Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to pay homage to the beast that was Motley Crüe. Last night, the four horsemen of the apocalypse rode into town and off that stage for the very last time (as declared by legal tour cessation). It was a four member, one band suicide, and going by most religions that would mean they would never gain entry to heaven, but with this band what would you expect?
A Fond Farewell to Motley Crüe
Last night, as the lights dimmed in The Staples Centre in LA, as the white piano was wheeled away, and as the Cruecifly was taken apart piece by piece, the guys must have had a bowed head, a tear in the eyes, and shining through the sadness, a sense of pride that after 34 years (only a matter of days away from 35), they had done it all. They had outshone every dream they could ever have mustered as young kids back in 1981. No matter how good they thought they were, no matter how cocky, they could never have foreseen the global success they have achieved.
Motley Crüe departed in the same week we lost Lemmy, a man that could have been a mentor for all their hell raising… like some depraved, badass, leather clad guru, you could imagine him giving out drink and drug advice (not of the ‘just say no’ category), passing off one liners for comebacks, and showing them all the best strip clubs… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s go back to the beginning of this amazing story…
It was 1981, 3 kids and one slightly older gent got together, ignored calling the band Christmas (really guys?), settled on Motley Crüe, and took the strip by storm. There was still a punk hangover, The UK ruled the rock world again with NWOBHM owning everything it touched. The UK movement, although influential, never really sat well in the States. The old US of A likes to have its own thing… bigger, better, and badder than anyone else…. please step to the front Messer’s Sixx, Mars, Lee and Neil…. you look like you may be able to do some damage.
Within a year, their debut “Too Fast For Love” was released, first on their own label, then the next year revamped on Elektra. I was 14 in 1981, and I bought the album in 1982 when it finally got to the UK… and to this day it is still in my top 10 debut albums. Even revamped, the sound was a bit rough. The songs are crudely done, but I loved it. I loved the look, the hair, the attitude. Whilst writing this, I have played that very same copy, on vinyl, and it still gives me goosebumps.
However,this was just the beginning… an entrée to the classic that was “Shout At The Devil”. Due to the late release of the debut, I only had to wait a year for this one. The sound was sorted, the attitude was still there, and then go and throw pentagrams, the devil, and (in my opinion) one of the best Beatles covers ever…. as we would say today,”Shut up, and take my money, already!”. This was the album that broke Motley Crüe, and set them on the path that they cut for themselves. It was not without controversy ( Crüe? Controversial? Never). This was smack bang in the middle of the whole PMRT timeframe. We had Maiden and Ozzy getting slayed, so jump on board guys.
It was at this point the band learned how to pull off PR stunts and get the name out there, so much so, they bagged the Ozzy support slot (Hell, that must have been one brutal tour on the liver). It was where the serious excesses started, and they did not let up for a very, very long time. It was also when tragedy first raised its ugly head, with Vince going to jail for what has been well publicised over the years.
The touring continued as did the drink and drugs, unknown to the kid I was then, as the majority of these revelations only came out much later. As far as I was concerned, they were churning out better and better offerings with “Theatre Of Pain” and “Girls, Girls, Girls”. Those are the backbone to any Motley Crüe collection, and with “Girls…”, they won over a whole new audience. They were on MTV 24/7, and to my dismay and disgust, people on the street knew who this band was. Bastards! This isn’t for you, it is mine. They owned MTV, they owned the arenas, they owned shares in hairspray companies!
One of the most amazing effects a book has had on my life, was when I read ‘Heroin Diaries’ a few years back. It took me back to my youth, to the band I loved and followed year on year. It told me, in horrific fashion, how these songs I screamed at the top of my voice were penned. The pain and darkness they came from. As a kid, I could only imagine what life was like as a rock star. I could never have imagined it could be hell on earth, that out of something so dark, brilliance could emanate. This was one of the biggest eye openers I have ever had.
The wheels on this chariot were getting very wobbly, but the great music continued with “Dr Feelgood” probably the last great ‘hair metal’ band album before the bitch that was grunge set in. For me, this was probably the most complete Motley Crüe album, and it’s success portrays that fact. How much of that was down to Bob Rock keeping the band together and drawing the best out of a bad situation, I have no idea, but the man worked for his money on this one.
From there it was downhill fast. Vince left, hair metal was dying on its feet, seemingly depressed guys in check shirts were cooler (WTF?). There was however, hope in the name of John Corabi. No one would have picked him for Motley Crüe. He was as far as you could get from Vince. Sometimes that is what you need, but not as far as the buying public were concerned. Ask me, and I will give you a different response. The album ‘Motley Crüe’ is a masterpiece. Corabi was a breath of fresh air, and it was a cool, new sound, but it was not meant to be. He went quickly, but I am glad it has not affected his career, and I am even happier he has been able to make up with his former band mates.
Vince strolled back in the door as if he had never left (some say, in his head, he never did). As happy as the punters were about this the resulting “Generation Swine” it just never kicked the door down. For me the weakest offering of their career, although the follow up ”New Tattoo” was not head and shoulders above it. Most people, including me, thought that was it for the guys, and for a long time it was… Tommy left, and the band splintered.
The door was closed, the shadows cast, and there seemed no way back until the release of “Red, White And Crue” and smash my face in, the guys were back, we all realised we had missed them, realised they rocked our world once upon a time, and shit, this band had some immense tunes.
Yes, they basically lived off previous merits up until they released “Saints Of Los Angeles” a seriously good, though different album. What followed, was heyday mayhem….they grabbed the arena stage back with glee, they owned audiences again. They were back at the pinnacle of rock. Grunge had gone (he he he), and the four dirty bastards had survived and were still going strong against all the odds.
After all the excitement and furore, they then call a press conference and suddenly “all bad things come to an end”. That seems like eons ago now. I watched the stream live and I nodded, I was happy for it to go down like this. Do it properly guys, and leave us with a show… and that they did. I managed to catch them twice this year, once at Download and once in Newcastle. Love or loathe the band, they put on an amazing show. The Download appearance, for me, stole it, as I felt the latter date they looked tired (not quite as tired as poor Alice though. I could not tell what was him, and what was his mannequin head). I still got to see the Crucefly in all its glory. I was feet from the guys when they played ‘Home Sweet Home’ so what I felt was directed just for my benefit one last time. I gathered up the streamers that flew from the roof, and I have packed them away with my ticket, along with all my other gig memories of all these years.
It was a fitting goodbye. Sometimes you do not know when you are going to see your heroes for the last time. It felt special that this band I watched grow, destroy itself, and rebuild again would do it like this. That I could say my farewell in their presence, a tear in my eye, and over three decades of memories.
Nikki, Mick, Tommy, and Vince, thank you for the music, thank you for the shows, and thank you for helping me get through childhood and beyond.
Motley Crüe – Rest In Peace
by Ritchie Birnie]]>