The careers of Kiss, Cheap Trick, Aerosmith, and, to a lesser extent, Starz, have been linked going back to the late ‘70s. In Doug Brod’s remarkably enjoyable look into the bands and their connections, he gives an exhaustive look into those ties while keeping the reader’s interest throughout.

In the case of Kiss, and Starz—the least popular of the four bands profiled, but influential nonetheless —the connection came from their shared manager Bill Aucion and his assistant, Sean Delaney, who helped choreograph onstage moves for both bands. Producer Jack Douglass worked on records for Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and Starz, while all bands—popular around the same time period, took turns opening for each other.

Brod takes an almost academic look into the beginnings, the rise, the dips and resurgence of the groups. Pulling together exhaustive interviews from members of the bands, their road crews, producers, and most interestingly, a slew of metal and hard rock musicians from Soundgarden’s Kim Thayil to Enuff Z’Nuff’s Chip Z’Nuff who were influenced by the various, four bands.

Though Kiss, Cheap Trick, and Aerosmith have all managed strong, late-career resurrections, Starz still remains on the periphery of the masses, occasionally opening for folks like former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley and Angel, another influential band that never really got beyond ‘70s cult status.

Despite that fact that they were never really as big as their peers Brod details the band’s evolution from the soft rock Looking Glass (responsible for the song “Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl”) to cock rockers not afraid to slather their lyrics with double-entendres.

There is a fascinating chapter detailing Starz guitarist Richie Ranno buying a storage unit full of Kiss memorabilia in the ’90s, resulting in the guitarist hosting Kiss conventions before gene Simmons threatened to sue him and eventually put him out of business with Kiss-run conventions.  

Brod has a knack from writing from a fan’s perspective while also never shying away from showing all the faults and problems with the various bands. The result is a wildly entertaining book about four of the most influential, hard rock bands to come out of the 1970s.       

Purchase the book.

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