Allison's Reviews > Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top

Hit Hard by Joey Kramer
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Feb 01, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: non, rock

Joey Kramer's book is all about him - surprise surprise, right? It's an autobiography, of course it's about him! But it's about his struggles through life, it's not just a name-dropping, I'm a kick-ass rock star type of book.

Joey Kramer tells you everything. He tells you about frequently crying like a baby as a grown man, he tells you about shitting his pants because he was so strung out, he tells you about the guilt he feels for missing out on his son's childhood because of drugs. He shoulders some of the blame for his marriage ending, instead of pushing it off onto his ex-wife, who wouldn't be able to defend herself.

One of the most emotional parts was when he went to see his abusive father, who was wasting away from Alzheimer's.
"His face was like a mask. The disease had taken everything, even his ability to smile or talk. This big strong guy, this soldier who had stormed the beaches at Normandy to fight the Nazis was now helpless, stiff and hunched over, his muscles wasted away from not being used. It broke my heart, and I thought, This is the raging monster who had terrorized me when I was growing up?"

Throughout the book, Joey delves deeply into the complicated relationship with his dad, even sharing the letter he wrote after his father's death, forgiving him. I won't lie - I bawled uncontrollably during those sections. My heart went out to Joey for what he went through with his father, but then I was so proud and inspired that he forgave his dad.

Joey's battle with depression is very common, but it's always hard to believe that other people know how you're feeling. "...this depression was just one big hole, and I was right at the edge, looking down into the darkness, and the darkness had a gravitational pull all its own. I didn't want to go down there, and yet I couldn't pull away."

The book is about Aerosmith too, of course - he is the drummer. But it's not bragging about what he had, lost, and got back. It's about trying to define himself in another way: "'Who are you, Joey Kramer? Who are you without Aerosmith?' I was forty-five years old, and it was time for me to have an answer."

It's not a self-help book, but there are a lot of nuggets of advice in there that I had to make note of. Here are a couple:
+ "I was learning to recognize that the minute I assumed something about what someone else was thinking or feeling about me and I got into defending against that assumption, not only was I giving life to a committee of enemies in my head, but I was the 'chairman' of that committee. Maybe most important, I began to hear the concept that we are not what other people feel about us or think about us."
+ "...that okay feeling has to be independent of how others might try to make me feel. ... The trick for me is having the right kind of boundaries - knowing which feelings belong to me and which are yours."

Disclaimer: Yes, I love Joey Kramer. But I'm not biased - I hate musicians that complain they never ever wanted to be famous, that they just wanted to play music - even when all they wrote about in their journals was how to book more shows, how to get in with this agent, how to get more public exposure (coughKurtCobaincough). I hate celebrities who use their fame to bring attention to themselves for any little thing, as a soapbox to force their views on the public.
It's easy to read a review from someone who is biased and think it's all bullshit. And true, maybe you wouldn't like this book, and maybe you think Aerosmith is a shitty, money-grubbing band. That's fine. But this is an honest story, and a powerful one, and it's clear to see the point of the book is not to make Joey look cool. I know he made money from signing the book deal, writing the manuscript, and from each copy sold. But I honestly think that he wanted to get his story out there.
"You don't have to be a rock star to crash and burn. The details of our stories may be different, but as humans, our pain is the same. ... I tried to convey a story that - while uniquely mine - is so relatable that it serves to deliver a universal message of hope and the process of healing."

And that's refreshing to hear from any celebrity.
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