January 11, 2016 Mötley Crüe – The End Of An Era
The end of an Era. When the term is spoken, it is usually in regards to a long-time trend, a legendary actor, or artistry. In this situation, it was the thirty-four year history of the Bad Boys of Rock-n-Roll, Mötley Crüe, comprised of Bassist Nikki Sixx,Vocalist Vince Neil, Drummer Tommy Lee, and Guitarist Mick Mars. Releasing a total of eighteen albums, nine studio, two live, seven compilations of greatest hits, and two box sets, numerous sold-out shows/tours, millions of fans worldwide, line-up changes, star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, near deaths experiences, one member actually dying for a couple minutes, car crashes, lawsuits, impersonations, the many gorgeous women that have graced their arms; this band has done it all, and then some. Put that all aside, looking at the music itself, and The Crüe touched many people. Growing up listening to Mötley Crüe, many made the trip out to Los Angeles, CA to witness the final show ever dramatically on December 31st, 2015, New Year’s Eve! Naturally selling out the nineteen-thousand concert seat Staples Center, it was only a New Year’s party for all in attendance, but this was truly the end of something that did not a leave dry eye in the house. In fact, not even the biggest tough guy would be able to hold back their emotions by the end of the night, and now everyone reflects on the last three plus decades of chaos with Mötley Crüe.
Formed in early 1981, January 17th, the date to be exact, they came out with something to prove. Their style of Glam Rock, with the high-heeled platform boots, skin-tight spandex pants, full-on face make-up and teased hair did not exist yet on Sunset, it was after Disco and the New Wave era of music began. Quickly looking to make a mark, they released Too Fast for Love, firstly on their own Leathür Records, in November 1981, which featured an extra track with “Stick to Your Guns.” Elektra Records later saw The Crüe buzz in Hollywood, and signed the guys and re-released Too Fast for Love majorly in August of 1982. Making their first impression on the entire Rock world with the video for “Live Wire,” it was a very independently made music video, no flashy, expensive videos like it is done nowadays, just candles, a small stage, and the four “scary, ugly” guys in make-up performing the music.
Later that same year, Elektra released Shout at the Devil, Mötley Crüe’s next major label release. A lot of fans would argue the record to be Mötley Crüe’s best release of their career in the ’80s, with Too Fast for Love being a close second. Shout at the Devil saw a band coming of age with hits like “Looks that Kill,” “Too Young to Fall in Love,” and a cover of The Beatles classic “Helter Skelter.” Then, of course, their was the title track, the one that always had fans in the audience at live shows raising their devil horns and chant, ‘Shout! Shout! Shout!’ Making a major push forward to Rock-n-Roll superstardom, Mötley Crüe embarked on one of their biggest tours of their career with the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy Osbourne, in 1983, which all parties entitled it, the “Gross Out” tour, leaving that to people’s imaginations.
Moving forward to 1985, with much success under their belts, assembly of a legion of fans and groupies, the Crüe brand was established, and as a result, the members began to live in excess. Neil was coming off vehicular manslaughter charge with the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer, Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, in December 1984, an accident that paralyzed two other victims in another vehicle. Tough on everyone involved, the band entered the studio just a month later in January of 1986 to begin recording Theatre of Pain, an album that some may say is not their best. Even one of their own calling the album “rubbish,” and mentioned that their extreme drug use at that time really affected their writing of this album. Besides the two singles released from it, “Home Sweet Home,” that saw the softer side of Mötley Crüe, with their power ballad, and then Brownville Station cover of “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” the very song that started the fandom of many, the band has skipped this album throughout their live set every tour they have been on until two years ago when they brought “Louder than Hell” into the setlist.
By the time 1987 came and Girls, Girls, Girls was released, it would be one of the most dangerous years for one member. Then while on tour, another member began his status as an innovator during his live performances. Two big hits came from the record that the band continued to play, up until their final bow on New Year’s Eve 2015. The album closer, “You’re All I Need,” even reached deep, touching on the topic of domestic abuse of a man killing his girlfriend at home. As far as the live shows, many would say they were the big spectacle of the album touring style as Mötley Crüe added the Nasty Habits, Donna McDaniel, and Emi Canyn to their stage set, singing backing vocals. Furthermore, Lee introduced his rotating drum kit during his drum solo, that turned him upside down as he performed for the audience. That, ladies and gentleman, has never been seen before out of any drummer prior to him. Lee, at the time, was married to a Hollywood starlet in 1987, known probably to some as Mr. Heather Locklear, but in the world of Rock-Roll, and Mötley Crüe fans everywhere, he was Tommy Muthaf**kin’ Lee!!
Then, around Christmas time of ’87, the band’s world was turned upside down once more with the sudden overdose of main songwriter Nikki Sixx. Urgently, paramedics were called to the scene, Sixx put on a gurney, and then EMT’s injecting Sixx with two shots of adrenaline to his heart that brought him back to Earth. After a year off, and two years since the release of Girls, Girls, Girls, Mötley Crüe spent most the year of 1988 cleaning up their act, after the overdose Nikki Sixx had sustained. In Fall of 1989, the band came back with vengeance to put out their most successful album to date, Dr. Feelgood. The album released hit after hit, including the title track, “Same Ol’ Situation,” “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” “Without You,” and the song, guess one could say, inspired by Sixx’s near death experience, “Kickstart my Heart.”
Dr. Feelgood kept Mötley Crüe on the road for two years in support of it, and hit #1 on Billboard charts soon after its release. The band was back, big-time, and not ending anytime soon, or so a lot would assume. That is when surprise struck fans in February of 1992, Neil was fired or quit, depends on who you ask. A lot of fans were split and disappointed that the voice of Mötley Crüe was gone. The split was amicable, but as time went on, many insults and bad words were said from both parties.
