The story is actually really sad. Roky got busted with a single joint, and rather than go to jail, he decided to plead insanity. After three years of electroshock therapy, Thorazine, and Lord knows what else, Roky went from being a happy-go-lucky hippie to a certifiable lunatic. He was never the same again, but he made some of the weirdest music one is ever likely to hear.
In later chapters, McPadden discusses the various strains of metal that flourished during the past 30 years. These include punk, hardcore, industrial, thrash, so-called “nu-metal” and more. Through it all, Metallica thrived, although things changed dramatically for them in 1991, with the release of Metallica (often referred to as the Black Album). That was the one with the mega-hit “Enter Sandman,” and wound up selling over 10 million copies.
The tragic death of original bassist Cliff Burton is discussed, as well as the group dissension captured on the (at times) difficult to watch Some Kind of Monster documentary. Original fans have been crying “sell-out” ever since the Black Album, but Metallica keep plugging ahead. At this point, their position as metal legends is assured, but what else are they going to do? Retirement does not seem to be an option.
Even though he is obviously a big fan, Mike McPadden does not shy away from the whole Napster ugliness in 2000, which was pretty much led by drummer Lars Ulrich. The idea of suing his own fans over “stealing” music via the Internet was a thorny issue to be sure. But I share the author’s opinion that Ulrich did not handle it well at all.
Besides discussing over 150 bands alone, the book features a selection of various other Metallica books, movies, and side-projects for further enlightenment. Even more so than in the other If You Like… guides, I think Mike McPadden has done a great job of mixing the history of the group in with his discussions of what has influenced them (and vice-versa) over the years. All in all, a very good read.