Tragedy And Death The Rock & Roll Way
Bruce Von Stiers
I was trying to figure out how to best describe Staci Layne Wilson. She's an actor, a director, a producer, and a screenwriter. A lot of her work involves horror. As in horror films. Staci produced the films Shevenge and Valentines DayZ and co-produced Psycho Therapy and Cabaret of the Dead.
Along with being an aficionado of horror, Staci has a lot of knowledge of rock & roll. She was the driving force behind the film The Ventures: Stars on Guitars. Staci's father, Don Wilson, was the lead guitarist for that surf rock band. And Staci mixed a bit of otherworldliness with rock & roll in her comedy film The Second Age of Aquarius.
With knowing a lot about horror and rock & roll, it should be no surprise that Staci would write a book that encompasses a bit of both. The book is titled Rock & Roll Nightmares: True Stories Vol. 1.
The book has nine chapters, along with an introduction. There is an afterward and several pages of sources that Staci utilized in researching the material for the book. The book has 279 pages and is published by Excessive Nuance.
So, what's this book about? It has stories of the deaths of rock stars. Not the ones who died old and wise. These are the rock stars whose lives ended tragically. A good many of these stories you might know or have a nodding acquaintance with. But Staci goes the extra mile, adding details that most stories about these deaths don't give. And she has a bit of wicked humor that shows up in her narrative.
The first chapter is Only The Good Die Young. Each chapter has a song for its title. This particular chapter deals with the 27 Club. That is, the musical artists who died at the age of 27. Kurt Cobain was the prominent, some say a charter member, of the 27 Club. Staci documents his suicide and the events that led to it and some of the fallout from it. Staci also delves into the death of the man who might have been the founder of the 27 Club, bluesman Robert Johnson. Several prominent rock artists are featured in this chapter, including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Mama Cass Elliott. There was one that I'd never heard of, Mia Zapata. She fronted the grunge band The Gits. Hers was a tragic story of rape and murder.
Where the first chaptered mainly dealt with death by drug overdose, the second chapter was all about rock star suicides. I knew of a few of those deaths. But Staci put a lot of effort into showing the circumstances that led up to each suicide. And in some cases, the heart-wrenching aftermath.
What is a book about rock-n-roll without stories of trashing hotel rooms, people dangling from windows and TV sets thrown out of windows? Staci takes a little side journey and describes some law bending, or breaking, that some rock stars have done. This chapter is appropriately titled Breaking The Law. Those stories include one about Billy Idol, who after having a superbly fun time, was tranquilized by the national police in one country and presented with a quarter million-dollar hotel bill on the way out the door.
The chapter Leaving On A Jet Plane describes a few of the notable deaths of musical artists in plane crashes. There is the story of Buddy Holly's plane crash as well as the helicopter crash death of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Staci also covers the deaths of Jim Croce and John Denver in plane crashes.
Other chapters in the book go over the various ways that other rock artists have died. In chapters like Tragedy, Staci details the tragic, and mostly avoidable, circumstances that led to those deaths. Musical families The Cowsills and The BeeGees are featured in the Tragedy chapter.
As I wrote earlier, the deaths of many of these people have been documented before. But Staci adds a certain flair to the stories. And she apparently did a lot of research to provide more than just an overview of an artist's death. Sometimes the details were a bit shocking, other times just sad. I was aware of the deaths of many of the rock artists Staci wrote about but didn't have any idea about several others. This book gave me an opportunity to learn more about certain rock artists and their lives and deaths. Even though the premise of the book was tragedy and death, Rock & Roll Nightmares was both informative and entertaining.
Rock & Roll Nightmares: True Stories Vol. 1 is available at many book retailers including amazon.
Staci also has a podcast that goes along with the book. That podcast is, appropriately, Rock & Roll Nightmares. It is on several platforms, including Spotify, iTunes and iHeart Radio.
To find out more about the book, and Staci Layne Wilson, go visit her official website. That can be found at https://www.stacilaynewilson.com/
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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers