Oh, trashy glam-rock tell-alls, I love you so much.
I could never have been a true 80s rock star. But oh, I loved watching them on MTV. And I still love looking at the hair, the makeup, the attitudes. 80s glam-rock was the best. No, no, I hear you arguing that New Wave was the best. Mmm, maybe. Close. But for sheer fun, you just cannot beat glam hair metal. It’s my favorite music to do art to, it’s my favorite music to drive to — it just makes me happy. It’s stupid and loud and brainless and you are supposed to just zone out and be happy when you listen to it.
So of COURSE when I saw The Dirt (Motley Crue’s autobiography) for sale at the library for $2, I had to get it. I’d already read Nikki Sixx’s Heroin Diaries, which I thought was pretty good (for a rock-star memoir). This book isn’t as good, but it’s still, well, addicting.
Is there an autobiography of an 80s rock band that DOESN’T have at least three chapters dealing with drug addiction? I kind of don’t think so.
The band members are all losers in the beginning. One might argue that they are still losers, but we won’t get into that here. They are all complete rock wanna-bes, with f-ed up families and almost no talent. However, they all have great hair and platform boots, so, you know. Finally they get together and boom — it’s magic. Nikki Sixx on bass, Mick Mars on guitar, Tommy Lee on drums and Vince Neil on vocals. The rest is trashy, horrifying, devastating, completely self-absorbed history.
Let’s see. At the highest point in the book (no pun intended), Vince Neil is addicted to women and alcohol, probably in that order. Mick Mars is just plain addicted to alcohol. Tommy Lee doesn’t seem to have as much of a problem as the others, but, yeah, he’s addicted to alcohol as well, and certainly enjoys all kinds of other drugs. Nikki Sixx, however, is a full-blown heroin addict, as well as an alcoholic. He can barely keep himself upright. It’s kind of incredible that they managed to play any shows at all during the height of their career. It’s amazing they managed to have a career at all — these guys were bent on complete self-destruction. Strippers and hookers, cocaine and heroin and crack and marijuana, as much booze as they could drink, and nobody to tell them no. In fact, their managers, drivers, and record labels kept them well-supplied with all of the above.
And the bad behavior… wow. Pretty much every horrible bad 80s rock-star stereotype you can imagine, they are the poster children for it.
Is it fun to read? Sure, until the shit starts to hit the fan. Isn’t that the way it is? And then, it was just depressing. Failed marriages, bad records, bad shows, bankruptcy, and an excruciatingly painful chapter or two on how Vince Neil’s four-year-old daughter died from cancer. The band breaks up, gets back together, breaks up again, and finally gets back together again. They can hardly stand each other, but, unlike Van Halen, they can’t seem to get it together with anyone in the band except the original four.
It was fun to read the chapters in their own words, however. Nikki Sixx is way more intelligent than you would imagine, and it makes me sad for him that he spent so much of his life so horribly addicted to substances and so catastrophically self-destructive. Tommy Lee is like a puppydog — all he wants is to be happy and loved. He practically bounces off the pages into your lap. Vince Neil isn’t quite as forthcoming; basically he just wants women, booze, and cars. And Mick Mars is just kind of crazy. Case in point? He starts off one chapter talking about how ebola killed the dinosaurs. … wha?
Anyway. This was a super duper ultra trashy read, an extreme case of a “can’t look away” train-wreck of a book. It wasn’t that great but the stories were incredible and great for a shocking vicarious thrill.
True confession: I just bought my ticket to see Motley Crue this summer. I’ve always wanted to see them and I hear that their current shows are pretty good — they are all sober (I think) and ready to rock. I put off going to see the Grateful Dead and then Jerry Garcia died… and even though these guys are sober, I can imagine that their bodies are pretty well-worn and, well, I’d better get on it if I want to be sure to see them all together. It will be my first glam-metal concert. Sadly, I doubt they will be wearing makeup and stilettos. But that’s probably for the best, as they are all at least 50 by now. Heh.