The singer/lyricist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has just come out with his autobiography, and I must say it is one amazing book.
The reason I find it amazing is that it exists, sort of like Samuel Johnson’s appreciation of the dog that walked, albeit poorly, on its hind legs.
You know how it’s always about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll?
This book is about sex, DRUGS, and rock ‘n roll.
Because Kiedis’ whole life, since he was a teenager (he’s 42 now), has been an ongoing search for a drug high, only occasionally interrupted by the requirements of being in a big-time band.
What makes this book fascinating to someone as straight as me is how a person can manage to survive the drug-crazed binges and behavior that recur again and again and again.
What makes the book readable and engaging is the author’s personality, very self-deprecating and aware of his failings and never attempting to hide behind or blame others for the disasters that repeatedly befall him.
Kiedis basically says, “I’m a screw-up, but I’m really trying hard not to be.”
The “trail of tears,” as it were, of destroyed relationships both with his bandmates (themselves no novices, by any means, when it comes to self-destruction) and lovers is just endless.
I’ve always heard that druggies will do anything for a fix: this book makes that crystal (perhaps the wrong word…)-clear.
Consider the following anecdote:
- On one of these benders I ran out of drugs at four-thirty in the morning. At that point in time, I wasn’t dialed in to ATM technology; when I needed money, I’d go to a bank and take out a chunk of money on a credit card, or I’d visit an American Express office, where I could take out as much as ten thousand dollars at a shot. But for now I had no money, no stuff, and was in a frenzy to get high.
What I did have was a beautiful white Stratocaster guitar signed by all of the Rolling Stones. Tommy Mottola had given it to me when he was trying to sign the Chili Peppers to Sony/Epic.
I figured I could go downtown and get at least a couple hundred dollars’ worth of dope for that guitar. So I went down to those dimly lit back alleys where the men sell their wares, but there was only one guy working the street at that late hour.
“What can I get for this?” I asked him, proffering the guitar.
He shrugged. “Nothing.”
“No, no, you don’t understand,” I pressed on. “This guitar is signed by the Rolling Stones.”
“Dinero, señor, dinero,” he kept repeating. He was fresh up over the border, and he obviously couldn’t speak English and didn’t give a rat’s ass about the Rolling Stones.
“But this is valuable,” I protested.
He finally offered me the tiniest amount of heroin I’d ever seen.
“No, more,” I begged, but he indicated it was that or nothing. I was so desperate that I bartered the signed guitar for some drugs that would get me high for about ten minutes.
Interspersed with crazyness like that were constant stays in rehab centers to clean up: I’d estimate Kiedis describes at least eight one-month stays, with many shorter visits.
Nothing worked for any length of time.
He did manage a five and a half year period of staying clean in the early nineties but fell back into his habit.