Motley Crue performing at America West Arena – Riot Onstage in Phoenix AZ 1997. Thanks to Sal Costanza.
Mötley Crüe was an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, on January 17, 1981. The group was founded by bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars. Mötley Crüe has sold more than 100 million records worldwide, including 25 million albums in the United States, making it one of the best-selling bands of all time.
The members of the band have often been noted for their hedonistic lifestyles and the persona they maintained. Following its hard rock and heavy metal origins, with the third album Theatre of Pain (1985) the band joined the first wave of glam metal. Its final studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, was released on June 24, 2008. Its final show took place on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2015, and was filmed for a theatrical and Blu-ray release in 2016.
The band became rapidly successful in the United States after playing at the US Festival and also with the aid of the new medium of MTV. They then gained the attention of heavy metal star Ozzy Osbourne and found themselves as the opening act for Osbourne on his 1984 world tour. The band members were well known for their backstage antics, outrageous clothing, extreme high-heeled boots, heavily applied make-up, and seemingly endless abuse of alcohol and drugs as well. As for their recordings, their mixture of heavy metal and hard rock stylings with influences by AC/DC and Aerosmith and guitar picking style of Judas Priest produced several best-selling albums during the 1980s, including Shout at the Devil (1983), Theatre of Pain (1985), and Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), which showcased their love of motorcycles, whiskey and strip clubs, and which told tales of substance abuse, sexual escapades and general decadence.
The band members have also had their share of scrapes with the law and life. In 1984, Neil was driving home from a liquor store in his De Tomaso Pantera when he was in a head-on collision; his passenger, Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, was killed. Neil, charged with a DUI and vehicular manslaughter, was sentenced to 30 days in jail (though he only served 18 days) and received a $2,000,000 fine. The short jail term was pleaded for by his lawyers, enabling Neil to be able to tour and pay the fine. The album Theatre of Pain (1985) was dedicated in Dingley’s honor, and it started a new glam metal phase in the band’s style. The band would also later release two box sets titled “Music to Crash Your Car To”.
On December 23, 1987, Sixx suffered a heroin overdose. He was declared legally dead on the way to the hospital, but the paramedic, who was a Crüe fan, revived Sixx with two shots of adrenaline. His two minutes in death were the inspiration for the song “Kickstart My Heart”, which peaked at No. 16 on the Mainstream U.S. chart, and which was featured on the 1989 U.S. number one (their first) album Dr. Feelgood. From 1986 to 1987, Sixx kept a daily diary of his heroin addiction and eventually entered rehab in January 1988. In 2006, Sixx published his diaries as a best selling novel: The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, and in 2007 Sixx’s side project band Sixx:A.M. released The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack as a musical parallel to the novel.
A controversy that hit the band in 1988 was a lawsuit by Matthew Trippe. Trippe claimed that Nikki Sixx was hospitalized in 1983 after a car crash involving drugs and that he had been hired as Nikki’s doppelgänger. The suit was regarding the loss of royalties from his time in Mötley Crüe and the case was not closed until 1993 when Trippe dropped his charges and disappeared from public view.
Their decadent lifestyles almost shattered the band until managers Thaler and McGhee pulled an intervention and refused to allow the band to tour in Europe, fearing that “some [of them] would come back in body bags”. Shortly after, all the band members except for Mars underwent drug rehabilitation; Mars cleaned up on his own.
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