The Crue List:
Kickstart My Heart
A Brownsville Station Cover
Theater Of Pain
Put all of the above (The Crue List) together and you've got Motley Crue - as famous for their off-stage "performances" as they are for their music. Motley Crue came together in '81 and almost immediately began pulling itself apart. Bassist Frank Ferrano, who decided to call himself Nikki Sixx, teamed with drummer Tommy Lee Bass. Guitarist Bob Deal joined becoming Mick Mars. The original lead singer lasted two days before he was dumped in favor of Vince Neil Wharton.
"Too Fast For Love" drew attention and sold well, for an indie release. Soon signed to a major label, the group launched "Shout At The Devil," in '83. This set featured "Looks That Kill" and the accompanying video.
Neil, driving intoxicated crashed into another car, killing his passenger, Hanoi Rocks' Nicholas Dingley. Neil served jail time and performed community service for a vehicular manslaughter conviction.
Meanwhile, "Theater Of Pain" blasted up the charts riding a cover of Brownsville Station's "Smokin' In The Boys Room" and the power ballad "Home Sweet Home." Tommy Lee got hitched to actress Heather Locklear in '86. "Girls, Girls, Girls" came out in '87 and Sixx nearly died from a drug overdose.
Figuring it was time, some tour dates were canceled as band members went into rehab. They returned in '89 with "Dr. Feelgood" which yielded the title track, "Kickstart My Heart," and "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away). The compilation album, "Decade Of Decadence," followed and sold so well (debuted at #2 on the album charts) that the group started its own Motley Crue Records.
In the early '90s, Motley Crue was passe in a Grunge world. Recording their next album was a disaster. First, Neil was sacked. The group's press release claimed Neil was more interested in car racing than the group. Neil claimed that he was booted because he didn't like the group's musical direction. End result, John Corabi became Motley Crue's vocalist while Neil embarked on a lackluster solo career. The self-titled album did well but was considered a disappointment considering what Motley Crue had been.
By '97 Corabi was gone and Neil was back for "Generation Swine." Sales were strong but the album had no legs and quickly faded. "Greatest Hits" soon appeared.
Tommy Lee, now married to "Baywatch" babe Pamela Anderson, had to contend with the unauthorized release and distribution of a home movie showing them having sex. This escapade was more comical than anything else. Not so funny, Lee was convicted of spouse abuse and spent some time in jail. Free again, Lee, who'd been having difficulties with Neil, split in '99 to start Methods Of Mayhem. Randy Castillo, formerly of Ozzy Osbourne's band, replaced him. But Castillo fell ill and was replaced a year later by Hole drummer Samantha Maloney for a summer tour.
"New Tattoo" hit in '00 and was followed a year later by the group's tell all biography, The Dirt: Confessions Of The World's Most Notorious Rock Band. Which do you think sold better? Yep, the book.
Just when it looked like Crue was down for the count, and little more than a punchline to a bad '80s joke, an amazing thing happened. The original line-up resurrected itself with a flurry of activity. The live "Red, White & Crue" dropped in '05 and was followed by a successful tour. In addition, Tommy Lee jumped on the reality television bandwagon (way late) with Tommy Lee Goes To College. The NBC show had Lee, a high school drop-out, enrolled at the University of Nebraska. This "fish out of water" premise even had Lee joining the Nebraska marching band - as a drummer, of course.
If there was concern that Motley Crue was becoming all about Lee, they weren't eased by events of September, '07. First, Lee attended the MTV Video Music Awards in Las Vegas. Not a good idea to begin with but this one was particularly unfortunate. Lee got into a brief scuffle with Kid Rock. The former spouses of Ms. Anderson exchanged words before Rock threw a punch (according to witnesses) that sent Lee to the turf. "I was trying to be the bigger man, but he was acting childish," said Lee. "This is what people do when they have s***ty albums and their careers are going down the drain." This comment only made Lee look like a sore loser. He should have claimed Rock blindsided him and let it go at that. But no. Rock got slapped with a misdemeanor battery charge. That probably didn't concern him much since his album "Rock N Roll Jesus" landed at #1 on the Billboard chart a couple weeks later.
Meanwhile, Motley Crue was engaged in a legal battle with a former manager, Carl Stubner. According to their suit, Stubner's business dealings with Lee hurt both the group and the drummer financially. The group was seeking more than $20 million in damages.
In papers filed in Los Angeles Superior Court it was revealed that Lee was no longer in the group. Lee "recently informed Sixx and Mars, the shareholders of Motley Crue, Inc., that he was resigning from the band and his resignation was accepted." The following day, Lee contended he hadn't quit. He admitted that his future with the band appeared up in the air (at best). "Based on internal band issues aired publicly, my future with the band is uncertain," wrote Lee in a statement. "I hope we can work this out amongst ourselves." Well, fine then. What's Sixx been up to?
In '06, Sixx began working on his book The Heroin Diaries: A Year In The Life Of A Shattered Rock Star, based on a collection of his journal entries from '86-'87, when his addiction was arguably at its worst. How bad was it? Nearly two decades earlier, Sixx died from a drug overdose. He was pronounced DOA (on 12/22/87) in the ambulance before two adrenaline shots in the chest revived him. Later, he checked himself out of the hospital (ignoring medical advice) and went home where he recorded an answering machine message. "Hey, it's Nikki. I'm not home because I'm dead." He then took more heroin and passed out again. Good times.
