[Review] The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star by Nikki Sixx
Updated: Nov 2, 2021
Set against the frenzied world of heavy metal superstardom, the co-founder of legendary Motley Crue offers an unflinching and gripping look at his own descent into drug addiction.
When Motley Crue were at the height of their fame, there wasn't a drug Nikki Sixx wouldn't do. He spent days - sometimes alone, sometimes with others addicts, friends and lovers - in a coke- and heroin-fuelled daze. THE HEROIN DIARIES reveals Nikki's personal diary entries alongside commentary from the people who know Nikki best including band mates Tommy, Vince and Mick. The book is a candid look at a nightmare come true: a punishing heroin addiction that brought Nikki to the edge of losing his talent, his career, his family and finally to a near-fatal overdose which left him clinically dead for a few minutes before being revived. Brutally honest, utterly riveting and shockingly moving, THE HEROIN DIARIES follows Nikki during the year he plunged to rock bottom and his courageous decision to pick himself up and start living again.
"What's this?!" I hear you cry, "Sam's reading a book that isn't history?!" Believe it or not occasionally I do indulge in something other than historical non fiction. I'll read a novel or two, or jump into a memoir. I was recommended this book by my dear friend Cat and, having been a long time fan of Motley Crue, I decided that I absolutely had to pick it up. Motley were a huge part of my teenage years - I discovered them because of the Murderdolls. Their bass player, Eric, had big hair and the black lines across his face and said in interviews that Nikki Sixx was his biggest inspiration. I had to know more, so off I went and then, the first time I heard Shout At The Devil I was hooked. I'd grown up on heavy metal but there was just something about the Crue that drew me in. They were dirty. They didn't give a shit. And I was in love.
Nikki Sixx's drug problems are well known. It's a dark story in the history of rock and roll - but like so many during the 80's, drugs were an accepted part of the scene. Sixx wasn't alone in his drug use - his band mates were involved too, as were his friends. But Sixx took it to the extreme and allowed it to control his life. This book is the story, in his own words, of the year that saw him hit rock bottom and try to go even deeper. It's a story not only of drug misuse, but of depression and debauchery. My friend said "This is a book that will make you either love or hate Nikki Sixx" - let me tell you, this book made me want to hug the absolute shit out of Nikki Sixx and tell him how proud I am.
The book is made up of diaries written by Sixx during 1986/87, and he holds nothing back. He tells every little sordid detail of what went on. What struck me particularly was how he would end up hidden in his closet after he had taken heroin, thinking that the police were out to get him or there were Mexican's hiding in trees outside his window. His paranoia grew to such an extent that he put shutters on his windows, only to then tear them off in another drug fuelled haze. Despite this he would continue to use - he knew it was bad, he knew that he wanted to stop but he was caught in a vicious cycle that turned him from "Nikki" into "Sikki". There were moments that he wouldn't shower for weeks, wondering what the point was because he would just get dirty all over again. Some of the stories he told made me feel physically sick, such as how at points he would use toilet water to make up some of what he would shoot up.
This is an insight into the mind of Nikki Sixx and goes into the reasons why he turned to drugs - his childhood was spent being shuttled from place to place thanks to his mother, how he was abandoned by his father, the loss of the sister that he never knew he had. He makes it clear that the drugs stopped him from thinking too deeply about it, and how it stopped the voices that were screaming in his head.
But the drugs got too much. He knew they were getting too much. His bandmates knew it was getting too much, but had become numb to it. He was offered rehab on multiple occasions but was too stubborn to go. It was only after a binge with Slash (of Guns n Roses) and he ended up dead in the back of an ambulance, that he knew it was time to stop. Nikki Sixx was lucky here, beyond lucky. He clawed his way out of that hole and got sober - of course there were times that he fell off the wagon, that's how addiction works unfortunately. But he did it. He got himself clean and treated the depression that had been plaguing him for so long. As such he was able to work on things with Motley. And he has been able to watch his children grow up, to raise them in the same way his own grandfather raised him.
There were times reading this book that I literally had tears in my eyes. Sixx's story is dark and it's upsetting, but it's also a story of rebirth. Not every addict is able to get themselves out of that hole, but Nikki Sixx has proven that it's possible to do so no matter how deep you are. It's also a real page turner - I couldn't put it down and because of that, because of staying up late reading on my kindle (thank you kindle paperwhite for allowing me to read in the dark), I was done with this book in just a couple of days. It really is an excellent book and one I would recommend to anyone, whether they are Motley fans or not. It's a true eye opener, and everyone needs to read it.