I am a rock star memoir junkie, I read as many as I can get my hands on… from Motley Crue’s The Dirt to Neil Peart, to Ozzy Ozbourne. There are so many to choose from, and to me it’s an exploration of history. Some people are drawn to certain eras of history that they are the most interested in. For my Dad it’s World War II, and I can see how he would be interested in that era because he was a child in Poland during the war.

For me, my era is the 80s, in particular the music scene of the 80s. Just as my Dad devours book after book about World War II, I devour book after book by 80s rock stars. Here are some of the cool facts I picked up from my historical deep dive.

From Billy Idol in his book Dancing with Myself I learned that his hit White Wedding was written as a gag wedding gift for his younger sister. He adored his sister, and as a joke he wrote the song for her because she was pregnant when she got married. “Hey little sister… Shot gun!”

One night Todd and I were watching The Goldbergs on TV, and Rick Springfield did a cameo appearance on the show as the owner of the karaoke bar where Erica worked.

Todd googled Rick Springfield and said “Did you know he played on General Hospital back in the early 80s?”

“Yup, he played Dr. Noah Drake,” I replied without even thinking twice. Those soaps were always on when I was growing up. Mom watched all the ones on ABC. I remember when I was a small child that The Edge of the Night and Ryan’s Hope were on first. Then All My Children, One Live to Live and General Hospital. I watched them with her on school vacation, and then eventually when I got a VCR she’d tape them during the day and watch them when she got home from driving the school bus.

What I learned from Rick’s Springfield memoir was that he met a man named Gary in a pottery class he was taking, Gary’s girlfriend also took the class. Young Rick really wanted a girl like Gary’s girl. But Gary didn’t have a cool enough ring to it. Later Rick Springfield won a Grammy for his hit “Jessie’s Girl” after meeting Gary and his amazing girlfriend. Though to this day I still do not understand why he spelled it “Jessie” instead of “Jesse.”

I was never such a big Kiss fan. Normally when I read or listen to an 80s rocker memoir I binge on their music after listening to it. Thank you, Spotify! But because I am not really into Kiss, not so much on the binge. But Paul Stanley’s memoir Face the Music was still super interesting. I like that he got into what it takes to make a record, run a successful tour, and he was so scrappy in his younger years. But the thing I found the most interesting is that Paul Stanley is deaf in his right ear. He was literally born without an ear on his right side. He managed to get his ear surgically corrected after he found success, but throughout his childhood he was teased for the stump on the right side of his head and to this day he remains deaf in his right ear.

The single most interesting rock memoir I have ever read is I Am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne. When that man speaks you can’t understand a single word he says. Am I right? But when he sings he is perfectly clear. His writing is the same way. He’s witty, downright funny, and for the amount of drugs that man has consumed I am amazed he can remember so much of his life. Back in the beginning when he was in Black Sabbath the band’s manager didn’t give the band any cash. When they wanted to buy something, like a fancy house or a flashy car, the management company would just buy that for them. The result was that they lived in gorgeous homes and had fast cars, but had no money in their pockets. The band had taken to asking the management to buy them all sorts of things, then they’d turn around and immediately sell them so that they could get some cash in their pockets. It was Sharon who got them out of that deal. I read his book in 1 weekend, it was that good.

I read Steven Tyler’s book, and I also read his ex-wife Cyrinda Foxe’s book. Though she mostly complained about what a lousy husband and father he was, and how they lived in a lousy house in New Hampshire at his insistence while he toured. I get it, he was no angel while he toured. But the thing I found interesting about her book was that she is Mia Tyler’s mother, but she was friends with the woman who was Liv Tyler’s mother. Mia and Liv played together often as children, never having any clue that they were sisters. It wasn’t until they were teenagers that they learned the truth.

Early in his career Bruce Springsteen didn't know how to drive. What was the point? He was dead broke and couldn't afford rent let alone a car. But when he did that first trip to LA to try to make it, he and his band were in a ricketey old truck that he didn't know how to drive. But he had to take turns driving along with everyone else. He couldn't get the truck moving out of first gear. So what they had to do was have someone else get it started and into second gear. Once the truck was moving he and the driver would quickly trade places so that Bruce could get behind the wheel. Read Born to Run here.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.