20 Years after His Death, Motley Crue Bassist Nikki Sixx Writes a Book About The Worst Year of His Life
First there was Samuel Pepys, then Anaïs Nin, and now we have Nikki Sixx, whose book The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star is out September 18. Though it’s not as comprehensive an act of journal-keeping as his literary antecedents—it starts on Christmas Day 1986 and nods out 12 months later, not long after the December 1987 overdose that left him dead for a minute or so—Nikki has one up on his forbearers because his account comes with a musical accompaniment. Every copy of his confessional includes a CD of songs and readings featuring Sixx A.M., Nikki’s side band with James Michael and DJ Ashba.
“This has helped me grow roots,” says Nikki of his tome. “My life is so different [now]. I feel so connected. If I can pass my knowledge on without being a preacher or without getting on a soapbox, that would mean something. I’m just putting my experience out there and hoping you can learn something from it.” Sixx plans to give part of the proceeds to the charity he founded, Running Wild in the Night, aimed at helping runaway kids.
“I have had a bad night’s rest to-night, not sleeping well, as my wife observed, and once or twice she did wake me, and I thought myself to be mightily bit with fleas. But, when I rose, I found that it is only the change of the weather from hot to cold, which, as I was two winters ago, do stop my pores, and so my blood tingles and itches all day all over my body.” That’s an entry dated September 1664 from the diary of Samuel Pepys.
Here’s one of Nikki’s from September, 1987. “I got new sheets for the guest bed—I went in there and it smelled like cat pee. Not a very nice way for Karen to start her stay. I'm just hoping it’s not the mattress. Maybe I can spray something on it. I can’t believe I did freebase with Vanity all night. I threw her out at about 8 a.m. She was getting crazy and telling me about God.”
Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity—Vanity being Prince’s former backup singer and girlfriend, the woman around whom Prince assembled the all-female trio Vanity 6 in the early ’80s. During the year of these diaries she was Nikki’s lover, and she’s a major character in this book. If you read Motley Crue’s autobiography The Dirt, written with Neil Strauss, you already have some idea of the band’s attitude towards the majority of their girlfriends.
Of meeting Vanity, Nikki says he was doing cocaine and watching MTV with a pal, pointing out girls he’d like to, er, get to know better, when he spotted Vanity on screen. A call to the Motley office and he tracked down her phone number—common dating procedure for Sixx. She invited him over. When she “opened the door naked, with her eyes going around in her head,” he had “a feeling that we just might hit it off.”
These days Vanity is an Evangelical Christian, going by the name of Denise Matthews. She says now, “I would much rather be a fish stuck in a pond with a starving shark than take on such a foul name of nothingness.”
Matthews is one of the more than two-dozen friends, family, and associates interviewed by The Heroin Diaries co-writer, U.K. journalist Ian Gittins. The line-up also includes Motley, their managers, producers, record company people, Nikki’s grandfather, mother, sister, and headline-nabbing friends like Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick.
Dirt-style chunks of quotes from these people, and present-day comments from Nikki, pad out the sparse diary entries, as do lyrics from the Sixx A.M soundtrack CD and vivid, black-and-red, cool comic book illustrations. Winner of the Best Comment award has to go to Karen, another of Nikki’s girlfriends, who gamely stuck around in spite of the wet mattress incident: “After he’d died, Nikki didn’t want to do anything at Christmas.”
Though the book is highly entertaining, the serious truth is that Nikki took so much heroin on December 23, 1987, that his heart stopped beating. The overdose occurred during a stay at the Franklin Hotel in Hollywood, and Nikki had just visited a dealer in GNR drummer Steven Adler’s room, when he fell to the floor, turning blue. Nikki’s limo driver phoned in the news that his employer had died—Vince Neil says he was told of his bandmate’s death by both the driver and Motley’s tour manager. When the paramedics arrived, they shot Nikki in the heart with adrenaline and took him to hospital where finally, after a night working on him, he was brought back to life. When they let him go back home, he shot up. He was finally persuaded into rehab where, as he writes, he “found myself.”
And what he found, he writes, is “not to sound all warm and fuzzy but at this point in my life I was so happy every morning when I woke up that I was pissing smiley faces. I could go on and on and on but I think you get the point. Let’s face it; I can’t believe some of this myself. Oh hell let me brag, it’s my book after all.”
Perhaps essayist Anaïs Nin sums it up best in an entry dating October, 1947: “There are very few human beings who receive the truth, complete and staggering, by instant illumination. Most of them acquire it fragment by fragment, on a small scale, by successive developments, cellularly, like a laborious mosaic.”