Lonn Friend parlayed a junior editing job at Hustler (testing sex toys and reviewing videos) to editing the hard-rock magazine RIP at the dawn of the heavy-metal scene when Los Angeles was teeming with talent (Guns N' Roses), big hair, Lycra-wrapped egos and oversized Marshall stacks.

Lonn Friend parlayed a junior editing job at Hustler (testing sex toys and reviewing videos) to editing the hard-rock magazine RIP at the dawn of the heavy-metal scene when Los Angeles was teeming with talent (Guns N’ Roses), big hair, Lycra-wrapped egos and oversized Marshall stacks. His recollection, “Life on Planet Rock,” serves as a karmic mea culpa, a purging of guilt and reassessment of his life after getting caught up in the fast lane, jetting about the globe with bands, neglecting his wife and daughter, growing oddly obsessed, lost and, finally, unemployed.

The author’s long, dark, slow slide is interesting, but somewhere in the middle of the book, Friend’s timeline goes sideways and he starts jumping about, dizzying any attentive reader. This perhaps reflects the author’s own state of mind at the time; he more or less has a nervous breakdown.

Along the way, he delivers some great tales: Playing golf with Alice Cooper, countless nights with Metallica and Guns N’ Roses, interviewing a beaten and weary Jon Bon Jovi while floating through the waterways of Venice, Italy, several interviews with Gene Simmons that show the Kiss frontman as extremely charismatic and an extraordinary — if brutally honest — businessman.

Friend also holds his own on a tour bus with Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page, regaling the group with a story from his Hustler days about a graphic sex act allegedly involving Chuck Berry.

At the end, he has gone spiritual — yoga mat at the ready — and the reader is left a bit deflated. Or maybe more relaxed.

At times, his comparisons to the movie “Almost Famous” can be annoying (as if Friend forgot Crowe gave him a great big fat blurb!) and the ever-so-slight boot-licking of his subjects does grow tiresome. But looking beyond its imperfections, this book is honest, raw and hard to put down.

Life on Planet Rock: From Guns N' Roses to Nirvana, a Backstage Journey Through Rock's Most Debauched Decade

Morgan Road Books; 290 Pgs; $14

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Lonn Friend
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