Youth Gone Wild: My Musical Evolution and the Hollywood Cowboys

It’s not news to those who know me well—hell, even to those who barely know me—that music is a huge part of my life. I can’t imagine what my world would be like without great tunes to get me through the day.

My love of music—especially Rock ‘n Roll in all of its permutations—began with the old vinyl records my parents had in their collection. I first dropped the needle on records from Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Haley and the Comets, to a host of Doo Whop bands when I was about eight or nine. To this day, although I couldn’t tell you what I had for lunch two hours ago, I can sing along with all of those songs—even the songs I haven’t heard in twenty-five years!

As I grew older, and my tastes more sophisticated, I moved onto the classics of the 60s and 70s they had in their collection: CCR, Led Zeppelin, Santana, The Doors and more. My evolution towards the middle years of my musical journey had begun.

By the time I hit middle school, thanks to great stations like KGON (remember when they used to play everything?), I had begun my love affair with the music that would make my parents look like old fogies. HEAVY FUCKING METAL!!! Yep, my parents might have been cool about the music of their youth, but you would’ve thought I had summoned Lord Lucifer himself, and sold my soul for Rock ‘n Roll when I started listening to Metal.

As hard as those middle school days could be on a D&D-playing, Star Wars-loving, glasses-wearing geek, Metal was like a healing salve for my soul. Or should I say it was more like pouring gasoline on an already roaring bonfire of hormones and barely contained energy? Without Hard Rock and Metal—and the life-long friends I made back then—things would’ve been pretty damned unbearable. Ozzy, Ratt, Quiet Riot, Krokus, the Beast That is the Priest and a host of other great bands spoke to me in a secret language that I still understand today.

High school found my horizons expanding with Nu Wave, Funk, Hip Hop and Punk—I think those formative years listing to the old vinyl taught me to keep an open mind and open ear to all kinds of music. If it’s good music, it doesn’t matter what the genre. To this day one of my favorite musicians is His Purple Majesty, Prince! But I never abandoned Rock and Metal. Especially with the coming of Thrash Metal! Bands like Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Exodus, Metallica, and Testament played the perfect music for channeling all of the anger, frustration and energy of my youth gone wild!

I would continue to grow my tastes in the 90s with Grunge, Rap Rock, Nu Metal and the like. I’d also further immerse myself in the musical roots of all Rock ‘n Roll; the Blues. To this day I’m always on the hunt for new bands and new music, while supporting those artists I grew up with by following their careers and buying their new albums.

With all of that said, music has very much informed my writing. I always have music playing in the background when I’m at the keyboard. The tunes playing while I write vary depending on the genre and subject matter I’m creating. So, you would think I would’ve thought to combine both my love of music and fiction a long time ago. Nope. Sometimes I need to have someone club me over the head with the obvious to get my attention.

That someone was my long-time friend and heterosexual life-partner, Doug Cox of the killer Rock ‘n Roll band, FuzzBot. Back in 2009 the roots of what would become the Hollywood Cowboys series started as a short story I read to Dougie. After he heard it he suggested I should write what I know and turn the story into a full-blown novel. Duh. Write what you know. How many times had I heard that as a budding author?

And so the Hollywood Cowboys were born.

I listened to a lot of Rock ‘n Roll while writing about the boys in the monster-hunting, ass-kicking band from the Sunset Strip. Specifically a lot of Metal from my formative years in the 80s. Each chapter in Hollywood Cowboys, Kiss of the Traitor and the upcoming Season of the Dead, is named after a song, a lyric, or and album title from late 70s to late 80s Rock or Metal albums.

It all came about pretty naturally. I wrote what I wrote for the chapters and then went back and thought about how the subject matter related to a song I knew from those times. Surprisingly, the chapter names fell into place quickly and with ease.

The books are very tongue-in cheek. I wrote them purposefully pulpy as homage to both my favorite music and my favorite horror movies. One of the best compliments I heard from a reader was that reading the series was like reading a movie of the mind. That floored me, because that’s exactly how I approached writing these novels! With that thought, a great movie deserves a great soundtrack!

Below you’ll find links to soundtracks for Hollywood Cowboys and Kiss of the Traitor (as well as a link to the band FuzzBot). The soundtracks  go chapter by chapter, and cover a healthy variety of Rock and Metal from the era.

Thanks for hanging with me as I rambled through a bit of my musical evolution! I hope you enjoy and share the soundtracks with other lovers of Rock and Metal! Remember to support your favorite bands and artists. Don’t forget about your local musicians too!

Now click the links and rock the fuck on!