BOOK REVIEW | "TOMMYLAND" BY TOMMY LEE
photo & text by nacrowe
THE DIRT (review linked HERE) this is not. in my opinion, that book is the greatest memoir ever conceived. period.
what TOMMYLAND (SIMON & SCHUSTER, 2005) attempts to do is present MOTLEY CRUE drummer TOMMY LEE as he enters his 40s. whereas THE DIRT is all about the many conflicting narratives of MOTLEY CRUE, this memoir deals with what you would expect in a straightforward memoir. that being his childhood, career, marriage, divorce and incarceration. there was nothing particularly revelatory revealed regarding any of those topics. LEE is a supremely gifted and respected drummer that has recorded with everyone from NINE INCH NAILS and ROB ZOMBIE to THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, POST MALONE, JACK'S MANNEQUIN and PERRY FARRELL. he is equally known for his infectious personality and legendary lack of impulse control. it seems that the same focused mentality that garnered him success in his 20s is the same that brought him trouble when dealing with adult issues and situations in his 30s.
and to his credit he recognizes this. you really get the feeling that at 40 he is in a good spot where he feels fortunate for being on good terms with his ex-wife and has access to his two sons. its unfortunate that 15 years later after publication that his relationship with both has devolved in the manner that it has publicly, but i wont comment on such beyond that.
structurally, i do appreciate that he allows several people to participate in this book, namely his ex-wife PAMELA ANDERSON and his PENIS. yes, his PENIS. there is a whole section on their relationship where there are several interjections between the three of them that on paper is totally ridiculous but seems quintessentially TOMMY LEE. i also appreciated that his cowriter ANTHONY BOZZA provides annotations throughout that provide context and legal qualifications to the more incendiary comments made by LEE. his commentary actually frees up LEE to be honest and uninhibited, no that he needed that extra push. as i said before, i think LEE is a pretty uninhibited dude most of his waking life.
regarding his incarceration, he didn't really get too deep into the experience other than what it deprived him of. i think if you want to get a better understanding of that experience than RANDY BLYTHE's DARKEST DAYS memoir (review linked HERE) is probably a better bet.
overall this memoir is pretty entertaining. i appreciated how he left a PHARRELL quote in where the famous HIP HOP producer obviously has no clue who he is. the debauchery recorded here was mildly interesting but became pretty boring and vaguely misogynistic after a while. and i think LEE recognized that as i'm almost certain those stories were pulled way back. as a closet MOTLEY CRUE fan, i thought this memoir was a fair effort by LEE. i just wished he'd focus more on the music and his connections to other artists than his personal life. i understand most people are interested in his ex-wife and live vicariously through LEE, but the dude is the second coming of JOHN BONHAM. a little more focus on the 80s METAL scene or his feelings on the 90s ALTERNATIVE ROCK scene would have been more interesting. unlike most of his contemporaries, LEE is still a name that has resonance and has essentially transcended his era.
i also wonder what he would write about now more than 15 years later.
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