Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Steven Adler: My Appetite For Destruction

In 1988 when Guns N' Roses debut album, Appetite For Destruction, topped the Billboard 200 chart and the band's seminal single "Sweet Child O' Mine" did the same on Billboard's Hot 100, being a member of the hard rocking Los Angeles band should have been a dream come true. But for the band's drummer, Steven Adler, his fantasy reality was already turning into a nightmare. Guns N' Roses muse, "Mr. Brownstone," a.k.a. heroin had moved in, and by 1990 it had robbed Adler of his career, health and wealth.

But the seeds of Adler's destruction were sown long before Guns N' Roses was born. A quintessential problem child, Adler was thrown out of his home by his mom and step-dad when he was just 11-years old. Lack of proper parental supervision aided and abetted his underage activities at the clubs that gave him his music education. It also facilitated sexual abuse at age 14 - something Adler was unable to deal with or verbalize for the next three decades.

Having served his apprenticeship on the Sunset Strip, Adler and his childhood friend Slash hooked up with Axl Rose in 1985. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin and bassist Duff McKagan completed what is now considered the classic Guns N' Roses lineup. Under the stewardship of manager Vicki Hamilton, Guns N' Roses signed a marquee deal with Geffen Records, which was also home to the band's idols Aerosmith.

With the release of their first studio album, Guns N' Roses transcended the record sales of their heroes. Appetite For Destruction went on to become the best-selling debut album of all-time worldwide, selling over 28 million copies around the globe. The quintet followed up with G N' R Lies in 1988. It would be the last complete Guns N' Roses album Adler would perform on. He was conspicuous by his absence during Guns N' Roses' 1989 American Music Awards performance (for which Don Henley subbed). A disastrous appearance at Farm Aid the following year would prove to be Adler's last with the band. He recorded one final track, "Civil War," which was included on Guns N' Roses' fourth studio album, Use Your Illusion II (which was released as a companion their third, Use Your Illusion I in 1991).

Adler was fired by his Guns N' Roses' bandmates in 1990. With the absence of a reason to get up in the morning, his substance abuse spiraled. Adler's life was punctuated by a series of car crashes, accidental ODs, and suicide attempts. In 1996 one such incident led to a stay in hospital during which Adler slipped into a coma. He awoke to find one side of his face paralyzed due to a suspected stroke, which resulted in a permanent speech impediment. However, unfazed by his near-death experience, Adler continued on his path of destruction.

Adler credits Dr. Drew Pinsky with changing the direction of his life. He appeared on the second season of VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. Though he's succumbed to several, perhaps inevitable, relapses - most notably while appearing on the Celebrity Rehab spin-off series Sober House - Adler nevertheless is proud of his progress.

In order to move forward, Adler has spent a lot of time coming to terms with his past, which he has chronicled in a new memoir entitled My Appetite For Destruction: Sex & Drugs & Guns N' Roses. In the book, Adler is upfront about the part he played in his own downfall, but also makes it clear when and how he thinks those around him may have given him an added push.

I called up Adler to find out more. Read my exclusive interview with Steven Adler on SuicideGirls.com


Ps. Steven Adler will be an in-studio guest on SuicideGirls Radio on Sunday Sept 12th.

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