Bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee formed Mötley Crüe in early 1981. Sixx had left ‘name’ LA glam band London. He had already been in Sister with Blackie Lawless. Singer and guitarist Greg Leon, with whom Lee had been in Suite 19, was recruited. Leon would soon opt out. They soon recruited Mick Mars on guitars and Vince Neil on vocals. Neil was also an acquaintance and former schoolmate of Lee. Neil was also signing for Rockandi, which was a play on word to Rock Candy. Aside from switching vocalists the band has been remarkably stable in its line-up since.
With the umlauts in place on the group’s name the band created its own imprint Leathür Records and issued a single Stick To Your Guns/Toast Of The Town followed by its debut full-length, Too Fast For Love. The record was issued in November of 1981. The cover has become iconic and even copied by the likes of Crushing Blow on the Ceasefire album. The cover itself was a tribute to The Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers. Fans would notice a song called Public Enemy #1 credited to a L. Grey on Mötley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love album. Lizzie Grey was the guitarist of London. The group was affiliated with punk music at this stage. Mötley Crüe and Ratt were playing the Troubadour club in Hollywood for a $1 cover charge. Sixx had borrowed some of the imagery and occult trappings of Sister for the Crüe by now. Eric Greif would set up a tour of Canada in 1982 for the band as the group’s LP sold very well. Greif would also manage London at this time.
The group signed a deal with Elektra Records, which issued the debut in mid-2002. The re-issue featured a different mix, partial re-recording and a spruced up cover and jacket. Elektra Canada would take the lead to support the band’s Canadian tour. Despite the progress the band switched to managers Doug Thaler and Doc McGhee. The group’s second album – issued in late summer of 1983 - was a success propelled by Elektra’s publicity, videos for songs like Shout At The Devil (title track) and Too Young To Fall In Love and heavy and catchy tunes. The band was perpetually tuning lower to synchronize with Neil’s vocals. The title of the album, the pentagram imagery and general heavy metal ensemble coincided with the rise of right-wing protest groups and PMRC, which soon clashed with the band. The publicity was good for sales, but the band would later protest that the song was “shout at the devil and not shout with the devil.” The latter could be considered racist. Sixx would later be rumoured to be sympathetic to white power causes. Shout At The Devil hit #17 on the Billboard charts. The group appeared at Monsters Of Rock Tour 1984 in Europe to introduce its musically average, but Mad Maxish notable music on that continent. In December of 1984 Neil and Hanoi Rocks’ drummer Razzle would be in a car accident near Neil’s home leading to the Englishman’s death. Neil and Razzle were driving to a local liquor store and Neil was drunk. Hanoi Rocks would understandably condemn Neil’s DUI. Neil had suffered injuries of his own. Neil would serve a short time in Jail. With plenty of irony the group would years later issue a compilation called Music To Crash Your Car To Neil would be arrested for DUI in later years as well. Lee had first married actress Heather Locklear before wedding Canadian Pamela Anderson.
Theatre Of Pain was up next and had the band chase an even more commercial success. The band had a conscious image change from leather and spikes to what could be described as Aerosmith-goes-to-the-circus and instead of an original released Brownsville Station’s Smokin’ In The Boys Room as a single. This was followed by the slow song Home Sweet Home. It also featured additional piano and harmonica. The Tom Werman-produced record was #6 on the Billboard charts. Theatre Of Pain was dedicated to Hanoi Rocks’ former man Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley. Crüe gave Japan’s Loudness a chance and had the Japanese band open a set of shows, which by all accounts they stole. If there was any doubt about the band’s commercial future 1987 brought Girls, Girls, Girls. The mega-band had written many songs about its drugs addiction. The album reached #2 on the Billboard charts. MTV was still supportive of the band. The video for Wild Side was featured on the then-music channel. In December of 1987 Sixx suffered a heroin overdose and was almost dead on arrival at the hospital. Surviving the trauma the band wrote the song Kickstart My Heart, which appeared n 1989’s Dr. Feelgood, itself named after drug dealers. This album was produced by Bob Rock and ended up being the zenith of the band’s album sales. Sixx had entered rehabilitation in the meantime. Coincidentally, the band’s manager Doc McGhee was caught trafficking 40,000 pounds of drugs. Dr. Feelgood hit the #1 position on the USA charts. During this period the band had one of the bigger stage shows including a revolving riser for Lee. After playing McGhee’s Moscow Music Peace Festival, which was amazingly part of his community service against drugs, the group disappointed not to have a better slot fired McGhee accusing him of preferring Bon Jovi. Thaler was the manager now. The group also toured with Faster Pussycat and Kiss.
