First published back in February of 1998, ‘The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell’ formed US gothic rockstar Marilyn Manson’s first autobiography and was co-written by Neil Strauss.

DLS Synopsis:
Born in Canton, Ohio back in 1969 as Brian Hugh Warner, no one would have thought that this scrawny geek of an American kid would turn out to be the controversial gothic-rock superstar that would dominate the musical news during much of the mid-90’s.

From stumbling upon his perverted grandfather’s dirty secrets hidden away in his basement, Warner’s early childhood quickly became far from what most people would call a normal upbringing.  Warner had a tough time at the Heritage Christian School where he was sent.  The strict ruling laid out by the school uncaringly singled out Warner due to his mother’s Episcopal faith, setting down Warner’s early building blocks for rebellion against all those that he felt rejected him.

No doubt as a direct result of his dysfunctional and oppressive childhood, Warner’s life veered away from the norm; eventually diving into the more extreme underbelly of modern life.  And in 1989, Warner and guitarist Scott Putesky formed the band ‘Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids’.  What was to follow was a descent into sexual debauchery, excessive drug-taking, fame and hostility.

As the group’s activity began to pick up momentum, Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails became close friends with Warner, who had by this stage fully adopted the name Marilyn Manson.  However, their friendship was soon to encounter problems during the recording and production of the ‘Lost Highway’ (1997) soundtrack, where Reznor felt Manson and his crew were wasting his time.

Nevertheless, the sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll continued.  With the band’s controversial image causing massive waves with the likes of the American Family Association, the added attention they were receiving only helped with furthering the success of the band.

However the rise to fame for the group was far from an easy one.  Along the way, Manson et al encountered many fallings out, issues with addition, false and exaggerated claims of debauchery and misadventure, along with countless lows that pushed their emotional and physical states to the limit.

And finally, by 1997, when they commenced their ‘Dead To The World’ tour, the band were finally at a place where they felt they were on top of things.  Manson at last felt that he had gained some form of control over their lives and that the band at last had a clear direction.  But it had been one long, hard road to finally get there...

DLS Review:
Whether you’re a fan of Marilyn Manson or not doesn’t really matter when reading Manson’s autobiography.  It’s an entertaining and intriguing read, without too much weight put on the band’s actual music.  Indeed, the vast majority of the book instead details various tales of drug-induced pandemonium, rock ‘n’ roll fights and sexual debauchery.  Oh yes, it’s an autobiography awash with plenty of sleaze.

Co-written by Neil Strauss, who is somewhat of an experienced authority on biographies of this nature, the book was always going to be well-written and well-paced, bringing out the more entertaining stories rather than wallowing in the professional side of working within the music industry.  However, what you might not expect is exactly how entertaining an autobiography the book is.  Speaking from the point of view of someone who really isn’t much of a fan of Manson’s work (although they certainly had their moments), I can honestly say that ‘The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell’ is very possibly Manson’s best offering to date.

Starting off with his early childhood, the autobiography allows the reader to see much of what influenced and pushed that young awkward American kid to become the exaggerated gothic-rockstar that he eventually became.  The stories of what Manson was exposed to at such a young, and often life-defining age, presents the reader with a thought-provoking insight that is as troubling as it is intriguing.

The format that has been adopted by the book helps with the drip-feeding of the maniacal rise to fame; the way the stories spiral around, always leading back to the beginning and then moving onwards and upwards.  In this alone the book as a whole exhibits a great wealth of forethought in its delivery as well as with the actual content.  And it was certainly worth this additional investment of time in order to achieve such an excellently executed presentation of Manson’s life thus far.

It must be said that the one thing that really comes across in the book is the overriding notion of a journey.  In many ways like watching the gradual transformation from a grub, into a cocoon, and eventually on to a giant moth – Manson’s autobiography documents a gradual changing and transformation of not only Manson, but his fellow band members and those around him.  Indeed, the progression becomes a painful rise and almost a constant fight for recognition.  Through blood, sweat and tears, Manson’s hard work and sheer unadulterated determination for his music to eventually ‘make it’ makes for an utterly compelling and in some ways inspiring read.

That said, there’s plenty of moments where Manson and his various band members (as well as ex-band members) show that their motivation isn’t always at the forefront of their actions.  Stories of drunken debauchery alongside sleazy groupie sex and abuse reflect as much an adoption of a rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle as it does a self-destructive element.  And all through this Manson details these stories in an open, frank and unashamed way; talking of the events with what on the face of it appears to be absolute honesty.

However, whether or not certain aspects of the book are indeed an altogether honest and unexaggerated account of what occurred, mostly during their tours and the like, is perhaps open to debate.  With a number of the stories taking place during the 1992 Lollapalooza festival in which the Jim Rose Circus Sideshow performed on the second stage, and then later with the Nine Inch Nails 1994 Downward Spiral Tour, it’s somewhat interesting to compare the various accounts from Manson’s autobiography alongside those within Rose’s book ‘Freak Like Me’ (1995).  Indeed, Manson’s account seems to show a far more embellished version of events when compared alongside Rose’s account; with sexual exploits and chaotic tour mayhem being portrayed by Manson, whilst on the other side it’s early nights and a quiet cup of tea.

Manson speaks quite openly about his philosophies and thoughts on a number of controversial or emotive subjects.  Homosexually, self-mutilation, love, sex, drugs, hatred, consumerism, vanity, religion and ‘the-American-way-of-life’ all come into the firing line.  And here Manson provokes intelligent arguments and interesting responses to many of the questions raised; with ideas and thoughts that although you may not entirely agree with, are certainly thought-provoking if nothing else.

Following on from the main body of the autobiography, the remaining portion of the book becomes a journal of the band’s touring, with stories and events detailed with the same unashamed approach.

As a whole the book is presented in a way that feels perfectly in tune with its content.  It’s a well-conceived autobiography, with a wealth of shocking and entertaining stories crammed in amongst thought-provoking ideas from a highly controversial individual.  It’s certainly worth a read, both for fans of Manson’s work and those just with a curious interest.

The book runs for a total of 269 pages.

© DLS Reviews



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