As a child, I loved Guns N Roses. I remember taking my tiny boombox outside and blasting Welcome to the Jungle. I would listen to the radio station all day until the song came on I loved and I would quickly hit record and get it on my blank tape. It took quite a lot of patience. I am surprised at 7/8 years old, I was able to get any songs on tape.
Later, when I had my own money, I bought Appetite and Use Your Illusion on CD. I listened to those songs on repeat. I would get excited when the video for November Rain actually played on MTV. Yes, MTV actually played more music videos than reality TV shows at one point. Ahhh, the good old days.
When I read Duff McKagan wrote a book, and that it was actually good, I knew I had to read it. I also stumbled across Steven Adler’s book and picked it up. I just need to get Slash’s book and I will have all autobiographies of original GnR members. I know a lot of books have been written about Axl, but I haven’t seen one he wrote himself. I also couldn’t find one that Izzy wrote. (If you know of an Axl or Izzy autobiography, please let me know).
While both Duff and Steven’s books offer a glimpse into GnR they are vastly different. If I had to recommend just one it would be Duff’s. His book is well written, flows well and believable. Duff focuses mostly on himself and his journey. His book does include troubles with Guns, but the issues are written from a mature place. Duff has stepped back and can analyze his time with the band more as the man he has become. He has let go of what happened in the past and moved forward.
To me, Steve is still in an addict’s mindset. He sounds like he is bragging a lot. Many of the stories of his youth seem far-fetched. It is entirely possible these things happened, but it always seemed he wanted the audience to think he was cool. That he was far more sexually advanced or drug fueled than he really was as a child. I feel that Steven glosses over some of these sexual exploits in a bragging manner when if they actually happened they were abuse.
He plays the victim a lot. Everything that happened to Guns is someone else’s fault. He hints at things he maybe could have done differently but never seems to get to the point that yes, maybe I could have changed. Maybe I could have done something differently. I get it, Axl comes across as a dick no matter which way you slice it, but there were things Steven could have done or should have done to keep himself in the band.
Despite becoming an addict and being kicked out of Guns, he still seems to be living in the past, with the same mentality. He just seems stuck. Stuck in the past. Stuck in the drugs. He has admitted there’s a problem but not really. I didn’t feel sorry for him. In fact, I often wanted to tell him to stop whining and just do something about it.
Steven’s book isn’t well written; it’s disorganized. The chapter titles have little, if anything, to do with what is in the chapter. It meanders. It goes off on tangents and sometimes takes forever get back to the original story. It is as if he just talked and someone wrote down exactly what he said, in the order it was said.
On the other hand, Duff has moved past his addictions. He will always be an addict, but he has found healthy ways to deal with issues. He has a loving wife and children. He seems to have matured and looks back at Guns n Roses with a more objective mindset. He has made amends with the past, the band and the people.
Maybe the difference is Duff landed in the hospital and could/would die if he picked up the drink again. He had to change but instead of whining he found new ways to fill his time, new healthier vices. He found family in those that helped him recover. He did relapse once, with pills, but quickly realized and reached out to those he loved.
Duff seems to have found what he was looking for in sobriety. He never thought he would live past 30, but now he has a fulfilling life. He’s realized he has things to live for and the answer isn’t in the bottom of a vodka bottle.
Duff is living in the present while Steven seems stuck in the past. I hope Adler finds the help and peace he seems to be seeking but can’t quite grasp.
Even if you aren’t a Guns n Roses fan, I would recommend Duff’s book. It is well written and shows how deep addiction can be and how truly satisfying recovery can be once you learn to love yourself.