Naked aggression: The Dirt

by Alun Thomas

Mötley Crüe's autobiography, The Dirt : Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band , has been causing a stir lately and after reading it I can see why some people might be shocked. The bulk of the 428- page book concentrates on all the behind-the-scenes shenanigans the Crüe became famous for. But its allure comes in the book's format, which has the band members and those close to them, explaining what happened in their own words. Because of this, truth or not, the book is impossible to put down.

I read the book in a day straight. It was that entertaining. The constant tales of boozing, whoring and drug taking are relentless, particularly in the case of bassist Nikki Sixx who was a major addict in the mid to late 80's. He easily recollects exact details of overdoses and binges that most junkies would have a hard time remembering. After a while the tales began to grind me down because of their frequency -- needle here, snorting cocaine there.

Anyone who knows Crüe's history knows Sixx overdosed and briefly died in the late 80s and he goes over that graphically here. He gives a good explanation for his addictions: his childhood was troubled and he grew up without a father, before being off-loaded to his grandparents by his mother. He moved around the country a lot -- turning him into a delinquent -- causing him to hook up with the rest of the band who had similar backgrounds. The book starts at the beginning of the band's origins and the filth and squalor they lived in during the early 80s in Hollywood before they made it.

The band doesn't hold back on the graphics, which are far too detailed to be mentioned here, but they set the tone of the book, decadence, up very well. Of the early years I found Mick Mars (guitar) the most interesting. He was far older than the others and preferred to sit at home and drink, forgoing the wild antics.

Meanwhile Nikki Sixx recalls an incident where he and Tommy Lee had turns having sex with a girl in a closet before forcing a young boy to go in there and pretend to be them, against his will, and keep on going. Funny stuff. These sorts of events are commonplace and escalate as the band's fortunes rise. Sixx for instance, recalls licking Ozzy Osbourne's piss off the ground during a tour in 1984. Vocalist Vince Neil has sex with more women than you could imagine, while Mars sinks into alcoholism because of a crippling disease which is causing his bones to disappear.

One thing I can't believe are the amounts of fights the band gets into. Sixx smashes some guy's head against a wall; Neil breaks his hand punching a motorist before speeding off and Lee and Sixx beat some guy up with pieces of wood. If these guys were convicted of their offenses they would be serving ten consecutive life sentences.

The major events are covered, such as Neil's car accident which caused the death of Hanoi Rocks' drummer Razzle, as well as brain damage to the passengers in the other vehicle. The band showed Neil great contempt for this afterwards. In fact no matter what tragedy befalls any band member, the others make a habit of shunning and ignoring them. Sixx explains it was because they were only interested in themselves during that period.

All this happens at the expense of describing the band's music. Their albums are mentioned briefly and I would like to have read their opinions on them in greater detail. Neil and Sixx say ''Theater Of Pain'' and ''Girls, Girls, Girls'' were bad but that's about as far as it goes. Also enjoyable is to read about John Corabi's stint as vocalist and how Crüe hit the skids in the mid 90s like so many other bands of their day. Corabi explains how he went from hero to zero as he was blamed for the band's downfall after ''Mötley Crüe'' and the following tour stiffed. As expected, Tommy Lee gives the details on his marriages to Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson, as well as his time in jail for spousal abuse, which he claims was a right frame up. But this is actually one of the book's problems. When two band members give different views on one incident, who do you believe? Neil and Lee got into a fight on the ''Greatest Hits'' tour of 1998 and give entirely separate accounts of who started it. Neil says Lee did; Lee says Neil did. It is confirmed by Mars and Sixx that Neil did, although he denies it. Regardless the book never lapses into mediocrity.

How could it when you have Lee describing the grossly overweight, alcoholic Neil, as he rejoined the band in 1996 with the following words: ''he looked like Roseanne Barr or somethingŠ his head was the size of a balloonŠ folds of fat were billowing over his watchŠ.''

This is a band very able, and willing, to humiliate and insult each other. If they didn't, they wouldn't sell any copies of the book, would they? And this is why the book has been shifting large quantities. The Dirt has probably sold more copies than the band's last album, ''New Tattoo.'' Unfortunately the band's excesses have more selling power than their music these days. This is a shame as the Crüe have recorded some classic metal. But seeing as their album sales are indifferent right now, I guess they saw a chance to make some easy money. And easy it was. I never did buy ''New Tattoo'' but I bought The Dirt. Make your own conclusions about that.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online August 22, 2001

Back to The Zephyr