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Excerpt: Neil Strauss’ Wild Romp Through Celebrity Culture in ‘Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead’

The longtime Rolling Stone contributor has interviewed everyone from Courtney Love and Eric Clapton to Snoop Dogg

For over 20 years Neil Strauss has been writing celebrity profiles for Rolling Stone, the New York Times and many other publications. During that time he's downed shots with Bruce Springsteen, chilled in a hot tub with Marilyn Manson, debated religion with Tom Cruise and watched Mötley Crüe go to jail. In his new book Everyone Loves You When You're Deadin stores now – Strauss fuses together 228 memorable moments from his career. "I went back to my original interview recordings, notes and transcripts," he writes in the book's introduction. "I selected the best moments from the three-thousand-something articles I've written over the years…I spent weeks working on some of these stories, what I realized is that most of the time I was waiting for just one moment of truth or authenticity."

Here are select excerpts from the book.

Michel Linssen/Redferns/Getty

Snoop Dogg

The Scene: Snoop Dogg's home outside Los Angeles, shortly after the murders of Tupac and Biggie Smalls—and just after Snoop left Death Row Records.

Snoop Dogg: I want you to hear a few songs first.

[Presses PLAY on a DAT machine, and leaves the room while 13 songs he’s just finished recording blare from the studio speakers. As soon as the last song ends, he bursts back through the door.]

Well, did you tape some of it?

Of course not.
You should have.

What?!
Didn’t we talk yesterday about taping pieces of the album and leaking them on the Internet?

Yeah, but most rappers try to avoid leaking their music, because then no one will buy it when it comes out.
Fuck it, just bootleg that motherfucker. Come on, man. I'll give you the ones you want.

[He plays three songs, and watches diligently to make sure I record them.]

Cool. Can we use your wheels? I gotta go get Pampers.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

Frazer Harrison/Getty

Courtney Love

The Scene: Courtney Love’s house in Los Angeles. The time is very late. The moment is when she leaps off her bed and suddenly says…

Courtney Love: Say hi to Kurt.

[She walks to a dresser, pulls open a drawer, and removes a square-shaped tin. She removes the lid, revealing a plastic bag full of white ashes. A faint smell of jasmine emanates from the tin.]

Too bad you don’t do coke. Otherwise I’d suggest taking a metal straw to it.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty

Johnny Cash

The Scene: Nine years before his death, in Nashville.

Cash: You know, I’ve, uh, in ’88, when I had bypass surgery, I was as close to death as you could get. I mean, the doctors were saying they were losing me. And I was going, and there was that wonderful light that I was going into. It was awesome, indescribable—beauty and peace, love and joy—and then all of a sudden there I was again, all in pain and awake. I was so disappointed.

Disappointed?
I realized a day or so later what point I had been to, and then I started thanking God for life. You know, I used to think only of life, but when I was that close to losing it, I realized it wasn’t anything to worry about when that does happen.

So did you always believe that when you die you go somewhere else?
Yeah, but I didn’t know it was going to be that beautiful. I mean, it’s indescribably wonderful, whatever there is at the end of this life.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

 


Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty

Eric Clapton

The Scene: A rehearsal studio in the outskirts of London, where Eric Clapton is dining on lamb hotpot.

When you heard about Kurt Cobain, did you think that could have been you at one point in your life?
Oh yeah, he was quoted as saying things that I totally identified with. Like being backstage and hearing the crowd out there and thinking, "I’m not worth it. I’m a piece of shit. And they’re mad—they're fools—if they like me. This is a sick situation. If they knew what the truth was about me, they wouldn’t like me." I’ve identified with that a million times. I just don’t know why that couldn’t have been stopped.

Was there anyone who could have helped you when you were at that point?
No, no. Good point. No, it had to come from inside me. When I did this Rainbow show, Pete Townshend, Steve Winwood, Ronnie Wood, and a whole host of people—friends—were trying to save me from this shit by having me play a concert. I was doing a lot of heroin. They got me to rehearsals. They did everything for me. All I had to do was show up, and I didn’t give a fuck. And it didn’t make any difference.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

SGranitz/WireImage

Mötley Crüe

The Scene: Backstage after a concert in Phoenix, six police officers suddenly burst into Mötley Crüe’s dressing room.

Police Officer One: Is this the guy who attacked the security officer?

Police Officer Two: I don’t know. They both have facial hair.

Police Officer One [to Nikki Sixx]: Put your hands behind your back.

Police Officer Two [to Tommy Lee]: You too. . . .

[The police lead Sixx and Lee, who is wearing nothing but tight rubber shorts, into the corridor and toward the backstage exit. Two teenage Mötley Crüe fans tentatively approach them, each clutching a copy of Shout at the Devil on vinyl.]

Fan: Can you sign these for us?

 Meanwhile, singer Vince Neil blow dries his hair nonchalantly, as he has throughout the incident, while guitarist Mick Mars lounges in a chair nearby.

Mick Mars [to me]: Well, what did you think of the show?

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

Kevin Winter/Getty

Hugh Hefner

The Scene: The Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles, when Hugh Hefner sits in his red smoking jacket and black silk pajamas next to a bottle of Diet Pepsi and a plate of cookies.

I wonder how much rejection drives people to become stars.
Or repression. I think that without question, you know, rejection may be a part of it, but primarily it comes even earlier than that.

So for you, it came from being raised in a home without affection?
Yes, although there was a point in time that my mom said she was really sorry, and that she herself had been raised in a very oppressive home, so she had been unable to show that affection. And I said to her, "Mom, anything that you may have done that was less than ideal was a blessing. It motivated me to create the world that I have created and accomplish what I have accomplished."

So sometimes it’s the sand in the oyster that creates the pearl. You need some irritation. You need some repression or some conflict. And my life would have been much less satisfying if I didn't have that.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

Chuck Berry

The Scene: Sitting in the St. Louis restaurant and club Blueberry Hill, Berry, known for avoiding reporters, has his longest interview in decades. At the end, he suggests staying in touch via telephone and fax, then suddenly grows concerned.

Berry: Yeah, let me ask one question. Don’t laugh at this because it’s not laughable, and I’m not . . . Yes, I am serious. You’re not funny, are you? [1]

No, I’m not.
Well, that’s what I want to hear. I mean, I’ve talked to funny guys. Like do you know Little Richard?

Not personally.
Anyway, he’s for real. I know because I’ve been asked for . . . He came on to me once, you know. And it just doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t believe it! And he believes it. By that, I mean he doesn’t deny it. Anyway, when I ask you that, it’s only because you said, “We’ll talk,” you know . . .


[1]Funny (fun•ny, adj. [archaic colloquial]): Of, pertaining to, or exhibiting homosexuality.

From Everyone Loves You When You're Dead. Copyright © 2011 by Neil Strauss. Published by HarperCollins Publishers.

For more, visit NeilStrauss.com/elywyd

 

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