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18th February 2015

Review: Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis with Larry Sloman

Not for the faint-hearted, Kiedis reveals his innermost sins in one of the most explosive rock autobiographies ever written

Scar Tissue by The Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ frontman Anthony Kiedis, along with Larry Sloman, is certainly one of the most honest and obscene autobiographies you will ever read. Kiedis appears to hide nothing as he takes the reader on a tour of his life up until 2004, reaching crushing lows and unbelievable highs. At the end, it is hard to decide whether he is a narcissistic asshole, or just a sincere man trying to be the best person he can be. Whatever your final position is though, it is almost impossible to claim his life has been boring.

Kiedis’ bohemian lifestyle starts pretty much from birth. His father and mother split when he was very young, and during his childhood he would alternate between living with his father Blackie Dammett in California, and with his mother in Michigan. By the age of 15, a young Tony Kiedis was already one member of his father’s gang. He recalls unbelievable tales of snorting coke and smack, and negotiating with his father about who he would lose his virginity with. The theme of drugs and sex is seemingly as ubiquitous as vowels for the rest of the book.

The frantic and wild lifestyle continues into his adult life as he documents the rise of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. However, one criticism of his story is that he doesn’t dwell too much on how the band really recorded their music. People looking to receive a detailed insight into how the Chilli Peppers function or get along will be left still wondering what it is like. Take for example Chad Smith, the drummer of the band for the past 15 years at time of publishing. Kiedis spends a mere half a page in total to describe his relationship with Smith. It may well be that Kiedis is protecting his friend by not sharing intimate stories, but it appears more like an insult to not even refer to him as a primary figure in his life. More shockingly is his quick digression of his other band mate, Slovak Hillel. The death of Hillel is mentioned almost in passing and Kiedis’ spends an insignificant moment to reflect on what his death meant to him.

The autobiography, however, is for the most part enjoyable. For fans of the Chilli Peppers, the least it will do will make you re-live some of the notable moments in the band’s history. For instance, watching their 1991 performance of ‘Under The Bridge’ on David Letterman will make you tense up. The guitarist John Frusciante is high on smack, and without warning Kiedis proceeds to play the song in an unknown key, leaving the frontman all lost at sea. For people who are not fans of the band or don’t know too much about them, it will appear to be endless cycle of overindulgence leading to addiction leading to recovery leading to overindulgence again and again, until it becomes tedious and boring.

Overall, the book is designed for fans of Kiedis, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. If none of the above take your fancy, you’re probably best looking elsewhere. Ali Pearson

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