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on June 26, 2013
I've read many biographies, and I was a little reluctant to read this one. Mainly because I view Alex Skolnick as an accomplished musician, and didn't want to know if he was an egomaniac. Especially in the metal genre, sometimes you already get an idea of what the story is going entail not to say it doesn't happen with other famous personalities, but let's face it metal is metal and gravitates to a certain crowd of people and or personalities. I was one of them and I was an early Testament fan. But something said go ahead buy it , you'll have something to read this week, even if it didn't end up that interesting, I figured it would just end up with a novel of a rock musician and stay on my bookshelf never to be read again. Oh I was wrong, I finished reading it in less than 24 hrs and yes I read it again. Phenomenal read. Very personal, mature, and well written by Alex himself, yes I said he wrote it. If you don't think you can pursue your dream, this is inspirational and if it doesn't you weren't paying attention. He speaks of his past with all the emotion that someone who has matured would. Anyone who has had a dysfunctional family and you felt you didn't feel attached to it, and wondered why you felt different, even though everything on the outside looked normal. Why you had dysfunctional relationships as an adult and couldn't understand why, you will relate to this. He speaks of his love and dedication to his craft , the guitar, and what it took to get there regardless of what was cool. Even when he felt there were personal boundaries or outside influences not conducive to his dream and future. Mr. Skolnick thought outside of the box musically and personally and listened to himself. I thought Miles was the only book with a musicians story, in my opinion that speaks to you, it took another 15 years for something like this to come out. Well done. Alex you have a future in writing I hope you continue to do so.
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on March 28, 2013
Wow! I am not a musician, never have been, never will be but have been a huge fan of Testament and all of Heavy music my whole life. Over the years, I have read just about every book/biography/memoirs out there. This is a must read for several reasons:
1- in my opinion this is the best written book out there. It is smart, genuine, detailed, humble and honest. It is a fantastic read for that alone.
2- you will read about Bay Area stories, anecdotes and insights that are hilarious and new even to die hard metal fans. You will also be taken deep into the Testament story and it is fascinating...I had no idea...
3- the Alex story is incredible. Some of the other folks rating this book already covered it but Alex's story is much bigger than the music is about someone who never quit, never settle for average, defied expectations, struggled, chose the higher path in pursuit of his own happiness. There is a lot to be inspired about in this book...much more than the musical journey and story.
4- this book is not about what most books typically are...grew-up, partied, had drug problems, partied some more etc...the journey that this book takes the reader on is very deep and it is about a journey thru his life, struggles, experiences , choices is deep.
5- Alex doesn't spare anyone with what he really think about them but always does it in way that is acceptable...but make no mistakes...he has pretty strong opinions from his many encounters, tour and experiences with many big names...
A MUST the book, read doesn't disappoint!
*Alex, in the event you read these postings on-line...thanks for an incredible book!
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on July 10, 2013
The title could have been "The Wrath of Alex". I enjoyed reading it from someone who I feel is similar to me that actually has been successful in the music business. I am a fan of the band Testament and have enjoyed their music since the second lp. I play guitar and I have been in a band so I can relate. Possible one of the best things to happen to Alex is taking lessons from Joe Satriana. Yet it doesn't stop there, Alex continues his education going to college studing Jazz guitar. Strange but around 1992 I left metal and studied Jazz, blues and then Country. When the Recession hit hard I started to listen to metal again. One of the interesting things I read was Alex's experiences meeting his idols in rock backstage. I really enjoyed this book and would have given it 5 stars except I wanted to read more about him being in band Savatage, his marriage, auditioning for Ozzy, being like 2 blocks away serving jury duty on 911. Thanks Alex, not only a great guitar player , but a good person as well.
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on April 17, 2013
I bought this book primarily as a lifelong Testament fan. There is very little written about this band (as opposed to Metallica, on which there are dozens of books available, most of which I own!) SO, I was excited to finally get an inside scoop on Testament and learn more about their story. Also, like Alex, I was a rather alienated and uncool kid who struggled to "fit in", then and now, so I was interested to see how HE rose above those struggles to "make it". Alex writes with great intelligence, extreme attention to detail and a dry humor and wit that is very refreshing---this is NOT your ordinary rock star biography! You feel like you are right in the room (or tour bus) with him as he recounts many crazy situations, fascinating people, and his feelings about living through it all. (I would love to meet him just to shake his hand and give him a hug!) The ONLY thing missing is that toward the end when he rejoins Testament...would have liked to know much more about the back story that went into those negotiations and why he decided to return (their last 2 records are so awesome, I'm just glad he did!) Other than that, it it a great story and a must read for any Rock Music fan, or Misunderstood Metal head like me! You will be inspired to be true to yourself, and enjoy the ride!
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on March 9, 2013
Alex Skolnick. Metal fans know him as the lead guitarist for the band Testament. Jazz fans know him from his band AST – Alex Skolnick Trio. I first saw and heard him in 2006 when he played with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Now we get to know him through his memoirs of growing up in Berkley, California; plunging into the 80s Bay Area metal scene and traveling the world with Testament, discovering a passion for jazz, and finding himself in the midst of it all.

