Rehashed tales of rock ’n’ roll excess prove that even the most powerfully creative voices in music can be tone deaf about drug addiction.
And so it goes. Johnny Cash loses it in Nickajack Cave, Ozzy Osbourne snorts up a bunch of ants, and Lemmy slips into premature rigor mortis. The lives of drug-addled recording artists over the last 50 years or so have been nothing if not predictably awful—and, unfortunately, cliché. Editor Hoye takes a steadfastly permissive approach, presenting the collection of coked-out confessionals without benefit of outside commentary or context; the pieces are merely excerpts from previous books. The likes of Aerosmith, Marilyn Manson, Slash, Dee Dee Ramone, Gregg Allman, and Anthony Kiedis drone on about how the pills and the smack drove them to the depths of depravity and degradation and back again. In one instance, Nikki Sixx and Osbourne seemed locked in a battle to become the most repulsive human being on tour. Osbourne won. In another all-too-familiar case, Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Kiedis details how heroin actually cost him his multimillion-dollar gig. Heroine also looms large in the tawdry and twisted lives of multiple members of Guns N’ Roses. Aerosmith’s insufferable exploits at an out-of-the-way recording studio dubbed the Cenacle in the late 1970s are equal parts toxic and tedious. Only the late Cash seems to possess any self-awareness about the well-trodden road he’s traveled. “The journey into addiction has been described so often by so many people in recent years that I don’t believe a blow-by-blow account of my particular path would serve any useful purpose,” he writes, “…so while I do have to tell you about it, I’ll try to avoid being tedious. Hit just the lowlights, so to speak.” Alas, these rock stars and their copycat crackups are more gross than glorious.
An overwhelmingly sad and consistently vulgar anthology.