Nikki Sixx Didn’t Know How to Play Bass Before Recording Motley’s Crue’s ‘Dr. Feelgood’ Says Producer Bob Rock
UPDATE: Bob Rock has issued a new statement regarding the comments made about Nikki Sixx's bass playing on early Motley Crue albums on the Talk Is Jericho podcast. In it, he explains that Sixx's comments about not playing on Motley's first four albums were made in a joking and self-deprecating manner. Read his full statement adding context to how the story was shared here.
A a guest on the Talk Is Jericho podcast hosted by AEW star and Fozzy frontman Chris Jericho, producer Bob Rock spoke about his recent dealings with Motley Crue in the studio and also shed some light on the band's past, such as when Nikki Sixx openly questioned if someone else played his bass parts on the first four Motley Crue albums while also confessing he didn't know how to play the instrument.
Rock talks about his many career accomplishments throughout the podcast, such as working with Metallica for the first time on 'The Black Album,' and how both Jack White and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page told him how much they love Metallica's polarizing 2003 album St. Anger.
The producer also mentioned the first time he worked with Motley Crue in the studio, dealing with a newly sober band as they set out to record their now classic Dr. Feelgood album. He heard the demo for the title track and his wife basically insinuated that he'd be nuts not to produce the album.
Jericho shifts gears to the present day, asking what it was like to work with Crue now that they have guitarist John 5 in the mix after classic member Mick Mars retired from his touring position in the group last fall.
"It was really easy," Rock says about John 5, immediately going back to the Dr. Feelgood recording sessions when adding, "I've got to tell you a story about Nikki Sixx because this is funny."
Bob Rock on What Nikki Sixx Said While Recording Dr. Feelgood
Rock recalls (transcription via Blabbemouth), "[While making] 'Dr. Feelgood', [Nikki] says to me, he goes, 'I don't think I ever played on any of the Motley Crue records. I think somebody came in at night and replaced all my parts.' He says, 'So I don't really know how to play bass.'"
"And I said, 'Too bad. You're playing bass on it,'" the producer continues, "So I worked with him through 'Dr. Feelgood,' did a lot of edits and made him play every note."
Bob Rock on Nikki Sixx's Improvement While Recording The Dirt Soundtrack Songs
Noting how Sixx refined his abilities almost 30 years later, Rock goes on, "But when we did The Dirt [soundtrack], the songs on The Dirt, I went to see him and we started working on the demos. He picked up the bass and started playing, and I said, 'Whoa, whoa, whoa. What's going on here?' He had been taking bass lessons for five years. All of a sudden he's an amazing bass player. And I think that's so cool, in that point of his career, he wanted to be better. I admire that. So now, on The Dirt, Nikki and Tommy [Lee] played live off the floor, both of them."
In October of 2021, Sixx himself opened up about taking guitar, bass and vocal lessons before the pandemic and that he even learned to play bass with his fingers, as he had been using a pick up that point.
Circling back to the this year's studio sessions with Motley Crue, Rock boasts, "So I had John 5, Nikki Sixx — excellent bass player — Tommy Lee. It was easy."
Listen to the full podcast episode further down the page.
Why Does it Matter if Nikki Sixx Played Bass on Those First Four Albums or Not?
The comments carry extra significance right now because Motley Crue are currently being sued by former guitarist Mick Mars who, among his many grievances, claimed in a legal filing that Sixx did not play a single note live on last year's Stadium Tour.
Meanwhile, the band also sought written acknowledgements from their crew members, who stated that due to Mars' own sloppy performances, backing tracks were utilized to maintain a certain standard to meet fan expectations. Weeks later, Motley Crue then claimed the opposite in a comment on Facebook, informing fans that no member of the group used backing tracks on that very tour.