Book Review: Scott Ian – I’m The Man; The Story Of That Guy From Anthrax

Posted: December 10, 2014 in Book Reviews
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I purchased the Kindle edition of Ian’s biography to read on a seriously ill-fated vacation.  Luckily for me, I didn’t attempt to start reading it on the trip as the Kindle app on my iPad failed to download the book.  Safely back in the confines of the cubby hole I call home, I downloaded the book and couldn’t put it down.  Ian starts things off with a family tree breakdown and tales from his upbringing.  Born in New York to Jewish parents that didn’t love each other, Ian escaped through comic books, baseball, and music.  As with many musicians of the era, seeing KISS live was the driving force in Ian’s desire to be a rock star.  Heavy metal quickly became the common denominator amongst his friends, which included future bandmate Danny Lilker.  With that, the seeds of Anthrax were planted.

The band’s formation is familiar territory with line up changes, disagreements, and ultimately, Lilker’s ouster by vocalist Neil Turbin.  Turbin has gone on record decrying the way he is depicted in the book, but judging by his recent tantrum fronting Onslaught on their just completed US tour – the last few dates without Turbin – I tend to believe Ian’s take on the situation.  As soon as positive things started happening for Anthrax, Turbin got Lead Singer’s Syndrome and the outlandish demands began, ultimately leading to the, “It’s him or me,” confrontation with Lilker.  Unbeknownst to the band, however, Turbin fired Lilker without telling the rest of the band, and when it comes down to it, a bass player is easier to find than a front man.

Ian doesn’t try and hide from much in the book, laying everything bare: his unfaithfulness to his first wife, the mistake of his second marriage, and the long term courtship of his current wife, Pearl, who is the daughter of Meat Loaf.  Interestingly, the greatest details in the book revolve around the constantly changing vocalist position.  Turbin sealed his own fate with the Lilker fiasco.  Joey Belladonna didn’t even know the of the band, but lived in the area where Anthrax were recording Spreading the Disease, so he was brought in for an audition and things went well…..for years at least.  Come time to record Sound of White Noise and Ian had had it with trying to convey the emotions and emphasis of the songs to Belladonna and he was sacked.  In comes John Bush from Armored Saint to record what Ian believes to be one of the band’s strongest records.  For me, however, that album – nor any of the Bush era albums – stand the test of time.  The years went by with Bush fronting the band until he got married and started a family, which made touring less than appealing for the singer.  This is where the most interesting point in the book happens, or doesn’t as the case may be.  Ian refuses to discuss the inclusion of Dan Nelson in the band.  Nelson is never mentioned by name and Ian refers readers to Wikipedia if they want to know more about the vocalist.  This was a game changer in the book as it makes Ian’s tale a bit suspect if he refuses to acknowledge the former singer.  There may well be a legal situation that doesn’t allow Ian to speak about the singer, but if that is the case Ian should have mentioned it.


While there is a lack of mentions for Nelson in the book, what I found most shocking was the band’s career once they left Island Records.  Many reviewers still rave over the Sound of White Noise, an album which I found to be lacking guitar riffs and abandoning of the the group’s classic sound in favor of a more 90s approach.  Ian constantly refers to the Bush era albums as classic Anthrax and decries Atlantic Records for failing to achieve the success he felt the band deserved, he fails to understand what was going on in the industry at the time, as well as failing to do all he could to drive sales.  It seems there is a black hole in the band’s history that starts with Stomp 442 and finally ends with Worship Music.  In fact, there was a two-disc career retrospective recorded with Bush on vocals called the Greater of Two Evils, which this reviewer had never even heard of.  In fact, only the band’s Island albums remain in print.  The Atlantic albums are out of print, but the masters are owned by the band, which is a coup.

As rock autobiographies go, this is a solid, entertaining, and as near as I can tell, truthful tale of Scott Ian; musician, entertainer, spoken word artist, TV show host, son, brother, husband, and father.  One of the book’s strongest points is Ian’s ability to own up to is wrongdoings.  Throughout the book the reader can easily see Ian’s growth both as a musician and a person.  He gives a (mostly) unflinching view into not only his psyche, but that of a bandmate that built a powerhouse that helped form an entire genre of metal and live to tell about it.  That’s better than most in his position.

Rating: 3.5/5 (This would be a 4, but failing to mention any Dan Nelson stories knocks it down)
Publisher:  Da Capo Press
Release Date: 10/14/14


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