Monday, October 12, 2009

Hit Hard, by Joey Kramer with William Patrick & Keith Garde

(hb; 2009: memoir/autobiography. Introduction by Nikki Sixx)

From the inside flap:

"In 1997, amid Aerosmith's sold-out world tour and number one album release, word about Joey's troubles was reported in the press. Despite the advice he had received to play it down, Joey revealed in an interview his ongoing struggles with depression. The response from fans and people battling those same internal demons was overwhelming. Joey -- who has been the drummer in Aerosmith since it was founded in 1970 and is the first member of the band to release his own book -- now tells the complete story: the early days of the band, glamorous drug-addled events leading up to their eventual sobriety, battles within his family and among bandmates, and the explosive internal dynamics in Aerosmith that continue to unleash a fury of endless creativity.

"This is not just another rock n' roll memoir. In addition to the never-before-told Aerosmith war stories that abound in the book, Hit Hard unpacks the history of a rock star who was both fragile and tough, who, after years of insane wildness, became willing to accept help and finally kick a serious alcohol and drug addiction, only to find that the real terrors and hard work were still ahead. It's the story of an average kid from an average American suburb who went through physical and emotional trauma. It's about years of depression and the nervous breakdown at the height of the band's comeback success. Ultimately, Hit Hard is about how Joey recognized his confusion between love and abuse, awakening to the kind of self-acceptance and compassion that make relationships possible in the 'real world' as a member of the biggest band in American history."

Review:

Straightforward, no-frills memoir/autobiography.

Kramer, Patrick and Garde write about: Kramer's Bronx childhood in the Fifties, born to a tough, emotionally-stilted father and strict mother; how, early on, he discovered rock n' roll, and later, r&b and other styles of drumming; about how he and rock drummer/singer Steven Tallarico (later named Steven Tyler) grew up in nearby neighborhoods, and met at key moments in both their lives; and how Kramer, over the course of thirty-plus years, overcame a cycle of depression and emotional abuse (at the hands of his father, Steven Tyler, and ex-wife April) to finally become a stronger, sober musician and man.

Kramer and his co-authors don't skimp on the main selling point of the book (Aerosmith's media-fabled chemical and musical decadence), nor do they make these already-chronicled years the main point of the book, which sets this apart from other rock/drug-addiction memoirs.

The closest memoir I've read of this sort is Nikki Sixx's The Heroin Diaries; fittingly, Sixx provides a thoughtful, punkish Introduction to the book. As Sixx writes in his Introduction: "Joey had the balls to see what's underneath the hood, and fix it. Being a rock star was easy compared to that."

Solid, don't-rush-to-read memoir about one man's emotional maturation, from youth to middle age. Any readers seeking salacious and scandalous books about Aerosmith might want to check other tell-alls about the band.

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