Sarah Burke hosts the Weekend Top 10 Saturday & Sunday at 6pm
FM96 Top 10 Rock Reads
Some of rock’s greatest stories come straight from the source – a frontman or woman, a bass player, a tour manager, a band photorgrapher or promoter. Sometimes, that story might be found in a rock memoir or autobiography. Sometimes a musician will hand their story over to a colleague in the industry, thinking they might tell the story better with their help. Sometimes it’s an oral history; sometimes it’s an illustrated history. Think about how much better a story about Mötley Crüe in the 80s sounds coming from Nikki Sixx himself as told in The Heroin Diaries or Tommy Lee‘s account of what happened backstage one night as told in The Dirt. Reading a first-hand account of how a twelve-year old Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers smoked marijuana for the first time with his father on the couch beside him…There’s something so special about reading the story Jimmy Page tells about how he wrote Led Zeppelin‘s Friends on his balcony, or what kind of day the band was having July 7th, 1980 when John Bonham played his last show. There is something that’s still so powerful about cracking open a book and getting lost in the mind of one of your favourite rockstars. Come together bookworms, we might as well call this week’s Top 10 FM96 Bookclub. Enjoy,
- #1 Mötley Crüe The Dirt 
- #2 Slash Slash
- #3 Anthony Kiedis Scar Tissue 
- #4 Jimmy Page Jimmy Page 
- #5 I am Ozzy 
- #6 AC/DC The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC 
- #7 Pearl Jam Pearl Jam Twenty 
- #8 Steven Tyler Does The Noise in My Head Bother You? 
- #9 Kurt Cobain Heavier Than Heaven 
- #10 Keith Richards Life 
#1 Mötley Crüe: The Dirt - Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band 
There’s a few really good Mötley Crüe reads out there but #1 has got to go to Mötley Crüe: The Dirt – Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band.
This book will also become a film by director Jeff Tremaine, a name you’ll recognize from Jackass and Bad Grandpa.
From an interview with Rolling Stone after The Final Tour was announced:
Nikki, you mentioned The Dirt movie. What scene from your book are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?
Sixx: The “squirting” scene in the opening.
Neil: I don’t know how they’re gonna do that, freeze frame.
Sixx: You’re supposed to freeze-frame cum? Is it cum? We’ve never really understood what squirting really is.
Lee: It’s pee.
Sixx: It’s pee. OK. So we’ll freeze-frame pee like Goodfellas.
Neil: Kind of like The Matrix.
Sixx: We’ll have narration over it. That’s what I’m looking for. Even our producers go, “We’re really going to try to put this in the film, but we doubt it will make it.”
Lee: Nikki and I went to a table read and it was so f*cking surreal. Especially when the movie opens like that, you go, “Oh, my God, if it opens like this, this is f*ckin’ nuts.” That was really a trip. [Director] Jeff Tremaine‘s vision is to really recreate…
Mick Mars: In 3-D…
Lee: He wants to make it as real as possible. He’s really detail-oriented. He’s like, it’s going to be down to the cars you see on the street, the telephones from the Eighties, the lights. The outfits. You’re going to feel like you’re in that time period, and he wanted a lot of stuff. There will be a lot of P.O.V. stuff where you’ll be in Vince’s head, in Nikki’s head while it was going down.
Sixx: I’m going to be really sorry that I wore that “Beetlejuice” outfit at that time. [All laugh] It was a great idea.
Mars: You had a matching guitar.
Have you been involved in casting at all?
Sixx: No, our belief is – and I think it’s the same for Jeff – is to have good, young unknown actors.
Lee: He’s a huge fan, too. So I feel like it’s somewhat protected.
Is there anything from the book you don’t want to see onscreen?
Sixx: [long pause] It’s all good.
“I’ve always believed that it’s a cross between Goodfellas and maybe Boogie Nights,”Nikki Sixx said in an interview with Rolling Stone in 2011 after they had abandoned a deal with MTV Films.
After a read-through of the script, Tommy Lee told Billboard he anticipated a “triple R” rating for the film.
Another great Mötley Crüe read is Nikki Sixx: The Heroin Diaries 
In one of the most unique memoirs of addiction ever published, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx shares mesmerizing diary entries from the year he spiraled out of control in a haze of heroin and cocaine, presented alongside riveting commentary from people who were there at the time, and from Nikki himself.
The book begins with a short medical dictionary with real definitions, followed by Nikki’s version of those same words.
#2 Slash 
It seems excessive…but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Slash and Anthony Bozza come together to tell stories from a time when GNR only had to find an after-party so they’d have a place to crash. From his birth to having a cardioverter-defibrillator put in his heart when he was 35 years old, from writing Paradise City in the back of a van to Velvet Revolver…
“There’s no shortage of Sunset Strip metal-sleaze gossip books out there, including other GNR memoirs – see Steven Adler’s My Appetite for Destruction or Duff McKagan’s It’s So Easy (And Other Lies). But Slash’s book is one of a kind, surprisingly reflective and wise yet hilariously blasé about all his decadence. Low point: Slash collapses during a hotel drug binge and gets rushed to the hospital, where the doctors restart his heart. He complains, “I had no remorse whatsoever about my overdose – but I was pissed off at myself for having died. The whole hospital excursion really ate into my day off.”
#3 Anthony Kiedis Scar Tissue 
I read this book front to back in two days flat on the beach in Cuba, I really couldn’t put it down. Anthony Kiedis wrote this with Larry Sloman, starting in Michigan in 1974. He was going to move to California to live with his dad and told everyone around him he’s going to become a star. From his first time smoking marijuana with his dad at twelve years old to his first experiences with the female body, it’s honest and real and steals the name from a song you’ve heard over and over again.
