Mötley Crüe is an American heavy metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1980. The group was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, who were later joined by lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil. All of the original members have had numerous brushes with the law, spent time in prison, suffered from alcoholism, suffered from long addictions to drugs such as cocaine and heroin, had countless escapades with women and are heavily tattooed.
Mötley Crüe was formed in 1980. The newly formed band did not yet have a name. Sixx had said that he told the other bandmates that he was “thinking about calling the band Christmas.” The other members weren’t very receptive to the idea. Then while trying to find a suitable name, Mars remembered an incident which occurred when he was playing with a band called White Horse, when one of the other band members called the group “a motley looking crew.” He had remembered the phrase and later copied it down as Mottley Cru. After modifying the spelling slightly, “Mötley Crüe” was eventually selected as the band’s name, with the stylistic decision suggested by Neil to add the two sets of metal umlauts supposedly inspired by the German beer Löwenbräu, which the members were drinking at the time.
"Listening to Queen inspired Mötley Crüe to work with Roy Thomas Baker on Too Fast for Love. He would come in, ‘Hello Darlings ..’ and listen for maybe thirty minutes or so and leave. And we’re like, ‘What?! Where’s he going?’. But he produced Queen, so, man, we had to have him produce us, too"
The band’s first release was the single “Stick to Your Guns/Toast of the Town”, which was released on their own record label, Leathür Records. In 1981, their debut album Too Fast for Love was released. During the “Crüesing Through Canada Tour ‘82,” there were several widely publicized incidents. First, the band was arrested and then released at Edmonton International Airport for wearing their spiked stage wardrobe (considered “dangerous weapons”) through Customs and for Neil arriving with a small carry-on filled with porn magazines (considered “indecent material”); both were staged PR stunts. Customs eventually had the confiscated items destroyed. Second, while playing Scandals Disco in Edmonton, a spurious “bomb threat” against the band made the front page of the Edmonton Journal in1982; assistant band manager Greif and Lee were interviewed by police as a result. This too ended up being a staged PR stunt perpetrated by Greif. Lastly, Lee threw a television set from the upper story window of the Sheraton Caravan Hotel. Canadian rock magazine Music Express noted that the band were “banned for life” from the city. Despite the tour ending prematurely in financial disaster, it was the basis for the band’s first international press.
After playing on tour and festivals, and the aid of the new medium of MTV, the band found rapid success in the United States. The band members were as 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 for their recordings. Their mixture of heavy metal and glam rock stylings 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, a large sum for 1985. The short jail term was pleaded for by his lawyers enabling Neil to be able to tour and pay the fine. The album Theater of Pain (1985) was dedicated in Dingley’s honor. 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 medic, who was a Crüe fan, revived Sixx by giving him two shots of adrenaline to his heart, bringing him back to life. His two minutes in death were the inspiration for the song “Kickstart My Heart" and which was featured on the 1989 album Dr. Feelgood. From 1986 to 1987, Sixx kept a daily diary of his heroin addiction and eventually entered rehab in 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.
In 1988 McGhee was convicted for smuggling 40,000 pounds of marijuana, and as punishment he had to organize an anti-drug campaign. In addition, another controversy that hit the band in 1988 was a lawsuit by Matthew Trippe. Trippe claimed that Nikki Sixx was hospitalised 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 bodybags”. Shortly after, all the band members except for Mars underwent drug rehabilitation; Mars cleaned up on his own.
After finding sobriety in 1989, Mötley Crüe reached its peak popularity with the release of their fifth album, the Bob Rock produced Dr. Feelgood, 1989. The band members each stated in interviews that, due in no small part to their collective push for sobriety, Dr. Feelgood was their most solid album musically to that point, and indeed, it was their best selling album to date.
On October 1, 1991, the band’s first compilation album, Decade of Decadence. It was reportedly designed as “just something for the fans” while the band worked on the next “all new” album.
After Decade of Decadence was released, Neil left the band in February 1992, at a time when other bands in the 1980s glam metal scene (Ratt, Stryper, White Lion, Winger, Europe & Britny Fox) also broke up because of the rise in popularity of grunge. A controversy exists to this day over whether Neil was fired or quit. Sixx has long maintained that Neil quit the band. However, Neil disputes this and insists that he was fired. Neil was replaced by John Corabi (formerly of Angora and The Scream). Mötley Crüe’s commercial success waned throughout the 1990s. John Corabi suggested that the band work with Neil again as he believed he would always be seen as the voice of the band, which eventually resulted in his own firing in 1996.
