I always found Howard Stern’s radio show to be good entertainment, especially the interviews. This book is a collection of excerpts from some of his favorite guests, many of whom are famous celebrities. I’m not much into celebrities but the interviews contain some gems, many of which I’ve collected below. This book was easy to read in short bursts and provides somewhat of an interesting dive into Howard.
Even if you’re very ill, show up. Don’t let Ringo sit in for you.
For me, money is like oxygen. You breathe it in and out. You don’t hold your breath. What are you going to do then? You just have to let it go.
Howard: I’ve always been interested in people who write songs for other people. First of all, you have a beautiful singing voice. There’s no reason why you would write these songs for other people. But then when I read your story, I was like, “Wow, I get it.”
Sia: It’s money.
Howard: No, it wasn’t money, though. It was also anxiety, right?
Sia: It was a combination. It was that I didn’t want to be famous but still I wanted to work out a way to make my gift work in my favor without having to sell a piece of my, like, serenity real estate.
Howard: This is a question that even psychiatrists can’t fully answer: Do you think bipolar is nurture or nature? Is it something you’re born with, or is it something that happens as a result of having this fucked-up childhood?
Sia: I have a theory, but I don’t—
Howard: What’s your theory?
Sia: I don’t think it’s fucked-up childhood in my case. I refrain from blaming anything on my parents. I think that everyone does their best and that if they didn’t do their best, they’re just sick too. What I do think is that I smoked too much pot as a kid.
Howard: And you think it fucked you up?
Sia: Yeah, I think I fucked my brain up.
Robin: How old were you when you started smoking?
Vincent: I do it for the money. You do it for the money, once you get there. When you first were in radio, you do it for things, pathological things, ego—
Howard: To get my father’s attention.
Vincent: To get your father’s attention. Once you’re there, then you do the best job you can. But what gets you there maybe is simple things like survival and ego and revenge.
I placed the quote in bold red letters on top of one of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken: a black-and-white shot of Beth and me pressed close together and staring into the camera. I used that photo instead of a blank background because I wanted to see Beth and remind myself of just how good I already have it. Wanting everything makes life a nightmare.
Howard: Was OxyContin great in terms of it just numbed everything out for you? They call it “hillbilly heroin.”
Chris: Yeah, it’s—you don’t know what’s going on. You don’t feel anything. Kicking it is so hard because all of a sudden your whole body comes to life, and you’ll have had all of these physical problems you didn’t realize you had because you don’t feel a damn thing. And so your knees will hurt. Your joints ache. Your brain hurts. It’s very depressing. It’s very hard to stay off. Getting off isn’t as hard as staying off.
Howard: He is. Don’t you think he got his Parkinson’s from the fight game?
Michael: I’m sure that getting punched in the head by Joe Frazier can’t be good for you.
Michael: That’s the thing. I personally don’t wonder what caused that. It doesn’t serve me. I got other stuff to do.
Howard: I get into the blame game with all my stuff. All my personal shit that doesn’t go right in my life, I have to find something to blame because I think it gives me control.
Michael: Yeah, and it’s a big lesson for you—like I said before, realizing I’m along for the ride. The thing is to make the best out of it.
Howard: You think you go to heaven when you die? Do you think about any of that?
Steven: Well, you got to think about this. If you’re on a table—they’ve done this thousands of times now—and you’re getting ready to die: the second you die, you can see the weight go down. It’s tangible.
Howard: You think that’s your soul going somewhere?
Steven: It’s your soul going somewhere, and we’re electricity, and it goes somewhere. All that you are goes somewhere.
Howard: On the whole, and be honest with me, has life been just a big pain in the ass? I mean, did you ever enjoy yourself? Rodney: No. I very, very seldom enjoy myself. The only time I enjoy myself is when I’m being creative and I write something that they appreciate.
Billy: In some ways. But there’s a lot of benefits to this age too.
Howard: What are the benefits? Because I’m up peeing every fifteen minutes now.
Billy: You don’t nickel-and-dime a lot of stupid stuff you used to. Your priorities are pretty well-balanced at this point. You know what’s important.
Howard: But do you feel like you wasted time when you were young? Are there any regrets?
Billy: Sure, I’ve got regrets. Anyone who’s really lived has regrets. If you have no regrets, what kind of life did you have?
Howard: How many Jews can claim they were baptized in a Christian church?
Billy: All the Jews in Spain during the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.
Billy: No, piano is a percussion instrument. People think it’s a string instrument, but piano you play like a drum.
Howard: And you hit the keys very hard, don’t you?
Billy: Yeah, I used to break bass strings all the time. It’s a percussion instrument. Play it like a drum. You strike the piano.
Howard: So the message is, “Don’t treat your life like it’s gonna be over in five minutes.”
Howard: Treat your life like you’re in it for a marathon.
Billy: Some people will get there sooner, and some people will get there later. It’s like, “Slow down. You’re gonna be fine.” Whenever you get there, you get there.
Ed: Oh, 100 percent. And when the ideas come in—the worst thing in the world is being in the studio and you’re, like, midflow, bang bang bang, and you get a text and you go into your phone and that’s an hour of your time gone. If you don’t have any distractions—I was literally writing four or five songs a day ’cause there was nothing else to do.
Howard: I saw Sam pass out onstage. His second show. First show, sharp. And then all of a sudden fucked up and couldn’t get through the second show. When you saw Sam Kinison go on Saturday Night Live, he used to get shit, because he would do his Jesus routine and America would go berserk. In a way, isn’t that the badge of courage?
Chris: You got to piss off somebody. It’s not good weed if you don’t choke a little bit.
I’ve been having my parents on the show since the very start, and they are hands-down the greatest guests in the history of radio. The reason why goes back to what I said earlier in the book about the first rule of being a successful radio personality: they both have very strong opinions. I can ask them about anything and they will give me an unfiltered response, an answer that is completely honest.