“Bob and the Monster” (2011) dir. Keirda Bahruth

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Nowadays, most people know Bob Forrest as the counselor with the hat on numerous Dr. Drew Pinsky reality series (“Celebrity Rehab”). However, lesser known these days is that Forrest was also the leader of Thelonious Monster, one of the most highly-regarded alternative LA bands of the 1980s / 1990s. Along with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, and Fishbone, Thelonious Monster was part of a vibrant and exciting Los Angeles music scene that didn’t involve hairspray and makeup.

Forrest and his band had several shots at the brass ring, including record deals with RCA and Capitol Records, but never broke through the way the Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction did, mainly due to Forrest’s excessive substance abuse. Forrest’s low points were extremely low, including washing a syringe in dish soap that an HIV-positive drug shooting buddy had just used because he did not have one at the time. Even Dr. Drew, who knew Forrest as a frequent guest on his nationally syndicated KROQ-FM talk show “Loveline” assumed Forrest was dead at one point.

But Forrest did manage to clean up. And after several humble years working as a dishwasher, started work in drug counseling, where he has had tremendous success helping addicts stay sober.

Forrest’s story is told in an excellent documentary called “Bob and the Monster.” The movie has been on the festival circuit since 2011, but is now reaching video with an added coda discussing events since 2011. “Monster” is not just a terrific time capsule of a great era in recent music history, but a compelling story about how anyone, no matter how low they’ve sunk, can turn their life around and make a tremendous difference in the lives of others. Featuring interviews with Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Courtney Love, Gibby Haynes, Keith Morris, and Steven Adler among many others.

Also highly recommended is Forrest’s autobiography “Running with Monsters” which has just been released as well.

“Freddie’s Dead” – Fishbone

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A smokin’ punk-funk cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly classic “Freddie’s Dead” by one of the most energetic bands of the late 1980s-early 1990s. One of the best concerts I ever experienced was seeing Fishbone in 1991. The sound was loud, the strobe lights were enough to send you into seizures, and the walls were sweating. From the 1988 album “Truth and Soul.”

“Bonin’ in the Boneyard” – Fishbone

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One of the best concerts I’ve ever seen was Fishbone back around 1990 or 1991 in Charlottesville, VA. The venue probably had way more people than what was legally allowed and the concert began with the lead singer being carried from the back of the venue to the stage while he sang. Once on stage, the lights were blinding and the music, extremely loud. Everyone was either drunk or stoned and dancing their asses off in every way imaginable. A really fun and energetic experience. I remember the wood walls of the venue sweating. “Boneyard” was the song I remember being really bringing down the house and was so loud, I thought the roof was going to tear off. A great band that doesn’t get the credit they deserve.