“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.

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“Jesus Built My Hotrod” – Ministry (with Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers)

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The single of this masterpiece collaboration between Ministry and the Butthole Surfers’ lead singer Gibby Haynes allegedly sold 1.5 million copies. Yet the song never got any higher than #19 on Billboard’s “Modern Rock Tracks” chart. Forget about the Billboard Hot 100. Absolutely no chart activity there. And this was during the era of Soundscan … which linked chart positions to actual sales. Something tells me those dang Billboard charts are rigged. Ah, who cares? This song … and video … are classics. However, what I would have given to hear Casey Kasem on American Top 40 sandwich this song between Bryan Adams and Amy Grant and come up with “fun” trivia about the completely debauched Ministry and Gibby Haynes.

“Alex Chilton” – The Replacements

The Replacements’ loving tribute to power pop pioneer Alex Chilton.  Chilton had many hits as a teenager as a member of the Box Tops and was later a pivotal member of Big Star, one of the best bands of the early 1970s.

Many alt-rock legends loved Chilton.  My favorite story involves the Butthole Surfers.  From Michael Azerrad’s wonderful history of American 1980s alt-rock, “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” Azerrad related that one night, Surfers lead singer Gibby Haynes was having one of his usual, violent, acid-drenched freakouts backstage at a gig in Holland.  Allegedly, Haynes was completely naked and having multiple altercations with the security of the gig, to the point where 10 people had to hold him down.  As Haynes was freaking out back stage, a man asked if he could borrow a guitar.  Haynes lit into him, yelling “BORROW A GUITAR??!! WELL, WHO THE F–K ARE YOU??!!” itching for an fight.  The man calmly said “I’m Alex Chilton.”  Haynes immediately calmed down, opened all the guitar cases one by one, and said “Take anything you want.”  That, my friends, is what we call the power of ethos.