Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scar Tissue and White Line Fever

These are two "autobiographies" from rather prominent rock stars - Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers (Scar Tissue) and Lemmy of Motörhead (White Line Fever). The quotation marks are there because invariably, there's a name in much smaller font below that of the recognizable name, which in all likelihood belongs to the poor bastard who had to transcribe hours and hours of interviews from tape to text, and probably had to invent some context around some particularly rambling anecdotes as well. That being said, here's my opinion of the books, starting with:

Scar Tissue
Of all the rock star biographies I've read, I must admit that Anthony Kiedis gets my vote for "Most Likely to have been Legitimately Screwed Up by Parents". By about a country mile. Let's start by the fact that his dad was a particularly unsuccessful petty criminal and drug dealer, and his mom was a serial loser with a penchant for hooking up with convicts and marrying them in hopes of reforming the bad boy. Right; 'cause that's ever worked in the history of the universe. There's an interesting series of photos in the book as well, they depict young Anthony smoking his first pot at age 10 or so. The cameraman is his father. Also present is one of his dad's teenage girlfriends, and she's later to take her clothes off for young Anthony to take photographs of. Oh, and Anthony loses his virginity when he "borrows" one of his dad's teenage girlfriends, with his dad's consent as well as the consent from the probably drugged-out bimbo. Swell family.

In a twist which is as unsurprising as it is psych 101 textbook parental issues, young Anthony becomes a drug dealer and - surprise, surprise - addict. This book is as much, if not more, about drugs than about music and Kiedis' career with RHCP. Still, there's enough about the band, the music and the recording process to keep me interested interspersed among the tales of drug abuse and his constantly revolving door of girlfriends, each of which obviously is "the one" before he starts cheating on her. This is the funny part though; it's never his fault. Despite him being faithful to the girlfriend of the month only every second Tuesday of the week, it's always some supposedly innocent explanation to every time his girlfriend shows up at his apartment and finds him buck nekkid in bed with another girl. Tony just has the worst luck, 'cause surely nothing is ever HIS fault. Still; the saving grace of the book is that Mr. Kiedis doesn't take himself too seriously, and for the most part doesn't recall every messed up event through the rose-tinted lenses of hindsight. Also, he comes across as quite reflected and at times bright. This is absolutely one of the better rock star "autobiographies" I've read.

White Line Fever
It took me an extended afternoon to read this book, so it ain't that voluminous. It is kinda' funny, however, as it continues the trend described above of anything wrong that happens being someone else's fault. Lemmy comes across in this book much the same way he does in his interviews - bright, somewhat arrogant but not all there. Maybe the fact that his breakfast used to be cornflakes swimming in bourbon has something to do with that fact. Oh well. If ya like Motörhead and endless tales of record companies screwing the band over (despite said band having obviously signed the same contract for about seven different labels), all the other band members being losers who kept screwing with the band's direction and how all Lemmy wants to do immediately after a concert is get laid, then this is the book for you. As a side note, it's quite sad that a legend of metal like Lemmy, who's been in the business for thirty years or more, still was broke as f*ck after "Ace Of Spades" was released. And also that after they signed on with the US division of Sony in the 90's, Lemmy considered himself fortunate to have "befriended" one of the label secretaries, because otherwise they couldn't have afforded all those translatlantic phone calls to secure gigs etc. This is one of the major metal acts in the world. Quite sad.

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