Reviewed: December, 2021
Released: 2021, Hachette
Rating: 3.5 /5
There is no denying that Nikki is a talented, creative and prolific person. Music, photography, broadcasting, fashion, and writing, the guy is a brand unto himself. I think it was a matter of time before he wrote his autobiography. THE FIRST 21 is his fourth book and it is a close to an autobiography as he has come thus far because, as the title implies, it only covers the first 21 years of his life.
The book is a small-ish paperback, just over 200 pages with lots of photos and colour glossy plates in the middle. Most of these pictures have not been seen before. It’s pretty streamlined with no foreword, afterword, introduction, he just dives right in.
After a brief opening chapter about the ill-fated reunion tour with Def Leppard and Poison six takes us back to his earliest days. Sixx did not have an easy go of it. Dad left very early on, his mother struggled with addiction issues and he got shuttled between well-intentioned relatives over and over, so often in fact I kind of lost track how many he times he moved. He didn’t have much but got good at barely getting by with a good attitude and strong work ethic. Despite the hardships he talks fondly of his past, good memories, good friends, many of which he still keeps in touch with.
It is about two-thirds of the way through the book when the US mid-west kid ends up in Los Angeles pursuing his rock and roll dream like so many before and after. He hustled he worked, he stole whatever it took to make it work. In terms of his music this is where it gets interesting where talks about London and Sister and the book is loaded with great stories about the early days of the sunset strip. The tales comes fast and furious culminating with his legal name change in the court when he turned 21 and the formation of Motley Crue. Fast forward to 2021 and Nikki now stable, happy and married (again) and lives in Wyoming riding out the pandemic working on his projects and hobbies. Not a bad place to be.
I’ve been a Motley Crue fan for many years but that does not negate the feeling that I get that at times, he is just not a very nice person or at very least quite calculating. His cavalier attitude towards his past crimes, his addictions and the people he hurt in his life all seem to play into a broader narrative of the ‘bad boy of rock ‘n roll’ which he has perpetuated for many years now. Sixx is a natural born story-teller and he says that about himself several places in the book. This self-serving style seems to be presented here much like in his other books. In reference to his book THE HEROIN DIARIES, I believe it was Dee Snider of Twisted Sister fame who pointed out that he has met a number of hard core, hard-drug users and most of them don’t keep a detailed notebook and then publish their story, implying that the book was, shall we say, slightly embellished. I get that sense here with THE FIRST 21 but that is not a major stumbling point. It is after all rock and roll and he serves it up with charm and style. Give the people want they want and Sixx delivers in spades.