The epidemy of heavy metal and, of course, Motley Crue. After the formation of the band in 1981 and the creation of their own style of heavy metal music, Motley Crue not caring what critics had to say, while satisfying their audience of young loud, rude, party people around the world, has had numerous top hits on the charts. Although they endured significant hardships over the years, being self-destructive and living by the mantra,’Drugs, sex and rock and roll’ they are now back on tour, thanks to a 2019 documentary putting the band back into the headlines again.
On January 17, 1981, one of the most famous and successful heavy metal bands of the era was formed in Los Angeles, California, down on the Sunset Strip. Mötley Crüe was originally the pet project of bassist Nikki Sixx (born Frank Ferrana), vocalist / guitarist Greg Leon, and drummer Tommy Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass).
Leon butted heads with the strong headed Sixx, resulting in his departure from the lineup shortly after.
Their search found the pair looking through the ads in The Recycler, where the guitarist Mick Mars had placed the now famous ad, a one-line statement, that read, ‘Loud, rude, aggressive guitar player available.’ They approached Mars to audition and he immediately joined them, bringing the idea of the ‘Mottley Krue’ name along with him. After altering the name and adding a pair of umlauts (allegedly a reference to a German beer they were drinking at the time), the trio then began efforts to hire Vincent Neil Wharton for lead vocals.
Neil initially resisted their advances, but once on board, Mötley Crüe was complete. The band became an instant favorite on the L.A. scene.
Mötley Crüe were influenced by many different genres with country seeming to be the least impacting while still creating their very own unique style. The musical roots of Mötley Crüe originated from the glam rock era with such bands as Aerosmith, New York Dolls, and Kiss. One punk genre band, The Sex Pistols, was by far the most influential punk band ever. Their intensely controversial lyrics had them banned in the UK but their mentality of ‘I don’t care’ and unapologetic response to criticism made them a favorite of any band that had some edginess about them. Mötley Crüe was very similar in the fact that their songs were borderline offensive and some of their album art left us questioning if they were Satanistt. For example, their ‘Shout at the Lord’ album featured a black front cover with a pentagram. Critics and the parents of their fans were highly critical of their lyrics and songs, with religious groups protesting, but the band was irrepressible and unwavering. Someone once said that they played music for loud, rude, party people.
This was at a time when New Wave, the glam rock, and punk era was slowing down and Motley Crue came raging in. Mainstream rock / pop was no match for them. Motley Crüe had been New Wave’s extreme opposite. They were not wearing suits or skinny ties and were not based on synthesizers. Their heavy metal or hard rock version with big hooks and melodic courses felt polished. This style of music came to be recognized as Hair metal and gave rise to the monster ballads or rock ballads often featuring a guitar solo, born on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip and featuring bands including Poison, RATT, and Warrant. However, Mötley Crüe set itself apart from the other hair metal bands., their music was different from glam rock bands and they established this in a variety of different ways. Their flamboyant shows included heavy pyrotechnics, roller coaster drum kits, and.flamethrower guitars, A lot of their stage theatrics are attributed to KISS and the New York Dolls.
Mötley Crüe has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. Seven platinum or multiplatinum certifications have been attained, 3 Grammy nominations, nine top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, 22 top 40 mainstream rock hits and 6 top 20 pop singles. While there was no large variety of instruments in their show, they had a steady combination of guitars, keyboards, drums and the harmonica. With their guitar solos and drum theatrics, the band performed above and beyond expectations, not caring what critics had to say, but satisfying their audience of young, loud, rude, party people around the world. My father attended two Mötley Crüe concerts, one featured the rotating drum cage and the other featured the roller coaster drum kit, the latter feature Tommy Lee strapped in and playing on a platform running on a roller coaster track which stretched about 200 feet above the crowd.
‘Mötley Crüe has put on one of the best shows I have Ever experienced. Their live performance was much more than just music and produced way more than you had ever thought.’ Motley Crue’s reputation for their mantra’ sex, drugs and rock’ n’ roll ‘was no mistake. The band had consumed thousands of gallons of alcohol, also, snorted, smoked and injected every imaginable drug into their bodies. So many sexual escapades, ample to make the hardened deviant blush. They got into brawls, external as well as internal. Nikki Sixx said the band had done it on our own terms, ‘collectively and individually.’ There is no questioning that. Arrests, prison terms, tours, apologies, allegations, relationships, divorces, births, deaths and most of all music have taken place. Nikki Sixx almost died of an overdose of heroin, only to be returned to life, only to escape from hospital, only to score more heroin, only to OD immediately afterwards. In a car crash, Vince Neil killed his friend, spent time in jail, was eventually was kicked out of the band in the early 90s (although the band says he quit), and returned when they all realized that it was these four individuals who made the group magical.
For most of his life Mick Mars fought Ankylosing Spondylitis, which fractured and stooped his spinal column. Tommy Lee was in and out of prison and had made a private sex tape very public. They have fought with and against each other. broken up, gotten back together. Now that Mötley Crüe has been on the music scene for all these years, they have inspired countless bands including Guns N Roses, Skid Row and many other, hair metal bands of the late 80s. But the point is, it was first done by Mötley Crüe. They have been around long enough, stood the test of time, even introducing a new kind of music.
In 2019 Mötley Crüe underwent a significant revival. After the band were almost forgotten for years, the success of The Dirt, a Netflix movie that chronicled the early years of the band, put them back into the headlines. The film received 3 critical reviews, mostly negative, however fans raged, and new admirers were born. They have released nine albums after being together for almost 40 years, toured the world several times, entertained millions of fans, and while they are older and hopefully wiser and sober, their moto ‘sex, drugs, rock and roll’ still rings synonymous with ‘Mötley Crüe