Released: 2004, Atria Books
Tommy Lee was the first member of Motley Crue to write his autobiography back in 2004. When Neil released his autobiography in late 2010, (also reviewed this month) I went back and picked up Tommy’s as well. He got the ball rolling and since then, there have been four or five Crue related books in the past 10 years.
Lee is possibly the most notorious member of the Crue due to his tendency to attach himself to celebrities, have celebrity wives and cross over into pop culture. Consequently his fall from grace was a little more public, a little more troubling to him and those around him. By way of comparison, if you read Vince Neil’s autobiography (TATTOOS & TEQUILA) of the pair of rock dogs, Vince is the mean junkyard dog, while Lee immediately comes across as this big, dumb, slobbering puppy who will hump your leg. One of my favorite quotes by Canadian author Martin Popoff relates to Motley Crue. Popoff says that , “…the band has all the brains of a welding bench and the musical ability of a spring roll…” (CGTHM 1997, p. 295) and TOMMYLAND epitomizes that sentiment.
TOMMYLAND is a visually interesting book. It’s cool to look at. The 260+ page paperback has lots of design and layout features that add a great visual dimension. It is not as over-the-top as THE HEROIN DIARIES (Sixx) but more fun than the standard TATTOOS & TEQUILA (Neil). Lee got Anthony Bozza to co-write the thing as well as a special guest writer ‘Dick’ (aka his penis). Yes, ‘Dick’ makes many, many cameos and comedic interjections in the story (along with little pictures of jizz splashed across the page) and in fact the whole introduction is Tommy arguing with his penis. It’s actually funnier than it’s sounds.
Tommy has a very engaging, witty, personal style of writing. It’s far more conversational than the straight-laced Neil or the morbid Sixx. Lee writes, like he talks with lots of ‘Dude!’ and ‘Fuck!’ all over the place. I feel sorry for his editor and Bozza and Lee make little notes to (and fun of) the editor in little sidebars explaining Lee’s slang and humour.
He’s really crude, I don’t know if that is the right word, perhaps explicit is better, lots of sex-tips, personal sexual habits, preferences, desires and so on. It’s not for the faint of heart. His narrative is full-tilt and almost non-stop. Once in a while he drops the ‘Rock God’ veneer briefly talking about his childhood in Greece, his father’s death, the birth of his boys, and these ‘real-life’ stories are a little more sincere than the ones about banging porno stars in Hawaii. I’m not saying Lee’s stories are not true, he has no reason to lie, but most of us ‘Average Joe’ readers can relate to the familiar emotions of the birth or death of a family member, better than the stories about the sex and drugs.
Lee takes the brave road and let’s his ex-wives write some parts. It’s quite amusing when they directly contradict something he said. He tends to exaggerate to get attention it seems, but that what many celebrities do. He’s pretty clear and honest and wears his heart on his sleeve. He talks about his incarceration for weapons offenses, various short stints in jail, the home movies, spousal abuse, the booze, the drugs, the hookers, all with candor and humour. He also discussed in detail the time the little boy drowned in his pool (during a birthday party he was holding for his son) and how it emotionally crippled him. Lee has been sued and paid more money to lawyers than you and I will make in a lifetime.
One thing that I enjoyed was that Lee, the musician, actually talked about music. Lots, making music, loving music and his unapologetic attitude for enjoying all styles of music, the flak he gets from rock fans, his love of composing on the piano, bands he likes, albums he loves, it was actually refreshing to have a musician, talk about music in his book.
Lee story is for the most part chronological and he is apologetic for not knowing names, dates times and places but he says if you want go look it up on the internet. He is pretty short on details about his reality show, his solo stuff, and his time in Motley Crue oddly enough but I suppose much of that was covered in THE DIRT.
It’s a great book, good fun, an easy read, none too bright and entertaining as hell. I like it better than THE HEROIN DIARIES (too morbid) better than TATTOOS & TEQUILA (too depressing) so unless good ol’ Mick Mars comes along and writes his story, TOMMYLAND takes the cake.