The last decade of the millennium brought with it a changing of the guard. Grunge and alternative were in. Metal was not. Vince Neil left the band – asserted he was fired and sued the band for future profits and $5 million in damages - and was replaced by the more conventional John Corabi. Neil and Axl Rose of Guns ‘N Roses had clashed in a war of words. Neil began a solo career. The band’s self-titled record was issued in 1994 and hit #7 on the US Charts. The placement was impressive given the group’s style and origin and the times. Corabi was let go in 1996. Neil was inevitably brought back. Thaler was fired by now too. On August 15th 1995, Neil’s daughter, Skylar Neil, died of cancer at the age of 4. He founded the Skylar Neil Memorial Fund in her honour.
Generation Swine was the 1997 reunion album. It did well and went into the USA Top 10, but the band was dissatisfied with Elektra and left to set up its own imprint. However, drummer Lee soon left to form a band playing his first love of hip-hop and DJ music. In 2015, Lee would recall his music and albums of this era a waste of time and a mistake. The drummer was also an infamous figure following the distribution of his sex tape with Pamela Anderson. Lee would be in courts and the press in mid-‘90s for wife beating allegations. Randy Castillo was recruited to play New Tattoo. Mike Clink produced. The group toured with Scorpions. Apparently, the Crüe guys introduced Castillo to Ozzy Osbourne. The drummer would die of cancer in 2002. Anthrax was suing Mötley Crüe for 'loss of income' as pertaining to the NY thrashers being let go of the previous summer's tour of the bands along with Megadeth. The band was on hiatus, but a 2001 autobiography entitled The Dirt added to the band’s notoriety. Mars momentarily quit the band to deal with his health. His return to the band was marred by reports of his unwillingness and manipulation. Mars had a hip replacement surgery in 2004. The Los Angeles-based Brides Of Destruction featured L.A. Guns' Tracii Guns and Motley Crüe's Nikki Sixx and was formed in early 2002. In the same year, the band was being sued by producer Tom Werman who claimed unpaid royalties to the tune of $400,000 for the Shout At The Devil, Theater Of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls albums.
Inevitably, the group reformed in 2004. The band reported demand from promoters and research by management, which showed demand for the group. At the end of 2004 the group announced a final tour for 2005, which of course was a marketing ploy. A sampler called Red, White & Crüe was issued. A tour with the band’s major influence Aerosmith followed. During this period the band, and especially Sixx, distanced themselves from glam and metal and especially slagged Poison. In late 2007, Tommy Lee quit again according to the band, although the drummer himself preferred to think he would rejoin the group after resolving some mutual issues and problems. Lee was also appearing on so-called TV reality shows, which hampered the band’s ability to tour. Mötley Crüe's next album, entitled Saints Of Los Angeles, appeared in 2008 and spawned as successful single of the title track. It was reportedly to be called The Dirt and named after the aforementioned autobiography. After the fashion of the time (think Ozzfest followed by Metallica, Megadeth and others), the band set up its own Crüe Fest and toured. The Americans re-issued their complete studio catalogue on September 30, 2008 on Mötley Records/Eleven Seven Music. Crüe Fest 2 followed a year later. Mötley Crüe announced that the band would play the entire Dr. Feelgood album every night of Crüe Fest 2 to commemorate the album's 20th anniversary. The band even co-headlined Ozzfest a year later. In 2010, Nikki Sixx launched a syndicated radio show called Sixx Sense. In 2011, after several years of slagging each other and Mötley Crüe vowing the rumours were just that Poison and Mötley Crüe were touring together for the first time as co-headliners with guests the New York Dolls. Tommy Lee was also running his own recording studio where bands like Dokken recorded. The tour is scheduled for the summer of 2011 and considered a win for promoters. In early 2014 came the announcement of another final tour. This final set of shows was to last two years and included a major tour with Alice Cooper. Tommy Lee sustained an injury and inflammation to his left wrist in September of 2015 and was unable to play US tour date shows. Alice Cooper's drummer Glen Sobel replaced him. Lee appeared on stage to play some keyboards. Motley Crue guitarist Mick Mars was working on his solo album with former band singer John Corabi. Singer Neil was also working on a record. Mötley Crüe: The End was a concert film that would be at select big screens for one night on Tuesday, June 14 2016. The band had not begun planning its return yet. Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil was charged with misdemeanour battery in the USA in relation to an incident where he allegedly pulled down an autograph seeker who approached actor Nicolas Cage. Neil had denied the charge, but was caught on camera. Sentencing was due soon thereafter. Neil was touring the US playing solo and Mötley Crüe songs while being sued. Tommy Lee and his 21-year-old son Brandon got into an altercation, at the former’s house, which left them knocked out and livid. The son blamed dad’s alcoholism later. Tommy called in the cops. Tommy’s ex-wife Pamela Anderson landed on the son’s side. The police dropped the matter when no one would cooperate. Tommy Lee's son didn’t face charges for assaulting his father. The Los Angeles district attorney dismissed the case against Brandon Lee because his father would not cooperate with authorities. Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were in the studio working on music in 2018. Neil was touring. Mars was working on solo material. Naturally, the four members were recording four new songs for the band’s ‘Heroin’ movie.
