When I was growing up, I was a huge Motley Crue fan.

I ate up the band's first album "Too Fast for Love" and wore out the cassettes of the follow-up and breakthrough albums "Shout at the Devil" and "Theatre of Pain."

I first caught the band at the Salt Palace back in 1985, during the "Theatre of Pain" tour.

I loved drummer Tommy Lee's riser, which tilted the drums a full 90 degrees, so the audience could see the top of the set. I loved Mick Mars' quiet spectre-like presence and wailing guitar solos. And Vince Neil's voice was perfect for the music.

But the guy I really watched was bassist and chief songwriter Nikki Sixx. Charisma, dynamic personality and all-around stage presence made me almost want to play the bass instead of the drums.

But when I heard the band's next album, "Girls Girls Girls," I didn't like it at all. I later found out the real reason why: Sixx, who wrote the songs on the album, was in the grip of heroin addiction.

I knew the band members had problems with substance and alcohol abuse through the years, but I didn't realize how deep Sixx was in until I read his book "Heroin Diaries, A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star."

The book, which was published by MTV Pocket Books/Simon&Schuster and released late last month, is a look-me-in-the-eye and tell-me-the-truth account of events that occurred in Sixx's life from Christmas 1986 to Christmas 1987, taken from his diaries.

I'm amazed this man is still alive — even though he technically died on Dec. 23, 1987, and was revived only when fans urged a paramedic to "try one more time."

Sixx wrote the diaries (and music journalist Ian Gittins helped fill in some of the blanks in the finished product to make it easier to read) during the worst year of his life, because there was literally no one to talk to. The band and his associates all hated him at the time, and the diaries were the only things that "listened" to him.

In addition to accounts of shooting up in his closet, binging during recording sessions and blood-ridden flashbacks of trying to inject his junk with broken needles, Sixx's prose is highlighted by commentary from those who had to deal with him — his former manager Doc McGee, the band and its publicists, Sixx's grandfather Tom Reese, Sixx's mother Deana Richards and his sister Ceci Comer, Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen, and Sixx's heroin pal Vanity (who has since cleaned up and become preacher Denise Matthews).

Sixx (born Frank Feranna) somehow rose out of it and decided to publish the journals with the hope that "If one person reads this book and doesn't have to go down the same road as me, it was worth sharing my personal hell with them."

The book isn't for everyone. This is a real look into the pit of addiction — unflinching and uncensored. But a portion of the proceeds will help Running Wild in the Night, Sixx's fund-raising initiative for Covenant House California, which helps runaway, abused and abandoned youth.

Sixx has also created a soundtrack to go with the book — "The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack." His side band Sixx A.M. — featuring guitarist DJ Ashba and vocalist/guitarist James Michael — target specific events in the journal and give them life with music. Sometimes Sixx narrates by reading direct entries. Other times Michael sings songs that highlight the scenarios. But all in all it's just as heartbreaking as the book.

"Heroin Diaries" is a cautionary tale. And one for which Sixx — who has been clean for some five years — takes full responsibility.

Read and listen with caution, and learn about the value of life.

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