I stayed up all night reading Anthony Kiedis' Scar Tissue, an autobiography much more about one man’s coming to terms with his addictions than it is a book of being a rock and roll frontman.
The story is written in an engaging, conversational style, leaving the reader feel that a friend is telling them the story rather than reading it. There are several anecdotes relating to the life of a Rock Star but most of them are used to highlight either Kiedis’ inability to stay sober or his troubles with women. Also re-printed in the book are the lyrics to several of Red Hot Chili Peppers more notable songs, used to illustrate and expand the stories.
The reader learns about AK’s unusual upbringing and his first introductions to the worlds of sex and drugs and music. We travel between the wilds of early 70s Los Angeles where his father lived, dealing drugs and having stoner parties, and the far more mundane suburban Michigan where Kiedis’ mother lived, with a succession of bad men and more normal jobs.
The story begins in earnest when Kiedis moves to L.A. permanently, during his Jr. High school years. From there we begin to meet the more notable characters that figure through the rest of the book. Hilel and Flea and several others. We read about the early punk scene and the social scene of Hollywood in the late 70s and early 80s with plenty of names dropped in to add credence to the stories.
It was at that time that Kiedis began to use drugs heavily and where the story begins to be one of a life-long battle with addiction and self-destructive behaviour. Kiedis’ story takes him all over the world and through the ranks of rock stardom. It simultaneously takes him through the pain of heroin and cocaine addition and the loss of friends due to the same.
While all this is happening, Kiedis has a series of girlfriends, each more enchanting than the last, some famous, some not, and the story goes into details of how they met, fought, were cheated on, loved, and lost by Kiedis.
All in all, Scar Tissue is what you would expect by a rock-star autobiography, but I was most intrigued by the inclusion of the lyrics and the stories that brought them. While I enjoyed the book and found it to be a fascinating look at a life completely outside the norm, I think it would have been more worthwhile to spend more time on where the lyrics came from and how they became more personal over the years. Also, it would have been nice to have more anecdotes about the rest of the band members, but, as it is an auto-biography, I suppose those will have to wait for the band bio.
If you are a fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers, this book is definately worth picking up, but only if you are a fan. I can not see this one changing anyone’s mind if they were not previously inclined to like the Chili Peppers, but it is an honest and forthright book that should provide a few insights into Anthony Kiedis’ life for any fan.