Finding themselves a new vocalist in ex-Scream vocalist John Corabi, in 1994 they resurfaced a darker, more aggressive Crüe that not many fans were used to. Their self-titled album, the release featured songs that were far from what Sixx, Lee, and Mars had written on previous Mötley Crüe albums. They had track credits like “Slice of Your Pie,” “Bad Boy Boogie,” from their past two releases, and a lot of fans blamed their sound change on the current Seattle-Grunge movement of that era, and that the band had to keep up with the times. Though the band put together incredible songs on this album, a great deal of the Mötley Crüe fanbase turned their backs on the band and refused to give the record a chance, wanting the Mötley Crüe of the ’80s back. Interestingly enough, a majority of those fans who did not initially listen the album then, now say, that it is a fantastic album, only thing is, “It’s not Vince.” Although, stated by Mars himself, it is his favorite Crüe album to date.
Many rumors floated around, and lots of firings within Mötley Crüe management and producers because of the non-success of their self-titled. Many arguments occurred with the record label around that time, and thus, Neil made his return to Crüe in 1996. Exciting fans, he appeared on the American Music Awards in January 1997, playing an amped up version of “Shout at the Devil” that would be on the album to be released in June of that same year, Generation Swine. With much experimentation on this album with backing tracks and computer add-ons, there was very mixed reviews from press, critics, and fans, and still was not much of a success as many classic Crüe supporters would hope for as the band’s comeback with Neil.
Reunited with Neil, they marked a point in their history with a Greatest Hits album in 1998, and the band’s first live album, Live: Entertainment or Death in 1999. Amidst this period in time, Lee ended up in prison for domestic abuse, and, upon release, Lee went solo and released his first Methods of Mayhem album in 1999. Mötley Crüe continued on and hired former Ozzy Osbourne drummer, Randy Castillo, releasing their only album without Lee behind the kit in 2000, New Tattoo. Sadly, just before getting the opportunity to tour in support of this album, Randy had sudden ulcer that ruptured in his stomach and went in for surgery immediately. A bit later, he was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed to the disease in March 2002. Respectively taking the drum seat on that tour though, was Hole drummer, Samantha Maloney.
In the years to follow, each member of the band went off and did separate band/solo projects, besides Mr. Mars. A proudly clean Sixx went and formed Brides of Destruction with Tracii Guns, Scot Coogan, and London Legrand. Neil, toured solo, performing intimate clubs. As for Lee, he dropped the Methods of Mayhem and just toured under his own name, Tommy Lee, releasing two solo albums. Aware of how strong the Mötley Crüe is, they made their comeback in 2005 with the Carnival of Sins tour, putting out another live album from that tour. This was exciting for fans and had many wondering when they would hear new Mötley Crüe tunes again. Then, finally, in 2008, they put out Saints of Los Angeles, a record that would be a soundtrack to their book The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band. If fans of Crüe wanted a superb last album release from this band, they got it with Saints of Los Angeles. This album was long overdue for a lot of Crüe fans, and to fickle fans, Dr. Feelgood was the band’s “last” good release by the band, though a lot also feel Corabi’s period was fantastic and underrated.
Topping charts with Saints of Los Angeles, the band even put together their own Crüe Fest in 2008 with Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Sixx:A.M., and Trapt. Up against other Rock/Metal festivals, the tour was the most successful and popular of that Summer. That is why it came as no surprise when Crüe Fest 2 took place in 2009, this time with Charm City Devils, Drowning Pool, Godsmack, and Theory of a Deadman, even garnishing a second stage in its growth. Unfortunately, Crüe Fest never occurred again.
Jolting forward through regular touring, December 31, 2015 was the final night of Mötley Crüe. Fans, critics, fellow musicians in the Rock-n-Roll world knew this night was coming, but they just did not know when. When the band did their press conference in early 2014, dates for 2015 were not announced at all and many thought the end of 2014 was the end of Crüe. To many’s surprise, in earlier 2015, more dates were announced, and it was mentioned that New Year’s Eve would be their finale. From the pyrotechnics, balloons, confetti, stalled drum kit on Lee’s Cruecify, it was everything one would expect from a Mötley Crüe show; over the top, bombastic, loud, and such a spectacle. They played the classics everyone loved, many tears were shed on the faces of fans. It was an emotional goodbye for fans and surely many are thinking, “What do we do this Summer without Mötley Crüe?” This is because every Summer they have been on amphitheater tours, and now, no more Crüe.
Thankfully, Mötley Crüe has much memories to live off of from fans, a DVD to be released from the final show, many albums of music to continually listen to, and the guys in the band. Besides, they are not completely done, Neil is still doing his solo shows, Sixx has Sixx: A.M. about to dominate for the next two years, Lee has his own projects coming, and as far Mars, he does not let his ankylosing spondylitis condition get in the way. Diagnosed with the impairment when he was only seventeen, the man can still shred, and there are plans in the works of him getting together with Corabi once more for a musical project. Until the day one, or all, of the guys of Mötley Crüe take their last breaths, they will continue to put out music. The fans will always reap the benefits of their musical talents.
After revisiting this magical and defiant journey, many would like to say, thank you Mötley Crüe for the last thirty-four years of music, chaos, and all the friendships developed with fellow show attendees and those met through social media. There will never be another Mötley Crüe, they have pulled many out through tough and good times, and they will still continue to do so for years to come.