The story of the band really needs to be told by an outsider. Kiedis’ account (and yes, I understand that it is an autobiography, but come on) is too relentlessly solipsistic: other people function so tangentially to the story that they end up being props. One of the more chilling moments in reading the book is realizing that the overdose death of Hillel Slovak (the Chili Peppers’ original guitarist), who Kiedis refers to as his best friend and “soulmate”, prompts approximately a page of reflection from Kiedis. That’s it. After that, it’s on to further bouts of drug-taking, startlingly dysfunctional relationships with women and occasional musings on sobriety. More than anything this is the story of a raging drug addict who happens to be in a successful band. Unfortunately, the drug addict’s story (and, really, eventually they’re all the same) can’t sustain itself for the length of the book: it just becomes monotonous.
After plowing through the book, I still can’t decide whether to like Kiedis or not. There definitely were times when you recoil from him: self-absorbed; a remorseless juvenile delinquent and petty criminal; destructive to those around him. But, bizarrely, he still generally comes across as an alright guy. There’s an interesting story to be found somewhere in here, but Kiedis isn’t the one to tell it.
Grade: (For Chili Peppers fanatics) B
(For everyone else) D