When I was fifteen years old, I remember Iggy and the Stooges’ song “Search and Destroy” reaching out from my speakers to me like my own personal anthem. It was a theme I would carry for decades as my own hell-bent mantra. The song might as well have been tattooed across my knuckles ’cause there could be no truer words for a young, alienated teenager:
I’m a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb I’m a world’s forgotten boy The one who searches and destroys
Alice Cooper was another musical hero. Like Nostradamus, Alice must have seen the future when he sang “Welcome to My Nightmare”…or, at least, my future:
Welcome to my nightmare Welcome to my breakdown I hope I didn’t scare you
Yet Alice’s nightmare was show business. This book is something else entirely. This is me welcoming you to a genuine living nightmare that I endured nearly twenty years ago; a nightmare that was so bad that it ended up killing me. But now I know it wasn’t only the drugs–it was also my past unknowingly haunting me, and even a lethal combination of narcotics couldn’t seem to kill the pain.
I guess if we could mix these two songs together you’d have the theme song of my adolescence. On Christmas Day 1986, I was a member of one of the biggest rock ’n’ roll bands in the world. I was also an alcoholic, a coke addict and a heroin addict heading into a pill-popping downward spiral of depression.
Welcome to my nightmare
Musically, I always thought Mötley Crüe was a nasty combination of rock, punk, glam and pop sprinkled together with lots of sarcasm, anger and humor, love and hate, happiness and sadness. Of course, depending on the recipe, there were always larger or smaller amounts of sex in there too. I mean, what is rock ’n’ roll if it’s not sexy? Sleazy? Usually. Chauvinist? Always. We’d crammed all this into a blender and out came a very toxic cocktail.
Palatable for the masses like Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid Sweet to the lips and deadly to ourselves We were the drug scouts of America And we were louder than hell.
These diaries start on Christmas Day 1986, but that day wasn’t even that special. I was an addict well before then, and stayed one for a while afterwards. Perhaps that day just brought my condition home to me. There is something about spending Christmas alone, naked, sitting by the Christmas tree gripping a shotgun, that lets you know your life is spinning dangerously outta control.
I’m a street walking cheetah with a heart full of napalm
People over the years have tried to soften the blow by saying maybe being in Mötley Crüe turned me into an addict…but I don’t think it did. That stroke of genius was all my own work. Even as a kid I was never inclined to dodge a bullet. I was always the first one to take it right between the eyes. I was stubborn, strong-willed and always willing to put myself in harm’s way for the betterment of chaos, confusion and rebellion–all the traits that made me famous and later infamous. The ingredients for success and failure all wrapped up in a nice package with the emotional stability of a Molotov cocktail. Then when I moved to LA in the late ’70s and discovered cocaine, it only amplified these charming characteristics.
I’m a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
But alcohol, acid, cocaine…they were just affairs. When I met heroin, it was true love.
After we made it big, Mötley Crüe gave me more money than I knew what to do with. So naturally I spent it on the only thing I wanted to do: drugs. Before the band, I lived only for music: after it started, I lived only for drugs. OK, so maybe Mötley gave me the resources to be an addict, but…you know what? If it hadn’t, I’d have found some other way to do it.
I guess we all get to live out our destiny, even those of us who have to choose the worst one imaginable. So why did I take this strange, dark trip? Well, I have a little 1-2-3 theory on this.
1. My childhood was shitty. My dad left when I was three years old and never came back.
2. My mom tried to love me, but every time a new guy came on the scene, I’d be in the way and she’d shuttle me off to live with my grandparents.
3. I was born an addict. It’s no surprise that I grew up feeling angry, unloved and somehow needing…revenge.
Revenge on whom? On the world? On myself?
Welcome to my breakdown…
I was always driven, even when I didn’t know where I was going. Way before I met Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars, I knew I would be in Mötley Crüe. I knew how we would look, what we would sound like, how we would behave (fucking badly, obviously!).
Mötley Crüe was always about music and girls…music and drugs…and music and violence. We wanted to be the biggest, dirtiest, loudest rock band on the planet. We knew we were on our way in ’83 when we helicoptered in to play in front of 300,000 metal fans at a festival in LA; our only gripe was that we should have been headlining. It was only a matter of time. We were on the highway to hell and had every bad intention of destroying anything and everything in our path. You could find us by the trail of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll we left behind us…
The one who searches and destroys
But two major things happened to me in ’83. Shout at the Devil went platinum and moved Mötley even further up the ladder. And I crashed my Porsche drunk, dislocated my shoulder and started smoking heroin to numb the pain. The problem was, I carried on smoking–and then started injecting–long after the pain was gone.
Fuck, there were clues I was becoming a junkie. You’d need to be pretty self-obsessed to miss them, but if I was one thing back then, it was self-obsessed. When Vince Neil went to jail for twenty days, I didn’t visit or phone our singer once. It never even occurred to me: it would’ve been a waste of valuable drug time.
