Mötley Crüe

  • Heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles California in 1981. The main members of the band were Vince Neil (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica), Mick Mars (lead guitar, backing vocals), Nikki Sixx (bass guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Tommy Lee (drums, keyboards, backing vocals). Sixx was the lyricist for the band, while all members contributed to songwriting.
  • Tommy Lee and guitarist Greg Leon were bandmates in a metal band called Suite 19. The band fell apart, but Lee and Leon continued to rehearse together. In 1980, Nikki Sixx was a member of a metal band called London. Early the next year, he left that band and he started to jam with Lee and Leon. After several weeks, Leon decided not to remain with Lee and Sixx. Looking to replace Leon, they met Mick Mars after Mars placed an ad in a magazine that read “Loud, rude and aggressive guitar player available.” Mars auditioned and joined the group. Lee had known Vince Neil from high school and from garage bands where they performed together. Neil was in a group called Rock Candy, and Mars suggested that Neil join Mars’ group. Initially, Neil refused, but as other members of Rock Candy started to get involved in other projects, Neil agreed to join. Their first gig was in April 1981.
  • The band needed a name. Sixx’s suggestion to call the group Christmas was discarded. Mars recalled that when he played in another band, one of the band members said that they were “a motley looking crew.” They liked the name, and they stylized it by changing the spelling and adding the umlats since they were drinking Löwenbräu beer when they settled on the name.
  • In late 1981, the band released a single and an album on their own record label. They made 900 copies of the album, Too Fast for Love. The group established a following in the Los Angeles area, and by early 1982, they were offered a record deal. Too Fast for Love was remixed and re-released in August 1982. It did not chart highly, but the later popularity of the band led to steady sales, and it eventually was certified platinum.
  • The band quickly developed a reputation for the outrageous, sometimes on purpose for the publicity, and often due to the influence of drugs and alcohol. They threw televisions and furniture out of their hotel windows. Neil had a head-on collision while returning from a liquor run, killing the passenger in his car. Sixx had a near-fatal heroine overdose – his dealer dumped him unconscious in a dumpster. During a second overdose, Sixx was declared legally dead on the way to the hospital, but the paramedic revived him with two shots of adrenaline. On stage, they wore high heeled boots, outrageous clothing and heavy make-up – an over-the-top glam band.
  • Their breakthrough came with their second album, Shout At the Devil, released in 1983. This was followed by Theatre of Pain in 1985 and Girls, Girls, Girls in 1987. All three albums were 4x platinum certified. Four singles from these albums charted in the top 20 of the Mainstream Rock music chart, with their cover of Smokin’ In the Boys Room peaking at #7 (and at #16 on the Hot 100 chart) and the title track Girls, Girls, Girls reaching #2 (and #12 on the Hot 100).
  • Their destructive lifestyle came to a head in 1989 when their managers staged an intervention, not allowing them to tour. They all went to rehab and they emerged sober. Their sobriety allowed them to focus on their music, and their fifth album, 1989’s Dr. Feelgood, became their best selling record. It topped the Billboard 200 album chart, and it was certified 6x platinum. Five singles from the album charted, with the title track peaking at #6 on the Hot 100, and Without You reaching #8 on the chart.
  • Neil left the band in 1992 to pursue a solo career, and he was replaced by John Corabi. A self titled album released in 1994 was a commercial failure. In 1996, Corabi suggested that Neil be brought back, since Neil was the voice of the band – this led to Corabi’s dismissal from the group. The next year, Neil rejoined the band, and they released the Generation Swine album. It too was a commercial failure. Lee left the band in 1999 – he was replaced by drummer Randy Castillo. The New Tattoo album was released in 2000, but only one song charted, Hell on High Heels, which reached #13 on the Mainstream Rock chart. In 2002, Castillo died from cancer, and the band went on hiatus.
  • In 2004, Mötley Crüe reformed, with Lee back on drums. A reunion tour started in 2005, and a compilation album was released that included three new songs. If I Die Tomorrow from the compilation album peaked at #4 on the Mainstream Rock chart. In 2008, they released an album titled Saints of Los Angeles. The title track reached #5 on the Mainstream Rock chart. After tours in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015, they announced that they would retire as a band.
  • Of course, Mötley Crüe un-retired in 2018. A tour was scheduled for 2020, but the pandemic delayed it, and it is planned for 2022. In 2019, Netflix streamed a biopic titled The Dirt, which was based on the history of the band. Mötley Crüe contributed three new songs for the soundtrack of the film. The title track was released as a single, and it peaked at #8 on the Mainstream Rock chart.
  • Mötley Crüe was first eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006, but they have never been nominated. The band members are resigned to the likelihood that they will never get in – Sixx claims that he was told by the HOF that they were banned because of how they have acted over the years. One thing’s for certain – this hairband from the 80s was the poster child for “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” Here’s their hit Dr. Feelgood – apparently sober for this one!

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