First published back in May of 2001, ‘The Dirt’ formed the collaborative autobiography of the notorious rock band Mötley Crüe.  Written by the four band members, with additions by their managers and music executives, the autobiography was then brought together by US author and journalist Neil Strauss.  Since its release, the book has received worldwide recognition, had an album by the band recorded as a soundtrack to the book, and a film adaptation has been announced.

DLS Synopsis:
Back in 1981, a young bassist named Nikki Sixx got together with guitarist and singer, Greg Leon, and drummer Tommy Lee.  However things weren’t working out for the band, so Sixx and Lee got in touch with guitarist Bob Deal (aka Mick Mars) who soon replaced Leon.  All they needed now was a singer.  And Lee had just the man in mind – an old school friend named Vince Neil.  Furthermore, after the band saw Neil performing on stage with his band, Rock Candy, they knew that he was the frontman they needed.

However, Neil wasn’t convinced on this new band’s potential.  But as his current band began to wither away with side projects and a lack of commitment from the other members, Neil finally gave in and auditioned for Lee’s new band.  Neil was instantly offered a place in the band, which he finally accepted.  All that the band needed now was a name.  And Mick Mars had one on the tip of his tongue.  A few stylistic changes to its presentation and Mötley Crüe was born.
With an image and a sound already pretty much established, Mötley Crüe came into contact with manager Allan Coffman who took on the energetic and highly ambitious young group.  The band self-released their first single ‘Stick To Your Guns / Toast Of The Town’, which was closely followed by the release of their debut album ‘Too Fast For Love’.  On the back of these self-produced records, the band embarked upon a tour of Canada, dubbed Crüesing Through Canada Tour ’82.

It’s on this debut tour that the band began to make a name for themselves with their offstage antics.  At the Edmonton International Airport, the band were arrested for wearing articles of clothing that could be considered as dangerous weapons.  Furthermore, upon searching through Vince Neil’s carry-on luggage, Customs found him in possession of a large quantity of pornographic material which was considered as indecent.  Having barely set foot on Canadian soil and already making headlines for themselves, a bomb threat at the Scandals Disco where the band were due to play simply ramped up further publicity for the band, followed by an article in the Music Express detailing damages to hotel property (Lee had thrown a television out of a hotel window) ending in the group being banned for life from Edmonton.

Mötley Crüe had by now made a name for themselves within the international press and were quickly beginning to pick up notoriety due to their out-of-control behaviour.  From the blood, sweat and tears of their early gigs down the Sunset Boulevard, the band were finally entering the big league.  But with the rise of Mötley Crüe’s international fame, came a high price that none of them had anticipated.  Following years of drugs, sex, violence and outlandish rock ‘n’ roll debauchery, the band find themselves slipping completely off the rails, culminating in a collection of bitter tragedies for the four band members.

The self-destructive rock stars were on a road to utter and near-inevitable carnage.  And it would take the personal hell of each of them to realise that it was time to turn their lives around, before their wild lifestyles brought them to their early graves…

DLS Review:
Probably the most notorious rock ‘n’ roll biography since Stephen Davis’ book on Led Zeppelin, ‘Hammer Of The Gods’ (1985); Strauss delivers an in-depth and truly personal account of what it was to be a member within the band Mötley Crüe.  Strauss is an undisputed master at pulling together biographies of this nature.  Strauss’ work with Marilyn Manson’s biography ‘The Long Hard Road Out Of Hell’ (1998) is testament to his skill at keeping a biography on track, in perspective, informative and ultimately incredibly entertaining.  And ‘The Dirt’ is perhaps his most accomplished biography yet.

Like the name suggests, what the reader gets with ‘The Dirt’ is the real grit and grime of what went on within Mötley Crüe.  Stories of excessive drug abuse to the nth degree, tales of violence, mayhem, sexual debauchery and outrageous episodes of gross misadventure.  It delivers what it promises.  It delivers the dirt.

Written at the time that the band were celebrating their twentieth anniversary, in essence, the book documents the rise of the band, through their years of fame and absolute excess, to the eventual turmoil and tragedy that nearly consumed each of the respective members.  To show the truest picture of what went on, from all sides of the band, Straus has quite literally kept each member’s side of the story intact; switching between what each one says chapter-by-chapter.  And my god does this approach enhance the biography.  Honesty clashes with contradiction from the start.  And in the numerous contradictions and points of view from the ‘other-side-of-the-story’, the book allows for a much clearer picture of what it was actually like for the four members and their immediate management.

Straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak), the book takes the reader through the (at times quite unbelievable) rollercoaster of a ride that was the lives of the members of Mötley Crüe.  Indeed, there’s actually very little in the way of your usual biographical documenting of the stages of the band’s development and career – instead the book homes in on what it was like to be each of the members, what they got up to and how they responded to their explosion of fame and all the opportunities that it brings.

With the book alternating between band members (as well as key members of their management), the progress of the book’s narrative can feel a little staggered at times, but the rewards from taking this approach are so much more.  Admittedly, some of the members are more lucid and articulate with their sides of the story than others.  Nikki Sixx in particular writes well, describing his version of events with clarity and humour.  Tommy Lee on the other hand has adopted a much more laidback style; writing as if he was chatting away without a huge amount of thought or attention put into how he is expressing himself.

However, in pulling these various (and often conflicting) perspectives together, weaving them into one chronologically-geared narrative, Strauss has unveiled a rock ‘n’ roll beast that is so much more than the sum of its outrageous parts.  But after the madness and drug-fuelled mayhem has reached some unforeseen pinnacle, something else entirely begins to emerge.  From out of the mayhem comes the resulting carnage.  Admittedly it’s not all a simple symptom of cause-and-effect, but what ensues from around two-thirds of the way through the book is nothing short of a crumbling wall of utter tragedy for each of the members.

There is real honesty throughout the book.  Passages which turn into confessions which have never been aired before.  Admissions of guilt between band members.  Acceptance of what they did and acknowledging that the resulting problems were down to them and their behaviour.  Indeed, at times the book reads more like a cathartic release for the members of the band as they admit to everything they have done.  It’s shocking to read the madness and debauchery that they had been up to – but perhaps even more shocking to see, after all the craziness, that these international rock stars are still human beings who can feel such despair when their lives all plummet southwards.

The end result is a book that takes the reader far beyond the mere drugs, sex and rock ‘n’ roll excess that you would have thought the book would concentrate on.  It’s a book that’s brutal and honest.  It shows the band going from nothing, to international success, to bitter tragedy, and then ultimately out the other end.  It’s an enthralling, engaging and damn addictive read.  It delivers the dirt…but then a whole lot more on top.

The book runs for a total of 428 pages.

© DLS Reviews


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