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"Tattoos & Tequila" by Vince Neil

November 4, 2010 - Amy Phelps
I should preface this review by saying that I’m not a Motley Crue fan.

Not that I dislike them, either, I just sort-of...nothing them. I’m aware of their existence as a heavy metal/hair band (my asking the newsroom for clarification of what to classify their music has brought about an argument over which they were) but I couldn’t readily come up with any of their song titles without asking friends. Once they mentioned “Doctor Feel Good” I remembered who they were.

So I went into Vince Neil’s “Tattoos & Tequila” without any preconceived notions. I didn’t already love him or hate him; I was just ready to experience the ‘80s rock and roll lifestyle through his eyes. And so I did.

At the end of the book, I felt tired, or as a friend put it, “Emotionally drained after spending a party hanging out with someone who’s kind of a jerk.” But it was definitely a wild ride and a fascinating one. And I will give him this: he seems pretty honest about everything, even when it doesn’t necessarily paint him in a good light. And he’s also honest about how he might not remember things correctly due to the amount of partying that went on, and indeed, other people who are interviewed remember some of his stories differently.

Told to co-author Mike Sager and written in the style of Neil telling the reader the story of his life at a bar, Neil’s story of life as the singer of a wildly popular rock band in the 1980s immediately sucks you in.

Neil speaks about his humble beginnings as the son of a mechanic and a stay-at-home mom. He got into the partying lifestyle in high school, and lived kind of like a beach bum, blowing off class to go surfing until his long hair attracted two other kids who wanted to start a band.

Neil soon started playing in a band Rockandi, battling against a rival band in which future Motley Crue bandmate, Tommy Lee, performed in. Neil also became a father in high school.

Neil talks about the humble beginnings of Motley Crue, of playing small clubs and making a name for themselves and eventually recording their debut album, “Too Fast for Love,” on their own label since they weren’t signed and living in a small and very grungy house with everyone. But soon came the major record label, and the big venues, and the wild fame.

Neil talks about the fame, the hard-partying nights, the drugs and alcohol used, and the endless string of girls — everything that seems to be what you think of when you think of rock and roll. But he also talks about the darker side of all of that — married four times, each of Neil’s marriages seemed to come to an end after his current wife tired of the lying and the affairs with groupies or adult film stars.

He entered rehab for drug and alcohol addiction on more than one occasion, and was even fired from the band. He continues to have a strained relationship with the members of the band, and only one member, Nikki Sixx, would be interviewed for the book. Neil also talks about one particularly bad night and the car accident that ended in the death of another band’s drummer, Neil in jail and two other people critically injured. The other tragedy in his life was the death of his young daughter due to illness. Both of those deaths really seemed to take a lot out of him.

Neil’s life now still involves Motley Crue — he performs with the band but it seems to be more of a job for him than something he does for fun. He also runs a bar/restaurant that he wants to turn into a franchise; he owns two tattoo shops and has a clothing and tequila line.

He’s cleaned up from the drugs and alcohol and is still married to his fourth wife. His life may be a bit quieter now, but the rocker is still inside him and will never really leave.

This was an engrossing read of a notorious rocker and his journey to stardom, including all of the ups and downs. Neil is a true entertainer and that is definitely his legacy. And weirdly, now that I’ve read his story, he might just make me a fan of Motley Crue.

Now I’m going to go listen to “Doctor Feel Good” again.

 
 

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