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ADRIAN SMITH Monsters of River and Rock (My Life as Iron Maiden's Compulsive Angler) Book

By Shelly Harris, Chicago Contributor
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 @ 10:50 AM

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Monsters of River and Rock (My Life as Iron Maiden's Compulsive Angler)
Published by BMG

By Shelly Harris Adrian Smithís autobiographical new book, Monsters of River and Rock, is an interesting, amusing, and insightful read whether his audience knows one iota about fishing/angling endeavors or not.

While navigating through the bookís 290 pages, the reader will feel as though they are viewing events - from his childhood days in Hackney (in the East End of London), to IRON MAIDENís early days, and on through to the present day - directly through Smithís mindís eye. Using stream-of-consciousness and a conversational first-person voice, the guitarist weaves and segues seamlessly from tales of his (monster) fishing quests to his ups and downs on the road with monsters-of-rock IRON MAIDEN using an oft-humorous, surprisingly eloquent and descriptive poetic prose.

The fact that many of his stories and observations in this book are Laugh-Out-Loud funny isnít so surprising, either, because he has often exhibited his dry and sardonic British wit from the get-go, but something that might surprise a few MAIDEN fans reading the book is that Adrian (affectionately called ďHĒ for short) has always seemed a rather quiet and shy fellow offstage - certainly not pushy or one to gratuitously expound or elaborate. In fact, back in the early days when I first met him, while covering MAIDEN for various music publications, he seemed to leave most of what he had to say to his music, whether it be his guitar-playing or song writing endeavors. Yet here, with Monsters of River and Rock, he reveals that he actually has very much to say in a literary way, and with a level of skill unsuspectedÖ

Which isnít to say that those who have read any Adrian Smith tales in other IRON MAIDEN-related books or interviews would be shocked to discover his lifelong interest in fishing with the release of this book. I first became aware of Adrian's angling past-time as far back as the 4th of July holidays in 1982 when I had observed him fishing (along with band mates Dave Murray and Clive Burr) on a pier on a small creek on the grounds of the Alpine Valley Resort in Wisconsin, a day after a Beast on the Road gig in the venue nearby (opening up for the SCOPRIONS). I was there to do an interview with Steve Harris, but, having grown up fishing in the Kankakee River in my own backyard, I was intrigued that this laid back pursuit was of any interest at all to such obvious energetic rockers from the uber urban Cockney section of London. When I approached, as quietly as I could, to see what they were up to, the reserved Adrian had answered my queries by saying that they were using bread, pickles,and hamburger for bait in hopes of luring in some ďAmerican fishĒ. (His fishing exploits there were actually recalled in this book.)

Later, during an interview prior to the World Slavery Tour, Adrian had mentioned that he had spent some time unwinding after the Piece of Mind tour by fishing in a remote area of Ireland, but laughed about some funny mishaps there because he "didnít speak Irish". Looking past his self-depreciating wit, it was clear now that angling was not just a passing fancy for him, and I suspected it might be his way of coping with the pressures and the strains of frenetic pace of performing on the world stage that IRON MAIDEN were engaged in throughout the 80ís. I had concluded that Steve Harris had his tennis and soccer to deal with it, Bruce Dickinson had his fencing and flying, Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain had golfing and other things, and that Adrianís main niche was his angling with some soccer and tennis thrown in.

What I didnít realize then, but Monsters of River and Rock makes clear, is that for Adrian Smith, fishing isnít just a way for a world-class metal guitarist to soothe frazzled nerves but, also and ironically, something done for another form of major adrenaline rush. Itís a benign addiction and a self-described compulsion, and a constant hankering for landing the big, monster fish, in rivers, canals and lakes, all around the world and even in places where the environment isnít exactly safe, like a rat-infested pond in Central Park, an Everglades swamp swarming with alligators, or an after-dark bear haven in Alberta. It is always there, somewhere near the front files of Adrianís mind, even to the extent that his desire to "wet a line", whenever possible, often ties into IRON MAIDEN history highlights, like the day he nonchalantly passed a taped song idea on to Steve Harris while on his way to to fish in a park pond in Paris. (That musical idea soon morphed into the title track of The Final Frontier album.)

Without giving too much information or too many anecdotes away, some things you will learn about Adrian Smith, as you sail through this book, is that he is ever down-to-earth; he doesnít care much for ostentatious things or people; he doesnít enjoy big, crowded, loud and dirty cities; heís often motivated by fear of failure; heís loyal to his family and friends; heís a gentle soul and an ethical fisherman; and he loved Kim Mitchellís Akimbo Alogo (and unsung favorite album of mine, too).

However, as one might imagine of a creative person, Adrian is also an accomplished daydreamer as well, and he uses these daydreams as a motif to segue in and out otherwise unrelated topics in the book (a very helpful fishing glossary and index is also included at the end, along with a middle section of assorted photos incorporating both of his passions). In particular, Adrian uses a daydreaming prologue and epilogue in the front and back of the body of the text as a type of literary device: He opens it up by blocking out the stress of the harrowing street chase scene encountered by the band before a show in Mexico City (on the Legacy of the Beast tour) via a prolonged daydream wherein he reflects on all the events that make up the successive 18 chapters, as he weaves in and out of equally tantalizing rocky river scenes and rock Ďní roll history, only to come back to full consciousness after the initial road rage scene has passed and he and IRON MAIDEN have finally arrived at the venue.

However, thatís not quite the end of it. Even just before the bandís big show in front of the thousands of screaming fans in Mexico, he has yet another mission: to make sure his guitar tech, Sean Brady, will get his fishing gear off the truck for the day off to follow, in hopeful dreams of new fishing adventure. Well, thatís just how it is when you are Adrian Smith, IRON MAIDEN guitarist and compulsive angler.

4.5 Out Of 5.0

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