Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band

By Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee with Neil Strauss

Regan. 2001. $15.95.

Depraved, debauched and just plain wrong, Motley Crue's hair-metal memoir, "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band" (Regan, 2001, $15.95 paperback), chronicles moments of such startling disregard for humanity that you just might want to pour acid in your eyes after reading it.

God, I love that book.

In fact, I'd be lost without it.

About twice a year, when the corporate slickery of the play-it-safe record biz is bumming me out -- when I wonder where, oh, where have all the rock stars gone? -- I turn to that 400-plus-page tell-all from hirsute madmen Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee to (1) jump-start my creative battery, (2) remind me of pop music's rowdy, reckless spirit, and (3) read the part about Ozzy freaking out the Crue by snorting a line of live ants.

Not only is this book filthy, but it's fortifying, too.

Keep digging in "The Dirt" and you'll discover a chilling morality tale. Smartly massaged by rock writer Neil Strauss, the book is loaded with scenes of excess and XXX-cess during the '80s, whether it's "hanging out at the Rainbow, eating quaaludes and escargots, and throwing up under the table every fifteen minutes," or sleeping with the girlfriend of the man who signed them to Elektra Records, or doing unprintable things with a groupie, a phone and a room-service order -- without a doubt, the most hideous story you'll ever read.

Plus, the Crue was unrivaled in the lost art of hotel-room trashing. "The Dirt" is a fine tutorial in how to get banned from Holiday Inns for life: "Tommy and Vince bought flare guns and fired one in their room. A giant ball of fire shot out and ricocheted off the walls before setting Tommy's mattress on fire. He and Vince were so amused . . . "

But each Crue member eventually pays a hefty price for his past sins: Vince loses a daughter; Mick suffers from a degenerative spinal disease; Tommy goes to prison; and Nikki overdoses. Each episode is explored in painful detail.

This profane oral history has taken on mythical must-read status among music fans. I like to think that the book's growing legend is the main reason why the Crue's current reunion tour is selling out arenas all over the world.

Then again, those fire-breathing contortionist strippers onstage might have something to do with ticket sales as well.

-- Sean Daly, pop music critic

Too hot to handle? Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee, playing inside a ring of fire last year in Santa Monica, Calif.