The First 21 – The Origin Story of Nikki Sixx
Rock-and-roll icon and three-time bestselling author Nikki Sixx tells his origin story: how Frank Feranna became Nikki Sixx, chronicling his fascinating journey from irrepressible Idaho farm boy to the man who formed the revolutionary rock group Motley Crue.
Nikki Sixx is one of the most respected, recognizable, and entrepreneurial icons in the music industry. As the founder of Motley Crue, who is now in his twenty-first year of sobriety, Sixx is incredibly passionate about his craft and wonderfully open about his life in rock and roll, and as a person of the world.
Born Franklin Carlton Feranna on December 11, 1958, young Frankie was abandoned by his father and partly raised by his mother, a woman who was ahead of her time in some ways and deeply troubled in others. Frankie ended up living with his grandparents, bouncing from farm to farm and state to state. He was an all-American kid-hunting, fishing, chasing girls, and playing football-but underneath it all, there was a burning desire for more, and that more was music. So he eventually took a Greyhound bound for Hollywood.
In Los Angeles, Frank lived with his aunt and his uncle-the president of Capitol Records. But there was no short path to the top. He was soon on his own. There were dead-end jobs: dipping circuit boards, clerking at liquor and record stores, selling used light bulbs, and hustling to survive. But at night, Frank honed his craft, joining Sister, a band formed by fellow hard-rock veteran Blackie Lawless, and formed a group of his own: London, the precursor of Motley Crue. Turning down an offer to join Randy Rhoads’ band, Frank changed his name to Nikki London, Nikki Nine, and, finally, Nikki Sixx. Like Huck Finn with a stolen guitar, he had a vision: a group that combined punk, glam, and hard rock into the biggest, most theatrical and irresistible package the world had ever seen.
With hard work, passion, and some luck, the vision manifested in reality – and this is a profound true story finding identity, of how Frank Feranna became Nikki Sixx. And it’s a road map to the ways you can overcome anything, and achieve all of your goals, if only you put your mind to it.
Duffy’s Thoughts on The First 21
The Dirt by Motley Crue is probably one of my favourite music biographies. I also thoroughly enjoyed the hedonistic movie of the same name starring Machine Gun Kelly, and it was reading this book and watching the movie which made me start listening to some of the band’s music. Unfortunately, before this book and movie arrived in my orbit, I had little knowledge of who they were, aside from the Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson tabloid dramas. Nothing of their music or their meteoric rise to fame.
The First 21 tells the tale of a young Frankie Feranna, who is raised by various interesting, wanderlust filled and yet ultimately caring people who picked up a bass guitar and became a member of one of America’s largest rock bands. Taking dead-end jobs to buy a guitar, forming bands in mates garages, and getting the crap kicked out of him for parading the halls of his High School with big hair and a women’s jacket turned inside out. Throughout his childhood, it seems to me that Frankie Feranna stayed true to himself and the only thing that ever really changed was his name. Frank changed his name to Nikki London, then Nikki Nine and then eventually settled on the name now etched in music history, Nikki Sixx.
Nikki writes really well. I loved the flow of his words on the page and the emotion which comes through at certain times of his life. His unwavering love for his sisters and the sheer rage and frustration triggered when talking about his mom. I’m no die-hard Motley Crue fan, nor am I an avid subscriber to Rolling Stone magazine. I prefer dance music and 90’s RnB if truth be told. However, that didn’t stop me from enjoying every page of The First 21.
This isn’t a book solely for musos. If you love a good memoir, then I highly recommend The First 21. There is a reason Nikki Sixx has topped the New York Best Sellers list for the third time!
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