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Members include Randy Castillo(joined group, 1999), drums; John Corabi(group member, 1992-96), lead vocals; Tommy Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass c. 1963; married Heather Locklear, 1986; divorced, 1993; married Pamela Anderson, 1995; divorced, 1998; left group, 1999), drums; Mick Mars (born Bob Deal c. 1956; twice divorced), guitar, vocals; Vince Neil (born Vince Neil Wharton c. 1961; married and divorced Sharise; married Heidi Mark, 2000; divorced, 2001; left group, 1992; rejoined group, 1996), lead vocals; Nikki Sixx (born Frank Carlton Serafino Ferranno c. 1959; married and divorced Brandi Brandt; married Donna D'Errico, 1996), bass. Addresses: Record company--Left Bank Organization/Beyond Music/Motley Records, 9255 Sunset Boulevard, 2nd Floor, West Hollywood, CA 90069, phone: (310) 385-4800, fax: (310) 385-4810, website: http://www.beyondmusic.com. Website--Mötley Crüe Official Website: http://www.motley.com.
Mötley Crüe's loud, irreverent, and hard-driving heavy metal music has drawn sneers from rock critics and nothing short of adulation from millions of teenaged fans. The songs, both in sound and substance, are precisely calculated to echo the aggressions and sexual fantasies of alienated younger Americans--and are just as precisely calculated to disturb parents and other adult authority figures. The members of Mötley Crüe do more than just preach a musical ethic of parties, fast women, and immediate self-satisfaction, they have lived those values, a phenomenon that is no small part of their appeal. After 20 years, significant personnel changes, five multiplatinum albums, and more than 40 million records sold, Mötley Crüe continue to bring their mix of what Rolling Stone online called "heavy metal, glampop, Top 40 and alternative grunge" to audiences.
As David Handelman noted in Rolling Stone in 1987, heavy metal of the Mötley Crüe variety "caught on as a sort of Lite punk: it smells and tastes like rebellion but without that political aftertaste. Its main selling points are that adults find it unlistenable, preachers call it blasphemous, and Tipper Gore blushes reading the lyrics. Fans at Crüe concerts say they like the group because the music is hard and fast, but they also like the band's reckless hedonism, which they read about in the metal fanzines." That hedonism became legend for the band: two Crüe members, Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx, married starlets and were arrested for instigating a riot in 1997, singer Vince Neil was convicted of felony manslaughter for a drunk driving accident, and Sixx was a heroin addict during much of the band's early days. "I've always thought of us as the psychiatrists of rock & roll," Sixx told Rolling Stone, "because the kids come to see us get all this anxiety and pent-up aggression out. That hour and a half is theirs. No one can take it away. No parent can tell them to turn it down."
The original members of Mötley Crüe--Lee, Mars, Neil, and Sixx--are high school dropouts who displayed rebellious tendencies in early youth. They met in California in the early 1980s after each had worked some time in various heavy metal club bands. Nikki Sixx was the founder of the group, originally called Christmas, but the band's name comes from the imagination of guitarist Mick Mars. Handelman recounts that Sixx and Lee recruited Mars after seeing his ad: "LOUD, RUDE, AGGRESSIVE GUITARIST AVAILABLE." Handelman quotes Lee as saying, "We didn't even have to hear him play. We went, 'This is the guy--he's disgusting.'" The band was rounded out with singer Vince Neil, whose onstage theatrics were more valuable than his vocal prowess.
By 1983 Mötley Crüe was a favorite new band among heavy metal aficionados. Handelman noted in 1987 that the Crüe had "consumed more than 750 bottles of Jack Daniel's in its quest for musical excellence." In 1983 Sixx was quoted as saying: "We could just fall apart tomorrow or go straight to the top, because we're such extremists as personalities. It's like riding a roller coaster twenty-four hours a day. Every time you turn around, somebody's in jail or 100,000 kids are buying our album."
As with many heavy metal bands of the 1980s, Mötley Crüe was helped immensely by the advent of cable television's MTV. The band's graphic music videos delighted teens and enraged would-be adult censors such as Tipper Gore, wife of then Senator Al Gore. The adult antipathy to Crüe's style only intensified the appeal for some teens; what surprised Crüe, and many other observers, was the age of the audience. Fan letters from ten- and eleven-year-olds were not uncommon, and the average age of a Mötley Crüe fan was 15. "We play and write for the kids," Sixx told Rolling Stone in 1987. "We've never had peer acceptance. They couldn't see past the costumes.... Kids don't buy Whitney Houston. People that buy one record a year buy that. In the golden age of rock it was all kids playing for kids. Now it's that again." Neil added: "We don't write songs to be messages.... When I was younger, even now, I don't listen to the words. If I like the melody, I like the song."