The band reunited with Neil in 1997, after their current manager, Allen Kovac, and Neil’s manager, Bert Stein, set up a meeting between Neil, Lee, and Sixx. Agreeing to "leave their egos at the door," the band released Generation Swine. The album was a commercial failure.
In 1998, Mötley Crüe’s contractual ties with Elektra Records had expired, putting the band in total control of their future. This included the ownership of the masters of all of their albums. In announcing the end of their relationship with Elektra Records, the band became one of the few groups in history to own and control their publishing and catalogue of recorded masters. In 1999, the band re-released all their albums, dubbed as “Crücial Crüe”. The limited-edition digital re-masters included demos, live, instrumental, and previously unreleased tracks. Mötley Crüe released their compilation album Greatest Hits in late 1998, which had two new songs Bitter Pill and Enslaved and served as an updated version of their first compilation, Decade of Decadence.
In 1999, Lee quit the band to pursue a solo career due to increasing tensions with frontman Neil. He was replaced by Randy Castillo, who drummed on several Ozzy Osbourne albums. Castillo died of cancer in 2002. Former Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, who also filled in for Castillo at some previous shows, was hired as his replacement until 2004 when the original band got back together. In 2000 Mötley Crüe realesed New Tattoo which featered Randy Castillo on drums.
Within the following six years, Sixx played in the bands 58 and Brides of Destruction, while Lee formed Methods of Mayhem and performed as a solo artist. Neil continued touring on an annual basis as a solo artist, singing mostly Mötley Crüe songs. Mars, who suffers from a rare hereditary form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, went into seclusion in 2001.
A 2001 autobiography entitled The Dirt packaged the band as “the world’s most notorious rock band.” The book made the top ten on The New York Times Best Seller list and spent ten weeks there A promoter in England, Mags Revell, began clamoring for a Mötley Crüe reunion, ostensibly presenting himself as the voice of anxious fans waiting for more from the band. After meeting with management several times, in 2004, Sixx announced that he and Neil had returned to the studio and had begun recording new material. In 2004, the four original members announced a reunion/farewell tour which began in 2005. The resulting compilation album, Red, White & Crüe, was released in 2005. It features the band members’ favorite original songs plus three new tracks, “If I Die Tomorrow”, “Sick Love Song” (co-written by Sixx and James Michael), and a cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic “Street Fighting Man”. A small controversy was caused when it was suggested that neither Lee nor Mars played on the new tracks (duties were supposedly handled by Vandals drummer Josh Freese). However, a VH1 documentary of the band’s reunion later showed that Lee did indeed play on some of the tracks.
In 2005, Mötley Crüe was involved in an animation-comedy spoof Disaster!, which was written by Paul Benson and Matt Sullivan and which was used as the introduction film to concerts on their Carnival of Sins tour. In 2006, Mötley Crüe went on the Route of All Evil Tour. A lawsuit was filed by Neil, Mars and Sixx against Carl Stubner, Lee’s manager. The three sued him for contracting for Lee to appear on two unsuccessful reality shows the band claim hurt its image. It was later reported on Motley.com that the lawsuit had been settled.
In 2008, the band and manager Burt Stein filed suit against each other. Stein was Vince Neil’s personal manager and also, according to the band and rival manager Allen Kovac, served as the band’s manager at one time. The band and Kovac sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court, claiming Stein was not entitled to a cut of Mötley Crüe’s earnings. Stein sued the same day in Nashville’s federal court, saying he was entitled to 1.875 percent of what the band makes. In 2009, lawyers for both sides announced that the disputes had been “amicably resolved” through a “global settlement”. Mötley Crüe’s ninth studio album, titled Saints of Los Angeles, was released in Japan in 2008 and in Americ. The album was originally titled The Dirt, as it was loosely based on the band’s autobiography of the same name, but the title was later changed.
In the summer of 2008, Mötley Crüe headlined the popular ‘Crüe Fest’ music festival, which included opening acts Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt, and Nikki Sixx’s successful side project, Sixx:A.M. Mötley Crüe had announced that the movie The Dirt, based on the book written by Mötley Crüe and Neil Strauss, could be released in 2009. It was reported in 2013 that director Jeff Tremaine will be directing the movie.
The band made a guest appearance in the season finale of “Bones" on May 14, 2009 entitled "The End in the Beginning", performing the classic song "Dr. Feelgood". Mötley Crüe co-headlined a summer tour with Poison and special guests New York Dolls in 2011 for Mötley Crüe’s 30th Anniversary and Poison’s 25th anniversary.
