Book Reviews – Motley Crue, “The Dirt”

April 23, 2013 — 3 Comments

“I’ll tell you one thing…being on the road with Motley Crue is going to be a hell of a lot safer than being at home with Pamela Anderson.” – Nikki Sixx

As planning commences for Motley Crue’s farewell tour, I felt compelled to revisit this memoir. And just like the first time I read it, I was surprised (no, actually stunned) at the sheer depth and profundity of the emotion in “The Dirt.” You wouldn’t think at first glance that a hair metal memoir with a bottle of whiskey on the cover would have those things, but it does. In spades!

It starts out as you might expect, with plenty of sordid laughs–the squalor of the Motley Crue house, the parties they threw, and the crazy girls they dated (Tucker Max was right: LA girls really do have their own category).

But then you start reading about, for example, Nikki Sixx’s home life growing up, and you are no longer laughing. As Tommy Lee would put it, the band went through “some seriously heavy shit, dude.”

Told from Mr. Lee’s perspective as well as that of Mick Mars, Vince Neil, and Nikki Sixx, “The Dirt” is like a truly insane movie. You simply never know what these fine gentlemen are going to get into next, from their earliest days as a band in the early 80s to the dawn of the new millennium. It’s as much a revealing character study as it is an expose of the LA glam metal scene.

the dirt

There’s Vince, the hard-drinking vocalist; Nikki, the often-drugged-out, loose cannon of a bassist; there’s Mick, the elder guitarist suffering from ankylosing spondylitis; and there’s Tommy Lee, a little kid at heart.

But you know what? As screwed up as they all admit to being, you want to hang out with them. You become the third party to their pranks, their drugs, their love lives, their jail sentences, their lawsuits, and their fights.

And the Motley Crue story has some serious mood whiplash. One moment, you’re laughing as you read about Nikki Sixx’s hotel prank in which he superglues a full dining set (tray, plate, glass, silverware, etc) onto someone’s door and sets it on fire. Hilarious!

Only a few minutes later, you’re fighting back years as you read about Vince Neil’s 4-year-old daughter, Skylar, and her losing a battle with cancer. The most profound and saddest statement in the book is also the one with the fewest words, as Neil describes his daughters coffin:

“It was so little.”

And for a crowning moment of heartwarming, you can’t go wrong with what Nikki did for the sister he never knew he had until it was too late.

The part that made me laugh the hardest was when the young Motley Crue attends a house party in LA, attended by a large group of lovely girls…only one of them realizes, in embarrassingly intimate fashion, that they are not in fact girls. The uproar leads to the four of them being physically thrown off the front porch into the street, fleeing for their lives as they’re pelted with bottles.

I have been a Motley Crue fan since high school, but even I will probably never listen to them the same way after reading this book full of their adventures.

Because what they’ve learned at the end of all this mayhem is as the final chapter puts it:

“Our heroes learn that there is no lesson…there is only life.”

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3 responses to Book Reviews – Motley Crue, “The Dirt”

  1. Aris Panagiotopoulos October 27, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Great review as always Matt! However I’m always a bit skeptical when it comes to celebrities and rock stars biographies. Why? I mean lots of them at some point of their lives were living the so called “sex, drugs and rocknroll” lifestyle and some of them manage to escape with either wounds or bruises and others were not so lucky and departed this world too early to be able to write their autobiographies (although others later wrote it for them in some cases!).

    I work at a part of Athens (exarhia section which you visited) where I come across junkies of every sort every day! Lots of times I even found a few sitting outside the building where I work, sleeping, preparing to take their daily dose of heroin or just talking (try to actually!)!

    Junkies don’t even remember their name let alone what they did yesterday or even 20 years ago so I’m always surprised when all these rock stars describe in such intricate detail their shenanigans that took place thirty plus years ago. If I blow to them they’ll fall! They’re in such shitty state, they’re shadows of themselves, they can barely talk and walk and after so many years being in the area I can tell a junkie by look at him from a hundred meters!

    I suspect that lots of the stories in such books are either from the descriptions of others who happened to be there at the time and witnessed some of the incidents that took place first hand or are just fantasies coming from the ghost writer’s or a manager’s mind in order to enrich the whole story and make it an interesting read, after all there’s a book that needs to be sold!

    I highly doubt that Nikki or any other colleague of his remember most of the stuff he describes, he was too fucked up to remember anything the next day for that matter.

    At least Ozzy was in a way honest, he states in his autobiography (btw have you read “I am Ozzy”? In my opinion the most hilarious and crazy autobiography of a rock star ever! Highly recommend it!) that the stories and incidents described in his book are not all of them necessarily as he describes them and some people may remember various incidents differently and he accepts that because at the time he was too wasted to remember everything!

    • I don’t disagree with you there. But didn’t Nikki Sixx also publish “The Heroin Diaries” that included a bunch of stuff he wrote down while he was messed up? Seems for him that would be a coping mechanism…haven’t read I Am Ozzy, but I’ll put it on my Christmas list!

  2. No offence intended , but this review was completely unhelpful. You cannot read this book and not be a Motley fanatic. Read ” The Heroin Diaries” or “

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