NO MORE TOMORROWS: This is a man, after all, who says his friend Mel Gibson’s “a cool guy.”
|Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen | By Vince Neil with Mike Sager | Grand Central Publishing | 320 pages | $27.99 | 320 pages|
I bought The Dirt
, Mötley Crüe's 2002 autobiography, the day it was published. I got home from the store, sank to the floor, had a nice cry (it had been hot out and my finger hurt), and started reading. Ten hours later, I'd finished. I was starving, but my heart beat with the joy of life itself. Despite the idiocy and misogyny (from naming groupies "dick buzzards" to casual references to spouse abuse), the colossal self-regard, and the accounts of pointless hedonism (Vince Neil favored booze and a sleeping pill; Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee preferred cocaine mixed with Halcion — huh?), the band exuded a rare appetite for life. Any callousness — and there was plenty — seemed ascribable to their disarming capacity to live entirely in the present, without shame or a plan for tomorrow. It was exhilarating, and the Crüe appeared less wicked than bracingly alive, even charming. Zen Masters who might go to jail, and who regularly needed shots of penicillin in their weeping groins, if you will.
Neil's Tattoos & Tequila isn't the same. Many of the stories are familiar from The Dirt: success, sex, and drugs; Neil's vehicular manslaughter of his friend, Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley; Nikki Sixx's overdose; family tragedy; divorces; subpar solo careers; the band's revival; etc. The difference is that, in The Dirt, if someone said he didn't remember something, it sounded like a genuine drug blank. In Neil's book, it looks like lying, neurosis, or — worse — grandpa having trouble recalling whether he likes tomatoes.
The reason for this is that Tattoos & Tequila is not only a very heavily ghostwritten (by Mike Sager) autobiography, it's brilliantly ghost-assembled to set Neil up. Interspersed with the singer's moaning about managers and band members, in between feeble blandishments about his "demons," there are interviews with Neil's ex-wives, neglected kids, and sundry pissed-off others. We're informed repeatedly that no rock stars would agree to be interviewed — including Lee and Mick Mars. Only Sixx chips in.
From the start, Sager makes it clear that it would have been hard for Neil to avoid becoming anything but a complete dick: "Try to imagine what it was like to be that guy — a rock star, rich, achingly beautiful . . . before AIDS, when cocaine, Quaaludes, Jack Daniel's, and wild consensual sex were the equivalent of karaoke." Neil didn't have to act responsibly, and the world didn't mind. But he still comes off as a dick. He whines incessantly — meanly, too — about how first wife Beth had "germ-phobia" and drove him crazy with her anti-fun ways. She explains, however, that she ignored Vince's monumental adultery until she got pregnant: "I'm like, 'Vince, I'm pregnant. You can't come home with all kinds of diseases.' " Plus, "the whole HIV thing was just blowing up." She even mentions "times when they'd have a tattoo guy come backstage . . . and he'd give everyone tattoos with the same needle." It's a wonder Vince survived — this is a man, after all, who says Mel Gibson's "a cool guy."