TORONTO -- April Wine frontman Myles Goodwyn has experienced his share of highs and heartaches in and out of the spotlight, but a near brush with death motivated the musician to steer towards a smoother path.

In the opening pages of his new memoir "Just Between You and Me" (HarperCollins), an unsettling scene plays out far from the concert stage.

In 2008, Goodwyn was heading to a Montreal airport to catch a flight to Halifax where April Wine was headlining an event. The Woodstock, N.B.-born singer-songwriter passed out as a result of severe intoxication. The alcohol abuse led to internal bleeding and blood loss so severe he would have died within 24 hours without hospitalization.

"There was one moment that changed the course of things, and for me, that was it: realizing my mortality, realizing I was dying and I didn't know it," recalled Goodwyn during a recent interview in downtown Toronto.

"I was sick for a long time. I was skin and bones," added Goodwyn, who was treated in a hospital near Montreal followed by a stint at a Toronto rehab facility. "After I was well again, I thought of how lucky I was and how grateful, and I started thinking about putting a lot of things down on paper."

"Just Between You and Me" takes its name from April Wine's first single to break into the Billboard top 20. The track off the 1981 album "The Nature of the Beast" became the group's biggest success, selling more than a million copies in the U.S. that year and earning international platinum status.

The memoir chronicles Goodwyn's steady climb to stardom as the lead guitarist and vocalist of the rock group, which was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2010. The book also delves into Goodwyn's tough upbringing in rural Nova Scotia and how he coped with his mother's death from brain cancer before he turned 11.

"It messed up the whole family," he recalled. "It was difficult for my dad, and there were three young boys, so it was a very dysfunctional family after that. Luckily, I had music to turn to."

Goodwyn joined forces with brothers David and Ritchie Henman and their cousin Jim Henman to form April Wine in Nova Scotia in 1969, and later relocated to Montreal. Over more than a decade, the group developed a catalogue stacked with hits including "Tonight is a Wonderful Time to Fall in Love," "You Won't Dance With Me" and the Hot Chocolate cover "You Could Have Been A Lady."

Among his tales of life on the road, Goodwyn recalled the band sharing the stage with the Rolling Stones in 1977 for a pair of shows at Toronto's El Mocambo club, which were recorded by both bands for live albums.

"Keith Richards got busted for heroin and that was big news," he said. "Charlie Watts and Billy Wyman were private people. But (Mick) Jagger, on the other hand, was right in your face. Wonderful big smile. I find him very personable.

"Watching him warm up in the afternoon, getting on this little stage, bouncing up and down, he's a real pro. He's in the moment always."

While the band has experienced a revolving door of lineup changes, Goodwyn has remained the constant and continues to lead April Wine on tours. Despite his foray into solo work, he never had the desire to go it entirely alone.

"I never had the confidence. I didn't even like my singing at all, the sound of my voice until many albums into the journey," he admitted. "I like to be surrounded by people. I'm a very quiet person.

"When we formed April Wine ... there were three singers, three musicians, and so we shared the duties, and so that was OK. But as time went on, I became more to the front of the group just because of circumstances, my writing and so forth," he continued.

"It's not the perfect world for me, but I've been very lucky, I'm very grateful. And like I say, I'm still doin' it so it can't be that bad," he added, laughing. "I'm still out there doing it, and I'd miss it if I didn't do it."