Monday, July 27, 2009

Motley Who? Oh Yeah! Now I Remember...Motley Crue

The problem with rockstars is that they have egos. The problem with hair/glam/metal rockstars from the 1980's is that they have BIG egos. The problem with Motley Crue is that those egos led to living a life of hard drinking, too many women, too many drugs and too many trips to courts of law.

In January of 1981 bass guitarist Nicky Sixx, from the band London got together with Tommy Lee and a vocalist by the name of Greg Leon. Yeah, I know, Greg who? After a few weeks of rehearsing, Nicky and Tommy decided that Greg just wasn't quite what they had in mind. They disbanded this fledgling group before it ever got off the ground and started hitting the local nightclubs looking around for other bandmates. A few Lowenbraus later they met Bob (Mick Mars) Deal. He auditioned, they liked him so now there were three. Mick was a former member of White Horse. One of the members of Micks former band called the three of them a "motley looking crew" which may have been the inspiration for their name. Over a few of those aforementioned Lowenbraus, they decided to change the spelling of crew to Crue and they had a name. They just didn't have a singer.

Mick Mars knew Vince Neil who was with the group Rock Candy at the time and he suggested that Vince should be hired. Well, that was nice of him but Vince refused. When the other members of Rock Candy started doing outside projects, Vince decided to try something different, and finally agreed to join the group. They produced their first album on their own record label "Leathur" and set about doing their first tour. On the premise that the world notices bad boys faster than the other kind, their first tour included a series of publicity stunts. When you're on the bottom looking up, bad press sounds better than no press. At least it does to those possessors of big egos who want a taste of the Rockstar Lifestyle.

First the band was arested for wearing their spiked stage wardrobe through Canadian Customs. Then there was the suitcase full of pornographic material belonging to Vince Neil. Supposedly a publicity stunt. Vince wouldn't have a suitcase full of porn, now would he? The porn material was destroyed and they didn't quite get enough bang for that buck, so the second stunt they tried was a fake bomb threat. The "tour" ended prematurely and in financial disaster after Tommy threw a television out of the upper story of the Sheraton Caravan Hotel. Edmonton, Canada's response was to ban them from the city for life, but they got what they were notoriety.

They were outrageous in their behavior. Antics with groupies backstage, seemingly limitless appetites for booze and drugs. Vince was on his way home from the liquor store, crashed his car killing his friend Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley. He was convicted of DUI and vehicular manslaughter sentenced to 30 days in jail and served 18. Time off for good behavior? Not exactly. The band released a box set entitled "Music To Crash Your Car By" and went right back to their excessive drug and alcohol abuse, sexual escapades and general decadence.

On December 21, 1987, Nicky suffered a fatal overdose of heroin. His heart had stopped beating and was restarted by 2 injections of adrenaline directly into his heart. It was administered by an ambulance crew member who was a die hard Crue fan. Nicky's two minutes of death, was the inspiration for their hit "Kickstart My Heart". Unlike past heart stopping events, this one had an impact. Nicky started keeping a journal of his addiction and finally found his way into rehab. This seemed to wake them up to what they were doing to their bodies and reputations. All but Mick Mars entered rehab for their addictions, Mick stopped on his own cold turkey.

Clean and sober, it apparently wasn't the fun it used to be. After the release of their 6th album in 1991, Vince either quit or was fired from the band. Nicky says Vince quit, Vince says he was fired. They tried to go on with a different singer, but the glam/metal days were dying, and now that they were sober, those ego's got in the way. The band broke up and they went their separate ways.

By 1999 Tommy Lee had put his membership in the band on hold to pursue...well...we know what he pursued. Pam Anderson, sex tapes and the end of their marriage was in the news constantly. Nicky tried to keep the group together with other members, but then Mick Mars dropped out and withdrew from the world into his own little world of pain. He suffered from a form of rheumatoid arthritis that affects the spine, called ankylosing spondylitis. He had quite a severe case of it which necessitated the replacement of both his hips to ease the pain.

Mick went and had the surgery for his problem when the boys were trying to set aside their egos and get back together. Vince and Nicky were back collaborating and Mick joined them as soon as he could. Tommy Lee and his ego made the process much harder than it needed to be, but eventually he too rejoined the Crue. Must be he learned that size really doesn't matter. It's not how big it is, it's how long it lasts. They've done another album and a few tours, but the days of sex, drugs and bad behavior are a thing of the past. Maybe.

The "bad boys" of glam metal are older and no longer living the hard life of a glam metal rocker. In the same way the Nostalgia Circuit has ressurrected the music of the 60's, allowing the oldsters to play the music that made them famous, it's allowing the bad boys of the 80's a chance to let the music speak for them as well. The same Nostalgia Circuit is also allowing me, a nearly 60 year old 60's chick, a chance to revisit the music without all that bad boy behavior accompanying it. Along my nostalgic path I'm finding that much of the music has more merit than I thought at the time it was first published. I'm finding out that in some cases, forgetting the hype and listening to the music, it's better than I gave them credit for all those many years ago.