In Esquire magazine in 1984, Bob Greene polled some Crue fans for ideas on the source of the group's attraction. One 19-year-old girl replied: "I think they're all gorgeous. When I see them, I just naturally think of leather and whips and chains. I think that means that they're aggressive. I happen to love that image; it's a neat image. I think it's that kind of aggressiveness that a woman is always looking for." A 13-year-old female fan put it even more succinctly. "They're really good-looking," she said. "Good and mean. They just look like guys who are out to party and have a good time."
Admittedly, Mötley Crüe music is not strong on lyrics. Most songs deal with the band, touring, male exploits with buddies or women, and parties. The tunes are classic hard rock, with insistent drum beats and catchy guitar riffs. What has made Mötley Crüe famous, however, is its road shows, which are often filled with special effects, racy leather clothing, and macho antics, all delivered at the peak of amplification. "We try to go overboard with the stage show," Neil told Handelman, "so the kids get their money's worth. I'd be bummed if I went to a concert and they just stood there and played. That's not my idea of show business." Handelman commented that the music "stirs the kids up only to dump them back in the malls, as exhausted and aimless as ever."
Mötley Crüe has managed to keep making music despite significant personnel changes. Neil left the group in a much-publicized dismissal in February of 1992 because his bandmates felt he "didn't share their determination and passion for music," according to Craig Rosen of Billboard; he was replaced by John Corabi, formerly of The Scream. Neil embarked on a solo career in 1993 and established the Vince Neil Band, but returned to Mötley Crüe in September of 1996, displacing Corabi as lead singer. Corabi filed suit against the group for monies owed to him in 1997. Sixx has remained a part of Mötley Crüe but started a side project in 1998, called 58. Lee left Mötley Crüe in 1999 to form his own rap-metal band, Methods of Mayhem; he was replaced by former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo.
Following a string of highly successful releases during the early-to mid-1980s, which included Theatre of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls, Mötley Crüe's most successful release was Dr. Feelgood in 1989, an album which followed the group's 1988 stint in rehab. Mötley Crüe followed in 1994 with Corabi as lead singer. The reviews of Corabi's debut were not glowing; Stephen Thomas Erlewine of All Music Guide called him a "hoarse shouter without the charisma of Vince Neil." Neil's return to the group in 1996 inspired the release of the reunion album Generation Swine in 1997 and a subsequent North American tour. The group left Elektra in 1998 with rights to its full recording catalog--which included five multiplatinum albums as of 2001--and started the Motley Records label. Mötley Crüe released a greatest hits collection in 1998, a live collection in 1999, and the album New Tattoo in 2000. Dirt: The Autobiography of Mötley Crüe was published in May of 2001.
by Anne Janette Johnson
Mötley Crüe's Career
Group formed in California, c. 1980; released several highly successful albums includingTheatre of Pain, Girls, Girls, Girls, and Dr. Feelgood on Elektra, 1980s; released Mötley Crüe with Corabi as lead vocalist, 1994; released Generation Swine with Neil returning to lead vocals, 1997; left Elektra, formed own Motley Records, 1998; released New Tattoo, 2000; Dirt: The Autobiography of Mötley Crüe published, 2001.
- Selected discography
- Too Fast for Love , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1982.
- Shout at the Devil , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1983.
- Theatre of Pain , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1985.
- Girls, Girls, Girls , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1987.
- Dr. Feelgood , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1989.
- Decade of Decadence , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1991.
- Mötley Crüe , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1994.
- Generation Swine , Elektra/Motley/Beyond, 1997.
- Greatest Hits , Motley/Beyond, 1998.
- Live: Entertainment or Death , Motley/Beyond, 1999.
- New Tattoo , Motley/Beyond, 2000.
October 5, 2004: Band member Mick Mars underwent hip replacement surgery to remedy the effects of ankylosing spondylitis, a degenerative disease. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/digest.htm, October 7, 2004.
January 9, 2005: Band member Vince Neil married Lia Gerardini in Las Vegas, Nevada. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, January 11, 2005.
August 9, 2005: Band member Tommy Lee's second solo album, Tommyland: The Ride, was released to coincide with the publication of his book by the same name. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_2/index.jsp, August 18, 2005.
- Billboard, February 29, 1992; May 8, 1993; July 19, 1997.
- Esquire, May 1984.
- People, May 2, 1994; March 6, 1995.
- Rolling Stone, August 13, 1987.
- "Mötley Crüe," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (December 4, 2001).
- "Mötley Crüe Biography," RollingStone.com, http://www.rollingstone.com/artists/bio.asp?oid=1023&cf=1023 (October 11, 2001).
- Mötley Crüe Official Website, http://www.motley.com (December 4, 2001).
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