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Music / Mötley Crüe

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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"

Mötley Crüe are a Hard Rock/Hair Metal band formed in Los Angeles and popular in The '80s 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) through 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 their 1983 breakthrough album, Shout At The Devil, and afterwards Theater of Pain (1985, when they started being the top-billed main attraction) and Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), 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 1987 in which he was declared dead for a minute, inspired the decade ending song "Kickstart My Heart").

In 1988, in light of Sixx's near-fatal overdose — at the plea of their managers — the band cancelled their then scheduled European tour 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 (1989 decade ender), getting a Grammy nomination for "Kickstart My Heart" and the title track. The band's popularity declined in the 1990's in the wake of that decade's Gangsta Rap, Grunge and Hip-Hop movements, like it did for all hair metal "party" 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 their 1994 Self-Titled Album. 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, Motley 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 being diagnosed with cancer (which he later died of in 2002) before touring started, leading to Samantha Maloney of Hole to fill in for the tour. 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 remarried 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) had signed on to direct a film adaptation of The Dirt, which was released to Netflix in 2019.

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 opening.

They played their final show on December 31st, 2015, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

However, in 2018, Vince Neil stated that the band never actually broke but had agreed to stop touring (most likely due to Mick Mars' health) and will still continue to record. And even that didn't stick when Mötley Crüe announced a comeback on November 18, 2019, destroying the contract and later announcing a 2020 tour alongside Joan Jett, Def Leppard and Poison.

Not to be confused with that other kind of motley crew.

People that were in the band over the years.(Founding members in bold, current members in italic)

  • Randy Castillo - drums, percussion (1999-2000, died 2002)
  • John Corabi - lead vocals, rhythm guitar, bass guitar, piano (1992-1996)
  • Robert Alan Deal (Mick Mars) - guitar, vocals, bass guitar, sitar, mandolin, talkbox, backing vocals (1981-2023; retired from touring 2022-2023)
  • Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna (Nikki Sixx) - bass guitar, backing and lead vocals, synthesizer, keyboard, piano (1981-present)
  • Thomas Lee Bass (Tommy Lee) - drums, percussion, piano, backing and lead vocals, synthesizer (1981-1999, 2004-present)
  • Samantha Maloney - drums, percussion (2000-2004)
  • Vincent Neil Wharton (Vince Neil) - lead vocals, harmonica, rhythm guitar (1981-1992, 1997-present)
  • Robin - guitar (1981)
  • O'Dean - vocals (1981)
  • Greg Leon - guitar, vocals (1981)
  • John 5 - guitar (2022-present)

Studio and Live Discography:

"Tröpes, Tröpes, Tröpes":

