I wasn't a big Red Hot Chili Peppers fan in their day - for one thing, I always thought of them as more a tribe of half-naked Hollywood junkies than a viable musical act, and this book seems to back up my opinion. However, this book isn't really about the RHCP but more about the life and times of recovering addict Anthony Kiedis. It was recommended to me by several people, one of whom was involved in the LA music scene around the same time and praised the book for its honesty.
On the one hand, I applaud Mr. Kiedis's skills as a writer, as well as his ability to craft a reasonably decent adult life following a pretty dysfunctional childhood with seemingly no animosity towards either of his parents. And the book is clearly honest about the realities of junkie-dom in a way that "A Million Little Pieces" was not. You never get the feeling the author is gilding the lily or exaggerating; he doesn't have to. As the son of a Hollywood drug dealer turned actor, who had his first sexual experience with his father's teenage girlfriend (with father's own blessing, no less) at age 11, and who went on to have sex with multiple girls, act in films, hang out with Sonny Bono and share a bed (platonically, but erotically) with Cher all before his midteens, and wind up fronting one of the world's biggest rock bands...nobody writing fiction could possibly top that. Juxtaposed with exciting world tours and girlfriends and groupies galore are the more sordid tales of ripoffs, dope sickness, failed withdrawal attempts and the like, that have peppered every true-life junkie tale since "Confessions of an Opium Eater". Somehow, Anthony manages to stay positive through all of his ups and downs, including the death of his friend/ bandmate, rehab, a relapse back into addiction supposedly caused by a dentist's malpractice, and rehab again. He generally comes off as a good-hearted likeable guy who doesn't seem to have let fame go to his head and realizes that addiction is a spiritual disease as well as physical.
On the other hand, unless this fellow's emotions are completely dead, I would have expected some recognition that his upbringing wasn't the greatest. It's awesome that he has a good relationship with his family, and I'm not looking for "Mommie Dearest" confrontation levels here, but Kiedis seems to completely gloss over the point that a father providing his preteen son with ready access to drugs (and sex) and involving the kid in his own drug trafficking activities is, to put it mildly, NOT a good idea. Instead, Kiedis just seems bemused by the whole thing, even admiring of Dear Old Dad. A number of other books in the true-life addicts genre, including Danny Sugerman's "Wonderland Avenue" and Papa John Phillips' autobiography, are much more direct about coming out and saying that young teens running loose on the Sunset Strip popping pills was a lot of fun, but in the end, bad with a capital B. Kiedis can't seem to get himself to admit that.
A goodly part of the book also details Kiedis's relationships with a long series of women and his erotic encounters with many more in a curiously detached manner. It's understandable that he'd have lots of women given that he's a handsome rock star living in Hollywood, and some of his detachment can probably be written off to the toll that addiction and recovery takes on one's emotions. But reading about a grown man seeing a woman for two minutes at an elevator, deciding on the spot that she could be his future wife (until she gets on the elevator and disappears forever), and then breaking up with his long-suffering committed girlfriend who has, by his own admission, done nothing wrong - he's just not in love with her any more for no good reason - sounds like Anthony's maturity meter got stuck at about age 14 rather than him being "honest". He seems more drawn to women who fight with him rather than women who are nice to him, yet we never get any real insight into why. By the end of the book, our hero is middle-aged and still doesn't appear even close to settling down with anyone (plus, since writing the book, he has reportedly fathered a child by another girlfriend and then split from her). Perhaps the kind of self-realization needed to explain this pattern is still down the road in Anthony's recovery journey, or perhaps it was just too intimate for the book, but it's hard to see Anthony as a fully evolved recovering adult when his closest and healthiest relationship appears to be with his dog.
Overall, this is a reasonably interesting tell-all in the "junkie survivor" genre and makes Anthony Kiedis seem like the slightly sad sweetie he looked like in the "Under the Bridge" video. I wouldn't call it super honest though - go read "Wonderland Avenue" if you're looking for that. And if you're looking for a book about the band, that's yet to be written. I don't think the story of the Chili Peppers could be adequately told by one person given the number of musicians with strong personalities (Flea, John Frusciante, etc.) involved over the years. It would be great if the band decided to do something along the lines of Motley Crue's "The Dirt" with each band member chiming in.