Sebastian Bach Has Just Upped the Ante for Hair-Metal Memoirs

18 and Life on Skid Row
By Sebastian Bach
Dey St. Books
, 448 pp., $27.99

For anyone who has seen an interview with Sebastian Bach, he of the motor-mouth, hellzapoppin’, frenetic energy and a constant stream of verbal non sequiturs, two things come to mind: One, you want to party with him. And two, you want to punch this guy.

But you gotta give him this: The former singer for hard rockers Skid Row — the voice behind “18 and Life,” “Youth Gone Wild” and “I Remember You” — is definitely not one thing. And that’s boring.

In his wild ride of a memoir, 18 and Life on Skid Row, the former church-choir singer(!) and KISS-loving kid born Sebastian Bierk journeys from stage fright to becoming one of hair metal's wildest front men of the ‘80s and ’90s, one who strove to be the most debauched member in a group of heavy rock-and-roll debauchers. An actual chapter title here is “Bunch of Booze, Mountain of Blow, Quaaludes, and Tennis: My Time with Metallica.”

Skid Row fans looking for info on writing and making music and Bach’s fractured relationships with his former bandmates (the group's current incarnation does not include him) won’t find a whole lot here. But what you will get are wild tales of Bach’s insane level of partying with members of Bon Jovi, Mötley Crüe, Metallica, Guns N' Roses, Aerosmith, Pantera and others. Keep in mind he was still a teenager when he joined Skid Row!

Chapters detail Bach’s daylong coke bender with Lars Ulrich that improbably found them playing tennis on a rooftop court before an unexpected visit from Bach’s grandmother in the wrecked house; his nearly getting into a fistfight with Jon Bon Jovi; his sitting between Axl Rose and David Lee Roth at L.A.'s Rainbow Bar and Grill, knocking back shot after shot while rejecting the overtures of Poison’s Bret Michaels to join their party; his strip-club shenanigans with Kid Rock and Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath; and his partying hard on a plane to Russia with Ozzy Osbourne with other metal bands on their way to play an antidrug, anti-booze concert!

“There are so many stories of me getting hammered on Jack Daniel’s and making an ass of myself. I don’t even know where to begin,” he writes. And after detailing story after story, he often adds — as if in apology — “it was a different time.”

Yes, a different time that once found a hammered Bach at a strip club, in a cage, and completely naked when he decided it would be a good idea to set his pubic hair on fire. And then there are the women, of whom he enjoyed many, including one he duct-taped. My review copy of the book also includes some odd-looking computer-generated editing notes near the regular text that possibly were printed by error. Sample notes include “eating pussy w Matt,” “too high to fuck in Germany,” and “Slash’s house nude boxing.”

Bach also learns hard lessons about meeting your heroes (both Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley thrill, then disappoint him) and business. Instead of getting big checks at the end of a successful yearlong tour supporting Slave to the Grind, members of Skid Row are presented with invoices — the cost of their stage pyrotechnics and hotel/booze bills outstrip their earnings — that add a new word to his vocabulary: "shortfall."

Houston appears once in the book, when Bach is being interviewed on “The Bone” radio station some years back while promoting a solo record. Sitting in front of a large poster of Skid Row for Internet filming, the singer turns the image around to the blank back side and gets into an argument with the DJs about rehashing his past versus promoting new material.

Since his 1996 ouster from Skid Row, Bach has carved out a pretty respectable career as a solo touring and recording artist, in musical theater (playing title roles in both Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde and Jesus Christ Superstar), and reality TV (Celebrity Fit Club and the much-loved Supergroup).

Memorably, in Supergroup Bach lobbied hard for the name of the ad hoc band he formed with Scott Ian, Jason Bonham, Ted Nugent, and Evan Seinfeld to be “Savage Animal!" Bach also writes of his confrontations with Uncle Ted on the set over the latter’s liberal usage of the word “nigger” and their opposing views on racial equality.

Bach also spent several seasons playing a rock and roller on Gilmore Girls, and is in Netflix's current reboot as well. He writes that in airports and malls, he’s just as often recognized for this role as for his real singing.

Now (mostly) sober and with the “love of his life,” Bach ends this wild book with an open plea to his former bandmates to re-form the classic lineup of Skid Row. The ticking clock has been brought home to him by the recent death of his pal, Lemmy from Motörhead, along with David Bowie and Prince, he says. But if not, he's always got that gig with Hep Alien.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero