The jaw-dropping tell-all from the lead singer of 1980s supergroup Ratt—and the dirty details of the riotous era when big-haired bands ruled the world.
Women. Spandex. Drugs. Hair spray. . . . Welcome to heavy metal rock ’n’ roll, circa 1980, when all you needed was the right look, burning ambition, and a chance. Cranking out metal just as metal got hot, Ratt was the perfect band at the perfect time, and their hit single “Round and Round” became a top-selling anthem. The bigger Ratt got, the more excessive lead singer Stephen Pearcy and his “pussy pirates” became. There was nothing these guys wouldn’t snort, drink, bed, or break. But as Ratt scrambled up a wall of fame and wealth, so they experienced a gut-wrenching free fall. Pearcy’s stunningly honest rock ’n’ roll confessional, by turns incredible, hilarious, and lyrical, is more than a story of survival—it’s a search for the things that matter most.
Sex, Drugs, Ratt & Roll YOU’RE TALKIN’ TO ME IN 2009, I PACKED myself off to rehab in Pasadena, California, in an attempt to wean myself from that nagging booze/pills/grass/heroin habit I’d picked up over the last several decades. There was an initial period of hell, better known as withdrawal, followed by a long stretch of a much more annoying kind of torture: therapy.
It’s the price of getting clean, I guess. They help you ditch the drugs, make it so your bandmates no longer have to stick mirrors underneath your nostrils to see if you’re still alive when you go into one of your increasingly frequent nods in the recording studio—and then you have to sort of humor them when they say, What else about you can we clean up?
I was assigned a decent, flabby therapist named Dr. Harold Roberts, who had the nerve to imply that I might have a few other addictions to my name, too.
“What I’d like to ask you, Stephen, is, have you ever considered yourself a sex addict?”
I laughed. “How would I even know?”
“A sex addict might, for instance, spend the majority of his waking hours trying to procure sex.”
“I’m a rock singer,” I said. “If you have to try to get laid, then there’s definitely something wrong.”
“Did you ever have a period of your life when you went from partner to partner, without due regard for their personalities?”
“Yes. The 1980s.”
“Okay.” Dr. Roberts laughed. “All right. Humor can be a defense mechanism. How many partners might you have had?” He said it casually, but I could see his interest was growing.
“You know that guy John Paul?” I said. “Lives in Italy?”
“The Pope?” Dr. Roberts asked.
“More than him.”
“Again with the humor,” said Dr. Roberts.
“My stamina in the mid-’80s was unparalleled,” I began. “I was tearing down three chicks a day when we were on the road, under ideal conditions.”
“Three? But I don’t even see how that’s possible.”
“It’s possible when you’re organized. It’s possible when you have a team.”
They were well-trained and faithful soldiers—Phil, Joe, and Road Dog—each one ready to scout the hottest trim around and slap passes in those girls’ hands. They’d continue throughout our show, scanning the audience, knowing my type perfectly. After the encore, there would be twenty-five giggling blondes lined up, all incredible tits, flat stomachs, and golden asses. I just had to pick.
“But of course you’re exaggerating,” Dr. Roberts said.
“Now,” I continued, “if you want to throw down on tour, you have to learn how to do it right. You space out the trim—one before the show in your dressing room, one midshow, during the drum solo, and then obviously, one at the hotel that night.”
A momentary silence filled the room.
“Or on the bus.”
The doctor was writing something down in his notebook.
“But you must stay organized. For instance, always make sure to take a Polaroid of each of your girls. Write her phone number on the back with a Sharpie. Then hand that off to your security guy to stick in his Rolodex, so that you have it for next time you come through Jacksonville or Corpus Christi.”
“Mr. Pearcy, this is compulsive behavior, don’t you agree?”
“No, it’s smart behavior. I grew up with this, man. I was at Van Halen shows for a long time before my band broke, and I knew the best bands had their systems down. I always told my guys when we got big, we’d do it right.”
The doctor and I stared at each other for a while. It was nice and quiet in that office. You pay through the nose if you go to rehab, at least if you go to some of the posher places. The one I went to, embarrassingly, is the place where Dr. Drew filmed his celebrity rehab show. I liked the cleanliness and general high production value of the whole place, though.
“Back in the day, I used my itineraries to keep track of every single chick I ever met or put myself into. I kept them my whole adult life. Had stacks and stacks and stacks of them. They got burned by my super-pissed girlfriends. I’d just write the girl’s name, her phone number, the city I met her in, and a rating. You know, seven, eight, maybe a nine. Once in a while, a true ten. And if we had sex, I’d mark it with three x’s. And if we did something else, I’d write that. Then I’d try to add some sort of signature description, like ‘see again.’ Or ‘fly out.’ Or ‘kinda funky.’ ”
“Do you have anything else that you want to tell me, Stephen?” Dr. Roberts said. “Anything that you’d like to get off your chest?”
Stephen Pearcy, founder, lead singer and songwriter of the popular rock band Ratt, led his band to critical praise and multi-platinum success. Formed in Los Angeles in 1982 from the remains of his band Mickey Ratt, Ratt was known for their flamboyant appearance and rebellious attitude. Pearcy currently lives in Los Angeles.
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