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Life on Planet Rock: From Guns N' Roses to Nirvana, a Backstage Journey through Rock's Most Debauched Decade Paperback – July 11, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this nomadic, at times humbling memoir, former RIP magazine editor Friend recalls a quarter-century spent as a ringleader in the music industry circus. From the early 1980s to the late '90s, Friend enjoyed an insiders' perch for some of rock's greatest moments—he worked as a DJ, a rock journalist, editor of heavy metal's most popular magazine and had a segment on MTV. In energetic prose he invites readers along on bonding experiences like golf dates with Alice Cooper and riding in private jets with Kiss, as well as exposing moments of professional soul-searching at the hands of Metallica's Lars Ulrich and Pearl Jam. Remarkably, Friend's narrative maintains an even keel, whether he's being ignored by Kurt Cobain or wooed by Gene Simmons, and he candidly portrays the compromised, often confusing role of the rock journalist, constantly teetering between friend and patsy. The most enlightening part of the book is Friend's brief, failed stint as an A&R man, when the journalist who made a career on megabands staked his A&R career on the Bogmen, a quirky but brilliant New York outfit, and even made a run at Eels. Through success, excess and failure, music fans will enjoy Friend's anecdotes and his clear-eyed, hardly jaded view of the industry. (July)
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Review

“Lonn lives where the reckless heart of rock still thunders in your chest. No one else can throw a literary dinner party where Henry Miller sits side by side with Kurt Cobain and Jon Bon Jovi.  That's Lonn's planet, and that's his vivid personality.  Soulful and rowdy and always hilarious, Life on Planet Rock reminds you why you ever turned it up, all the way up.”
—Cameron Crowe

“Dark, brutally honest, and hilarious at the same time, Lonn's tales of rock-and-roll debauchery, excess, and bad business are a love letter to the rock gods.”
—Scott Ian Rosenfeld, founder/guitarist, Anthrax

“Lonn Friend. If anybody is entitled to write about rock in L.A. in the ’80s and ’90s, it’s him. This is a good book. Steal it!”
—Lemmy Kilmister, lead singer, Motörhead

“Its humor, insight, and behind-the-scenes honesty have captured me and whisked me away to a very special mind space. I am content. All is well on Planet Rock . . . I ought to know, I've lived here all my life.”
—Kevin Cronin, lead singer, REO Speedwagon
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (July 11, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767922085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767922081
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,422,388 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jessica Lux on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
What can a book reviewer say about a memoir written by the editor of RIP magazine and endorsed by Cameron Crowe, Scott Ian, Paul Stanley, Alice Cooper, Lemmy Kilmister, and one of the founders of MTV? Lonn Friend was in the inner circle of Larry and Althea Flynt when he was offered the editorial helm of Flynt Publishing's fledgling rock magazine. For seven years, RIP magazine chronicled the American heavy metal scene as it transformed from the heyday of hair metal to the era of grunge rock.

Friend's memoir marks a critical contribution to the history of heavy metal. It reads like an impeccably verified collection of bar-room tales from a top notch storyteller. The opening chapter alone is worth the paperback cover price - it represents some of the first new material published about Guns N' Roses in the last decade. Lonn Friend greenlighted Guns N Roses' cover shot in 1988, months before Appetite for Destruction went platinum. He cavorted with the band as well (as members of Metallica and Skid Row) well into the Use Your Illusion era. In Life on Planet Rock, Friend reveals for the first time how well he knew of Slash's heroin addiction during their 1990 interview. (Slash himself has now gone on record about the addiction, so Friend was comfortable revealing the whole story.)

Other chapters focus on the legendary antics of Alice Cooper, The Who, KISS, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, and Motley Crue. This book is a Who's Who highlight guide to the brief reign RIP magazine -- only with the wisdom of hindsight and the freedom to tell all! Friend turns highly introspective in the closing chapter, examining his own turbulent relationship with the music industry and rock journalism.
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Format: Paperback
RIP Magazine was the heavy metal bible of its day. No one else covered all the hijinks of hair metal better than RIP and Lonn Friend.

