Ban this Sixx filth !!!
Thought Mötley Crüe's biog The Dirt was the ultimate rock read ??? Pah! Ian Gittins helped bassist Nikki Sixx write his gruesome journals. Those of a nervous disposition, look away now ...
Saturday October 27, 2007
GuardianOn Valentine's Day 1986, I interviewed Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe for now-defunct music magazine Melody Maker. Both were wasted, and Sixx was particularly incoherent: by the end of the day, he had OD'd on heroin and been dumped in a wheelie bin by a panicking dealer before miraculously recovering.
Nearly 20 years later, I was to receive a phone call out of the blue from Sixx that led to one of the most surreal biographical commissions since Boswell latched on to Dr Johnson. "Dude", the bassist asked me, "will you help me tell the story of how I died?"
I flew to Los Angeles and spent the next few weeks sitting with the tattooed, intense-but-likable Sixx by his swimming pool, poring over old journals and yellowing scraps of paper. The story they told was remarkable, disturbing - and, ultimately, utterly bizarre.
In the late-80s, Mötley Crüe were stadium-filling heavy metal colossi and a major influence on the emerging Guns N' Roses. Yet at the band's heart, co-founder and sole songwriter Sixx was an abject junkie, a melancholic depressive... and an idiosyncratic and obsessive diary-keeper.
His diary entries chronicled a dual and scarcely feasible life. In the throes of addiction, the troubled Sixx would stumble from the stage of Madison Square Garden or the LA Forum to the walk-in closet of his bedroom, where he would spend all night hallucinating as he injected heroin and cocaine into his arms, his neck or, frequently, his penis.
"I feel like my skin is rotting off me," he noted on November 18, 1987. "I smell like shit and my shit has more and more traces of blood in it. I feel like I'm about to burst into tears at any minute." His entry of May 15 was even more direct: "I have a pile of clothes in the closet with shit all over them."
This was harrowing stuff - and yet the tone was not always so morbid. There were copious moments of unintentional comedy: "I called the hotel front desk last night and complained about our fans banging on my window," Sixx noted in Tokyo as the Crüe toured Japan. "Fuck - I'm on the 26th floor."
Sixx's hideous 1987 diaries were utterly compelling, but my role was not limited to helping him render them legible. The bassist asked me to talk to his former friends, lovers and musical peers so that their barbed memories could punctuate his book.
Crüe drummer Tommy Lee was my first point of call for vintage tales of narcotic heroism, and he did not disappoint.
"I was a party animal back then, sure, but Sixx was out there," Lee reflected, from the rare personal vantage point of the moral high ground. "He always wanted to try to mix up drugs to see how far out there he could get.
"I'll never forget being in a hotel in Canada with him. We ran out of blow and stayed up all night shooting up Jack Daniel's. We were so fucked, we totally forgot we could just drink it."
Now sober for many years, Sixx was determined that his drug-fuelled transgressions should be painted in the most candid and harshest light. Luckily, his family, friends and ex-lovers were happy to oblige. Mötley Crüe's 1987 manager Doc McGhee recalled frenzied early hours phone calls as the wired bassist suffered paranoid, freebase-coke-induced panic attacks.
"Nikki was always seeing Mexicans and midgets running around his house," he told me. "Or the LA police department would call me because his neighbour had phoned them to report that he was crawling around his garden in the middle of the night with a shotgun. It would be bad enough if it happened once, but this shit was going on twice every week."
In private, Sixx was a sorry mess. In public, he was a monster. Photographer Ross Halfin told me of a 43-man gangbang of a willing Crüe fan after a Toronto show: "For some reason, Nikki wanted to be nice to me, so he let me go before him."
Mötley Crüe's A&R man, Tom Zutaut, talked of taking his new girlfriend backstage to meet the band before a gig. "Within three minutes, Nikki had bent her over a table and done her," he said. I asked Sixx to confirm this had happened. "I'm sure it did," he nodded. "But I can't remember."
"I just took a handful of pills. If I'm lucky, maybe I won't wake up," Sixx wrote in his diary on November 23, 1987. His smack- and coke-fuelled debauchery was to end exactly one month later when he OD'd in LA. Paramedics pronounced him dead before, somehow, the defibrillator rebooted him one last time.
"I was there when Nikki died and I couldn't see what all the fuss was about," Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash told me. "I used to do it all the time."
"After I died, when I got home I went straight to my answering machine and changed my message," Sixx laughed as we sat by his pool in the LA sunshine. "I said, 'Hey, it's Nikki. I'm not here because I'm dead'. Then I shot up again"
"Do you know what? Thinking back on things, I think that I had definitely been overdoing it".
· The Heroin Diaries by Nikki Sixx with Ian Gittins is out now
The joy of Sixx
Choice entries from Nikki's journal
February 17, 1987
"Today I didn't drink, mostly because I'm pissing blood again. I think I've done pretty good today."
March 4, 1987
"My arms are fucked and it's getting harder and harder to find a good vein in my feet. Tonight I sat in my closet injecting into my neck with a shaving mirror."
March 19, 1987
"I just took a shit and realised yet again that I haven't bought toilet paper in weeks..."
April 8, 1987
"Here I sit. Alone again. Needle in my arm. Playing the fucking victim yet again - or is it the martyr?"
October 14, 1987
"People... everywhere... there seems to be nowhere to hide, not even on the inside..."
November 20, 1987
"Slash and me sat at the hotel bar and got smashed. He threw up spaghetti all over the bar then ordered another drink."