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Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll ...And Books! Stereoboard Look At Some Of The Genre's Best Reads (Feature)

Monday, 21 May 2012 Written by Heather McDaid
Sex, Drugs & Rock N Roll ...And Books! Stereoboard Look At Some Of The Genre's Best Reads (Feature)

I’m rather rubbish about writing about myself, so much so that my bio on every site is “I just like rock ‘n’ roll and books to be honest.” It pretty much sums me up. I’ve always loved the classic cliché of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – not to the point of mindlessly living it - but I like to read up on the real heyday of those scandals, the era that typified the slogan that’s synonymous with my favourite genre.

There’s something about that era and rock ‘n’ roll that’s always grabbed my attention. So, over my years of getting books as presents, my friends and family have done well in funding my rock ‘n’ roll book collection (although I assure you this is just a small subsection!). So, I thought with the three headings already established, I could offer some books fitting for each.


I’m With The Band: Confessions of a Groupie – Pamela Des Barres. Groupies are pretty much synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll and it seems if you can become a ‘pro’ at it, it’s something that will overshadow achievements later in life. Pamela’s Wikipedia page even describes her as “a former rock ‘n’ roll groupie, author and magazine writer”. The blurb alone sums up why she’s so acclaimed, citing she has “dallied with Mick Jagger, turned down a date with Elvis Presley, had affairs with Keith Moon and Noel Redding, hung out with Jim Morrison, and travelled with Led Zeppelin as Jimmy Page’s girlfriend.” That’s just a fraction of it. While there are some details here and there, this books gives you an insight into some band members’ lives from an angle you’d probably never see it. While sex is naturally involved, some names you’d expect to be distant lotharios turn out to be more caring than you’d expect. Pamela details an era many can’t remember or weren’t there to witness, from inside the circles of rock ‘n’ roll.

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage – Roxana Shirazi. This is similar to Pamela’s book, yet is far more open and scandalous. She says the word slut has negative connotations and women seeking the same pleasures of men are viewed far differently; in turn, she wants to reclaim the word as something positive through her own story. In her book she details her life as a child in Iran, her move to England at a young age and how she fell in love with the notion of rock ‘n’ roll, though few lived up to the ideals. The book details a mix of modern rock stars and classics: a member of one of my favourite bands is part of the strangest encounter in the book (I won’t mention which, but if you read the book it’s probably the one that makes you go “WHAT?”), while Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue reportedly took her on a date and spoke about his gardening.

Sex Tips From Rock Stars – Paul Miles. It’s exactly what it sounds like. He basically took a group of rock stars and asked them a lot of questions about sex. Ever wondered how much foreplay Andrew W.K. thinks is optimum? It’s in this book. (For the record, he says it can be an entire date...) Ever wanted to ask Lemmy the weirdest place he’s had sex? Another ‘for the record’ – it was on top of a photobooth in Chester Station during rush hour. The blurb notes it’s “titillating, weirdly informative and thoroughly entertaining.” That pretty much sums it up – you can take your own little notes from this book if you want, but in reality it’s just quite fun to read. Sex is synonymous with rock ‘n’ roll, so why did it take so long to start asking rock stars about it?


The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Live of a Shattered Rock Star – Nikki Sixx. Some books can reflect on past dealings with drugs, yet few deal with it as it happens. Nikki Sixx has literally printed a diary of one of the darkest years of his life, depicting his battles with depression and addiction. Although it will have been cleaned up at points by an editor, you get to read how he viewed it all at the time, with added reflective commentary. Furthermore, he asks people mentioned in diary entries to reflect on those occurrences and bring the punches. While Nikki is honest throughout, so are all those who contributed, regardless of how harsh they are. It’s printed with blood spatters across pages, random scribbles and a variety of styles. It feels like a diary and it feels far more personal than a regularly styled book.

ImageSlash – Slash. Technically, this could fit into all categories but with the legendary guitarist’s drug use being widely documented and excessive it felt most fitting. His autobiography details his battles with addiction to heroin, cocaine, alcohol, pills... That's just a few. He's had his fair share of close calls with death and it’s all laid out for fans to read. You’ll hear of his take on everything, right down to the obvious subject of interest: Guns N’ Roses. As we all know, Slash cleaned his act up after years of substance abuse, but to this day says he regrets none of it, noting he doesn’t believe in having regrets.

Wonderland Avenue – Danny Sugerman. The book’s tagline is ‘Tales of Glamour and Excess’ and it certainly lives up to the title. As a young boy, he inadvertently became Jim Morrison’s protégé, going on to manage them in his later teens before doing the same for Iggy Pop. While it details all factors of his life at the time, including his volatile family situation, the main focus is how he succumbed to the excess surrounding his position. In turn, he developed a drug habit so severe that at age 21 he was given a mere week to live. What’s interesting about this book is that, for a change, it’s not the rock star drug addict in question – this is someone introduced to the scene at an early age and who fell in love with excess. It’s hard to do this book justice; it’s definitely my favourite on the list. This might have done it a disservice, but it’s most certainly worth a read.


The Dark Stuff – Nick Kent. This book basically profiles numerous people involved in rock ‘n’ roll by recounting interviews with the person in question at times, or many interviews with people surrounding them. It paints pictures of various people that you’ve not heard before. Sid Vicious is described as many things, he’s considered a cult icon to many, yet Nick succinctly sums him up as ‘The exploding dim wit’ in his chapter title. Not all his profiles fall with public opinion, yet all seem justified as more people give their unique input.

The Mammoth Book of Sex, Drugs & Rock ‘N’ Roll – Jim Driver. This is a collection of articles and essays on different periods, factors and people within rock ‘n’ roll. The bulk of the book is a timeline spanning from blues music through to the likes of the Kate Moss and her “Prince Alarming” Pete Doherty. It has sub-sections for those killed unexpectedly, such as John Lennon or Dimebag, and ‘Brushed with the Law and Anti-Social Behaviour’, which features people from Gary Glitter to Axl Rose and Ozzy Osbourne. It’s an overview of all factors: the changes of the music over time, the excessive drug use, the scandal and the rock ‘n’ roll attitude. It deals with some people who aren’t necessarily considered rock ‘n’ roll nowadays, such as Madonna, but it does all seem to fit together perfectly.

Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll – John Harris. When a book describes itself as ‘the ultimate guide to the music, the myths and the madness’, it sets a high bar for itself. It acts as a guide to a number of random subsections in music; one details classic onstage props, including AC/DC’s cannons and the Beastie Boys’ famous giant penis. It has things like classic Gibson guitar details, tattoos, hair styles, big news stories, history of festivals and much more. This book really is a guide to a mass of elements of rock ‘n’ roll, concisely executed and with pretty neat drawings of those involved throughout.

These are just nine books related to aspects of rock ‘n’ roll, but there are many, many more. Either way, all are worth a read.

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