Anthrax's Scott Ian Spins Tales From the Thrash Side

He's the man who was caught in a mosh: Scott Ian today
He's the man who was caught in a mosh: Scott Ian today
Photo by Clay Patrick McBride/Da Capo Press

Like many men currently in their mid-to-late forties, Anthrax co-founder/rhythm guitarist Scott Ian was a huge, practically obsessive Kiss fan growing up.

"My Kiss window was about '75-'78, when I was 11 to 14 years old," Ian says. "The older kids all hated Kiss because they thought it was only about the costumes and makeup and effects. But I heard and loved 'Rock and Roll All Nite' before I ever saw the band!

"And as someone who was into rock and horror movies and comic books, now I had all that wrapped up into one package," he continues. "And I loved the music." See also: 25 Classic Metal/Hardcore Photos

Unlike most of those men, however, Ian was of a stature to invite the Demon himself, Gene Simmons, to his bachelor party. And Simmons showed up.

The party ended up at a convenience store where, as a sort of finale to the night, Ian and his drunken buddies got into an argument that turned physical with the Middle Eastern store clerk, who clearly didn't like Jews.

When that happened, the famously teetotaling Simmons dropped his water bottle in the middle of the store floor and walked out without a word, actually disappearing in the fog, never to return.

"Dude, I'm telling you, it was right out of a movie!" Ian laughs. "He just walked off and dissolved into the air like the Demon would. He must have teleported back to his house in Beverly Hills!"

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"Years later, I said to him I thought it was amazing that he came to my bachelor party. And he said to me [at this point, Ian does a decent impression of the low, flat-voiced Simmons], 'Why would you think that's amazing? You invited me.' "

This story and many others -- including how Howard Stern helped Ian avoid certain prosecution and jail time at the hands of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner -- are told in his autobiography, I'm the Man: The Story of the Guy From Anthrax (392 pp., Da Capo Press, $28.99), written with Jon Wiederhorn.

The book, of course, tells the complete history of the thrash-metal legends, from their hardscrabble beginnings and attainment of cult status through the varying lineups and huge stadium shows with the rest of the "Big 4" (Metallica, Megadeth, and Slayer).

But it's also about how this short Jewish kid from Queens basically got through life with the help of music. And how starstruck he was (and still is) whenever his paths cross with those metal giants whose hirsute visages stared back at him from posters, album covers, and concert stages.

"I am always freaked out when I see them," he offers. "And whenever I'm around these guys that meant so much to me, like Maiden and Priest and Kiss and Sabbath, I'm a sweaty teenager in my brain. I'm able to control it on the outside, but on the inside I'm like, 'Holy shit, that's LEMMY!' And that will never change."

Ian had a chance to say just that when Anthrax played that other band's Motörboat cruise recently. And the experience surprised him.

"Just the idea of a cruise is something I have never been a fan of or would ever go on," he says. "And then to make it worse by being on a boat with a bunch of other bands and 2,000 drunk fans? I went in with the lowest expectations," Ian says. "But it was great, and I had a lot of fun!"

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Classic Lineup Anthrax: Dan Spitz (lead guitar), Charlie Benante (drums), Joey Belladonna (vocals), Scott Ian (rhythm guitar), and Frank Bello (bass). Fun fact! Benante is Bello's nephew!
As to the condition of Lemmy, whose legendary hard living has led to a number of health issues recently, and the cancellation of live dates, Ian says he is "thin" (photos from the cruise can attest to this) but has been told it's a "healthy thin."

Also in the book are tales of Ian's close friendship with two deceased metal icons: Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, killed in a 1986 bus wreck while on tour with Anthrax as the opening act; and former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, shot and killed onstage in 2004 by a crazed fan.

"Cliff was the first person I met who did not give a shit what anybody thought about him," Ian says. "I mean, I thought I was nonconformist. But here comes this guy with bell-bottoms and a denim jacket with one-length hair and an REM pin. He had huge balls, and he just didn't care!"

Ian also tells the story of how James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett had confided in him just prior to the bus crash that they were about to fire drummer Lars Ulrich, though that employment never changed. And when ex-Metallica guitarist/Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine later mentioned that in an interview -- throwing in Ian's name -- it caused some uncomfortableness.

Ian calls it "old news" and something that Ulrich has known for years. But it still will come as a surprise to many readers.

 

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Da Capo Press
Scott Ian and Metallica's Cliff Burton in London, 1984
As for Darrell, Ian says that everything he did in life came from a place of fun.

"With the riffs and the leads he wrote and the pranks he pulled and the amount he drank and the shit he smashed -- to him, if it wasn't fun, it wasn't worth doing," Ian says. "And I learned from him to not be so serious. He always said, 'Let it go.' "

In I'm the Man, Ian also details with brutal honesty his two failed marriages and current, successful one with the love of his life, singer Pearl Aday -- who happens to be the adopted daughter of Meat Loaf. The burly singer also appears in the text.

"I had to learn. Those other marriages were both failures in different ways. The first one being my fault for being a 22-year-old who didn't know anything about [marriage] and shouldn't have gotten that far," Ian says.

"And the second one was a complete mess. I shouldn't have gotten married, because I had already cheated on her, and then things went really awry. And then she took advantage of a situation as long as she could. I don't know how I could allow someone to treat me [so poorly]."

By contrast, he says that the marriage to Aday (the pair also have a three-year-old son, Revel) is an emotionally reciprocal "two-way street" -- and that that makes "all the difference in the world."

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Photo by Andy Buchanan
The Ian Family at son Revel's first show -- a Big 4 gig at a stadium!
After a short book tour, Ian will return to writing Anthrax's follow-up to 2011's Worship Music, the album that saw the return of classic-era vocalist Joey Belladonna.

"We felt we had a strong record," Ian laughs. "And, thankfully, people all over the planet agreed with us!"

He's also busy overseeing the DVD release of episodes from the Speaking Words music talk show he hosts -- in one, a Halloween show, he interviews a confused Ozzy Osbourne while in full Gene Simmons/Kiss makeup -- as well as more episodes of his horror special effects/makeup online show, Bloodworks (on Nerdist.com).

But still, there is one nagging question that the book does not answer. And that is...what kind of grandfather is Meat Loaf?

"Oh, Papa Meat is great!" Ian laughs. "Revel loves his Papa Meat!"

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