By the end of the Theatre of Pain tour in ’86, I was on my way to becoming a full-blown junkie. I had OD’d after a show in London and been left for dead in a garbage Dumpster. I had turned up strung out to be Tommy’s best man at his wedding, with syringes hidden in my cowboy boots. And I had stayed home freebasing rather than attend my own grandmother’s funeral–the woman who had loved and raised me.
And things were about to get worse. Much worse.
Welcome to my breakdown…
The strangest thing is that during the darkest, most lost time of my life…I kept diaries. At home as I was cracking up, or on tour, I scribbled down my thoughts in battered journals or on scraps of paper. Sometimes I wrote in them completely sober and sane. At other times, they were like the diary of a madman. I think that in my drug-addled comatose mind I felt my diary was the only person who really understood me. Maybe my only friend, someone to confide in…they don’t say it’s lonely at the top for nothing.
I had forgotten these diaries existed, or maybe I was in denial about them, until I pulled them out of a storage locker last year, buried under my musty tour programs, magazine covers and multi-platinum awards. They were genuinely shocking for me to read, a window back into a dark time in my life that I left behind a long while ago…hopefully never to return.
As I write this, Mötley Crüe is back and playing all around the world again. I fucking love it, and in some ways life in the Crüe is as insane as ever. The amps are still too loud and so is our attitude. I still love playing rock ’n’ roll. In fact, I can safely say it gets me high. I feel privileged to still be around to do what I love so much, and the fact that we still do it on our own terms is extremely fucking gratifying. The difference is that I no longer come off stage from that adrenaline rush and launch a kamikaze narcotics campaign to get even higher.
Now the music and the fans are enough. Just like it should be.
I’m the same person, but I’m also a different one. You see there’s Sikki and then there’s Nikki, many years sober, in control rather than outta control and crazed. Occasionally it even occurs to me that I may be the kind of person that the Sikki of ’86 would have hated. That’s OK ’cause I don’t think I’d like to know Sikki in 2006, so we’re even.
I was listening to the Velvet Underground again today, and “Heroin” sounds as good as ever, especially when Lou Reed sings about heroin being his death, his life, and his wife.
Who would have thought, when I was growing up in Idaho, that one of the most inspirational songs of my life would also end up being my theme song?
I could burn these insane diaries, or put them back where I found them, and nobody would ever be the wiser. So why have I decided to publish them and show the world just what a fucked-up, strung-out madman I was at the height of my success?
Well, it’s simple. If one person reads this book and doesn’t have to go down the same road as me, it was worth sharing my personal hell with them. I’m also donating profits from this book to help runaway kids at a charity I set up called Running Wild in the Night through Covenant House (www.covenanthouse.org and www.nikkisixx.net).
They say to keep what you have, you have to give it away. I believe that. I also believe that you can be cool as fuck, not give a fuck and fucking kick ass in life, and not be fucked up. I’m still the first person to say “Fuck you” but I’m faster to say “I love you.” If life is what you make it, I’ve made mine great. It took a lot of hard work and if you need to, you can do it too.
Last but not least, the lines I wrote in “Home Sweet Home” in 1985 are as true today as they were back then:
My heart’s like an open book For the whole world to read.
Welcome to my nightmare…
NAKKI SIX DECEMBER 2006
I first met Nikki Sixx on Valentine’s Day 1986. Mötley Crüe flew into London on the Theatre of Pain tour, I was writing for now-defunct British music magazine Melody Maker and we exchanged a few sweet nothings in an interview. Nikki wasn’t making too much sense: I went away thinking, That guy is wasted. By the end of the night, he had OD’d and been dumped in a rubbish bin. And that was when he really started going downhill…
Nearly twenty years later, Nikki asked me to work with him on The Heroin Diaries and I got greater insight into the abject mess that he called his life back then. When Nikki first showed me his remaining journal scribblings and scraps of paper from back then, I was horrified–and could not believe he is still alive. Some pages of Nikki’s diary were intact, many were not, but by scouring his memory and researching old notes and documents, we were able to fill in the black holes–and piece together the story of a man who, at the beating heart of an over-the-top rock band, was profoundly falling apart at the seams.
Nikki asked me to get the other sides of the horror story, so I sought out the people whose lives he was terrorizing back then–the Mötley band members who tolerated and/or feared him, the lovers who were sucked into his daily insanity, the estranged mother who longed to be close to him. Unsurprisingly, they had some pretty shitty things to say about the out-of-control junkie they knew back then, but Nikki wanted all the insults and the atrocities itemized in this book. I can think of no other rock star of his stature who would be so honest, or courageous.
The Heroin Diaries is not easy reading. It is a book that you will never forget.
ION GITTING DECEMBER 2006