Have You Read?: ‘Heroin Diaries’ a riveting, harrowing read | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Have You Read?: ‘Heroin Diaries’ a riveting, harrowing read

Lydia Chagolla

“The Heroin Diaries” by Nikki Sixx

In 1981, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Vince Neil got together to form a little band called Mötley Crüe. Combining elements of punk, glam and metal, Mötley Crüe quickly rose through the Los Angeles garage-band club circuit. Their first self-produced, self-released album, “Too Fast for Love,” was picked up by Elektra and distributed worldwide in 1982. While it only hit No. 77 on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States, it since has gone on to reach platinum status, as has almost every album that Mötley Crüe has released in the past 27 years.

At the height of their fame, there wasn’t a drug that Nikki Sixx wouldn’t do. While all his bandmates had problems with drugs and alcohol abuse, Sixx pushed it the hardest and the furthest. By the end of their Theater of Pain tour in 1986, he was well on his way to becoming a full-blown heroin junkie. After a show in London on Valentine’s Day, he overdosed and was left for dead in a Dumpster.

You would think that dying would have slowed him down, but it didn’t.

“The Heroin Diaries” chronicles a year in the life of Nikki Sixx, starting on Christmas Day 1986. Longtime friend Ian Gittins helped to put together piles of journals, random scraps of paper, notes and documents from this time period. Friends, family, bandmates, ex-girlfriends and a slew of others helped fill in the blanks by expanding on Sixx’s diary entries with their own memories of certain incidents, forming a cohesive picture of a man who was fundamentally falling apart.

His story is a lot like many others, starting with a broken home. His father disappeared when he was 3 years old. His mother was a drug user and alcoholic who often shuttled him off to live with his grandparents when she couldn’t be bothered with him. As a teenager, Sixx was arrested for vandalism and shoplifting, and was expelled from school for selling drugs.

At the age of 17, he struck out on his own to Los Angeles, where his plans for world domination via music finally came to fruition at the age of 23, when Mötley Crüe was formed.

The music and fans should have been enough, but they weren’t. Neither was the money or the women. In 1983, after crashing his Porsche in a drunken-driving incident and dislocating his shoulder, he started smoking heroin to numb the pain. It only got worse from there.

When Sixx wasn’t on tour, doing mass amounts of cocaine, pills and binge drinking, he usually was crouching in his closet with a needle in his arm, the carpet littered with bent spoons, bits of foil and burn marks. The heroin heightened his depression and brought about psychotic episodes and paranoid delusions. Often, Sixx would call friends in the middle of the night, barricaded in his mansion with a shotgun and raving about little men in helmets hiding in the trees.

By Christmas 1987, Sixx had overdosed and died once again before finally contemplating getting sober.

Since then, he has been married and divorced, started taking Prozac to help with his depression and chemical imbalances, made a lot of music, and is raising four children. He has been clean and sober for a long time. Despite the odds, Sixx is healthy, happy and still alive and creatively kicking – Mötley Crüe is touring this summer with their brand new album, “Saints of Los Angeles.”

Not only is Sixx’s memoir a riveting read, it also is a graphic work of art. Each page is laid out in stark black, white and red with scribbled text, old photos and drawings, making it look like the scrapbook of a madman – which, technically, it is. Sprinkled liberally throughout are random notes and song lyrics that help to illustrate his twisted frame of mind at the time.

Sixx’s new band, SIXX:A.M., released “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack” as a companion piece to the book, offering an unparalleled depth to this project. The book and album entered The New York Times best-seller list and Billboard top 200, respectively, at No. 7.

Twenty-five percent of the profits from the sales of the book will benefit Running Wild in the Night, a charity for runaway children that Sixx founded.

– Lydia Chagolla is an avid reader who enjoys sharing her reviews with the community.

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