Reviewed: My Appetite for Destruction by Steven Adler
Guns ‘n’ Roses’ debut Appetite for Destruction was a stone cold rock ‘n’ roll classic. There is no arguing with songs like “Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City,” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” Drummer Steven Adler played on all these songs before he was booted from the band for being a self-destructive screw-up. After finally finding the light during a couple seasons with Dr. Drew, Adler, along with Lawrence J. Spagnola, wrote this tell-all, My Appetite for Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N' Roses. But it’s not anywhere near as classic as some of the music he helped create.
In the beginning of My Appetite for Destruction, Adler half-boasts, half-confesses, “I’m the undisputed all-time booze-chugging, pill-gobbling, drug-shooting, Katrina-caliber fuckup. Throughout my wretched life there isn’t a friend, family member or fantastic opportunity that I haven’t shoved into a blender and mutilated.” It's true—he’s been to hell and back more times than he can remember and it’s amazing that he’s even alive to tell this story. Adler’s antics are definitely worthy of a book. After all, this is the guy who OD-ed so many times you would have thought it was his hobby, took more drugs than all of the Doors combined, managed to piss off everyone from Rod Stewart to Eddie Van Halen, and played on one of the greatest albums of all time. So what went wrong?
Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt and Led Zeppelin’s Hammer of the Gods set the bar high when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll bios, so you really need to bring it if you want to impress readers. My Appetite for Destruction is written as a stream of memories—without real scenes or true character development—which will ultimately leave readers bored and uninterested amid the mayhem. They'll desperately want to care, but the book has a whiney, self-righteous tone that may work well for the confessional interviews on Sober House, but fails in book form.
The pacing is incredibly off-kilter (think either Use Your Illusion album). It takes half the book before Adler gets to Appetite for Destruction, but he spends precious little time on this rich artistic period in his career before continuing his me-me-me trip. The second half of the book bemoans the nearly two-decade-long shitstorm that ensued after he was kicked out of the band, but it feels repetitive and dull. Drugs. Girls. Mayhem. Arrests. Brushes with Death. Hospital trips. Repeat. It’s hard to make overdoses, sexual conquests, and felonious behavior boring, but Adler manages to do it. It’s too bad, because there’s a good story here. You just won’t find it in the pages of My Appetite for Destruction.