The classic line-up of Mötley Crüe. From left to right: Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee.
"When we started this band, all we needed
Needed was a laugh
Years gone by, I'd say we've kicked some ass
When I'm enraged or hittin' the stage
Adrenaline rushing through my veins
And I say, we're still kickin' ass
So ooh-ahh, kickstart my heart, hope it never stops
And to think we did all of this to rock
— "Kickstart My Heart"
is a Hard Rock
band formed in and popular in The Eighties
by drummer Tommy Lee and bassist Nikki Sixx, joined by guitarist Mick Mars and lastly by singer Vince Neil. Like most of their contemporaries from the Glam era, they were probably more well known for their sleazy, sordid antics
than their music: during their first tour in Canada they were banned from Edmonton for carrying "dangerous weapons" (their stage spikes) and "indecent material" (Neil's porn) though customs, got accused of a bomb threat and threw a TV out the window of their hotel (all publicity stunts). They rose to international fame on the release of Shout At The Devil
, Theater of Pain
and Girls, Girls, Girls
, receiving heavy rotation on MTV
and selling millions of copies. Sixx has overdosed on heroin over a dozen times, three times near-fatal
(the first of these in which he was declared dead for a minute
, inspired the song "Kickstart My Heart").
In 1989, in light of Sixx's near-fatal overdose—at the plea of their managers—the band cancelled their tour of Europe and went into rehab (except for Mars, who cleaned up on his own). Finding sobriety and quitting drugs, the band recorded their highly successful Dr. Feelgood
, getting a Grammy nomination for "Kickstart My Heart" and the title track. The band's popularity declined in the wake of the 90's and the Grunge
movement like it did for all bands of their kind. Neil quit/was fired (he maintains he was fired, Lee says he quit) from the band in 1992, being replaced by John Corabi, who would record the disappointing Mötley Crüe
. They reunited in 1997 to record Generation Swine
, receiving lackluster sales in part thanks to bad support from their label, Elektra records, ultimately prompting the band to form their own label, Mötley records (this made them one of the few bands at the time to have total control over their own publishing, recording and back catalog).
In 1999, Lee left to pursue a solo career. His replacement, Randy Castillo recorded New Tattoo
with the band before dying of cancer while on tour, and with no replacement set, they went into hiatus. During this time, they released an autobiography, The Dirt
, Lee started the Nu Metal
band Methods of Mayhem and married Pamela Anderson (divorced and re-married multiple times), Neil toured as an on-and-off solo artist, Sixx played in several other bands and Mars became a recluse
due to his inflammatory spinal arthritis note
Since 2005, the band announced their reunion tour, has co-headlining with Aerosmith
in 2006 (a true irony
, see below), and has run a small circuit in Europe. The group released their return-to-form
album Saints of Los Angeles
in 2008, for which they received a Grammy nomination for the title track. They started their personal summer tour Crüe Fest
with Buckcherry, Papa Roach, Trapt and Sixx:A.M. (Sixx's side-project) opening, becoming the most successful festival of the summer. Crüe Fest 2
featured Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool
, Charm City Devils and Godsmack (Godsmack singer Sully Erna appeared in the Crüe video for "White Trash Circus"). Although there are plans to turn their 2001 autobiography The Dirt
into a feature film, the project has been stuck in Development Hell
for several years. However, in November 2013 it was announced that Jeff Tremaine (of Jackass
fame) has signed on to direct a film adaptation of The Dirt
, with plans to start shooting in June 2014.