  • Aesop Amnesia: A Real Life example. After famously surviving a near-death experience via heroin overdose, Nikki Sixx celebrated by discharging himself from the hospital that night, going home and... doing more heroin. He went to rehab with the rest of the band shortly after.
  • All Drummers Are Animals: Tommy Lee has possibly the wildest reputation of anyone in the band, which is saying something.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Tommy cites this as the reason why Heather Locklear was initially attracted to him. Heather was the epitome of the blonde-haired, all-American cheerleader type, and upon meeting Tommy she was intrigued by the long-haired rocker with tattoos and piercings.
  • Alliterative Name: Mick Mars
  • Anime Hair: Nikki Sixx has managed to take his teased, spiked black mane long past the days when it was in style, and still make it look cool.
  • 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.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Nikki and Tommy are both fairly tall, Vince is average height, and Mick stands at a positively tiny 5ft3 because of the health issues that destroyed his spine, though at the start he was actually taller than Vince.
  • Break-Up 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, Generation Swine and New Tattoo never happened. Songs from all three records have not been performed live in a long time.
  • Chorus Girls: "Girls, Girls, Girls".
  • Cool Bike: They love this trope. For just a few examples, 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.
    • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Slightly. They Americanized "Anarchy in the UK" (in contrast with Megadeth who basically only replaced "UK" with "USA"):
    "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: Being released at the height of the grunge era, their 1994 Self-Titled Album was considerably heavier than anything they'd done prior to that.
  • 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.
    • As the legend goes, Steven Tyler saw Vince Neil from behind at a party and immediately assumed he was a woman. And even after seeing Vince from the front, it took Tyler a minute to realize that Vince was actually a man.
    • James Hetfield: "We thought we saw some hookers, but it was actually Mötley Crüe."
  • Epic Rocking: The Skinny Puppy remix of "Hooligan's Holiday" clocks in at eleven minutes.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Tommy Lee absolutely adored his mother, and did not tolerate people speaking negatively of her.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Tommy Lee met Pamela Anderson at a party in February 1995. 4 days later, they were married.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Vince Neil's relationship with his bandmates has often been tense, and after he parted with the band in 1992 (Nikki claims that Vince quit the band, but Vince claims that he was fired) he sued his former bandmates for 25% of their future profits and also $5 million in damages. The other members of Mötley Crüe have often and publicly criticized Vince for his arrogance and selfishness, and have also accused him of being a habitual liar.
    • Notably, when the other band members were asked to contribute to Neil's autobiography, Mars and Lee flat-out refused to do so: while Sixx agreed, he had some rather unflattering things to say about Neil.
  • The Garfunkel: Somehow, lead guitarist Mick Mars (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 photoshoot 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 (or watch) The Dirt. Ye gods...
  • Hair Metal: One of the all-time definitive examples, and arguably the ones responsible for it becoming as big as it did.
  • Handicapped Badass: Mick. His condition, ankylosing spondylitis, has wreaked havoc on his spine, causing him to lose 3 inches in height. The condition also caused one of his hips to degenerate so severely that he had replacement surgery in 2004. See also 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 this could be the part where Sixx's life started flashing before his eyes. Also doubles as a Badass Boast.
    • "Power to the Music" from the Corabi album:
      Who said the music's dead in the streets?
      Don't know what they talk about.
      I want my music waking up the dead.
      Don't tell me to turn it down.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: In this case, not for the sake of metal; they were drinking Löwenbräu while they were thinking of a name (one of Mars' previous bands had a member call the group "a motley looking crew"). Vince Neil said: "We had no idea that it was a pronunciation thing. When we finally went to Germany, the crowds were chanting, “Mutley Cruh! Mutley Cruh! “ We couldn’t figure out why the fuck they were doing that."
  • 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. In the end, they simply got a cut of the profits. The miniseries Pam & Tommy is about this.
    • 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.
  • Homesickness Hymn: "Home Sweet Home" was written as a reaction to being on the Shout at the Devil tour, which lasted a whopping eighteen months. Needless to say, the band were quite sick of being on the road by then, but once they finally did get home, they didn't know what to do with themselves.
  • Home Sweet Home: Of course. It's the name of one of their biggest hits, after all.
  • Horrible Hollywood: A subtext in 1983's "Danger"
  • Intercourse with You: Their love of groupies and strip clubs have always been a strong theme in their lyrics (and everything else they do).
  • Iconic Item: Nikki Sixx's Gibson Thunderbirds. He's even had a highly customized version called a "Blackbird" with a bunch of unique features.
    • During the early days both Nikki and Mick were often seen playing B.C Rich Warlock, basically the most stereotypically "metal" guitars available at the time.
  • 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 noticeably softer and more mainstream than Too Fast For Love and Shout at the Devil.
  • Looks Like Orlok: Mick Mars, in his later years. Thin as a rail, deathly pale, gaunt and hunched over. Not really his fault, however, given the hell his body has been put through.
  • 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 insane amounts of alcohol and drugs in addition to indulging in other forms of reckless behavior. Yet they're all still alive.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: The back cover photo of Theatre Of Pain.
  • New Sound Album: The Self-Titled Album was mainly influenced by grunge, causing it to feature a heavier sound and more moody and introspective lyrics.
