No one has done more to expand the popularity of classic hard rock and heavy metal than Eddie Trunk. He is a tireless defender of the music, and through his radio shows as VH-1 Classic’s That Metal Show, Trunk has given an outlet to bands forgotten by mainstream radio. As an example, I went and downloaded music by the semi-obscure 70s hard rock band Trapeze a few months ago after seeing the Glenn Hughes episode of TMS, and was blown away. Here was an excellent slice of early 70s hard rock that I would never have heard about if it weren’t for Eddie Trunk. And it’s safe to say that the cult rock band UFO owes Eddie Trunk a huge kickback for keeping their name in the limelight long after their commercial peak came and went.
Trunk is also the quintessential New Jersey metalhead. That resonates with me, having grown up in the Garden State and graduating high school in 1989. I was right there as metal started taking off again in the early 80s, through its heyday in the mid/late 80s. While I vaguely remember hearing Trunk on WDHA, our bastion of metal radio was WSOU. Regardless, the places Eddie saw shows (L’Amour), bought records (Englishtown, Vintage Vinyl) were familiar stomping grounds.
Eddie took his love for music and parlayed that through DJ gigs to record company positions to television, culminating with TMS. Now he’s out with his first book, Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. The book is arranged in chapters featuring bands that Trunk deems essential to hard rock and heavy metal, from the no brainers like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, to more interesting choices like Tesla and Billy Squier. Each chapter is interspersed with Trunk’s recollections of his early years in the music business, his interactions with the musicians, and how he fell in love with the music.
Some of Trunk’s inclusions may raise an eye brow (Poison?). And some bands I'd like to see included are missing (Fates Warning). Trunk admits he does not care for some of the more extreme sub-genres of metal, so pioneer bands like Venom and Celtic Frost are not included. But these are minor quibbles. The fact that he spreads so much love for criminally underrated bands like Thin Lizzy and Rainbow more than makes up for any omissions and, well, Poison.
The book is laid out well, and the photos are excellent. Interspersed through the pages are scans of concert tickets and vintage pictures of the bands in small clubs and theaters. Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal is indeed one book that lives up to its title.