Asked in a November 2011 interview with Examiner.com if Mötley Crüe will be making another album in 2012 or plan another Crüe Fest tour, Neil replied, “We’re looking at another Crüe Fest. This tour doesn’t end until November of next year.” Lee commented on recording a new album, stating: “I’m sure we’re due for one. All of us have been writing individually, I write, Nikki’s been writing, and Mick as well, at some point here, we’ll pull all of our ideas together as we always do, and then we’ll start sorting through it at that point. But we haven’t gotten to that point yet. I would imagine we’ll probably get there some time in the next year and start working on that.”
There has been mixed opinions within the band about making a tenth studio album. Lee and Neil have both discussed the possibility of Mötley Crüe releasing an EP instead. Lee has questioned the purpose of full-length albums and stated in a 2011 interview:
I’m thinking more EPs small bodies of work. You know, slaving for a year in the studio to make a whole album when the public only wants one song, it’s just fucking stupid. It makes no sense on any level. That’s my opinion for my solo stuff and Mötley Crüe. It doesn’t mean my band will necessarily agree with me. But my attitude is, why not make a four-song EP with absolute bangers on them? I think it makes perfect sense. If you look at the charts and the statistics, it’ll show you that people don’t buy albums anymore, they buy singles. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out.
Although in terms of new material he also stated “Nikki’s got some stuff kickin’ around, I’ve got a few things kickin’ around. Whether I’m writing solo stuff, electronic stuff or material for Mötley, I just write to write. I come up with it and put things in different piles. I guess some of the things I have could be for Mötley Crüe.”
In an interview in 2012, Neil said: "I don’t think we’re gonna do an album. I think we’re gonna do more of an EP; maybe do like, 3 or 4 more songs." In a 2013 interview he said "If something did come out in the form of an EP, it would probably be in the beginning of 2014." However, Sixx has contradicted the views of Lee and Neil; in a reply to a Facebook comment in 2012, he said that there will be a new Mötley Crüe album and described it as “the best one yet”.
The band announced a three-week residency in Las Vegas, with bassist Sixx stating, “This is the beginning of what will be the biggest probably four to five years of the band’s career. We’re negotiating with a couple of other extremely huge bands on doing a co-headline tour, something that’s never happened before. There’s new music in the future.” Sixx also noted that the band may break-up in the near future:
The band sat down and had a pow-wow as brothers and friends and guys who’ve been doing this for over thirty years, and we said, ‘When is it time?’ We’ve always said since we were kids we didn’t want to hobble in to the sunset. So after the movie, at some point – whether it’s within a year or a few years – we’re probably gonna have that conversation about maybe it’s time, maybe it’s time to go out on top. If I’m watching my favorite boxer and he’s just won the heavyweight championship of the world and he retires it kind of makes the guy a legend. I always respected Led Zeppelin, and I’d rather Mötley Crüe be thought of as that type of band rather than a band that’s just going through the motions. We’re a hundred percent engaged. We’re sounding better than we’ve ever sounded musically. We’re really proud of what we’ve done, whether critics like us or not, whether we’ve won Grammys or not, whether any of that stuff. We’re proud that we did it on our own terms.”
In 2013, Sixx announced that the band plans to break up for good after their next album and a subsequent farewell tour. Sixx has often expressed a desire for the band to end while they’re still at what he feels is a high point in their career. Although it is not known when the next album will be released, Neil has speculated that the band will release new music in 2014 and that the farewell tour could commence in either 2014 or 2015, saying that “Tours last about two years. So to finish the world, you’ve got to do the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia…it takes some time.”
In 2013 Vince Neil did a interview in Las vegas about new things happening for Mötley Crüe.” Neil stated Motley Crue’s farewell tour plans are not related to guitarist Mick Mars’ health following recent comments to the contrary by drummer Tommy Lee in a Coffee run video. Neil tells vegas rocks magazine I don’t know why Tommy would say that it really has nothing to do with Mick health it was just because we all felt at least me and Nikki and Mick felt that it was just we didn’t wanna go out on the bottom. We didn`t wanna be one of those bands that start fading away We`ve been on top for 32 years and it`s great and it`s just like you know what by this time we finish this tour it`ll be in 35 years of Motley Crue so that`s really kind of it.
Mötley Crüe has influenced many bands and artists of all the world such as Slipknot, Steel Panther, Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Pink Cream 69, Poison, Skid Row, Static-X, The 69 Eyes, Children of Bodom, Bang Tango, White Zombie, Marilyn Manson, Backyard Babies, System of a Down, L.A. Guns, Trapt, Faster Pussycat, Black Veil Brides and Supergroupies Guns N’ Roses among others.