on 2 February 2006
On the very first page of this book Danny Sugerman is told by his doctor that he's dying. The reader is hooked from page one because Mr Sugerman clearly survived long enough to write his autobiography. I have never come across a funnier, crazier autobiography than this. Danny's dysfunctional home life morphs into a drug and alcohol fuelled rock 'n' roll party after he is befriended by the still unknown Doors. They like him, and almost on a whim, make him their manager. The rest you have to read for yourselves because it is simply inconceivable that there are people out there who have driven their car into a stranger's swimming pool after a night out with Iggy Pop. Completely and utterly bonkers, and I loved every page.
on 6 June 2016
Bought this book to see what further insight I could gain into the life and times of Jim Morrison, kingpin of my favourite band of all time, The Doors.
Not the slightest bit interested in Sugerman and his endless and frankly boring recollections of getting stoned on whatever substance he was snorting, inhaling or injecting at the time.
With so much garbage written about Jim Morrison, it was interesting to read about his more human caring side through the eyes of Sugerman. Morrison apparently took the young Sugerman under his wing and made him the band's publicist. Ray Manzarek, [RIP], the band's keyboard player bought him a house in Hollywood where he continued his involvement with the Doors' management.
Once Morrison had '...broke on thru to the other side...' in Paris in '71 the book descends into anecdote after endless anecdote about illegal drugs.
For anyone who spent their teenage years in the mid to late Sixties there is nothing new to read.
Worth a read courtesy of the memories of the legendary Jim Morrison…[RIP]
on 8 December 2013
It is actually in three sections. The first concerns his childhood and early youth; it's a bit Holden-Caulfield-on-acid, "Catcher In The Rye" for the flower power generation, and a bit hard to get through. The second is the musical bit and maybe the bit most are interested in. The final "half" is the descent; the (now) all-too-predictable move from occaisional drug use, to cocaine, then heroin, first snorting, then mainlining.... But the book is redeemed by it's ending when he talks about how the "live fast, die young and leave a good looking corpse" bit might be very romantic but pretty useless for the aforementioned corpse. The afterword listing those who didn't "get out of here alive" (most of the people in the book) is pretty sad.
What is missing, though, is the realisation that the reason he survived, apart from a degree of much-needed luck, was MONEY; from a wealthy background, and then employed in the music biz, he always had money for his drugs and often had people to get them for him. No selling his backside for a few grains of heavily cut street smack - and he (just) missed AIDS. Even his eventual recovery is predicated on his father's money and the fact his brother was a doctor.
But it's well written and I enjoyed most of it. Sadly Sugarman died in 2005 of lung cancer; of all the drugs he used, it was tobacco that got him in the end.
on 30 March 2008
I first read this book 20 years ago in 1989 and found it utterly fascinating. Now nearly 20 years later I've re-read it and found it equally as compelling, which to me is the sign of a good book. My tastes have changed with time and to still find a book as absorbing and enjoyable 20 years on is a pretty good indicator of its power.
In this book Sugerman gives a graphic account of his almost unbelievable and hedonistic youth in 1960s & 70's Los Angeles. Dissatisfied with his life in general he was looking for an escape, and found it in the shape of Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. From then Sugerman's life turns crazy; from taking acid at school, becoming manager of The Doors and Iggy Pop, and living the LA lifestyle on Wonderland Avenue. But as these amazing highs occur so do dreadful lows; estrangement from his parents, the death of Morrison, and of course Sugerman's gradual decline into drug addiction.
The reason I loved and still love this book so much is the way Sugerman tells his tale. It's such a detailed and intense account of those years that by the end of the book I almost felt as though I knew him, and his honest depiction of the horror of his heroin addiction made me really like him. I only just discovered that Sugerman died in 2005 after a battle with lung cancer which makes the last chapter, where Sugerman's vigour and desire for life suddenly becomes so apparent, all the more poignant.
I can't recommend this book highly enough. It's probably one of my favourite books of all time.
on 10 January 2005
there will never be another one who can do the things you do' well that's how i feel about Danny Sugerman's books. Probably the greatest storyteller of the rock and roll lifestyle he lived and breathed. Picking up this book and starting the first page is very much like getting into a car with the king of acid rock - Jim Morrison - out of your fragile eggshell mind on some heavy duty blotters. You ram home the key and rev the beast to the very brink, the excitment builds, your temeperature fluctuates, nothings is as it was and your heart just races on and on - don't forget to breathe!
Everyone I have encouraged to read this book has come back to me and thanked me for the recommendation and now I have to break the terrible news that this hugely entertaining and enthusiastic writer is no longer with us. May he find the peace he so richly deserves and be reunited in the ether with those he loved that have gone before him.