This book relives some of the best behind the scenes moments of that time. I devoured it the same way I devoured "The Devil Wears Prada" or my beloved US Magazine. Lonn was the fly on the wall and we all get to have a peek.

Having spent 15 years paying my rent by working backstage at rock concerts around the world, I have to say this is the best tell-all memoir I have ever read. The only bummer is, that I wanted MORE! Keep writing Lonn, the world needs your sense of humour and the rockers of today need to know how it was really done back when Metal Ruled the World!

Whether you are in the business or just interested in someone else's business this book is for you.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like many music fans, I found "my music" in my teens and early 20's and have remained a tried and true fan of hard rock/metal (and even...GASP!!!...hair bands) for more years than I care to admit. Somewhere in a box in my basement (next to many more boxes in my basement) there are innumerable old copies of RIP magazine, one of my main sources of info on the bands I love(d). If you read the magazine or simply tuned into MTV back then, you couldn't help but know the name Lonn Friend.

Many years after its release, I stumbled across "Life on Planet Rock" and assumed it would be entirely about the bands I remember Lonn covering in the pages of RIP back in the day. I was kinda right, kinda wrong. While he does talk at length about his dealings with GnR, Metallica, and Motley Crue, there's much more to the story of Lonn Frined than I expected...like his post-RIP gig working for Clive Davis at Arista records. As I type this, I'm listening to Lonn's 1st big find (also a commercial flop) The Bogmen. Not at all the 80's rock/metal band I would've guessed he'd favor.

And that's kinda how the whole book has unfolded for me: one pleasant surprise after another. He writes as much about Pearl Jan and Nirvana as he does GnR. In fact, I've been listening to The Bogmen for days now wondering how they didn't hit it big. And how did I not know about this book until just a few weeks ago? Better late than never, I suppose.
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Format: Paperback
Like the Phoenix that rises from the ashes to re-invent itself, so is the writer of this insiders look into the inner sanctum of rock n' roll. Lonn Friend journeys from the porn industry to the rock scene thru a journalistic gateway called RIP Magazine, an 80's metal magazine that ultimately issued him a VIP pass with many of rocks notorious acts from Alice Cooper to KISS to Guns N' Roses, Skid Row and Nirvana and many others. A fast-paced jaunt that takes you from the inner bowels and decadence of the music scene to the emotional and intellectual awakenings of its writer, then back again. For those who love music...and we ALL do...this is a MUST READ! Now, where is YOUR copy?
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By deeznuts on September 11, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are about ten chapters in this book and each one focuses on the author's (a music journalist) interaction with each band during his career. It doesn't include anything that most people didn't already know about the mega bands. The author is personally honest and actually comes off as a guy desperate for the bands attention at times.
Bands that are covered are Guns, Metallica, grunge era, Aerosmith, Kiss, and prob 5 or 6 more.
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By Deryk on November 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
Life on Planet Rock is a book about Lonn Friend wrapped in the packaging of a book about Rock in the 80's and 90's. What I wanted to see in this book was a true backstage look at the bands that changed my life. What I read here is a story of a journalist Star F'er that was chosen by these bands as a friend and story teller because he did not have the balls to write the truth.
Nirvana's Kurt Cobain touched on it when he said playing the game involved going to dinner with Lonn and acting like a friend. When you run a popular magazine like RIP then the bands have to suck up to you so you can help them sell the music.
What we learn in Life on Planet Rock is that Lonn was the perfect rug for the bands to walk on. His self esteem was so lacking that they just needed to give him a hug and tell him he was a "Friend" and he would do what he did best. Lonn is a true writer though, he spins the yarn and tells the tales beutifully. The problem is there is little substance about the bands and music and too much of Lonns over driven ego.

Lonn stated in the book he covered Bon Jovi more than any other band and yet I learned more from a 20 minute interview Jon Bon Jovi did with Howard Stern in 2007 than I learned in the entire book. Infact, I learned more about Slash and GnR in his interview last month with Howard than I did in this book.

If Lonn ever decided to write a real book about those days it would be the greatest book and the biggest seller of any rock book ever. That I am sure will never happen though because Lonn Friend like his faux friends way too much to tell the whole story.

Well done Lonn, you kept your friends and sold me a bland book.
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