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Even by the standards of rock stars, Tommy Lee has had quite a life. He was still a teenager when he formed Motley Crue, who were the wild men of the 1980's American glam/hair metal rock scene. Given how many bands were living it up around that time, to still be alive twenty years later, much less to still be able to remember enough of your life to write a book, takes some doing.
But it's not just Tommy Lee's professional life that has been wild. He's been married and divorced three times, he's seen a child drown in his swimming pool and he's been a star of a pornographic video filmed on his honeymoon and stolen from him. He's also been imprisoned for domestic violence and violating probation orders and been sued on numerous occasions. But now, after living his life in the tabloids, we finally get to hear about Tommy Lee's life in his own words.
It's certainly an interesting life, if you like this kind of thing. While there are mentions of his home life before he joined Motley Crue, these are really just an aside. The real story begins once he joined Motley Crue and started living his life of loud music, fast women and copious amounts of drugs and sex. If you've ever had a fascination with, or a yearning for, that kind of lifestyle, this is almost a "How To " guide for living it.
However, the problem is in the way the story is presented. It's certainly very different to anything I've ever read, either fiction or non-fiction. After all, how many books can you think of that open with an imaginary conversation between a man and his penis? How many autobiographies have you read when this man's penis gets to add its own comments at various points in the story? Admittedly, it's something new and unique, but it's just a little bit too weird for my tastes.
Even the parts that don't involve his penis are a bit strange. The only obvious input from the co-writer are strange footnotes from the co-writer confirming things, or making strange references to other books. There are also a few little boxes containing editorial discussions about whether bits should be left in or not and one section consists of a minor argument with his ex-wife (the third one) as they both have different memories of their first meeting.
The parts that are written in a relatively normal autobiography style don't sit quite right, either. Whilst it's written in fairly simple language, it's written like a rant. If this were an audio book, it would be presented with Tommy Lee standing there screaming into a microphone. Indeed the style is very full on with the words seeming to fall over each other and reminds me of a wrestling promo speech. Whilst this may work very well in a 60 second promo in the midst of a wrestling show, it gets very tiring as a whole book. It is only when he speaks of his children and the experience he credits for changing his life that his tone seems to soften a little.
The whole book is a bit muddled in terms of timings as well. Unusually, Tommy Lee does not present things in a chronological fashion, although he's managed to keep important events, like his marriages and the birth of his children in the right order. But he mostly seems to be spouting off about anything that comes to mind, which can make things a little jumbled and involve him going over the same ground a couple of times.
As with many biographies, there's little background information into what went on before he became famous. There is a little bit about his school days and his childhood, but not in very much detail. That said, I have seen other autobiographies with even less detail than Tommy Lee puts in. There is also less detail than you might expect about his time in Motley Crue, although that part of his life has largely already been documented in various books about the band. Most of what you'll get here is based around his personal life, and most particularly his marriages.
It's difficult to know who to recommend this book to. It's very much an "it's great if you like that sort of thing" situation. Fans of wild living rock stars and Motley Crue in particular will probably be enthralled by this. For a casual fan such as myself, who just enjoyed the music and not the lifestyle, the style of the book may grate a little. Fans of biographies may also find the writing style a little strange and a little harder going than usual.
You'd need to be a major Motley Crue or Tommy Lee fan to pay the recommended price of £7.99 for something like this. You'd need to be a pretty big fan to pay £6.39 from Amazon of £5.99 from either HMV or play.com. A slightly less devoted fan may not baulk at paying £4.44 from the Amazon Marketplace, but I would advise most people to stay clear or to wait for copies to appear on eBay.
Someone trying to do something different should be praised for their bravery. Sadly, efforts to do so can fail and that seems to be what's happened here. Tommyland is a strange place and not one I'm ever likely to revisit.
Tommy Lee is known for any number of things: as the drummer for Motley Crue; as the husband and very public lover of Pamela Anderson; as a convicted felon; as the man who saw a child drown in his pool during a birthday party; and as a celebrity who continues to put his life back together after so many public trials and tribulations. It's been a life like no other - and now he's baring it all in a memoir like no other. Lee takes readers back to his childhood, when his penchant for misbehaviour got off to an early start, and brings them through the dizzying highs and abysmal lows of a life shaped by decadence and super-stardom. He shares what really happened during the Motley Crue days, reveals what it's like to film your own honeymoon and freely discusses his days in jail and how they changed his life. Often hilarious, always shameless, this is every bit the shocking memoir you'd expect from a man whose least interesting experience was being married to Heather Locklear. In an age of celebrity exposure, TOMMYLAND is the ultimate dish on the most notorious musical miscreant ever to dominate the headlines.