A must read for all those capable of appreciation.
on 18 October 2004
Danny Sugerman is an amazing writer and I highly recommend this book to anyone remotely interested in the rock n roll lifestyle, and maybe those of us who aren't
His writing style is like nothing I have ever experienced before, you imagine you are there with him in the smokey bars, the parties, up at Wonderland Avenue, you can feel the California sun beating down on your back. You just have to read the pages and you are there making every single mistake with him.
It has everything a good story shoud have, apart from its not a story its true, and how Danny Sugerman made it well all I can say is he is one fortunate soul.
If you only ever read one book read this! You will not regret it. Shine on you crazy diamonds!!!!!
on 24 March 2014
In 1966 Danny Sugerman, aged 13, started hanging out, and after a while working, in the office of The Doors. As a reward for a baseball success he is taken to a Doors concert where he witnesses the mesmeric force of Jim Morrison performing and, always a child prone to obsessions (previously reptiles and wrestling), he forms a major fixation with Morrison who to some extent reciprocates by mentoring him in bohemian thinking.
Danny’s nemesis is his mean and truculent stepfather who seems to hate him with something bordering on a kind of ‘establishment psychosis’. Danny suffers from what today is diagnosed as ‘attention deficit disorder’ and this contributes to his inability to get on with school in particular and authority in general. At one point he blows up the school toilets with firecrackers. Eventually he is in so much trouble, mostly from school and his horrible stepfather, that he accepts taking Ritalin that does in fact help him a little with controlling his behavior.
The first half of this book, 200 pages or so, deals with this ‘teen rebel’ period in which Danny is torn between the influence of The Doors and his battles with authority. This is pretty entertaining stuff and the juxtaposition between rock ‘n’ roll excess the demands of being in school are interestingly contrasting.
Eventually Danny leaves home and with the help of money from Morrison starts living in a hotel, still going to school, and starts to enter more and more into the rock’n’roll lifestyle- drugs in particular. He doesn’t get on particularly well with LSD, has a bad trip, and feels somewhat guilty about this as he has bought into the lyrical concerns of bohemian drug enlightenment - all that stuff about ‘breaking through to the other side’and cleansing the ‘doors of perception’. He tries acid again, has another bad trip, but is rescued by Morrison who shaman-like guides him through to ‘the other side’. At this stage he is about 15.
Danny becomes The Doors press agent and gets on the payroll. This enables him to more actively pursue his drug interests. Morrison goes to Paris and dies in a bath tub. Danny feels distraught - another adult has let him down. However, his fixation with Morrison, continues as he lives ‘the life’. He discovers heroin and realises that this is what he’s been looking for all along - euphoric, invulnerable, pain relief. He rapidly becomes a heroin addict as all else pales into insignificance in comparison to the bliss of heroin. His rapidly burgeoning junk habit is bankrolled by, amazingly, his receiving a slice of the royalties from Doors records and becoming the manager of Ray Manzarek. This sort of thing unfortunately convinces him as long as he keeps screwing up good things will keep falling into his lap. Among his buddies is one deranged Jim Osterberg, better known to the world as Iggy Pop, and having friends like this doesn’t help either.
The second half of the book deals with this period which is a lot less interesting but still quite a story. Eventually, aged 21, Mr Sugerman has ”an idyllic home, a beautiful girlfriend, the best car in the world, two types of hepatitis, a diseased heart, a $500 a day heroin habit and only a week to live.” With the help of rehab, paid for by his wealthy long-suffering father, he realises the error of his ways and survives to, amongst other things, write a book about The Doors infamously titled ‘Nobody Gets Out of Here Alive’.
This book is, of course, for all of us more cautionary folks to do a bit of vicarious living. It is however also a cautionary tale. The descriptions of what it is to have a ‘monkey on your back’ that scampers back and torments you no matter what you do to try to get rid of it are truly scary. The last few pages are an angry denouncement of the myths of excess and idol worship:
“Jesus. The first thing I wanted to do was find a jerk invented the saying ‘if it feels good, do it’, and then go after the bozo who started the rumour that drugs enhance creativity, tie them both to the nearest tree and blow their ****** brains out”.
A page turner that is reasonably well written and gives you a powerful sense of where it all went wrong.
on 11 June 1998
Wonderland Avenue is fantastic, it was recommended to me by a friend and I couldn't put it down. Danny Sugarman's writing style is original, humorous and captivating. I read it just before heading to L.A. for a vacation. I ended up going to a lot of locations in the book just to see "where it all happened". Bottom line: READ THIS BOOK!!!!