STRUNG OUT JUNKIE ROCK STAR COMES OUT OF THE CLOSET IN BÖÖK
I write books and also for MetalSucks so it’s about time I reviewed some metal books. I’ll start with a few rock autobiographies that have been out for awhile. First up is Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe and his needle gazing memoir The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.
Mötley Crüe was the first band that truly got me into metal. Shout at the Devil was the album that ruined me for life. After going back and discovering their first album, Too Fast For Love, the deal with the Devil was sealed (my course was severely altered after the mediocre Theater of Pain and the emergence of a little band called Metallica, but that’s a different story). I loved their attitude, image, and sound. It was the ultimate in packaged rebellion for a do-gooder kid from South Texas.
The Heroin Diaries is set in 1987, four years after Shout and two years after I stopped caring about Crüe. Sixx documents his personal downward spiral during that year, which is also the year they recorded and released their fourth opus, Girls, Girls, Girls. Decadence and debauchery are to be expected. Insight and self-discovery were not. Luckily, Sixx has the ability to bring all of the above emotions and more to the table in vivid, visceral detail, and it ain’t perdy.
Sixx comes across as arrogant, egotistical, maniacal, and utterly self-destructive – and those are his enduring qualities. His treatment of his friends, bandmates, and family is appalling. His handling of his management, fans, and total strangers is even worse. Of course, he’s a full-blown junkie meal ticket so everyone tends to look the other way. As a result, Nikki Sixx became an inflated, if emaciated, God in his own mind, and in the minds of millions of people worldwide.
Sixx’s depiction of the life of a functioning junkie is harrowing, not because he turns into a droopy-eyed no-good slacker sloth, but rather because he was able to still perform at the highest level (Girls, Girls, Girls debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts and the band played hundreds of sold out arenas that year and introduced the world to Guns N’ Roses) while under the spell of smack (and coke and Halcion and alcohol and Ace in the Hole and…). He became a modern day Caligula because he could and because others let him.
Sixx’s writing (along with co-author Ian Gittins) is clear-headed, muddled, vicious, sweet, revealing, and mysterious. In other words, it’s art. And, unlike most mainstream memoirs, the navel gazing does not wear out its welcome. Just when you think you’ve had enough of the “Oh, woe is me” Nikki Sixx, his unrepentant dark side, Sikki Nixx, rears its ugly head to bring laughs to the tome. Indeed, some of the most telling vignettes are when he rails against his bandmates Mick Mars and, especially, Vince Neil. Indeed, the book sails for me as a reader when Sixx steps out of his literal drug closet and hits the road with the Crüe. Even though I did not care for the band by that point, I was still fascinated by the dynamics of band interaction on display. Hilarious, revolting, and a bit sad.
Full of contradictions, frustrating yet entertaining, The Heroin Diaries is definitely worth having in your personal metal library even if you don’t care a Ratt’s ass about Mötley Crüe, glam metal, or Nikki Sixx. This 400-page dissection into a diseased, yet truly brilliant mind; is worth the dark trip even if it is guaranteed to get you hooked.
Corey Mitchell is a best-selling author of true crime books and founder of the #1 true crime blog, In Cold Blog. He also dressed up as Vince Neil for a lip sync contest way back in ’83 and as Nikki Sixx for Halloween twice in college. Join him on Facebook and Twitter. Hook ‘em Horns!