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Review: Steven Adler’s “My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N’ Roses”

"My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N’ Roses"

Every misunderstood celebrity should write a tell-all book. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s a great way to give their fans and enemies a chance to see their side of the story with no interruptions. It’s also an inside look at the life of the celebrity/rockstar, with horny groupies, screaming, obsessed fans and non-stop attention.

In Steven Adler’s “My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N’ Roses,” he attempts to set the record straight, from his rough childhood to getting kicked out of his house as a youth and later as a part of one of  the most successful hard rock bands ever, GNR, and his notorious battle with drug abuse.

Before starting his story, Adler addresses why he decided to write a tell-all: to come clean and tell his side of a story that has been twisted across media channels over the past 20 years. He also makes it clear that the book isn’t a stab at his former bandmates, who he still loves, or else, including family and friends.

Adler’s story starts at his beginning when he was born in Cleveland in 1965. Soon the wild ride begins, featuring an abusive father, a quick move to California, being adopted by his mother’s boyfriend/future husband and later getting kicked out, and Adler’s days as an extreme wild child.

Adler’s motivations can be described in three words: sex, drugs and music. “And nothing focuses me or gets me going like chasing tail. Money, fame, status, power … nothing comes close to the pursuit of pussy.”

Although women are a big part, drugs, starting when he was first introduced to the drug culture in 1977 at age 12, take center stage, slowly sucking his life force dry.

Highlights of the book include his meeting Saul “Slash” Hudson in junior high and, of course, the forming of GNR. “That night, we all just happened to walk into one another’s lives, with no idea what lay ahead. I wish I could say that it was like lightning struck, but the truth is that it was just a random get-together to see what could be germinating.”

Germinate indeed.

“We never did anything the sane, sensible way. We never went by the rules and never conformed to an accepted path to success. The way we came up with our songs, insisted on total artistic freedom, the way we practiced and played — no one did it like we did.”

Steven Adler

When he talked about forming GNR, I flashed back to my youth, sitting in a room with the shades drawn, MTV blaring “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and my sister screaming at the top of her lungs, “I love you Axl!” I loved Adler’s behind-the-scenes view, blurring the glamour and media-fed image and sharpening it with his view from behind the drums. GNR “carved their own path to glory” and performed songs that described their lives, what was going on in the late ‘80s L.A. culture.

As the story continues, chock-full with non-stop sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll, Adler is the first to admit that all his mistakes, from overdosing 28 times, to being a zombie/junkie, to going to jail … everything was his own doing. “I’m the undisputed all-time booze-chugging, pill-cobbling, drug-shooting, Katrina-caliber fuckup. Throughout my wretched life there isn’t a friend, family member or fantastic opportunity that I haven’t shoved into a blender and mutilated.”

Throughout his drug haze, doing everything from shooting up heroin to smoking crack and pot, Adler recalls it all. Everything that the media has been obsessed with, from substance abuse to drama with the infamously difficult Axl Rose, is covered. Adler also discussed his meetings with other rock gods, including Alice Cooper, Steven Tyler, and Tommy Lee.

Adler’s story ends with his public stints on “Celebrity Rehab” and “Sober House” with Dr. Drew and his never-ending battle to stay clean. Maybe he’s trying to make a quick buck. Maybe he’s trying to stay relevant in ADD Hollywood or feed his ego. I don’t know. What I do know is that this book is a page-turning, raw look into ’70-‘90s rock-and-roll culture and an inside look at one of the most iconic rock bands in the world.

Maybe it’s all lies. Adler sure has a good memory after all the drugs he’s done; nonetheless, his story is compelling, tragic and funny. This book is a good read for all the lovers and the haters out there and also for the younger population, to see the real side of the often glamorized culture of celebrity/rockstar. There’s nothing like reading a play-by-play of Adler OD’ing on heroin to make you feel better about your life. People are quick to tell you about their highs, but what about their lows? — Kate Vendetta