Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life in Rock, Stephen Pearcy w. Sam Benjamin, Gallery Books, 2013.
Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll: My Life in Rock is exactly what the premise of the title indicates, if that suits you, great, if it doesn’t, that’s fine too. The warning is right there in the title.
First off, I think the most remarkable thing about Stephen Pearcy is that he always had enough drive and luck, and was determined enough that he always knew his way around or connected with the right people to help him along his path to rock stardom and success. The guy knew Van Halen before they were famous, hung out with Ozzy and Motley Crue and has a bunch of stories to tell that make you see that he had charisma or something about him to help make his ambitions come fruitful.
I’ll tell you right away, most of the book is focused on the glory days of Ratt, from their inception, to playing bars and a string of multiplatinum success throughout the decade -with a large part of it centred on the excess of it all.
I would have liked Stephen to go more into the process of writing and creating songs but since a lot of Ratt songs seem to celebrate excess in one way I suppose it all makes sense. Stephen Pearcy tells interesting tales, yet they’re almost all based on excess, sex and drugs. For instance, when he talks about being in a hospital for months he still manages to have a relationship with one of the nurses.
There isn’t a whole lot of depth to his book to be honest, its mostly a tale of Rock N Roll debauchery but a good one at that. Where the book works best is when Stephen talks about the early club days of Mickey Ratt and Ratt but especially when he talks about Robin Crosby. Stephen clearly considered Robin his brother, his best friend at least at some point and when he talks about him is really when his emotions come out. Otherwise Stephen made it clear that it was pretty much all just a big party to him.
He had great stories to tell about Robin and those were always entertaining to read. Yet he doesn’t talk a whole lot about the rest of them. He makes it clear that there has always been some grudges between him and Bobby Blotzer but there is so little mentions of Warren Demartini and even less of Juan Croucier.
Stephen talks mostly about his teenage years, going to see bands, girls and then forming different bands who eventually became Ratt, their initial success and the tours and recordings up until right after the Dancing Undercover tour.
Once we get to the Reach For The Sky album the coverage becomes less and less and Pearcy skims through. There is less talk about the albums, recording and tours from then on and we get almost progressively less and less details. What really makes the book work is that it comes off as really being Stephen Pearcy talking to you and his character is all over the book, which makes it hard not to like.
By reading Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll you would think that when Ratt disbanded and he went to do Arcade and different music projects he was still making a ton of money and being on top of the world. You get the impression that in his world Grunge never happened and the scene stayed the same.
That’s the thing though, Stephen doesn’t exactly complain and seems to be content, not happy but nonchalant about what happened since and couldn’t care less. He is still out there doing gigs and it gets him through.
I was surprised that through all of it Pearcy never really became sober, even for a short while. Even when his daughter was born he was still struggling with drugs and alcohol and makes his love of marijuana pretty clear throughout the book. He doesn’t give the impression that he ever stopped, in fact he pretty much *tells* us so. He goes to rehab at one point, and one of the most humorous things here is when he talks to a doctor every now and then throughout the book and the questions and answers are very funny.
I like that he is very honest and doesn’t hide anything, about him or anyone else screwing up, his personal flaws, mistakes and his demons. You sense that he has nothing to hide and he is an excellent storyteller as well.
I might have made it sound like just another book about Rock N’ Roll and excess, and in a way it is but Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll was a book I enjoyed and didn’t put down easily. I read it very quickly and enjoyed it. Even though fans will be left with questions and might have anticipated a little more, we get a good sense of Stephen Pearcy is, his life and a good look at Ratt.
I made it clear that it’s not phenomenal or an absolute must read, but curious Ratt fans could do worse than pick this up, it’s an entertaining memoir and a lot of it was either interesting or funny. It’s not one of the best Rock memoirs I’ve read by far, but it’s not one of the worst either and I was really into it so I can’t really complain about much really.
If you’re a fan of Ratt or are looking to satisfy your hunger for some more Rock reads, go right ahead Mr. Pearcy’s life makes for good reading. 4/5 stars.