Rob McKenzie

Fireworks & Rocktopia Books Editor
Rob McKenzie
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I am an assistant editor for Fireworks Magazine looking after the ´Bookmark´ page which handles reviews of music related books. My role started officially in Issue 62 and I am very pleased with how it has gone so far and love the eye-catching layout produced by James Gaden. I have very quickly got involved in the book publishing business and am now on the reviewer lists of most of the major book publishers and in contact with the writers themselves such as Martin Popoff and Neil Daniels.

My involvement with Fireworks predates this recent role. In 2008 I interviewed Russ Ballard and hawked the article around. Dave Ling suggested Bruce Mee may be interested and it ended up in Issue 38. I then did a series of unsolicited interviews that Bruce kindly included in subsequent issues. With my feet a little bit under the table I then volunteered to do some album reviews under Paul Jerome Smith and before I knew it I was a staff writer. With Paul´s support, I started reviewing music books, which I have always been interested in, and created the ´Bookmark´ feature.

I was born in 1965 in Harrow, Middlesex and little did I know at the time I already had rock connections! Roger Glover went to my school, The Who first gigged in The Railway pub next to Harrow & Wealdstone station and my friend´s mum went out with Charlie Watts from the Stones! Most importantly though, Neal Kaye´s Heavy Metal Soundhouse played every Friday night in North Harrow from about 1980 to 1983. Kaye singlehandedly championed rock with his well-attended discos even in the punk years and supported Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis etc. from the start. I knew that when watching Rainbow and Judas Priest in 1979 on Top Of The Pops, that Rock was for me (before that it was all a 70s musical haze although I remember liking Slade and Sparks). What great luck it was for me to have Neal Kaye´s Soundhouse to go to in my teenage years with its awesome sound system and light show. It was a full-on indoctrination to Rock and it was the best possible way to hear songs for the first time (OK, apart from live!). So, to this day, Rush´s ´Xanadu´, Meatloaf´s ´Bat Out Of Hell´ and Deep Purple´s ´Burn´ instantly remind me of the beer-stained North Harrow pub hall (sadly now a block of flats!).

As for playing instruments myself, my mum and dad bought me a piano and I had lessons from the age of 7. I did all the classical stuff as well as Ragtime and then discovered Billy Joel who I am still a big fan of. About sixteen years ago, it dawned on me that if I liked Rock, I should learn the guitar. It´s taken a long time and quite a few lessons but I am not too bad now. I would love to shred but I naturally revert to a more bluesy or classic rock style. Anyway, I will keep trying.

My musical tastes are categorised as follows: anything from the Deep Purple family tree, Bruce Springsteen and associates (Southside Johnny, Little Steven), Todd Rundgren & Utopia, Magnum, most 80´s metal and anything to do with Jim Steinman. My writing at Fireworks has increased my appreciation and knowledge of many facets of rock and so I now add Harem Scarem, Danger Danger and Rage Of Angels to my list of likes.

Outside Fireworks, I am a Management Consultant and live in Little Chalfont, Bucks; Ozzy Osbourne lived here until recently and David Coverdale lived in the next road back in the 80s. My wife Karen supports my music passion (and my guitar playing!) and in particular likes Aerosmith and most types of Rock in small doses. She does sing well and will occasionally knock out the odd song! Our daughter Fiona plays the saxophone and our son Ross plays the piano. They both like music, I am proud to say it is proper music where people play the instruments, but not in the Fireworks envelope – just yet!

ROB McKENZIE

Rob's TOP 5 BANDS:

1. Rainbow
2. Utopia
3. Deep Purple
4. Magnum
5. UFO

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