In Scar Tissue Anthony Kiedis, charismatic and highly articulate frontman of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, recounts his remarkable life story, and the history of the band itself.
Raised in the Midwest, he moved to LA aged eleven to live with his father Blackie, purveyor of pills, pot, and cocaine to the Hollywood elite. After a brief child-acting career, Kiedis dropped out of U.C.L.A. and plunged headfirst into the demimonde of the L.A. underground music scene. He formed the band with three schoolfriends – and found his life’s purpose. Crisscrossing the country, the Chili Peppers were musical innovators and influenced a whole generation of musicians.
But there’s a price to pay for both success and excess and in Scar Tissue, Kiedis writes candidly of the overdose death of his soul mate and band mate, Hillel Slovak, and his own ongoing struggle with an addiction to drugs.
Scar Tissue far transcends the typical rock biography, because Anthony Kiedis is anything but a typical rock star. It is instead a compelling story of dedication and debauchery, of intrigue and integrity, of recklessness and redemption.
|Borrowed||Paperback||465||Sphere||Autobiography (Music)||November 3rd, 2005|
I’m fairly certain everyone knows a song by RHCP?! I haven’t been a diehard, dedicated fan myself but when I was in a band (vocals), we did cover By the Way; my favorite song is probably Otherside and the first song I ever learned to play on the drums was Snow. I do love an authobio, especially by someone who isn’t a pop/mainstream character, so when someone I know offered me their copy for a read, I gladly accepted.
Not going to lie, I struggled with the first 100 pages of the book. There’s always this thing with autobios and how they ‘feel’. The writing usually tends to be quite authentic and I always feel like I am meeting a new person when I read an autobio because they all come with their unique voice and way of presentation of thoughts and memories. But once I got going, there was no stopping. On the first page of the book, I shook hands with Anthony and said Hi. He then shared a lot of detail about his childhood and it’s important because that’s really the foundation, isn’t it?!
I didn’t know what to make of it all at first. Anthony seemed to me like he didn’t really care about anything at all, other than getting high&wasted, laid&loved. As long as there was fun to be had with various substances, he was game. I do wonder what would have come of him if music hadn’t become such a big part of his life, because in some ways it grounded him. So, yeah, while I was shocked at the lifestyle he was allowed and encouraged by his father to pursue as a child, I found myself thinking I may end up not liking the dude at all by the end of this book. And I think herein lies the beauty of this particular autobio- I was presented with cold, harsh truths by someone who couldn’t sit still in a bottle, someone who actively sought the destruction and adrenaline/cocaine/heroin high and yet I ended up coming out from the other end by trying to understand and even have a certain amount of respect for the guy.
Ultimately, this book is about addiction and the affect it had on everything. On health, on friendships, intimate relationships, the band, family… The symbiosis and parasitism that goes hand in hand when substance addiction is in the mix in between any kind of relationship. And it’s freaking sad and heartbreaking. Not to mention deadly. The moment I read about Hillel’s death I felt a sense of loss, too. All the memories Anthony shared of his friendship with Hillel had resonated. Which leads me to my next point…
Addiction does not define a person. And I learned this thanks to this book. Because Anthony does have one of the most beautiful souls. His friends and bandmates, all of the people he knew (and the list of people he knew and hung out with is impressive to say the least!) and interacted with, his girlfriends, his close and extended family members- he had nothing, and I mean nothing, but good things to speak about each of them. There was a lot of hurt and heartache to go around, for sure. But his bandmates were his brothers. All of his girlfriends were angels to him and he adored and worshipped each and every one of them. I was, frankly, in awe over how much of Anthony’s viewpoint of life revolved around acceptance, love and freedom.
What this book also made me feel was, that no matter how broken a person, and if you love them, you just can’t give up on them at the first sign of crisis. You can’t ignore or turn your back. Because, we’re all a bit fucked up, one way or another. It also just drove the point home even further that, no, you can’t make a person to change their ways and just sign into a rehab, but you can guide. They themselves will have to want to get better, to get healthier, to live life to the full again, and all that others can do to help is just show the other side of addiction to make them want that, too. But of course, it’s not all that black and white… I’m not an expert on addiction, but this is what Anthony’s journey highlighted to me as one of the aspects.
I love music and I have a set of bands that I listen to religiously. But I have never been the kind of person to pay much attention towards the band members’ personal lives (unless I read an autobio, of course. That’s when my world opens up! ha!). I don’t go digging around a band’s detailed history of member statuses, etc. I never really cared, I just wanted the music. I remember maggots (Slipknot fanbase) trying to figure out who the new guy was under the mask after Paul died. Absolutely, no disrespect, but I could not care less… does it matter who’s under the mask? They’re in the band, they play and they give me music- that’s all that matters. I don’t need to know their full name, marital status and personal security number and whatever other gossip the tabloids manage to dig up. As such, going back to RHCP, it was really, truly interesting how the band itself transformed throughout the years. How they worked together, the dynamics, the challenges and all the highs&lows.
When I compare this book and the main man behind it with all the others I have read from the same industry (Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy Kilmister, Corey Taylor), I can say that Anthony stands out in his own way. Yes, they have all had their unreal-how-crazy-lives and childhoods, they can share stories that are the stuff of legends and most of the times they manage to surprise you with their intelligence and a completely different layer to the human being that they are behind the showbiz. But Anthony is the one who managed to bare his soul with the book. What makes him who he is, his essence has been well and truly captured and delivered.