In March of 2013, Sixx has stated that the band will break up past their final album and farewell tour, as to end their career on a high note (going so far as to sign a legally binding contract preventing them from ever touring again). Dates were announced in January of 2014, with Alice Cooper
Not to be confused with that other kind of motley crew
Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic)
- Randy Castillo - drums, percussion (1999-2002, died 2002)
- John Corabi - lead vocals, guitar, bass, piano (1992-1996)
- Robert Deal (Mick Mars) - guitar, vocals, bass, sitar, mandolin (1981-Present)
- Frank Feranna (Nikki Sixx) - bass, backing and lead vocals, synthesizer, keyboard, piano (1981-Present)
- Tommy Lee - drums, percussion, piano, backing and lead vocals, synthesizer (1981-1999, 2004-Present)
- Samantha Maloney - drums, percussion (2002-2004)
- Vince Neil - lead vocals, harmonica, guitar (1981-1992, 1997-Present)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1981 - Too Fast For Love
- 1983 - Shout At The Devil
- 1985 - Theatre Of Pain
- 1987 - Girls, Girls, Girls
- 1988 - Raw Tracks
- 1989 - Dr. Feelgood
- 1990 - Raw Tracks 2
- 1994 - Mötley Crüe
- 1994 - Quaternary
- 1994 - Generation Swine
- 1999 - Live: Entertainment Or Death
- 2000 - New Tattoo
- 2006 - Carnival Of Sins Live
- 2008 - Saints Of Los Angeles
"Tröpes, Tröpes, Tröpes":
One Woman Song
- All Drummers Are Animals: Tommy Lee has possibly the wildest reputation of anyone in the band, which is saying something.
- Alliterative Name: Mick Mars
- Awesome McCoolname: Sixx, Mars, the whole band, really.
- Back from the Dead: Er, kinda.... Sixx was declared dead for two minutes after overdosing on heroin in the 80s, only to be revived by two adrenaline shots to the heart. Then he wrote "Kickstart My Heart" about the incident.
- Bikini Bar: "Girls, Girls, Girls". If the lyrics don't drive the point away, then the video surely will.
- Breakup Song: "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)"
- Canon Discontinuity: The fans of the band, and even the band members themselves, like to pretend that the self-titled 1994 album and Generation Swine never happened.
- Chorus Girls: "Girls, Girls, Girls"
- Cluster F-Bomb: A concert staple.
- Cool Bike: They love this trope.
- They pose mounted on some on the cover of Girls Girls Girls, and the video of the title track, which also features bike engine noises, features the members riding on bikes to a strip club. And just when you thought it was enough, the intro riff of "Kickstart My Heart" was made to sound like a revving motorbike.
- Cover Version: Better known are "Helter Skelter" (The Beatles) on Shout at the Devil, "Jailhouse Rock" (Elvis Presley) as an extra track on Girls Girls Girls, "Anarchy in the UK" (Sex Pistols) on Decade of Decadence and Demonic and Supersonic (later live on Carnival of Sins),"White Punks on Dope" (The Tubes) on New Tattoo, and "Smokin' in the Boys Room" (Brownsville Station) on Theatre of Pain.
"Is this the PMRC
Or is this the DEA
Or is this the CIA
I thought it was the U.S.A."
- Darker and Edgier: Shout at The Devil
- Dr. Feelgood: The Trope Namer.
- Domestic Abuser: Tommy Lee did jail time for abusing his ex-wife Pamela Anderson and was also arrested for abusing his ex-fiance Bobbi Brown. Vince Neil has been accused of violence against women on numerous occasions.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Aerosmith was inspired by their high heels, teased hair and heavy make-up (and their constant use of the word "Dude") to write the Trope Namer, specifically about Vince Neil. They were right, you know◊.
- James Hetfield: "We thought we saw some hookers, but it was actually Motley Crue."
- Fourth Date Marriage: Tommy Lee met Pamela Anderson at a party in February, 1995. 4 days later they were married.
- Gallows Humor: See YMMV entry.
- The Garfunkel: Somehow, the lead guitarist (who tries to cultivate a mysterious image).
- There's also the fact that Mick is rather uncomfortable being the centre of attention. He is, and always has been, a very private person.
- Radio and TV host Eddie Trunk states in his book Eddie Trunk's Essential Guide To Hard Rock & Heavy Metal that Mars can actually get pretty talkative if interviewers (ie himself) go out of their way to engage him, which he notes is a rare occurrence.
- Love at First Sight: In The Dirt, Tommy admits that he was obsessed with Pamela Anderson from the moment he met her. He even hopped a plane to Mexico the next day because she was doing a bikini photo shoot there.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: And funny. See "S.O.S. (Same Ol' Situation)."
- Great Balls of Fire: A Crüe show wouldn't be complete without it.
- Greatest Hits Album: The Crüe loves putting out greatest hits compilations. So far they have released five greatest hits albums and three box sets.
