Bullied, drug-addled and abandoned by his wife, Jesse 'The Devil' Hughes has survived it all to find success with Eagles of Death Metal, the boogie-rock group he shares with Queens of The Stoneage leader Josh Homme.
Inspired by his mustachioed mentors Doc Holliday and Freddie Mercury, Eagles of Death Metal's singer-guitarist Jesse Hughes wears his ginger handle-bar moustache like a badge of honour - and as an ode to his late great-grandfather Boss Thomas.
"I'm actually a hereditary member of the Sons of the Confederacy, which is where you can trace your lineage directly back to the American Civil War," reveals Hughes on the phone from the UK. "My great-grandfather was a Georgia militia sharp-shooter in the war and he had a Doc Holliday moustache if ever there was one."
Ironically it was Hughes' dysfunctional family that unwittingly shaped his adult career. At the age of 7 after his parents' divorce he moved from small town South Carolina to the Californian desert outpost of Palm Springs "where having a southern accent in a town filled with biker speed freaks didn't help". Hughes was bullied mercilessly at school and so began his withdrawl into a fantasy world of late night movies and head-phone music.
"I looked at the record covers and began to obsess on the biographies and history of rock n' rollers," he says.
Whilst he enjoyed the academic component of school, later dabbling in politics and journalism, Hughes admits the social aspect was a dismay failure for him.
"The bullying made it so that all I wanted to do was be a square," he says.
Until he later discovered his wife was having an affair with a woman. "It turned my life upside down," says Hughes. "My mother was worried about me. She called my best friend Joshua Homme who showed up and heard two of the first songs I wrote and he took me to Hollywood and I've never worked a straight job since. If there's anything more like a rock n' roll fantasy I don't know what. But I certainly had one.
"Josh is the best friend I've ever had in my life and I love him dearly," he adds. "If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here right now in any way, shape or form. I struggled with drug addiction for a while and was nearly on death's doorstep. But again my best friend showed up, picked me up and drove me to a rehab centre, checked me in and even paid for it. I mean I feel like the luckiest guy in the world."
Channeling Little Richard, Joan Jett and the stigma of teenage rejection into his own songbook, Hughes founded Eagles of Death Metal with Homme in 1998 as a faux sexed-up rock project with a slant on hip-shaking boogie.
"My mother always taught me that if you're feeling bad or having trouble then dance it away and you'll eventually hypnotize your way out of it," he laughs. "Funkadelic is where I model a lot of everything I do. The way I write songs, I base that on George Clinton's and James Brown's notion that every instrument is a drum. And on my records everything is played like a drum."
After two thumping records - 2004's Peace Love Death Metal and Death By Sexy in 2006 - Hughes and Homme last year released their third effort Heart On, recorded at various stops across the US including the Mid-West.
Described cheekily by Hughes as "a sonic warhead sexually tipped for her pleasure", the album, led by the single Wanna Be In LA, finds the red-headed rockers again blending swaggering riffs and confessional vignettes albeit with a little less of the posturing mock-rock send-ups they're renown for.
"I like having to work my ass off for people's appreciation," says Hughes. "It's a good feeling."