Released: 2010, Grand Central Publishing
Vince Neil is technically the second member of Motley Crue to write his own autobiography. THE DIRT came out in 2002 and that started the ’books about Motley Crue’ empire. Jake Brown wrote Nikki’s unauthorized biography, AN EDUCATION IN REBELLION in 2003. Then Tommy got on the bookmobile in 2004 with TOMMYLAND. Then came THE HEROIN DIARIES (2008) in which is an autobiography of sorts but really only a publication of Sixx’s personal journals for a one-year span. Then came Zlozower’s coffee table book, (2009) Nikki’s photo book (2010). Point being, if you want to read about the band there is plenty of material. I also reviewed TOMMYLAND this month as well.
TATTOOS & TEQUILA came out in late 2010 and is co-written by Mike Sager. I picked up the nice, 290 page hard cover at a good price. It has about 40 colour pictures from across the years. Vince’s story is pretty straightforward, told across ten chapters told in a series of interviews recorded by Sager in Las Vegas in December 2009. Like most the books it starts at the beginning with a brief intro by Sager describing being stood up by Neil for their first interview and his impression the first time around that they actually did meet. Once Vince starts he tries to follow a standard chronological, youngest to oldest format but that could just be Sager’s editing.
TATTOOS & TEQUILA is really more an oral history told by Vince. His memory is faulty. Really faulty, or perhaps he doesn’t care, but as Tommy Lee said in his autobiography TOMMYLAND, do you remember everything you did in your life? Neil seems to struggle with names and dates. I’m sure an extended, multi-decade love-affair with booze and drugs doesn’t help. It seems that Vince wasn’t as much of a hard-core drug guy as the other members of Motley Crue but alcohol and women tended to be his thing. He dabbled in a bit of everything however and that can’t be good for the old brain cells.
There are many people who contribute to the book as well including ex-wives. I gotta admit, that takes a lot of balls to let the ex-wives have their say. It adds a dimension of reality and honesty. There are many others who help fill in the grey areas of Motley’s ‘lost years’ including managers, ex-managers, ex-band-mates, and so on. As Doc McGhee said of the 80’s, “It was low IQ, high RPM.” (p. 145) Neil was honest. When his career was in the tank, (post Motley) he was honest. He knows he screwed up and didn’t point fingers. He admits he reunited strictly for the money and admits it was a bad move. Again, I think it took some character on his part to speak candidly about the bad times as well as the good.
Vince didn’t strike me as a …shall we say…deep thinker. He comes across as emotionally distant and seems pretty uncomplicated. He falls in and out of love, has his addictions, temper problems and of the years has gotten into a lot of trouble. He tells these stories in a somewhat detached way, not even a devil-may-care style, just…it happened, I did it, no apologies mentality. The only time I felt he showed real emotional depth or sincerity was when he discussed the tragic death of his four-year old daughter, Skylar. She died after a long and painful battle (and multiple, horrible surgeries) with cancer at age 4. For me, that was the most honest and touching part of the book. He did what he could and at the time (he paid millions to doctors) and he bought a TV for every room in the hospital because all the kids had to share just one. A class move. He eventually set up a Foundation in her name, which still raises a ton of money today.
All the tales of tragedy are there. We all heard the stories of the death of Razzle, the ex-wives, etc, but here it is all laid out. Neil admits he probably should have been punished much more for the death of Razzle but what many people didn’t know the enormous amount he paid in restitution, not to avoid jail but to compensate the victims of the other vehicle, who seemed to be content to settle for well into 7 figures.
Vince’s lack of education, self-control and life skills have put him in many bad situations. He’s not dumb, not educated, but not dumb by any means, but at times it seems like he just doesn’t care about anyone, wives, friends, band-mates, managers etc. The story he tells about the time in the Bahamas when he elbowed the topless bimbo/groupie off the back of his jet-ski into the ocean so his current girl-friend (soon to be wife #3) wouldn’t catch him, told volumes about his attitude towards women as commodities. Not a class move. Some might defend the man, saying these things are ‘mistakes’ but when I read his own accounts of his choice, actions, (and lack of consequences) he doesn’t seem like a very nice guy. Adultery, (multiple, multiple, multiple times) countless lies, drugs, crime, vandalism, theft, fights, abuse; well, I’m not shocked his first three wives left him.
He seems to have turned his life around. He maintains a love/hate professional (ie. business/lawyers) relationship with the other dudes in the Crue. He’s working now in a more productive fashion with solo albums, restaurants, clubs and a couple of other lucrative business enterprises (aviation and tequila) and seems content, never fully happy, just content.
I’ve read better autobiographies and I’ve read worse. It’s entertaining, a bit short on detail, especially when it comes to music, touring with his solo band, the reality show and so on, but it is sincere which I suppose is the most anyone can ask. I’d recommend any fan of Crue (or Vince Neil in general) to read this and pair it up with Tommy Lee’s autobiography, TOMMYLAND for an interesting counter-point of how a deeply flawed person (either of them) deals with triumph and tragedy.