LIES, LIES, LIES: Due to an utter disregard for research, Stephen Davis’ GN’R book is shot full of embarrassing holes.

By Metal Dave

The most astonishing takeaway from Stephen Davis’ “Watch You Bleed” is not some tasty tidbit about Guns N’ Roses, but rather all the mistakes that flowed unfiltered onto the pages.

Davis, you may recall, is the highly acclaimed author behind the classic Led Zeppelin book, “Hammer of the Gods,” and the Aerosmith tell-all, “Walk This Way.” It’s been years since I’ve revisited those two books, but after reading “Watch You Bleed,” I’m afraid of what I might find.

Granted “Watch You Bleed” is unauthorized by GN’R, but not having firsthand access to the band is no excuse for turning your back on Google. Wow. Where to start?

Hands-down, the most egregious mistake comes when Davis refers to Paul Stanley as the bassist for KISS. Really? Does Gene know about this?

Yes, he sticks out his tongue. No, he’s NOT the bass player in KISS.

Getting that wrong is not just bad; it’s almost criminal considering the multitudes of history and shameless self-promotion heaped upon one of the biggest bands in the world. I’ll bet even my mother knows Gene Simmons is KISS’ bassist. And if she doesn’t, my 4-year-old son sure does.

Almost equally as gross is Davis referring to Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” as the band’s debut album. Eh, sorry pal, but “Slippery” is Bon Jovi’s third album, not first. Again, given the fact that BJ is a household name and “Slippery” was nothing short of a blockbuster, it’s hard to fathom how a rock writer could be so horribly wrong.

SHOT DOWN(E)

Then there’s the issue of spelling – or misspelling as it turns out. In talking about GN’R peers Faster Pussycat, Davis calls the band’s singer Taime Down (it’s Downe with an “e”). Sure, Faster Pussycat was never as popular as KISS or Bon Jovi, but when you’re writing a book about Guns N’ Roses, it seems you could better research your subject’s peers. OK, so Taime Downe was no David Lee Roth, but he was signed to a major label, had a handful of MTV videos and sang a hit song called “House of Pain.” It wasn’t “Stairway to Heaven,” but it wasn’t a B-side import, either. The point is, Taime Downe – especially in the context of a GN’R book – is certainly a name that is easily obtainable (hello again, Google).

LIVING COLOUR: Clearly a four-piece trio. Say what?

The (mis)spelling bee continues when Living Colour is spelled Living Color (without the “u”) − and called a trio! Not only did the four-piece New York band share the same hometown as Davis (doh!), but like Faster Pussycat, Living Colour was hardly unknown (except, it seems, to the band’s neighborly author).

In fact, Living Colour was actually considered quite groundbreaking as an all-black hard rock band that gained mainstream success. Oh, and the reason Living Colour is mentioned in the book? Because alongside Guns N’ Roses, they spent a few exclusive nights as the opening act for the Rolling Stones (which, to his credit, Davis spelled correctly). But, hey, what are the odds of such a poorly attended gig being archived anywhere?

There’s also the questionable description of Alice Cooper’s “freebase habit.” Huh? Alice is the first to admit he spent decades awash in Budweiser, but hardcore drugs? Not that I’m aware (but then again, I’m convinced Gene Simmons plays bass for KISS).

Hendrix and his soon-to-be-ablaze, um, Gibson Les Paul? Wrong again.

Then there’s the bit where melodic metal band Helloween is described as “a German KISS clone.” How so? A Judas Priest semi-clone, perhaps, but KISS? Don’t think so. And, hey, we all know guitar legend Jimi Hendrix famously torched his Gibson Les Paul, right? Eh, wrong! Hendrix was so often pictured with his preferred Fender Stratocaster it may as well have been his third arm. C’mon, man!

Samhain’s “Slippery When Wet” shot the band from obscurity to overnight worldwide stardom. Just kidding!

I admit I’m a geek when it comes to these things, but I just can’t let a New York Times best-selling author off the hook for fumbling bands and facts so well documented that even casual research would spare you embarrassment. We’re not talking Samhain here!

Of course, the story of Guns N’ Roses will always be immensely engrossing, highly sensational and wildly entertaining for any hard rock fan. From that perspective I enjoyed “Watch You Bleed” in the same way I enjoy pizza. You can always argue about your preferred ingredients, but in the end, you’ll eat whatever arrives at your door – even if it’s half-baked and dripping with imperfections.

Overall Grade: F
Sure, there is fair reason to believe most of Davis’ info is based on secondhand fact, and yes, the story of GN’R is more fun than a Jack Daniel’s bender, but when an acclaimed rock writer screws the pooch on KISS, Bon Jovi and Hendrix, you’ve got to slap him silly with an arena-sized, lazy-ass FAIL! Steal it and enjoy with a double shot of skepticism.

  1. paulsleaze says:

    LAME! that’s one of my biggest pet peeves. the joey kramer book is full of misspellings as well, which makes me cringe. the sabbath book by martin popoff is just as bad, editorally speaking. there’s one point in the book where you turn the page to complete a story, mid-sentence…and it’s gone! new chapter. ughh!

    • metal dave says:

      I read and liked the Kramer book. Don’t recall it being riddled with lots of mistakes, but it’s been a while. The Slash book killed me cuz they spelled Izzy’s (real) name wrong. How does that happen? Even if Slash can’t recall, doesn’t he have an editor to do some simple fact checking?

  2. buzz says:

    Aye persunoly lyked the buk. Du u think he wull right won ubout Vang Haylen?

    Actually, I didn’t read it, and certainly don’t plan to now. Crazy.

  3. Steven Blackmore says:

    I’ve not read this book, the writer has made some very big error’s that’s amazing..
    I know you pride yourself with your writing am sure as hell.. If you wrote a book on a band you wouldn’t make error’s like he has, as you say someone that people in the street will have heard of..

    • metal dave says:

      Thanks for the loan, Pat. And yes, Duff’s book is fantastic. A must-read for any rock fan. Very well done and an amazing story on multiple levels. Yes again on Izzy (who still boasts the best solo GN’R album w Ju Ju Hounds). Would love to read his book … the one we’ll probably never see. Gotta respect that, though. At least he remains sincere in his desire to shun the spotlight

  4. Al says:

    Maybe I’ll write a book, I’ve got Google and spell check.

  5. Pat Idle says:

    That book was shit but it gave a few insights to the g n r world. Slash wrote a shit book, Duffs was amazing sadly Izzy is the one I wanna know about and he stays far away from the spotlight…

  6. El Diego says:

    THANK YOU!

    I found this page after reading the “Paul Stanley, bass player of KISS…” part of this book. That was the point at which I thought “surely someone has to have cataloged these errors.”

    What amazes me about these errors is that they are such rudimentary mistakes for any rock fan of a certain age. Chances are if you know who Jim Hendrix is, you know he famously played a Strat. If you have more than a passing interest in KISS, you likely know not only what instrument each member plays, but what character they embody. So for a rock writer — who has clearly been in this game for a while (wasn’t ‘Hammer of the Gods’ published in the ’80s?) — to be sitting at his computer and just decide willy-nilly to type “Gibson Les Paul” and “bass player” is baffling.

    Does anyone know if the author has addressed this?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading and posting. Yeah, these kinds of errors are just inexcusable. Not sure if the author has addressed these issues, but he should