The book was published in '07. "It's given me some closure on a lot of different issues, to be able to discover, through the book, what was driving me," said Sixx. He made a book store tour in L.A. to promote the tome's publication. That wasn't his only public appearance. With his side project Sixx: A.M. he recorded an accompanying album with each of the 12 tracks matching up with a chapter in the book. "Life Is Beautiful" was the first single. The group performed live but Sixx still wasn't done. He spoke at the 18th annual National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month luncheon in Washington, DC where he discussed his struggle with drug abuse which led to writing of his memoir.
As if that wasn't enough to keep Sixx off the streets he launched a line of high-end menswear. He teamed with Kelly Gray, a former executive of the luxury women's apparel company St. John Knits, for the Royal Underground brand. "Too many of today's fashions have skulls or look tattered and worn out," observed Sixx. "You can step it up a notch and have something a little bit on the classier edge." Royal Underground's line featured $100 T-shirts and $900 cashmere sweaters.
Maybe after all this non-musical activity by Lee, Sixx and the group in general, it might be a good idea to get back to Crue's core strength. The two-CD live "Carnival Of Sins" dropped in late '07. Recorded two years earlier in Grand Rapids, the 23 tracks covered the group's career, including "Shout At The Devil" and "Dr. Feelgood." A DVD version was also released. And then there was the "Saw IV" soundtrack, featuring Sixx: A.M.
Following TV appearances/bios, tell-all (and more) books, live albums, side projects, lawsuits and tours it was finally time for Motley Crue to put out an album. '08's "Saints Of Los Angeles" was the group's first studio effort in eight years. "We were firing on all cylinders," proclaimed Sixx.
In '09, Crue celebrated an 'end' and surprisingly, it wasn't their own. They performed the final show at famed Las Vegas venue, The Joint. "The Joint has played host to some of the world's greatest rock bands over the years," said Lee, prior to the show. "We hope to bring the house down in true Crue style."
Later in the year, with the CrueFest tour well underway, Sixx announced the group was going to go on hiatus when the trek was completed and that future CrueFest's might not include Motley Crue. "It's more of a community than just about Motley Crue, which in the end is a really good feeling," he explained. Sixx added that the group was working on a new album but a targeted completion was "anywhere from six months to a year."
But before there was another album, Neil was pulled out of circulation - at least temporarily. Reminiscent of the '80s, he pleaded guilty to a Las Vegas drunk driving charge in early '11 that originated from an arrest the previous summer. Neil was sentenced to fifteen days in jail which some thought was an amazingly light sentence considering his 'record'. But officials disagreed. "He pled guilty to DUI," said Clark County, Nevada District Attorney David Roger. "The vast majority of people facing a first offense DUI in Nevada don't face jail time."
Having done time in Las Vegas, why not do some more? "Motley Crue in Sin City" opened at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. They became the first Hard Rock band to hold a Vegas residency. "Vegas is based on big, big shows," said Neil. In honor of the band's milestone, Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman proclaimed February 3rd, '12 (opening night), Motley Crue Day.
When is the best time to pull the plug? While you are still on top. That's what Motley Crue suggested when they announced their farewell tour in '14. Though the group appeared to have a generous definition of what "still on top" meant, it seemed as though they were trying to go out on a positive note.
Not everyone bought it. The Who's numerous farewell tours had made everyone jaded and skeptical. So Motley Crue became the first group ever to sign a binding "Cessation of Touring" agreement.
But even before the tour launched there was some backpedaling. Namely, Motley Crue may perform onstage (and even record) after the tour, but this was their last major trek. We clear on that?
Considering who was involved it would be surprising if the "The Final Tour" went off without a hitch. And it didn't. Lee was forced to sit out the Buffalo show due to tendonitis. He was replaced by Glen Sobel, drummer for Alice Cooper, the opening act. As it turned out, Lee's aliment sidelined him for a month and a half. Finally, he returned to the drum kit in Abu Dhabi, UAE. "I'm back to 100 percent," said Lee, who had been limited to playing piano with his good hand on the traditional set closer, "Home Sweet Home."
"I bruised a bone in my wrist, but after a serious double dose of cortisone that helped with the inflammation, and with the help of this little wrist machine to exercise it, I'm back to normal," explained Lee.
1981 Too Fast for Love
1983 Shout At The Devil
1985 Theatre Of Pain
1987 Girls, Girls, Girls
1989 Dr. Feelgood
1994 Motley Crue
1997 Generation Swine
2000 New Tattoo
2008 Saints Of Los Angeles
"Dr. Feelgood," with a surprising number of great songs, and "Theater Of Pain" are Motley Crue's memorable achievements. "Shout At The Devil" shows a band on the rise but not quite there yet. Once past "Dr. Feelgood," Motley Crue's albums are wrecks. The addition of vocalist John Corabi was not inspired but neither was Neil's subsequent return.
The exception is "Saints Of Los Angeles." The set brings us back to '87. Hair Metal rules MTV, and by extension, the world. Excess and outrage are the norm and sitting in the middle of the mess is Motley Crue - certainly no saints.
The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band is a good read just to get a taste of the decadent Rock lifestyle. There are several Mötley Crüe biographies but this one is it. The band doesn't cover up. Also, Motley Crue figures predominately in Rock Stars Do The Dumbest Things written by Margaret Moser and Bill Crawford.