An open letter to Vince Neil

Dr. Feelgood, it’s Dr. Jarret Keene (English, Florida State University, ’01), writing from the outer limits—I’m talkin’ the absolute fringe—of Las Vegas entertainment journalism. Still, I noticed you’re the subject of much coverage and discussion given your recent DUI, jail term and a bizarre finger-poking assault on two so-called reporters and a PR flack during a comedy act at the Hilton. I have some advice.

First, I’m writing this as a fan though, honestly, I only cherish Crüe’s Too Fast for Love (1981) and Shout at the Devil (1983) because they’re perfect Frankensteins of punk, glam rock, heavy metal, faux Satanism and genuine sleaze. My worn-out, mostly unplayable cassette tapes of these albums, purchased in a Camelot Music in the old Tampa Bay Center mall when I was 10 years old, are still prominently displayed atop my stereo system. (Yes, I own a stereo, so I’m longtime fan who refuses to listen to music solely via iTunes.) I also have vinyl versions that I paid too much for at Wax Trax Records on South Decatur Boulevard right when I moved to town in ’01. I’m not alone in thinking these are your all-time best efforts, but I don’t feel your best music is behind you. I read your recent autobiography, and there are a lot of good times and heartbreaking tragedies in there that you have left unexplored. I realize you’re someone who looks to the future, but you need to slow down and take stock.

That starts with doing your time, paying for the crimes and putting the legal system behind you. The sooner you get free from being a courtroom poking … er, I mean punching bag and escape the headlines, the faster you can return to what matters—or should matter. Maybe that means rebuilding your personal relationships at the expense of your rabid commercial pursuits. Or perhaps you just need to drink a quart of Charlie Sheen’s Tiger Blood (though I wouldn’t recommend it). Whatever it takes for you to cease serving as a punch line à la Topper Harley and avoid getting your butt pinched in the slammer again. Way I see it, the faster you launch another venture, the more bogged down in distracting, self-destructive bullshit you become.

Which leads me to another bit of advice: Sell off and abandon all your nonmusical business interests—tattoo parlors, bar and grills, vineyards, poker tournaments, tequila products, airlines, etc. They’re shit anyway, and in this economy it doesn’t make sense to broaden one’s portfolio. It’s time to bear down and grind out a solid and satisfying living by doing what you do best—bringing the rock. I’m sure you pride yourself as a businessman, but your best business deals always take place behind a microphone, in a recording studio, onstage. Music is what people want and expect from you. Not another cheesy clothing line. The deeper you push yourself and your brand into lame, unimaginative concepts, the more people will consider you a washed-up rock vocalist. You’re not, at least not yet.

Finally, it’s time for a real record. (Last year’s horrible Tattoos & Tequila doesn’t count.) In recent months, I’ve interviewed reputable rock producers—Stacy Jones, for instance—who’ve shared a desire to produce a Neil solo album. (My favorite question to pose of late: “How should we handle Dr. Feelgood?”) People want to work with you because of your discography. These days, you seem to have a strictly financial relationship with Crüe; despite the tour dates, your heart’s not in it, and Nikki Sixx seems too intent on updating the band’s attack instead of sticking to the classic sound. There’s no shortage of talented songwriters, even in Vegas. Find one; get to work. If worse comes to worst, you can beg Slash to let you front Velvet Revolver and make a ton of money that way. Besides, anything you do will be better than Pitchfork-celebrated indie-rock act Crystal Wolf Loves Foxes Too.

Oh yeah, and one more thing:

Stop drinking.



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