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Rock Reads: Cemetery Gates: Saints & Survivors of the Heavy Metal Scene by Mick O'Shea

Reviewed by Kevin Wierzbicki

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It's no secret that many rock stars choose to live fast and hard, opting for a debauched existence where booze and drugs are consumed like mother's milk. It's no secret either that this way of living has led to a horrible way of dying for lots of musicians.

The first half of Cemetery Gates, the "Saints" portion, briefly tells through mini-bios (about a dozen pages each) the story of 10 metal musicians who are no longer with us. Some did not succumb to dissipation; Ronnie James Dio, who died from a disease, the murdered Dimebag Darrell and early Metallica member Cliff Burton, who died in a car wreck, are profiled in this section.

But most of the deceased "saints" here contributed to their own deaths. Peter Steele of Type O Negative died of heart failure but it was brought on by alcoholism and drug use, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains overdosed on a cocaine and heroin "speedball" and the psychosis-addled mind of the singer for death metal acts Morbid and Mayhem, Per Yngve Ohlin, aka "Dead," caused him to blow his brains out.

In all fairness, O'Shea doesn't jump right into the gory details here; every bio begins with a recap of the artist's beginnings and rise to fame before transitioning into what led to the darkness.

Others profiled in the Saints half of the book include John Bonham, Bon Scott, Paul Grey and Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan. The "Survivors" part of the book follows the same format with the living but the subjects here are stars who, by all rights considering their lifestyles, should have already met the Grim Reaper. Included in this section are Ozzy Osbourne, Nikki Sixx, Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Mustaine, Axl Rose, Slash, Trent Reznor and several others.

You can get the book at Amazon here.

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