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THE DIRT: MOTLEY CRUE: A Tale of Terrible Tragedy and Unlikely Triumph.

Added 24 March 2019, 7:42 PM

I have to admit…I’ve never been the biggest MOTLEY CRUE fan out there. There was a fan club in my high school, and they were all the burnouts in my school. I have always fancied myself a more sophisticated Glam Metal fan. When handed a “Shout at the Devil” cassette by a friend in 1983, I found it to have substandard musicianship, and Vince Neil’s annoying voice was always a quarter step sharp. At the same, time, you could not deny the hooks, and their revival of KISS’s image at the same time KISS ditched their make-up was perfect timing. In an interview, Vince claimed they gave the fans “something they’ve never seen before,” but that couldn’t be further from the truth. KISS had already covered the big show, the pyro, and all the effects. Yet there was something about the band that just drew in the lowest common denominator of a fan and drew them in in droves. A fan is a fan.

Timing…was the band’s best friend. They were one of the first Glam Bands on the scene in Los Angeles, signing fairly quickly a five-album deal with Elektra Records. As they story opens, it details the wicked abuse that Frank Ferrana, Jr. (Nikki Sixx) endured as an early teenager, Tommy Lee’s fairly loving upbringing, the finding of Mick Mars (Bob Deal was his given name), and the signing of Vince Neil to the band, one of Tommy Lee’s high school friends. When Mars came into the band, he already knew about his degenerative bone condition, something which over time would literally turn him into a crippled old man, as deposits on his spine would begin to weight him down like cement. Vince spent much of his early days fucking as many groupies as possible, including the fiancé of the Elektra record exec who signed the band.
The early days were filled with a constant string of groupies to fuck, and as much cocaine as they could snort. Landing the opening spot on OZZY OSBOURNE’s world tour, they reached the hearts and the minds of everyone in America. When I talk about an “unlikely triumph,” I am talking about a band that hardly had the talent to sign a record deal. Lee was the band’s best musician, though Mars could hold his own and Sixx maintained the vision for the band. But they got to where they are with the image mostly. Their music steadily improved over the years, and they hit pay dirt with a good damn producer who would come a little further on down the road.

When I talk about “terrible tragedy,” I speak about all of the horrible things they’ve had to endure. The first tragedy came when a drunken Vince Neil killed his passenger from HANOI ROCKS one night, Razzle. He was charged with manslaughter but served only 19 days of a 30-day prison sentence. Is this indicative of the American justice system? No, he was a certified Rock Start and that’s how it goes. He felt horrible for this, but never dealt with it properly, turning back to music and sinking further into alcoholism. Meanwhile, Nikki Sixx was discovering heroin, and Tommy Lee had taken to Heather Locklear. Sixx remarked, “at this time, I thought it was Vince who was fucking up the band…but…” By the time Theater of Pain came out in 1985, Nikki Sixx had fired Doc McGee for bringing his mother to a show and re-acquainting him with her. Nikki was a full-on drug addict by 1987, shelling out 1000 dollars a day on his heroin addiction.

December 23, 1987. The day Nikki Sixx died from a drug overdose…then came back to life. Revived by two adrenaline needles shot directly into his heart, and the inspiration for the song "Kickstart My Heat." The band decided at that point to all get sober, and “Dr. Feelgood” hit #1 on the charts. Producer Bob Rock was responsible for making them sound a lot better than they actually were. The ’89-90 world tour was their greatest ever. Then, Vince started missing rehearsals and began drinking again. He was fired by the band and sank deeper and deeper into alcohol. To make matters worse, his daughter Skylar was diagnosed with cancer, and a little bit later, she died. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. You’re not supposed to outlive your children, and she was Vince’s whole life. It’s something that haunts him to this day. He never dealt with it, at least not publicly. MOTLEY CRUE went on without him, with singer John Corabi. Nikki’s father died, and he found out he had a half-brother. Lee split with Heather Locklear, and shortly thereafter, they reunited with Vince, and that’s where the documentary ended. But that’s not where the story ends…
Many, many things have occurred since the documentary left with “MOTLEY CRUE went on for another 20 years, and played their final reunion show on December 31, 2015.” I suppose the death of his daughter was too much for the documentary to deal with. But Vince has to live with it every day, his tears drowned in the bottom of a bottle of alcohol where they cannot be found. He appeared on the popular TV show “The Surreal Life,” where he was never seen parted with a red solo cup. He continues to drink to this day and has ballooned to well over 200 pounds. On the final day of their closing tour, he could barely find the strength to sing, uttering half lines and struggling to catch his breath. Some "rock star" life, huh?

They also never talked about Lee’s abusive relationship with Pamela Anderson, and how he gave her Hepatitis C, or how his grown son came to despise him and punched him out one day. The also never talked about how Mick Mars slowly began to become bent, to the point where he can’t play guitar anymore, or how awfully awkward he really was as a person, preferring the company of himself for the most point. MOTLEY CRUE was more than a band, more than a collection of four guys, each with their own problems and history that they brought to the band. The stars aligned for them for nearly 35 years. It seems an unlikely triumph, for four guys with barely enough talent to “make it” in the music industry. But at what cost?

Today, Vince Neil has been through four divorces and currently lives with a new girlfriend. His net worth is an estimated 50 million, some through various businesses that he owns. But I bet he would give it all up if he could have just a few moments back with Skylar. He intimated at one point that perhaps her death was payback for killing Razzle. I don’t believe in that karma bullshit. She got cancer and died, as many children and parents have to go through. In that case he’s as real a person as all of us. He's human, grieving for the awful loss of a child. As for the other three…they lived a life of luxury. They lived a life of being able to break the rules and get away with it. They lived a life of breaking everything in hotel rooms and not paying a dime for it. They rose at 6pm, put on a concert, often half-cocked, partied all night until daybreak, and drank till they slept. The consummate American rock star life. But they ran their course, as all bands inevitably do. In the end, what will you remember about one of America’s most infamous bands?   
Edited 05 December 2022

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