Founding Guns N' Roses member Steven Adler helped create the legendary Appetite for Destruction, then fell from grace in 1990, before the empire burned. While GN'R kept staggering toward bildungsroman proportions of rock hyperbole, the drummer continued partying.
Two decades and a few rock bottoms later and, from the cowbell to the courtroom, Adler's name is approaching household status again, with help from a tumultuous tenure on reality TV programs like Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew and its spin-off, Sober House. Amidst this relapse of fame, the once-forgotten musician has found a new base and rekindled the magic with older fans. Although he wishes Axl would "pull his head out of his butt," Adler has taken it upon himself to transmit the eternal fire that is Appetite for Destruction via his new band, Adler's Appetite, which will perform the classic album at Hard Rock Café on Wed., March 11.
You mentioned you're watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High on the tour bus right now. That's got me wondering -- do you identify with the character of Jeff Spicoli?
Well, when I was 15, yeah. Then again, I could also relate to Brad [Judge Reinhold] jacking off in the bathroom when I was 15. And I was thinking about Phoebe Cates, too.
How would you characterize your experiences on Celebrity Rehab and Sober House, on and off camera?
Those were two of the best experiences in my life. The show gave me an opportunity to get my first 37 days sober and I hadn't had that since I was 11 years old. When I did the Celebrity Sober House, on my 37th or 38th day, I relapsed. It worked for the producers, but it's something I'm still paying for. Eight months later and I'm still paying for it with the judge and the court. Oy vey.
Do you think this latest televised relapse will make it harder for new fans to take you seriously as a musician?
Why? I mean, hey, relapse is a part of recovery. That's just a fact. It happens, you know. I don't even want to talk about it. The only "AA" I want to talk about is Adler's Appetite.
Did you spend much show time with Celebrity Rehab's fellow musicians, like head counselor/former Thelonious Monster singer, Bob Forrest?
Yeah! You know what's funny about Bob is that I did drugs with Bob, then I didn't see him for years and, all of a sudden, he's my counselor and he's got 15 years sober. Back in the day, with Guns N' Roses and Thelonious Monster, we played shows together, too. Yeah, Axl and Bob got in a big fight at the Cat Club one night. Axl stabbed [Forrest's] girlfriend's face with the bottom of the microphone stand because she was kind of electrocuting him onstage.
After reading stories about the early days, I keep wondering, "How did Guns N' Roses' five crusty dudes get strippers to foot the bill for an entire band's party habits?"
What have you learned throughout the decades of life? Women love bad boys. Am I right or am I wrong? You can ask any female. Hell, ask any grandmother. They want to hang out with the bad boys. If one girl got involved with one of us, of course another crazy girl wanted to have that guy and then so on and so on. They're just like gremlins. You get them wet and then they, uh, multiply.
Is it true Axl used studio time to record himself having sex with your ex-girlfriend, in order to mix her orgasm into the Appetite song, "Rocket Queen"?
Yeah, he did. But, it didn't take long. See, she was a "stripper girlfriend." Not like a "be my wife" girlfriend. She just had to get closer than the other girls. I mean, if [the recording] would have come out sounding crappy, then, y'know, that's fucked up. But, it worked, so I thought, "Well, that's cool."
You've got a real knack for making life's problems work for you, Steven. Do you consider yourself a lucky guy?
Yes, I do. When we were driving back from Las Vegas, my dear friend and guitarist, Michael Thomas, said to me, "You're the luckiest fucker in the world. What, do horseshoes fall out of your ass?" So, yes I do. And, yes, the horseshoes do, too.
Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?
On a ranch in Europe somewhere. Or a mini-mart, like at the end of Fast Times.
Speaking of movies, The Wrestler, a redemption story about a down-and-out performer climbing back into the ring, seems like familiar territory for you. Have you considered turning your story into a movie?
Well, I'm just now working on a book. It'll be out next year. The stories are fascinating and quite nasty.
Suppose it becomes a movie called The Adler, who would you want playing your part?
Adler's Appetite with Jon Fisher and 28 North. 7:30 p.m. Wed., March 11. Hard Rock Café, 230 W. Station Square Drive, Station Square. $20. 412-481-ROCK or www.hardrock.com
Steven Adler meet and greet. 2:30-4 p.m. Wed., March 11. Eide's Entertainment, 1121 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412-261-0900 or www.eides.com