The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

VINCE NEIL
TATTOOS & TEQUILA

 


You’d think after Neil Strauss’s notorious airing of Motley Crue’s dirty laundry “The Dirt”, that lead singer Vince Neil wouldn’t have a lot more to share with the world, yet here we are in 2010 and he has a new (mostly) covers album and a personal memoir of the same name to tout.

 

I doubt a lot of people have sold 80 million albums without having charisma, self belief and bravado to spare, and it is that – as well as his bare faced charm and apparent blatant honesty – that carries the reader along an entertaining read.

 

There’s also some unexpected originality. Written almost conversationally and interspersed with recollections of some of the major players in Vince’s life, by the first quarter mark the reader almost feels a kinship with this peroxided self abuser, despite the fact that – as should come as no surprise to anyone who has read “The Dirt” - he, like the rest of the band, is a selfish, spoilt, narcissistic, borderline misogynist and, frankly, a complete arsehole.

 

What surprises most of all about Neil’s book is how, despite all this - despite all of the crappy things he readily owns up to or boasts about - he can be so rogueishly charming.

 

Neil tells his story conversationally with the help of Mike Sager, working his way chronologically from his parents, into childhood, through to his formative years playing on L.A.’s Sunset Strip, the heady and crazy days of the Crue’s reign as kings of glam and sleaze, and through to the tragedies of addictions, his accidental killing of Hanoi Rocks star Razzle in a drunken car crash, and the loss to cancer of his adored daughter Skylar.

 

Along the way we get the aforementioned occasional insights from key players in Vince’s life, a few rebuttals about The Dirt’s apparent exaggerations and errors, and a staggering lack of ability to accept responsibility for the fallout from his selfish lifestyle.

 

For instance, a passage detailing the failure of his third marriage bemoans the ex’s constant nagging and her desertion for another man, without a hint that he connects that to the luridly detailed serial infidelities he describes with matter-of-fact pride. In another segment, Neil blames the killing of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle on everything– a wet road, the powerful car, an oncoming vehicle - except himself, and actually seems more upset that his bandmates didn't visit him in jail than the loss of a friend. Pretty much nothing is ever his fault, yet ironically he beats himself up most about the loss of Skylar to cancer at age 4, despite the child (like all his kids) being something of an afterthought in their Dad’s lifestyle.

 

But this book works because this is exactly the sort of thing we want from our hard rocking stars – we want them to be disgraceful reprobates, lowlifes of the highest order. We revel in reading about their shocking behaviour, obsessive cheating and self indulgence – we enjoy it because everyone would love the chance to be so free of guilt about being so morally reprehensible, and at the same time we’re all so happy we don’t have to live with the crushing weight of that.

 

Oh yes, it takes a very special kind of person to be so narcissistic and selfish – it takes a unique type of person to be a rock star and Vince Neil is certainly that.

 

There are some other interesting notes to “Tattoos & Tequila” as well. It starts with a long winded intro from Sager, who effectively tells us that Vince is doing this because he has to, and goes to great lengths to explain the (self-centred) terms Vince dictates under which the book will happen.

 

The early days and living the high-life as The Crue took on the world is as entertaining as we’d expect, and Neil doesn’t shy away from the aforementioned tragedies, becoming almost convincing with his stoic “poor hard done by me” stance.

 

The last ten or so years are brushed off in perfunctory fashion, as if they got bored and wanted to finish the job quickly, or the cheque writers assumed no-one would be interested in Neil’s life away from the band responsible for such albums as “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr Feelgood”. There’s next to nothing about the Crue fests of recent years, and absolutely no background as to the creation of the album of the same name, the guys who play in his band, or what his hopes and dreams from the future are.

 

Put simply, Vince prefers to think of himself as a businessman nowadays, but he knows that his business popularity rides on his name, so he keeps that propped up with the occasional tour of megadomes with the Crue, and regular solo tours.

 

There’s obviously more to the Vince Neil story than “Tattoos & Tequila” lets on, but everyone is allowed a few personal secrets – even our rock stars who can’t live by the same moral code that the rest of us do.

 

Shane Rockpit


Thanks to Brendan from Orion Books for our review copy of Vince Neil's "Tattoo & Tequila"