Tonawanda News

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October 21, 2013

MUSIC NOTES: Rock bios make for an interesting read

Tonawanda News — I am sure many of you are in the same category as me when it comes to finding time to sit down and read a book. I had a few rock biographies piling up on my shelf and managed to plow through two of them in two sittings, and so I thought I would offer up my thoughts on both of them.

We will start with a book that has some local ties, “Juke Box Hero: My Five Decades in Rock and Roll” by Lou Gramm and Scott Pitoniak.

A word about one of the authors, Pitoniak: He was a well-respected sports writer for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for many years, and married to one of my favorite Rochester radio personalities, Beth Adams Pitoniak.

Pitoniak’s other books were written with sports figures like former Buffalo Bills legend Steve Tasker, and Syracuse University basketball coach Jim Boeheim. Nevertheless, he was up to the task for this rock-and-roll memoir.

Gramm is an important part of local history, he opened the Canal Concert Series in Lockport in 2008, in what turned out to be a highly successful opening season.

The book is filled with plenty of tales of sex, drugs and rock and roll, but none of them are particularly salacious, and when compared to Sammy Hagar or Steven Tyler’s books, they are pretty tame.

Instead of those tales, we are presented with what turns out to be a fascinating tale of Gramm’s ascent to local rock star, descent to local janitor and then ascent to international superstar. While the book devotes a substantial amount of space to his tenure in Foreigner, it is introspective rather than self-serving, and ultimately leaves one with a better sense of Gramm as a person rather than a larger-than-life rock star. In short, I loved it!

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