I picked this book up for a fiver in HMV some time back and have now got around to reading it. My overall summary is that this reminded me very much of newly sober members of AA when they recount their story in a “chair” at a meeting (where someone starts the meeting off by talking about their experience). Essentially it’s a huge “drunkalog” in which the newly honest person needs to unburden all they can to their audience. It trundles along with references to bits out of sequence etc. and is like Slash has to get all this off his chest. It’s only in the last couple of pages that we get to his sobriety, the book was completed a couple of years back when Slash was just a year sober but the fruits of recovery are already bearing buds in those pages. For an old drunk like me (am I really that now?) I smiled ruefully at this. I think the boy has got it now and I wish him well on his sober path.
Whatever the point of the book was and it’s slightly disjointed style it is a very good insight into Slash and his point of view over all the GnR stuff. Let me put this straight right now, Appetite for Destruction wasn’t a bad album but I don’t get the “GnR are the best thing ever” type adoration they get in some quarters, an old singer in a band I was in almost dismissed every other band/singer as worthy of consideration as an influence. Welcome to the Jungle, Paradise City, Sweet Child ‘o Mine and Mr Brownstone… all very very good rock tracks, but as a band with a body of work groups like Metallica have done far more of note in my opinion. The Use Your Illusion thing was lost on me November Rain and Knocking on Heaven’s Door from around there were to me cringingly awful, sounded like a rock band trying to play at my sisters wedding to earn some money to get to the next let your hair down gig. Chinese Democracy has already dropped right off my play list and I think it’ll be in a charity bag before the year is out. Velvet Revolver Contraband was I feel better in the whole than any GnR record and Fall to Pieces just a brilliant song that is better than anything with Axl singing on it, that isn’t a go at Axl it’s just that to me that is the best GnR/Velvet Revolver song of all. So I’m not a dedicated fan of Slash and co.
How the hell they got anywhere is a bit of a bloody miracle when you read the book, by 19 Slash was already a Heroin addict and the first album nearly didn’t happen due to his habit, and other issues in the band with that kind of thing to be fair. Like Eric Clapton (and others I know) when he kicked the junk he simply sweated it all out for a couple of weeks and then… hit the booze! He then learnt he had to drink all day everyday to stop the alcohol withdrawal. Even after a somewhat ill thought through drug binge one night he famously nearly died however even that didn’t stop him and he continued with modified drug and drink habits for sometime further.
I found the book engaging in a “what the hell can happen next” kind of a way. It is very very honest, especially for a man with two young sons now. They will no doubt be told sooner or later about some of it’s contents but that is his life and his choice to put it out there publicly. You do get some insight into the man, he is a very distrustful and sometime obstinate character but still a very caring person on the other side, his love of animals comes through for example and his concern about others around him, Steve Adler for example.
One thing that was interesting for me in reading this was that I am very grateful that my musical exploits when I was younger were never successful. Reading this made me think about what the hell would have happened to me if I had pushed on in the music world rather than doing the sensible thing and getting a proper job. I just became an anonymous functioning alcoholic with a 9-5 job, nice car, semi-det house and a couple of kids. Reading about GnRs rollercoaster makes me realise that if I’d have found my way into a scene like that I very much doubt I’d be around now to read his account of it, I’d have been a major casualty on the way. And do you know today I’m really grateful for that.