Rock Reads: Lou Gramm's Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock'n'Roll by Lou Gramm

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

Gramm's band Black Sheep had a couple of albums out and had just begun a tour opening for Kiss when their equipment truck wrecked, destroying all the band's equipment and leading to a break up. That's where this story of Gramm's life picks up after the obligatory chapters on his youth and upbringing. The dissolution of Black Sheep had a silver lining for Gramm; a chance meeting with Mick Jones, then of Spooky Tooth, would lead to the formation of Foreigner and a hit-filled rocket ride to success. Gramm (working here with co-author Scott Pitoniak) describes the rise to fame fairly matter-of-factly and without flowery (or profane) language and that tack holds for the entire book. Gramm is candid about his boozing and coke use during this era but never does he glamorize it or sermonize against it. Nor is this a tell-all book; other than laying out his grievances with Jones, accrued over more than two decades, Gramm doesn't indulge in the dishing of dirt that is such a big part of many rock bios. Eventually Gramm sobered up but there were even bigger challenges ahead, beginning with having to have an egg-sized brain tumor removed and enduring the agony of a lengthy recovery. After the operation he put on 100 pounds and was heckled for it when he got back on stage. He had three car wrecks, one while his kids were in the backseat. He got divorced. Basically life stripped him of almost everything. Gramm is healthy today, once again performing, remarried and a born again Christian. Gramm doesn't say this directly in the book but it's easy to see here how his roller coaster of a life as the singer and front man for Foreigner prepared him for the serious personal problems he would face later. Undoubtedly rock taught Gramm perseverance, how to be a survivor, and happily for fans he is not done building his legacy just yet.

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