- Groupie Brigade: Just read The Dirt. Good lord...
- Hair Metal: One of the all-time definitive examples.
- Handicapped Badass: Mick Mars. See Heroic Willpower.
- Heavy Meta: While the entirety of the song isn't about this (see Back from the Dead), the break in "Kickstart My Heart" (quoted at the top) qualifies. It could be said that, being a break in a song that otherwise ranks high on the Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness, this could be the part where Sixx's life started flashing before his eyes. Also doubles as a Badass Boast.
- Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: In this case, not for the sake of metal; they were drinking Löwenbräur while they were thinking of a name (one of Mars' previous bands had a member call the group "a motley looking crew").
- Heroic Willpower: Mick Mars. seriously, dude looks ancient, has a very debilitating form of arthritis and his entire lower spine is fused solid, does he let that stop him from playing guitar? Hell. No.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, nicknamed the "Terror Twins".
- Home Porn Movie: In the late 1990s a sex tape featuring Tommy Lee and his then-wife Pamela Anderson was stolen from their home and sold to a pornographic video distributor, causing a huge stir in the entertainment media. The Lees sued the distributor and attempted to get the video taken off the internet, but failed.
- Similarly, Vince Neil made a sex tape in which he had a threesome with porn star Janine Lindemulder (you likely know her as the nurse on the cover of blink-182's Enema of the State) and Penthouse Pet Brandy Ledford. As with Tommy Lee's video, it was leaked and found its way to the internet.
- Home Sweet Home: Of course. It's the name of one of their biggest hits, after all.
- Intercourse with You: Their love of groupies and strip clubs have always been a strong theme in their lyrics (and everything else they do).
- Lead Bassist: Nikki Sixx is a Type C. He, along with Tommy Lee, was responsible for founding the band, and both do most of the songwriting.
- Licensed Pinball Table: Crüe Ball for the Sega Genesis.
- Lighter and Softer: Theatre of Pain, which is noticably softer and more mainstream than Too Fast For Love and Shout at the Devil.
- Long Runner Line Up: The original crew. Amazing that they lived long enough to qualify.
- Made of Iron: Every original member of the band. During the peak of their popularity they all did incredible amounts of alcohol and drugs in addition to indulging in other forms of reckless behavior. Yet they're all still alive.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly a 6, although they sometimes go up to a 7.
- Myspeld Rökband: See the explanation on Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut.
- Murder Ballad: "Your All I Need".
- New Sound Album:
- Ode To Sobriety: "Kickstart My Heart" is a type 1, as is "Dr. Feelgood".
: "Angela," from the out-of-print best-of collection Decade of Decadence.
- Power Ballad: Several of them, but the most famous one by far is "Home Sweet Home." During the peak of the song's popularity MTV was receiving so many requests to play the music video that they enacted a rule that it could only be played once per hour.
- Rated M for Manly: Take away the outfits (which they've abandoned) and it's guy music.
- Sanity Slippage Song
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The Crüe were infamous for their backstage antics and the debauchery of their personal lives. In the band's autobiography The Dirt Nikki Sixx even admits that during the 1980s they were trying to establish a reputation as the wildest and most out-of-control rock band on the planet. In order to accomplish this they drank heavily, did every drug they could find, and had sex with every groupie in sight. But after Nikki died of a heroin overdose (thankfully a paramedic was able to revive him via two adrenaline shots to the heart) the band's management convinced them to enter rehab and sober up.
- Shot to the Heart: The song "Kickstart My Heart" was supposedly inspired by Nikki being revived by an adrenaline shot to the heart after almost dying of a heroin overdose.
- Stage Names: Neil and Lee shortened their names a bit, while Mick Mars is Robert Allan Deal and Nikki Sixx is Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. (Sixx has been his legal name since 1975).
- The Tyson Zone: A full list of the controversies surrounding them would probably take up most of this page.
- Title Only Chorus: TONS of them, and it's just as likely to happen no matter how long the title. Better-known examples include "Shout At The Devil" and "Too Young To Fall In Love."
- Villain Protagonist: Jimmy in "Dr. Feelgood", a drug dealer whose nickname is the song's (and album's) title.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Mick Mars at the end of "Kickstart My Heart"