The GRIMM Reader: The First 21 – How I became Nikki Sixx

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Title: The First 21: How I became Nikki Sixx
Story & Concept: Nikki Sixx
Text: Nikki Sixx
Theme: Autobiography
Publication Date: October 19, 2021
Page count: 224 pages
Publisher: Hachette Books
ISBN: 9780306923708

The title says it all in this case: Nikki Sixx’ new book is about his first 21 years of life. And what a rollercoaster that was. It’s not the normal everyday life for sure. A life you should be jealous of? Maybe not. Not to be rude, but behind Nikki Sixx’ success, is a lot of moving around from house to house, a mother that’s never there, a father that left him and his sister behind, drugs… All of that turned out to be one of the great masterminds behind Mötley Crüe and Sixx:A.M. and the writer of various best selling books like this one. 

Or actually, that was not Nikki Sixx’ life, that was Frank Feranna’s life. The man that we now know as Nikki Sixx, was named after his father: Frank Feranna. That’s the first thing I noticed when opening the book. It says ‘Written by Frank Feranna and Nikki Sixx’, giving the illusion that those two are different people, while in reality, they are not. Or are they? It sounds like Nikki just started to be himself when he changed his name legally at 21 years old, 2 days before his 22nd birthday to be precise. He became his stage name, his stage personality. The personality that decided it was time to take things into his own hands, as joining bands didn’t create the success he had planned out.

His band London got pretty famous in LA. The book says they were drawing huge crowds, and that they had shows regularly down the Sunset Strip. But the band didn’t hold together as singers changed and the band didn’t get payed, even though it was promised. Before that, Nikki auditioned for many bands, met many great artist and actors who we know today. He even ran into Mick Mars, but funny enough they forgot they knew each other and only met again when Nikki was looking for a guitarist for Mötley Crüe

Since his mom wasn’t really the best mom for Nikki, his grandmother Nona and her husband Tom raised him for the most part. Nikki also has a sister Ceci, who he always felt protective about. She did live, however, with his mother. So he didn’t see her all that often. His mom used to date a lot of men, not always nice ones, but with some Nikki got along well. Like Ramon, who had a beaten up guitar, missing three strings on it. Ramon gave the guitar to Nikki, and that was his first guitar. On that guitar, it all started to make sense. Nikki always loved to write, but those lines now became songs. The future plan to be a rockstar was created. Only the path to do that wasn’t yet. But he would get there no matter what.

“I’m an artist, and an artist is a little like somebody born with no skin. You feel everything. Then you grow up and make it your job to feel and interpret the world”.

Nikki moved quite often form town to town. One busier than the other. He made friends, played with them, got them in trouble, got himself in trouble, got send to live with his mom and her boyfriend again, ran away form home and found himself sleeping on friends couches, got expelled from school and decided not to go anymore. That’s Nikki in a nutshell, but that’s also the life motto, ‘Stick to your guns‘, that got him where he wanted to be, that made his dream become reality. 

The last chapter ‘Stick to your guns’ is maybe the clearest chapter of them all. In this chapter, Nikki gives some life advice and positive thoughts. Everything you set your thoughts on, you can achieve. Never give up and stick to the plan, stick to your dreams if you want to get there. 

In this book, you get to personally know Nikki, or at least I feel like that. I don’t feel like I’m reading the biography of some rich rockstar who is better than everybody else. I do feel like I’m reading a biography of a rockstar that could be my next door neighbor. One that has a fascination for people with scars, for their stories. One that wants to write about real things, because a ‘Rock’ song can break windows. As in an actual rock can break windows, and so should the music, as Nikki says in this book. 

With this book, his band Sixx A.M also released a greatest hist album called ‘Hits’ with 5 new songs on it that are connected to this book. One of the songs is ‘The First 21’. The video features footage form Nikki when he was 21 or younger. Some of the photos are also shown in the book. 

Another new song on the album is ‘Skin‘. A song that starts off with a piano melody that goes into hard rock when the chorus starts. What a beautiful lyrics this song has. But let me tell you the one lyric that describes the song title best:

Let them know with all you’ve got that you are not your skin.

Waiting All of My Life‘ is a catchy rock song that gives a throwback to the metal of the 80’s. It’s catchy, stays in your head, but the cutoff at the end is abrupt. That could’ve been smoother. Especially since the song does fade in.

Belly of the Beast‘ is about drug addiction. ”Sometimes it’s not worth dying, in the belly of the beast”. Even though you are in deep, heavily addicted, you should not give up and try to get out of that deep black hole. A dark and emotional song with a light at the end of the tunnel. You can help others by sharing your story, like Nikki Sixx is doing with his book ‘The Heroin Diaries’.

Penetrate‘ is an uptempo song with a very catchy chorus. ”A symphony of love and hate, before we both evaporate, I’m trying to penetrate you. I’m Sorry”. Followed by an amazing solo that goes on top of that catchy beat. This is a very emotional song, but the pounding drum and shredding guitars make it catchy as well.

Maybe It’s Time‘ is another beautiful song, a calmer one, that talks about drugs addiction and that it IS possible to recover form your addiction. That there is help out there. Corey Taylor, Joe Elliott, Brantley Gilbert, Ivan Moody, Slash, AWOLNATION, and Tommy Vext all contribute to this song together with Sixx A.M. All money raised by this song will go to Global Recovery Initiatives Foundation. This song got already released on their ‘Prayers For the Blessed‘ album, but the other artist joined in only later when this song was recreated for the ‘Hits‘ album and a video was created.

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