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As someone who loves to know the inside mechanics of how bands became successful, I enjoyed this book with it's eye witness account of Megaforce records journey from nothing to being a huge parts of the history of metal music. I feel at times the book was a little disjointed and jumped from subject to subject, but this also gave the feel of what Jon Z would have been like to be around. Read the book and judge for yourself how key Jon and Marsha were to the successful careers of many great bands.
I wanted an interesting read about the early days and development of Megaforce. I got a typo-strewn story (actual author speaks English as a second language) that speaks of a higher power. Cheap quality. Not interesting. A dissappointment.
Bought this as a historian of Metallica and the early-80s metal scene. As with most autobiographies by celebrities, this one is uneven and mostly superficial, and sometimes hard to take seriously. Yes, the writing can be awkward, but Jonny Z is a passionate storyteller. If only the stories were more meaningful 30-40 years later. I wanted to know more about raising his kids in such an environment - he talks about always having to raise a family but then he and Marsha were apparently always flying to various cities for their label. And how do the kids feel about it now?
I did appreciate the honesty and let-bygones-be-bygones approach to the past. I had no idea about his Wall Street career and his white collar conviction and prison time and it was cool that he was open about his mistakes. He’s certainly not out to settle old scores with this book.
Things do get a little repetitive in the last 1/4 of the book, and you can sense Jonny is getting tired of writing. The bands are nobodies and the “ride” is basically over during the 90s for he and Marsha, so I wanted to know more about how his life functioned in those years.
All in all this is an acceptable contribution toward the historical record of the 1982-83-84 era.
If you want to hear what Jonny Z has to say, just go to the audiobook. I have heard Jonny Z tell his stories, and they're fascinating. Unfortunately, neither he nor his co-writer, Harold Claros-Maldonado, know how to put these stories on paper.
The basic problem with this book is that it reads like it was transcribed verbatim from stories Zazula told to someone else (Claros-Maldonado). A typical awkward sentence reads: "Atlantic Records and Crazed Management had a relationship with a gentleman by the name of Larry Yasgar" (p. 73). Who writes like that?! Or the run-on sentence: "During that summer we had an employee who was a dear friend of ours for many years named Maria Ferrero who took over the press at Megaforce and had a very strong hand in the A&R'ing of the label" (p. 75). Egads!
There are countless times when Jonny uses "me" when "I" is correct, or "who" when "whom" is proper. Or the misspelling of "Lightening" in "Ride the Lightning" (p. 7); or "Donnington" instead of "Donington" (p.130). In one place, the sentence just ended without a period and bled into the next sentence.
In other places, there are odd word choices. "Prohibited" instead of "prevented" (p. 132); "relented" instead of "lamented" (p. 141). I suspect Jonny Z used the words incorrectly, as one is prone to do when telling stories. However, unless this book is supposed to be a verbatim transcript of Zazula's reminiscences - and nowhere does it make that claim - then the goal of the editor is to clean up Jonny's stories and make them fit for printing. Nowhere did that happen.
In light of these all too common gaffes and oversights, the reader is left wondering about the role of Harold Claros-Maldonado. Clearly he is not an editor. Claros-Maldonado claims to be a historian, yet a simple Google search reveals almost nothing about him beyond this book. He has apparently authored a book called "And Metallica for All" (2018), which does not seem to actually exist - or at the very least is not available for sale anywhere. It is worth noting that anyone who calls himself a historian typically has a paper trail -e.g., publications, teaching positions, a historical society profile - to back up that claim. Finally, in the acknowledgements, Claros-Maldonado writes "It was Jon and Marsha THAT..." (emphasis mine). Really? Now we see why Jonny Z's part of the book was in such disarray.
It is easy to see why this book was self-published and released through Zazula's own company, CraZed Management. No self-respecting publisher would have released the book in its current format.
The shame is, Jonny Z has stories worth hearing, and there are writers out there who could have rendered his ramblings into coherent tales. Why Zazula chose to go this route, I do not know, but it is unfortunate.
If you're into Heavy Metal, then you owe Jon "Jonny Z" Zazula a debt of gratitude. After all, he's the founder of the legendary Megaforce Records - the Record Label that was the first home to such metal giants as Metallica, Anthrax, and Testament. "Heavy Tales" is the behind the scenes story of how Jonny and his wife Marsha transformed Megaforce from a fledgling independent label that they ran out of their home and a New York Flea Market to one of the most important names in hard music. Filled with great stories about some of the most recognized names in Metal, "Heavy Tales" is a must read for all Hard Music fans.