Saturday 03 Dec 2016

Mustaine: a review
Jennifer Flaten

"Mustaine: a heavy metal memoir"
Dave Mustaine, published by It Books;
368 pages, 22 July 201

Love him or hate him, trust me there are plenty of people in both camps, there is no denying that Dave Mustaine is one of the founding fathers of thrash metal music.

Most people consider rock and roll autobiographies a cautionary tale-about the evils of drugs and alcohol, but I don't agree.

Most rock and roll biographies show that you can ingest an enormous amount of legal and illegal substances not remember half of what you did and still get a six figure-publishing contract, but I digress. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy them.

I approached this autobiography with a bit of trepidation; I like Mustaine would the book do him justice? Would the book change my opinion of him?

The answer to the first question is yes, the book does Mustaine justice. He has a co-author, Joe Layden. Still, his personality shines through.

The answer to the second question also yes, but not in the way, you would think. After reading the book, I have a deep appreciation of how just how hard he has worked.

His frank take on how he's spent his life stoned and chasing after an unattainable goal, the respect and maybe apology of former Metallica band mates is a fast read, but that doesn't mean it isn't chock full of interesting tidbits.

Mustaine's book briefly touches on his early childhood, whether this is to protect the privacy of his sisters or if he really doesn't remember much of his early childhood, what little he does reveal shows an average family fractured by divorce.

The aftermath of his parent's divorce, the constant moving and uncertainly shapes Mustaine. He becomes an outsider, living on the fringes and carrying a huge chip on his shoulder. No wonder he turned to loud, aggressive music.

I was interested to learn about Mustaine, his early career as a low-level drug dealer. How he made the transformation from the neighborhood pot dealer to a powerhouse on the metal scene is something out of a Hollywood script.

Anyone familiar with metal, knows the story of Mustaine and Metallica, it is the stuff of legend. Boy gets in band, boy and band start generating buzz, boy and band are about to hit it big time and all of sudden band ditches boy.

Both parties are guilty of carrying a grudge and early on slinging mud in the press. Thus, it's interesting to read what Mustaine writes about side of the story, now that more than 20 years have passed.

"Metallica" ejected Mustaine. How that sits with you boils down to how you feel about him. I like him; I'm inclined to be sympathetic.

Knowing his history, I was amazed that he told the story so dispassionately; he admits that the band probably did have reason for dismissing him, his drug and alcohol use was escalating causing him to make some unwise decisions. He just thinks the way they did it really sucked.

I like "Metallica." Still, only someone, with a heart of stone, would think of waiting until Mustaine was asleep to then pack his bags, roust him and drop him off at the bus station, with only his guitar and ticket to somewhere. This is barely short of cruel, but I think the members of "Crazy Horse" take the same action against Dan Whitten?

Mustaine readily admits he spends the rest of his life chasing after "Metallica," trying show them and the world his worth. He admits trying to confirm his worth grew into an obsession. He still wrestles, with the obsession, today.

Mustaine is opinionated and he certainly doesn't sugar coat things in the book. He makes some cutting observations about the people's looks, situations and the world. I admit I did find myself laughing aloud many times while reading the book, of course, that was interspersed with head shaking at the amount of drugs and alcohol the man consumed.

It was nice to see him in a little more light hearted, he can be a little over powering in live interviews.

I give credit to Mustaine for not crowding the book with too many salacious details about groupies or drug binges. The few stories he does share have a point.

What is most fascinating is list of the members of his band that Mustaine lists. His band has almost a revolving door for drummers and guitarists. I consider myself a fan, but I can't even keep up with who is in the band.

Reading the book, I learned Mustaine refers to his lead guitarist Dave Ellefson, as Junior. His claim that having two "Daves" would be too confusing holds some water, but still Junior. Finding out about the nickname seems to make sense the lawsuit by Ellison. I am sure after 20 years as Junior, he snapped.

Musicians often end up in rehab. Some go to rehab a couple times. Mustaine goes to rehab seventeen times.

The chapters detailing how he recovered from a pinched nerve that threatened to end his career are especially poignant.

Mustaine turns to gawd as a way to get and stay sober. It's his last resort, not an easy task for a disillusioned, former Jehovah's Witnesses, but Mustaine does it and he isn't preachy about it.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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