Book Reviews

Smoke, Snort, Swallow, Shoot: Legendary Binges, Lost Weekends, & Other Feats Of Rock & Roll Incoherence (Lesser Gods)


Smoke, Snort, Swallow, Shoot: Legendary Binges, Lost Weekends, & Other Feats Of Rock & Roll Incoherence
Edited By Jacob Hoye
Lesser Gods Books

Sex. Drugs. Rock & Roll.

It’s the unholy trinity of the music world, and virtually every success and failure in the music business can often regale you with tales of one of those three things. Yet it’s the second in the triumvirate that has caused the downfall of many an artist—and yet it also makes for some incredibly funny and/or tragic stories to boot. Smoke, Snort, Swallow, Shoot is a collection of tales of chemical-related excess—both humorous and cautionary—from some of the biggest names in the business.

Some of the tales are hilarious. Fat Mike of NOFX has a very humorous way of writing, and his story on how to become a junkie will make you laugh, even though what he’s writing about is inherently tragic for the people involved. The story of Pantera’s Phil Anselmo and Rex Brown’s attempt to join the band in Australia on their 1996 tour is a bumbling comedy of errors thanks to too much celebrity guest lounge booze with Don Rickles, a roadie named Big Val, and a bag of valium, and ends up with the duo being thrown off of their scheduled First Class flight and booked on another flight in coach on a plane that could only reach New Zealand. And let’s just say this: any tale involving Ministry’s Al Jourgensen is going to be a wickedly fun read.

Other tales are much more melancholic. Marianne Faithful’s story about Brian Jones is tragic—a genius lost to drugs and ousted out of his own circle of “friends” and eventually his own band due to his drug habit; there’s no charm in her tale. Anthony Kiedis’ drug abuse habit during the formative years of Red Hot Chili Peppers would cause him to burn out, leave Los Angeles, and seek solace in his parents’ house, heartbroken and defeated, a drug casualty even as the band was just beginning to gain respect and popularity in its hometown; this low point in his life would wind up inspiring one of the band’s biggest hits, “Under The Bridge.” It’s only with Aerosmith—who so thoroughly milked their drug abuse and subsequent sobriety in such an egregiously hypocritical manner that it turned the idea of being a sober rock band into a rock and roll cliché—that the book lulls; who cares?

A caveat, though, for those who enjoy music bios: the chapters of the book are all excerpted from previously published biographies and memoirs, so you may have already read some of these chapters. Don’t let that put you off, though; for me, I own about half of these books, but the chapters from books I haven’t read have piqued my interest. That aside, Smoke, Snort, Swallow, Shoot does what it sets out to do—it shows the highs and the lows of living the high life, and if anyone wanted a peek into the excesses of rock and roll, this is the place to get that fix.

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