Bookworm Blog: Tattoos & Tequila by Vince Neil

You came across the photo album the other day, and you vowed that your children would never see it.

There you were, the image of coolness in tight leather pants, oh-so-gnarly shades on your nose, and hair. Big hair, teased, sprayed, and reaching the ceiling. It’s a wonder your neck could support your head with all that fluff. Sure, the picture was taken almost thirty years ago, but your kids would never let you live the ‘80s down.

Author Vince Neil says that those times still represent “cool” to him. In the new book “Tattoos & Tequila” (with Mike Sager), Neil semi-remembers his life and the band that made him famous.

Born in 1961 in Los Angeles, Vince Neil Wharton had a conventional growing-up. A surfer dude and bad boy, he and his younger sister lived with both parents in a spiraling middle-class neighborhood. Vince loved music, cars, girls, and being “rowdy”.

Though he’d been “done with school” at age fifteen and was paying child support at seventeen, he hung around Charter Oak High School for a couple more years. That turned out to be a good accidental decision: mostly because of his long hair, Vince – who had never had formal voice lessons and whose mother didn’t think he could sing – was invited by a classmate to help form a band.

Though that group was somewhat successful, Vince’s reputation spread and he was asked to join another, tentatively-named, band. After a few ragged starts and spats, the newly-dubbed Mötley Crüe, began touring. Their first, best-selling album was cut in under a month and the party started.

Over the years, as the lead-singing Bad Boy of the Crüe, Vince Neil (he dropped his surname years ago) has seen the bottom of thousands of bottles, and rehab several times. He cheated on his first three wives, and slept with an unknown (but undoubtedly very large) number of groupies. He spent time in jail for vehicular manslaughter, for which he says he’s “deeply embarrassed”. And though he’s “aging”, he looks forward to a future onstage.

When a book starts with a warning that some sources may be unreliable because of past substance abuse, you kinda sit up and take notice. And you really notice the words “I don’t remember” an awful lot.

Such is “Tattoos & Tequila”.

Co-author Mike Sager has much to say about his research and time spent interviewing Vince Neil and others pertinent to this book, and his introduction here truly sets the tone. During the process, he found lots of fuzzy recollections, venomous feelings, shameful regrets, and conflicting memories, and he recorded more than a few surprises.

Neil has little good to say about his former band-members. Though there are things he obviously feels remorse over, apologies don’t make much of an appearance here. And then there’s the abundantly-used “I don’t remember”…

But if you do remember those years – with fondness or mortification – you may enjoy this interestingly painful, personal memoir. Just understand that what you’ll read in “Tattoos & Tequila” may curl your hair.