Book Review: Vicky Hamilton – ‘Appetite for Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale’
Sunday, 13 March 2016 03:20
Vicky Hamilton – ‘Appetite for Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale’
You may well have spotted Vicky Hamilton on last month’s BBC-sanctioned Guns N’ Roses documentary, ‘The Most Dangerous Band in the World’; you may even remember the lengthy interview she undertook with Uber Rock four years ago; even so, if you want the final word on the career of someone who worked with the likes of Mötley Crüe, Poison, Stryper, Faster Pussycat, and, of course, GN’R, then look no further than ‘Appetite for Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale’, Vicky’s new memoir that tells a fascinating tale of what happens when the flashbombs fade and the band member tantrums dissolve into the ether.
Working in a record store and then writing music articles for a local publication, Hamilton made the move from Fort Wayne, Indiana to Hollywood after interviewing Tom Petty. The Sunset Strip-set story that follows is as outrageous as one would expect when detailing the excesses of both the eighties in general and the world of hair metal, with tales of speeding with Lemmy and making out with Bon Scott rubbing shoulders with talk of the much less exotic Wonderland murders and Charles Manson. There are car crashes, earthquakes, home intruders, even a demonic mannequin hand, yet Vicky’s story, no matter how lurid and otherworldly it gets, is a human one that details struggle, upset and, ultimately, salvation as much as it does the expected trifecta of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll… though not necessarily in that order.
That the book should open with Axl Rose being stupidly late for a very important meeting is a tell-tale sign of how important Guns N’ Roses are/were to the life of Vicky Hamilton, the book’s cover and title a not-too-subtle clue as to how heavy GN’R will hang over the whole project, but there’s so much more to this must-read autobiography than the oft despicable details of her stint as the band’s first manager, which would later result in her having to sue the band to recoup the $25,000 she’d borrowed to bankroll the early days of the most promising of kickass careers.
No, there are whole chapters of the book devoted to bands that you either know and love, or are desperate to get some dirt on – it’s all here, bruthas and sistas!
There are stories here that made me laugh out loud – not clichéd internet speak either, real roaring laughter: Ratt and Roxx Regime (who would later become Stryper, of course) battling it out in the clubs by both playing covers of ‘Breaking The Law’; the bemusement of attending prayer meetings in a limo given a special yellow and black paint job for the future Soldiers Under Command; the trouble caused when a girl was hit in the head by one of the bibles thrown out at a show.
When working with Poison Vicky details handing sugar packs to diabetic Bret Michaels as he was about to take to the stage in a Zorro mask; of the band supporting Hanoi Rocks; of bassist Bobby Dall shitting in a Wheaties box and sending it to a journalist who hadn’t been too kind to the glam band; of being sworn to secrecy about a live video from the band’s years as ‘Paris’ when they played just Mötley Crüe covers which was hidden at Bret’s parents’ house.
The biggest laugh – don’t judge me – came when Vicky wrote of her time managing Faster Pussycat: then-bassist Kelly Nickels (who would, of course, go on to find fame with LA Guns) got into a motorcycle wreck, his lower leg broken in six places, bone sticking through the skin, but, as was the way with your image-obsessed eighties rocker, asking paramedics not to put a neck brace on him as he would look stupid.
And these tales are just scratching at the surface of the book’s contents: there’s a visit to Rockfield with Darling Cruel; playing Rick Rubin a Salty Dog demo tape as he disappeared under the covers of his bed with two girls of dubious production knowledge; of getting filmed for Penelope Spheeris’s ‘The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years’ but only making the cutting room floor; of finding an unlikely saviour in the gorgeous form of friend of Uber Rock, Robbie Quine of Sex With Lurch/The Barbarellatones; but there were two musical acts at completely opposite ends of the spectrum that totally sum up Vicky’s musical career.
Working with Mötley Crüe as they toured the original ‘Too Fast For Love’ must have been so cool, right? Vicky writes of how the band were unsure of Vince Neil’s vocals from virtually day one; of how Nikki Sixx burned his eyebrows off trying to perfect setting his boots on fire for future stage use; of how Nikki’s then-girlfriend, Lita Ford, had to pawn her Trans Am to bail him out; but also of how she was never paid the £3,000 dollars she was owed from her work with the band.
Compare that with the classiness of working with June Carter Cash; Hamilton helping to relaunch the career of Johnny Cash’s second wife, the result a Grammy Award-winning album, the details of which will almost have you punching the air in delight for Vicky.
Completely self-published, ‘Appetite for Dysfunction: A Cautionary Tale’ is a must-read memoir. Buy it from the link below.