#4 Jimmy Page 
Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page is a visual documentary of his contributions to music.
Some other great Led Zeppelin reads include:
#5 I am Ozzy 
“They’ve said some crazy things about me over the years. I mean, okay: ‘He bit the head off a bat.’ Yes. ‘He bit the head off a dove.’ Yes. But then you hear things like, ‘Ozzy went to the show last night, but he wouldn’t perform until he’d killed fifteen puppies . . .’ Now me, kill fifteen puppies? I love puppies. I’ve got eighteen of the f**king things at home. I’ve killed a few cows in my time, mind you. And the chickens. I shot the chickens in my house that night.
It haunts me, all this crazy stuff. Every day of my life has been an event. I took lethal combinations of booze and drugs for thirty f**king years. I survived a direct hit by a plane, suicidal overdoses, STDs. I’ve been accused of attempted murder. Then I almost died while riding over a bump on a quad bike at f**king two miles per hour.
People ask me how come I’m still alive, and I don’t know what to say. When I was growing up, if you’d have put me up against a wall with the other kids from my street and asked me which one of us was gonna make it to the age of sixty, which one of us would end up with five kids and four grandkids and houses in Buckinghamshire and Beverly Hills, I wouldn’t have put money on me, no f**king way. But here I am: ready to tell my story, in my own words, for the first time.
A lot of it ain’t gonna be pretty. I’ve done some bad things in my time. I’ve always been drawn to the dark side, me. But I ain’t the devil. I’m just John Osbourne: a working-class kid from Aston, who quit his job in the factory and went looking for a good time.”
#6 The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC 
Author Jesse Fink has been on the show before and his divorce lead him to put on an AC/DC record and write this book. The Youngs hardly ever do press and for this reason, this book collects stories from former band members, tour managers, and the guy who designed the AC/DC logo and hasn’t been paid for any royalties since the first sketch.
#7 Pearl Jam Pearl Jam Twenty 
Pearl Jam Twenty is a celebration and chronicle of the first twenty years of the band with a huge list of contributors including all band members, Neil Young, Chris Cornell, Jerry Cantrell, Pete Townsend, Bruce Springsteen, Nancy Wilson, Ian Mackaye, producers and friends, with a forward by Cameron Crowe, who is also behind the film.
#8 Steven Tyler: Does The Noise in My Head Bother You? 
Aerosmith played their first gig ever this week in 1970, 35 years ago. They set up at Nipmuc Regional High School in Mendon, Massachusetts as their peers called them The Bad Boys From Boston. Frontman Steven Tyler released a memoir in 2011. Inside the cover:
“There was a gap out there in the zit-pocked heart of the teenage wasteland and we were determined to fill it. We were the real thing – Hard rock, booty-shaking music with nasty lyrics…I lived by the old rock star manual: Wretched excess in dandified duds.”
He wrote his own semi-prologue. The first words you’ll read are:
If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail
If you’re a singer, everything looks like a song.
Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile…We’re not quantified; there’s no chart of desire. When the roaring flames of your heart have burned down to embers, may you find that you have married your best friend. Hunch, conjecture, instinct…a blind allegiance to anything can get you killed, and always rememeber…sing as though no one can hear you; live as though heaven is here on Earth. Here I want to say something deep and meangingless, like, ‘To thine own self be true,’ but in truth, the first thing we had to do is KILL ALL THE LAWYERS.
#9 Kurt Cobain Heavier Than Heaven 
This biography came out in 2001, written by veteran music journalist, Charles R. Cross. He takes his knowledge of the Seattle music scene and more than four hundred interviews conducted over four years with access to Kurt Cobain’s diaries, lyrics, and family photos. He starts when Kurt was a kid in a trailer just outside of Aberdeen, Washington and follows his journey to fame.
Cross has also written Led Zeppelin; Shadows Taller Than Our Souls and Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix.
#10 Keith Richards: Life 
Let’s start with an autobiography that was #1 on the New York Times Hardcover Nonfiction best-seller list this week five years ago – a book by Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards who’s lighting a cigarette on the front cover, holding his right hand over his face showing off his famous skull ring. Inside the front cover, he proves us wrong:
This is the Life. Believe it or not, I haven’t forgotten any of it.
It’s hard to believe this book is non-fiction! His story begins with that time the Stones got pulled over by police officiers in Arkansas during their 1975 US tour.
Rolling Stones on the police menu across the United States. Every copper wanted to bust us by any means available, to get promoted and patriotically rid America of these little fairy Englishmen…Open season on the Stones had been declared since our last tour, the tour of ’72, known as the STP. The State Department had noted riots (true), civil disobedience (also true), illicit sex (whatever that is), and violence across the United States…We had been inciting youth to rebellion, we were corrupting America, and they had ruled never to let us travel in the United States again…We, in turn, they told our lawyer officially, were the most dangerous rock-and-roll band in the world.
Journalist James Fox, who has known Keith Richards since the early 1970s writing for the Sunday Times in London, helps tell the story.
Some Additional Recommendations
Ten is a small number. Here are some other suggestions from rock ‘n roll readers close to FM96:
Written by former Johnny Rotten on The Sex Pistols
“England’s most notorious rock critic…he could do drugs with Keith Richards, get murder threats from John Bonham, do drugs with Iggy, date Chrissie Hynde, do drugs with Lemmy, get chain-whipped to a bloody pulp by Sid Vicious, do a lot more drugs. You might believe about half the stories here, at best; Kent likes to brag about how many famous songs were written about him.
I’ve had the pleasure to speak with author Greg Renoff: