One of the most appealing aspects of Neil Strauss’ The Dirt was the way all four members of Mötley Crüe’s distinctive personalities leapt off the page. Arguably the least likeable persona portrayed was frontman Vince Neil, who has released his own memoirs (after you’ve read the introduction, you’ll understand why dubbing it an “autobiography” is stretching the truth somewhat) a decade later.
Neil knows more than most about “old rock stars falling hard” – from the stunning heights of the band’s 80s commercial peak, to splitting from the Crüe and experiencing considerable personal tragedy. The reader gains enhanced insights into the vocalist’s upbringing and overall he is conveyed as a slightly more personable figure than depicted in The Dirt. The most fascinating passages detail his relationship breakdowns with band mates Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee. Neil – who openly admits to not being a “deep” individual – underlines in detail how the always-dysfunctional band has reverted to being purely a business venture due to the complete dissolution of their friendships. Both cop a hammering – only guitarist Mick Mars emerges relatively unscathed within the Crüe ranks. As pointed out in painstaking detail on several occasions, Neil is more enthused by his solo band and business ventures than Mötley Crüe activities and one strongly gets the impression their latest album Saints of Los Angeles wasn’t exactly a labour of love.
The inclusion of recollections from band mates, managers, family members and even ex-wives doesn’t always paint a flattering picture of the vocalist, but some credit is due for not sugarcoating his public persona. Despite all of the fruits of his labour that he continues to enjoy, one finishes Tattoos & Tequila wondering if Neil is completely content; he’s still haunted by numerous demons. You likely won’t come away from it liking Neil and his Titanic-sized ego any more than beforehand, but at least the reader gains some understanding of his motives.