By Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman. H.B. Fenn & Company. 480 pp, $34.95, hardcover.
Anthony Kiedis has never made a secret of his fondness for drugs. "Under the Bridge", his biggest hit with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was inspired by shooting heroin below a freeway in Los Angeles, and, as has been well documented, the freak flag-flying frontman has been in and out of rehab enough times to impress Scott Weiland. What Kiedis has never done, until now, is reveal just how bad a junkie he was. Only a committed addict would-unable to score heroin-melt a tab of acid in a teaspoon of vodka and then bang home the drug cocktail. It's this devotion to getting high that makes Scar Tissue as fascinating as it is shocking.
Along with cowriter Larry Sloman, Kiedis sets the tone with the book's first sentence: "I'd been shooting coke for three days straight with my Mexican drug dealer, Mario, when I remembered the Arizona show." From there, things flash back to the singer's childhood, spent bouncing between divorced parents, one of them in Michigan and the other in Los Angeles. The City of Angels-home to Kiedis's father, a struggling actor/dope dealer named Blackie-is where the partying starts. With six days out of seven looking like Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, the future Pepper proves that kids are indeed impressionable creatures. By Grade 7, he's experimenting with booze, pot, Quaaludes, and acid. His first snort of nose candy comes at age 13, after which he quickly decides that injecting it leads to a better high. At 19-while attending UCLA by day and catching shows by Black Flag and the Circle Jerks by night-Kiedis tries heroin for the first time. It will take him nearly two decades and countless attempts to get clean. What's most interesting about Scar Tissue is that he makes no apologies and expresses almost no regrets for what he's done. Kiedis is convinced that everything in life happens for a reason, and therefore no experience should be taken for granted.
Scar Tissue isn't all about the drugs. The singer's other obsession is sex, and despite what you might think of people who kiss and tell, his bedroom exploits help make for a page turner. Kiedis pops his cork at age 11 with a girlfriend of Blackie, who arranges the liaison at his son's request. Over the course of the book no relationship is left unaccounted for. When he's not bedding the semifamous actress Ione Skye, the Pepper indulges in the perks that come with being a rock star, including butt-fucking starstruck groupies in the hallways of Sunset Strip nightclubs.
Somewhere between the sex and drugs, there's the story of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Formed when L.A.'s legendary early-'80s punk scene was at its zenith, the band was never expected to amount to much. When Kiedis first picked up the mike, he was painfully aware he couldn't sing, instead choosing to ape the rap-speak found on Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message". But it didn't take long for the group's groundbreaking blend of hardcore punk and white-boy funk to build a following. The fact that the first edition of the band-Kiedis, bassist Michael Balzary, guitarist Hillel Slovak, and drummer Jack Irons-performed in neon war paint with nothing but socks on their dicks made them an early must-see. Perseverance made the Peppers the biggest act to emerge from the Lollapalooza-era '90s.
Fanatics looking for dirt on their favourite band will be disappointed by Scar Tissue. For every revelation- current drummer Chad Smith is a hesher who basically has zero in common with his bandmates-there are big questions left unanswered. Most glaring of all is the lack of details on the firing of Dave Navarro, the ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist with whom the Peppers recorded 1995's disastrous One Hot Minute.
Kiedis fans, on the other hand, will find no shortage of great dope. Scar Tissue, which comes out in paperback in October, is his book, and it's all about him. Written in a straight-ahead style that even the most ADHD-afflicted reader will find engaging, it's chock full of stories so bizarre they'd impress Nardwuar the Human Serviette. Even Kiedis's most obsessed followers will be amazed to learn that Keith Moon used to take him on his knee at Blackie's raging coke parties, and that, as a young boy, he'd sleep naked in the same bed as Cher.
Depending on how much time you spend reading the National Enquirer and watching Entertainment Tonight, you may or may not find such trivia fascinating, but that doesn't make it any less shocking.