and go buy Motley Crue's "The Dirt".
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Format: Kindle Edition
Its a shame when bands that don't fit into the genre, like Green day, get mentioned in a book on heavy metal, yet bands like Cannibal Corpse are mentioned nowhere in the book. The author of this book fails to do research on anything other than heavy metal in America and Britain, yet avoids areas that truly defined heavy metal. This book became worthless to me with the only mention of black metal in the entire thing is poorly researched (Euronymous was not the vocalist of Mayhem, nor was Vikernes the vocalist of Burzum... he was Burzum).
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Although I haven't read any other material on Heavy Metal music this book is great. It deals with the social, cultural, and economic factors that influenced this era in rock music. It does mention the debauchery that plagued Heavy Metal but does not go into lurid detail. Surprisingly it does mention the sad demise of some of these musicians due to alcohol and drug addiction.
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