MÖTLEY CRÜE - SHOUT AT THE DEVIL - ELEKTRA
Shout At The Devil was the band’s first proper major album and release for Elektra Records. The band’s debut, Too Fast For Love, was issued through Elektra, but only after its initial independent release by Leathur Records. Perhaps not surprisingly, Shout At The Devil is the band’s earliest album that is still liked by singer Vince Neil who famously slagged his own debut. Conceivably it was the production or the punky music of Too Fast, but for whatever reason the band isn’t too impressed despite the debut being good enough for Elektra Records to latch on to. The major label liked it enough to not only sign these Los Angeles glamsters, but also to give them a big push, decent budget as depicted by the producer, artwork, photography and videos that were shot for the album. Obviously, someone knew something. The investment paid off. Of course, as with many bands, the 1983 early album remains the year of Mötley’s best release. It all came together with this seminal record.
After a short intro, Shout At The Devil begins the album and is a gliding guitar anthem with lots of rhythm. It is a fist-pumper for sure. The songs here are good and when more than ten years later the band rerecorded a couple of them the newer version were sad and blatantly inferior. Looks That Kill is faster, punchy and has the hooks to go with its irreplaceable solo and rhythm section. It is a wagon on a metallic roll. Knock 'Em Dead, Kid is dedicated to the Los Angeles Police Department. That sort of rebellious attitude is a theme running through the album. The song is simple and loud. Ten Seconds 'Till Love is possibly Mötley’s answer to Led Zeppelin’s The Lemon Song. Same idea, different music, two decades later. Helter Skelter is where it falls apart. Covering The Beatles: how rebellious! It is not a coincidence that the song is out of place, weak and downright stupid. While fans were in awe of the image, brashness and attitude, the band was apparently preparing for its next move, which comprised of marketing plans, dedicated stylists and tailors, old southern ditties and mainstream sell-out. Too bad, but in the meanwhile there is more to Shout At The Devil. Danger is not one of the album’s stronger songs and again features short lines and lyrics. It is a sombre and ominous take on Hollywood of the '80s. Red Hot is self-referential - no one said these guys were modest - with the band being “out for blood.” A typical Mötley riff comes at you simply and loudly accompanied by those pounding drums of Tommy Lee. The band reuses the “shout at the devil” line for emphasis or continuity and ends the songs with a high scream courtesy of singer Vince Neil showing off his range. He could sing higher apparently even though the band had to consistently tune lower to suit his voice. The album’s true red-hot song Too Young To Fall In Love is muted compared to Red Hot, but lines like “your love is like a guillotine” are immortal. Great solo and an even better drum break fly off the record. Who is the song about?
It wasn’t just that the PMRC/Parental Music Resource Committee (the Washington D.C. Republicrat answer to the entitled, bored, stuck-up and self-righteous wives of O.C.) hated Mötley Crüe; it was the chops and the approach . These guys looked like Mad Max with a budget/without a dog and pumped on adrenalin. Never mind that the guy weren’t the best instrumentalists; they routinely won magazine 'best of' polls. It was rather funny seeing Mick Mars dominate the guitar category in polls with his limited ability over other metal guitarists, but that was as hypocritical as calling a band that implores its audience to “shout at the devil” Satanic. In the end, though, everyone got what he or she wanted. The right-wing politico wives got their moment under the sun, the label and the band sold mega numbers, MTV gave the band’s fantastic videos a good push and above all the fans had a fantastic record. Speaking of record, this album is unbeatable on vinyl. The gatefold, which opened to pictures of the band in warrior garb was enclosed in a transparent pentagram (check out that pentagram in the band’s video) on a black cover that exuded both magic and attitude. Mötley Crüe went on to sell out as fast as possible and followed this one up with a stinker for the ages that made Aerosmith sound uncompromisingly heavy metal, yet Shout At The Devil was already out of the bag. - Ali “The Metallian”
MÖTLEY CRÜE - GREATE$T HIT$ - MÖTLEY/BMG
Here is the new greatest hits package from L.A.'s newly-independent crew and the first thing that comes fore is the new band name typography. One can only imagine the millions of dollars corporate lawyers siphoned off following the band's involuntary departure from its former label and in the process taking the 'Ö' with them. Now most readers are familiar with the band's music, or its escapades, and have formed an opinion either way. Personally, the band is remembered as being a staple on the record player circa 1984-1985 when songs like Live Wire (not on the sampler) and Too Fast For Love (a new version is) were as heart stomping as anything out there. Naturally, the band went on to bigger and worse things, but what remained intact was the support shown the band by hard rock and heavy metal fans worldwide. It is therefore disappointing to see the band refer to itself as everything from punk to rock 'n roll. to rock. Heavy metal might be a dirty phrase in 1998, but let the band not forget its roots on a greatest hits package and also point out that were it not for heavy metal this band would not even exist today. This CD features 17 tracks two of which, namely Bitter Pill and Enslaved, are new. - Ali "The Metallian"