Mötley Crüe are a glam metal band hailing from Los Angeles, California that formed in 1980 by original members Tommy Lee and Nikki Sixx. The band are best known for their songs “Girls Girls Girls,” “Home Sweet Home,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Kickstart my Heart,” “Shout at the Devil,” “Looks that Kill,” “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” and “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away).” They have three quadruple platinum albums, and their most successful album, Dr. Feelgood, which went six times platinum. Worldwide, they have sold over 75 million albums and are notorious for their decadent lifestyles from the 1980’s and 1990’s. They have consistently been ranked as one of the top metal bands of all time by metal communities, fans, and media.
The band consists of Vince Neil (vocals), Nikki Sixx (bass), Mick Mars (guitar), and Tommy Lee (drums). Besides their self titled 1995 album, their lineup has remained the same throughout the career of Mötley Crüe.
In 1981, Mötley Crüe released their debut album, arguably their heaviest album, Too Fast for Love, which initially did not chart on the Billboard 200. It was released on their own record label, Leathür Records. The following year, in 1982, the band were signed to Elektra Records, with the album subsequently being re-released, remixed, and retracked. The songs “Live Wire” and “Too Fast for Love” were the breakout singles of the album, which did not begin to perform well until late 1982-1983. The album eventually went platinum. There were several PR stunts the band and management took part in to garner attention to the band, including throwing TVs out of hotel room windows, trying to get through airport security with their spiked costumes and carry-on luggage filled with porn, and fake bomb threats.
Mötley Crüe readily embraced MTV, which helped their next album, Shout at the Devil, perform considerably better. It sold four million copies in the USA, and contained the singles “Shout at the Devil,” “Looks that Kill,” and “Too Young to Fall in Love.” The live favorite cover of the Beatles song “Helter Skelter” was also included.
In 1984, singer Neil was involved in a high profile car crash which he was charged with a DUI and vehicular manslaughter, along with a $2,000,000 fine. Neil was kept in jail for 18 days. In the crash, passenger Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, drummer of Hanoi Rocks, was killed. In 1985, the band released another quadruple platinum album, Theater of Pain. The songs “Home Sweet Home” and “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” were major hits for the band.
In 1987, the band released Girls, Girls, Girls, an homage to their love of drinking, strippers, and motorcycles. It, too, went quadruple platinum. It contained the hit singles “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Wild Side.” Later in 1987, bassist Sixx suffered a heroin overdose and was legally dead for two minutes, before the medic, a Crue fan, injected two shots of adrenaline to his heart to bring him back to life. This experience would be the inspiration for the song “Kickstart my Heart” on the album Dr. Feelgood.
In 1989, the band worked on becoming sober. The results can be heard in the band’s biggest album, Dr. Feelgood, released on September 5, 1989. It was produced by Bob Rock, who took a heavy handed approach that was missing from the band’s earlier releases. Later, Metallica would use Rock as a producer for The Black Album after being impressed by his production work on Dr. Feelgood. The band would experience their first top ten singles, while the album itself would hit #1 on the Billboard 200. The first single, “Dr. Feelgood,” was a huge smash hit on MTV and radio. The single was followed by other successful songs, like “Kickstart my Heart,” “Without You,” “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” and “Same Ol’ Situation.” Steven Tyler of Aerosmith made guest vocal appearances on two tracks, while other guests included Sebastian Bach, Robin Zander, and Bryan Adams. The album wound up selling over six million copies in the USA.
On October 1, 1991, the band released the successful compilation album Decade of Decadence. Not only did it include some of their greatest hits, but also three new tracks, live renditions of some favorites, and remixed versions of previously released hits. The songs “Primal Scream,” “Home Sweet Home ’91,” and “Anarchy in the UK” were released as singles. Following the release of the compilation, Vince Neil left the band over conflicting reports whether he was fired or left on his own terms.
Neil was replaced by John Corabi, and the band released their self titled album in 1994. The album was noticeably heavier, and lacked much connection to the original glam metal sound for which Mötley Crüe were associated with. While the album received good reviews, it didn’t sell well in comparison to their previous albums. It did chart at #7 on the Billboard 200, but only went gold (most Mötley Crüe albums were going multi platinum in the 80’s). The subsequent tour for the album was scaled back from stadiums to smaller venues, then eventually cancelled due to lack of ticket sales. Pressure from management and the record company prompted the band to reunite with Vince Neil in 1997 amidst the recording of Generation Swine, which was released the same year. It went gold, and contained the comeback single “Afraid,” as well as “Beauty,” a vastly different sound for the band. Despite high hopes, the album was largely seen as a failure commercially.
In 1999, Tommy Lee, due to tensions with Neil, quit the band, with intentions to pursue personal projects and a solo career. Without Lee, the band released the album New Tattoo, which debuted at #41, and sold roughly 203,000 copies. Following the album, guitarist Mick Mars went into seclusion for years due to his rare form of arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis. Also in 2001, The New York Times bestseller The Dirt was released. The band have been in talks about a screen adaption since its release.
Between albums, the band released several live and compilation albums, culminating with the compilation Red, White, and Crue, released in 2005. It contained the hit single “If I Die Tomorrow,” controversial because it was co-written by pop-punk band Simple Plan. The result was a platinum album for the band, and a successful reunion tour with Lee and Mars returning to the fold.
In 2005-2007, the band would hit the road for several successful concert tours. In 2008, the band released their first full studio album with Lee on drums since Generation Swine, titled Saints of Los Angeles. The album debuted strong at #4 on the Billboard 200. It marked a full return to their glam metal roots. Crue Fest and Crue Fest 2 occurred after the release of the album. In 2010, the band headlined Ozzfest.
Nikki Sixx has said that Mötley Crüe plans to disband following their next full length album, which may be released in spring 2014. A farewell world tour to promote the album will happen simultaneously, which may coincide with the release of the movie adaption of their autobiography, The Dirt.
- Too Fast for Love (1981)
- Shout at the Devil (1983)
- Theatre of Pain (1985)
- Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)
- Dr. Feelgood (1989)
- Mötley Crüe (1994)
- Generation Swine (1997)
- New Tattoo (2000)
- Saints of Los Angeles (2008)