Yes, it’s about the music. Metal fans will get a kick out of the inside scoop on one of California’s hardest hitting rock bands. Guitarists, like myself, will immediately connect with Alex’s love for the guitar and identify with his long journey toward mastering the instrument. There will be moments when they’ll want to put down the book and pick up their guitar to practice. I know I did. But the real take away here for anyone trying to make it in the music business (any genre) is that reality is a far cry from the dreams that put us on that path. Alex paints a sobering picture of the business side of music, as well as life on the road, in the studio, and on the stage. I wish I could have read this book thirty years ago when I still had stars in my eyes. I wouldn’t say Alex’s story is a warning against pursuing one’s dreams–quite the opposite. But like anything in life, the sooner you understand the reality of it, the better you’ll be able to pursue the craft and maybe avoid some pitfalls along the way.

But it’s about more than music. Alex’s story is about the journey of self-discovery and being okay with what you find. It’s about being honest and true and living rightly with other people, even those who haven’t yet figured this out. It’s about going after something, finding that there are good and bad forces out there that will try to shape you, and making the very hard choice to not give in to those voices. Now I’m sounding philosophical, but that’s really what this book is about. Alex Skolnick is obviously a great guitarist. That’s what first caught my attention in 2006. But there’s a lot more to him. He’s intelligent and insightful, and surprisingly stable considering the life he’s lived and those forces I mentioned.

So, there you have it. Geek to Guitar Hero is entertaining, informative, provocative, and inspirational. Thank you, Alex, for sharing your story with the world. It’s a great compliment to the music you’ve already given us.
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on November 8, 2013
This is a great insite to who Alex Skolnick is and he is an intelligent Great guy who Loves to Play and keep learning and mastering the guitar..One of the most inspiring books I have read and a book I and anyone else should be able to relate to,from his childhood,to high school to joining his first band he takes you through his life shares his thoughts,gives you info you can use on becoming a better musician and human being..If you have any musicians in your family besides yourself..put this book at the top of your gift list !!! Rock On Alex..Great Book I loved it!..maybe one of these days I will be able to play a third as well as you!! haha
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on September 7, 2013
What I truly appreciate is Alex's ability, despite his seemingly insecure outlook on being on geek, to study other people and explain all the good and bad things he learned from people who crossed his path in the Berkeley music scene.

I think Alex's ability to think beyond his own self-perceived weaknesses, and be a student of both music and people was instrumental (no pun intended) in him being a true musical hero to a variety of people not just metal or jazz heads!

One of the advantages of Alex being a geek as a kid is that he worked his butt off. Foreigner has a song called "Juke Box Hero," and there certainly would be a metal-jazz version of that when this book becomes a movie! (It could!)
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on October 21, 2013
This book was really interesting from Alex's point of view. I have always been a TesTamenT fan, and wondered about a lot if the subject material covered in this book, such as line up changes, album details, etc. Very informative and personal. I was moved by Alex' honesty of himself and the rest of the band. Great read.
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on December 9, 2015
Warning, this is not behind the music:Testament, the education of Skolnick shines on the quality, flow and awe spiring of his writing. The man is really honest. I have loved testament since 1989, I respect them more now
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on January 12, 2015
I've been a fan of Skolnick since the early 90s, and I'm a big fan of musicians' autobiographies, so I was excited when I heard about this. Unfortunately, I found that it was a pretty bad book overall, with far fewer things in the 'pro' column than the 'con' column.

Pro: He goes into a lot more details about recording and writing than most musicians seem to in their autobiographies, so if you—like me—like those kind of details, you'll enjoy these parts.

Pro: The overall story is ultimately inspiring and happy in the sense that it's about a musician finding his own style and realizing that he doesn't have to be confined to one genre. It's a particularly nice story within the context of metal.

Pro: Alex is brutally honest in here, and much of the book has a really personal tone to it.

Con: The narrative arc of the book pretty much ends with Alex leaving Testament in 1993. There are a couple of brief chapters at the end that cover the time since then, but do so very, very quickly, meaning that the last 20 years or so are almost completely blank. As a huge Savatage fan, I would have liked to hear much more about his time with that band, but even beyond that, covering more of his later exploits would have helped the narrative to show how he went off on his own and tried a variety of styles. Again, he alludes to these endeavors in passing, but doesn't spend any significant time on them.

Con: Like most autobiographers, Alex has a tendency to blame everyone but him for the things that have happened. Ultimately, this is the worst thing of the book: he spends an inordinate amount of time complaining about his upbringing, and comes off as whiny and churlish. For example, to contrast his achievements with the guitar with everything earlier in life, he says "Looking at the challenges of my upbringing and specifically my lack of a support system, it made sense that I'd sucked at everything." At other points he complains because when he took piano lessons (for which his parents rented him a piano!) the teacher wasn't encouraging enough. He also complains about not being able to go to fun places like Disney World as a kid, and only getting to go on ski trips. He constantly complains about his parents—both of whom are academics—but never once acknowledges the fact that he had a pretty good leg up by having two well-spoken, relatively well-off parents. In his mind, everything about how they raised him seems to be negative. It's impossible, of course, to know what it's like in someone else's shoes, but the narrative seems too simple and too one-sided, and lacking in self-awareness.

Con: Because he wrote the book himself, parts of it are pretty poor. Some of this is the editor's fault, since it's his/her job to catch the countless typos, misuse of words, and grammatical errors that are still in here. Overall, the writing is solid and his personal voice shines through, but the level of the writing is pretty distracting at times.

TL;DR: There are some interesting thoughts on music in here and some deeper thinking than most such books, but the general whiny tone and restriction of the narrative to a very short time period make the book not worth reading in my opinion.
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