Book Review: “Honestly: My Life and Stryper Revealed” by Michael Sweet
When I first heard about this book I basically expected a pretty vanilla offering from a very well known singer/songwriter/guitarist who just so happens to be a very devout Christian while fronting a heavy metal band called Stryper. I have been a very big Stryper fan going back as far as 1985, seeing them play in a small club in Boston and have never missed a single tour since. That being said, I was hoping that Michael’s book Honestly was going to give some insight to a number of questions I have had during the 30-plus year career of my fandom of Michael in Stryper such as who came up with the yellow and black outfit design? Why did Tim leave during the recording of To Hell With The Devil? Whatever happened to his short lived replacement Matt Hurich? Why in more recent years was their obvious reluctance to play songs off In God We Trust? Why did Michael essentially break up Stryper in 1992? Who got the band back together in 1999? Trust me, I got my answers and a whole lot more. Honestly is a no-frills look into the mind and soul of a man who has made mistakes, had musical and personal regrets but at the same time has been a loving husband and father while maintaining his stature as one of the top rock vocalists of his generation.
Some of the better parts of the book describe a young CC Deville who was almost a member of Stryper. He wouldn’t however go for that “bumble bee” look and opted not to take the Stryper gig. Robert was pretty much the driving force of the Stryper look, logo and image. Because Robert was a huge KISS fan is probably why Stryper continued to keep that look and continue to use yellow and black to this day.
That’s just the beginning though – Michael suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and explains how that has played a factor in both his personal and professional life. The late RATT guitarist Robbin Crosby asking Michael about his guitar tone prior to a gig at Gazzarri’s in L.A., having his Mom manage the early part of his career and then later having to fire her! The drinking and obsession with guns that went on during the “Against The Law” period – so much more but I don’t want to spoil it for you!
Oddly when I finished the book I truly felt bad for Michael Sweet in everything that he has had to go though in his personal and professional life. My feeling is that Michael is such a perfectionist that he doesn’t know how to enjoy anything musically to the fullest. Everything seems like a massive struggle. Each lyric, each song, each album, each tour. At the end of the book I still wonder if Michael is truly happy in Stryper or would prefer a solo career or maybe even in another band setting like he had in his brief stint as vocalist for Boston. Funny that Michael would pick this part of his career to tell his story because not only do I feel like he’s not even close to being done but that the Michael Sweet story is really just beginning. One thing I know for sure is that “Honestly” acts as a healing process for Michael because he does come clean in the many questions I had from a rock band fan level but also maybe even for close friends and family who shared many of these events along the way. I truly enjoyed the stories and any Stryper fan will enjoy the book for its content alone. But there is one question that is still fresh in my mind: Is it fun being Michael Sweet? From the outside looking in it seems as if he’s not sure himself.