    • Generation Swine, on the other hand, features a lot of experimentation with the sound, alongside dabbling in industrial music.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted. Particularly rare for a hard rock/metal band, Mick Mars is actually the least famous member of the band.
  • Older Than They Look: Mick. While he was about a decade older than the rest of the band, constant alcohol abuse, not to mention his debilitating arthritis has left him looking closer to twenty years older at the very least.
  • Ode to Intoxication: "Smoke the Sky", an ode to marijuana.
    B.C. hailed it heaven, I inhaled it, too
    Really T.H.C.
    When inside we'll smoke the sky
  • Ode to Sobriety: "Kickstart My Heart" is a type 1, as is "Dr. Feelgood".
  • One-Woman Song: "Angela," from the out-of-print best-of collection Decade of Decadence.
  • Only Sane Man: Mick Mars. He has never been involved in any of the band's many controversies for the most part, and his older age than the rest of the band led to him being more subdued.
  • The Pornomancer: Could apply to any member of the band, but Vince in particular. As the frontman of the group, Vince was the one who received the most female attention, and he exploited that fact to the fullest extent possible. Following the incident where he killed a man while drunk driving, Vince was forbidden from drinking alcohol as part of his probation. So he simply replaced his alcohol addiction with a sex addiction. He made it a goal to have sex with as many women as he could in a single night. He would even have groupies waiting in the wings to the side of the stage during shows, and while the other band members were performing solos Vince would run offstage for a quickie with one of them.
  • Technician vs. Performer: All of them are generally set in the Performer end, but there are distinct differences.
    • Vince Neil is squarely a performer. Good looking in his youth, fairly charismatic with the antics to match, despite barely holding a tune, even in his prime.
    • Nikki is a mix. His outfits tended to be the most flashy, his personal life was the stuff of legend, and he's been the bassist of a major band despite, by his own admission, barely, (if that) being able to play his instrument during the band's early days (though he got better in later years).
    • Tommy is also a mix. He has the media presence and the looks, plus the stage antics, but he's also been acclaimed for his drumming skills. The man could play a full drum solo rotating in a cage for god's sake!
    • Mick is a technician. Reclusive, a full decade older than the rest of the band and generally not caring about the attention. He's also one of the most famous guitar players of the '80s, despite battling a crippling disability since young adulthood.
  • 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. In the 2000s, they had a minor comeback with another one, "If I Die Tomorrow."
  • "Rashomon"-Style: The details surrounding Vince's departure from the band in 1992 vary depending on who is telling the story. Vince claims that he was fired from the band, while Nikki and Tommy claim that Vince quit.
  • Rated M for Manly: Take away the outfits (which they've abandoned) and it's guy music.
  • Really Gets Around: All of the band members were frequented by groupies, which inspired "Girls, Girls, Girls". Special focus goes on Vince Neil and Mick Mars, who became dads while they were still teenagers, with even more attention turned towards the band's general infidelity.
  • 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 nearly 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.
    • Many of the articles written about the band around that time discussed their displaced addictions, however (see The Pornomancer above). They replaced their addictions to substances with addictions to sex, exercise, and fast vehicles.
  • Shot to the Heart: "Kickstart My Heart" was inspired by Nikki being revived by an adrenaline shot to the heart after almost dying of a heroin overdose.
  • Silly Love Songs: "Without You".
    I could face a mountain
    But I could never climb alone
    I could start another day
    But how many, just don't know
    You're the reason the sun shines down
    And the nights, they don't grow cold
    Only you that I'll hold when I'm young
    Only we grow old
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Nikki Sixx is hardly a household name, but on his radio show "Sixx Sense" he displays a massively overinflated sense of his own fame and notability.
  • Spectacular Spinning: Tommy Lee had a rig that spun his drumkit up high and 360 degrees.
  • Stage Names: Neil and Lee shortened their names a bit, while Mick Mars is Robert Alan Deal and Nikki Sixx is Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr. (Nikki Sixx has been his legal name since 1975).
  • Staging an Intervention: After Nikki's near-death due to a heroin overdose, the band's management decided that enough was enough and staged an intervention for the band, refusing to let them tour Europe out of fear that some of them "would come home in body bags." This led to all of the band members except Mick Mars going to rehab to give up drugs and alcohol. Mick cleaned up on his own.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Generation Swine had Tommy Lee singing on "Brandon", a song he wrote for his son, and Nikki Sixx is both the lead of "Rocketship" and a very proeminent back-up in "Beauty" and "Find Myself".
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Their "cessation of touring agreement" didn't last long, despite Nikki's claims that they would never break the contract. The reason they ended their retirement was due to a renewed interest in the band following the popularity of the film adaptation of their autobiography.
  • 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.
  • Vocal Range Exceeded: Vince Neil, not just in his later years. He sounded decent enough in the studio, but look up any live performance, and wait...
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?:
    • Mick Mars uses a talkbox throughout the end solos on "Kickstart My Heart" and "says" "kickstaaart my heaaarrrrrt!" through it at the very end of the song.
    • And Mick again, at the conclusion of the guitar solo in "Dr. Feelgood".


Video Example(s):


Motley Crue

Motley Crue are a Hard Rock/Hair Metal band formed in and popular in The '80s 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) through 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").<br><br>The song used as an example is "Dr. Feelgood".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / HairMetal

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