In one of the most unique memoirs of addiction ever published, Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx shares mesmerizing diary entries from the year he spiraled out of control in a haze of heroin and cocaine, presented alongside riveting commentary from people who were there at the time, and from Nikki himself. Brutally honest, utterly riveting, and shockingly moving, The Heroin Diaries follows Nikki during the year he plunged to rock bottom -- and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.
If this is already on your TBR, you probably already know at least part of Nikki Sixx's story, but if not, here's the Cliff Notes version. Nikki Sixx (born Frank Feranna) is the founder of the band Motley Crue. Along with bandmates Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars, Nikki pretty much owned the music scene of the 1980s.
"Before he was on junk, Nikki Sixx was a big teddy bear with a nice smile. He could barely play the bass, mind you, but that never stopped Gene Simmons. I wanted to help him but I guess ultimately you can only slay the dragon yourself. All that I could do was help him sharpen his sword if he needed me to."
Rick Nielsen, guitarist for Cheap Trick
Nikki explains in the intro that he has been one to keep journals nearly all his adult life, and Heroin Diaries is the publication of just one of those journals -- the one that documents a pivotal year in his life -- December 1986 to December 1987 -- the year he went especially hard and heavy into drug use, to the point of actually overdosing and being declared dead, only to come back to life moments later. From that point on, he's made a lifelong effort to turn his life around and get his high from other things, namely music, photography and being a dedicated father.
"These diaries start on Christmas Day 1986, but that day wasn't even that special. I was an addict well before then, and stayed one for awhile afterwards. Perhaps that day just brought the condition home to me. There is something about spending Christmas alone, naked, sitting by the Christmas tree gripping a shotgun that lets you know your life is spiraling dangerously outta control."
Also included in between diary entries are running commentaries from the people who were around Nikki at the time and could shed extra light on these moments. These commentaries are from Nikki's bandmates, ex-girlfriends, tour manager, family and personal friends as well as Nikki himself. I was really impressed that Nikki said to keep whatever they said about him as is, warts and all, his intent being to give an accurate account of what drug addiction is truly like, hopefully to save someone from experiencing the same fate OR to give struggling addicts courage and hope to fight through it and reboot their lives. This diary lays out all this struggles and fears at the time, how he felt like he was battling multiple personalities -- clean, clear-headed Nikki vs. drug addict "Sikki" -- his multiple attempts to get clean, followed by multiple relapses before successful sobriety. (Crazy to read he sometimes used heroin to come down from cocaine! Or how he tried to get clean by having his dealer put together these "come down" packets, like nicotine patches but for cocaine & heroin).
"I'm reading Diary Of A Rock Star by Ian Hunter. Maybe I'll release my diary as a book one day....yeah, right. Can you imagine?"
Nikki Sixx's journal entry from June 27th,1987
Though I don't have a history with hardcore drug use, I did find myself relating to his feelings and observations from battling with depression, social anxiety and those especially dark moments that bring on suicidal thoughts. I relate to his story in that there are those days that hurt so bad you want a release, but at the end of the day you just have too much spirit, stubborness and love of life (living for the good moments) to just let go. Maybe I partly relate because I am a fellow Sagittarian and constantly feel the creative pull myself!
While Nikki's story itself is inspiring, I also recommend this read to anyone who is a fan of 1980s hair band era because there are so many cool backstories here that I doubt you'll read anywhere else (except maybe the memoirs of the other guys who were there and want to share). There's a pretty funny (well, I found it funny anyway) story about Vince Neil and his rage over a Grey Poupon jar. Or Nikki journaling about the early days of Guns N' Roses, saying that Motley Crue should take them on tour as an opening band because in 1986 "there's no interest in them right now, but maybe this will help them. Anything is better than Whitesnake." X-D He also says of Axl Rose: "Cool new band but the singer can be an asshole."
As dark as this book gets, it does have its humor and I found the format fun to read, how it's printing on what feels like glossy magazine pages and is illustrated with Nikki Sixx's artwork and photography (he was classy enough to blot out the faces of former lady friends who might not want evidence of their groupie days out there for public consumption). The book also has a companion album which I highly recommend. I actually heard the song "Life Is Beautiful" long before I ever heard of this book. That song alone found my ears at just the right time, pulled me out of a really dark place and made me a lifelong fan of Sixx!
I also kept cracking up at his constant reiteration of the motto "Chicks = Trouble!" (underlined and written in CAPS in several of the diary entries).