Motley Crue are the definitive 1980s hair metal band — even though their late career antics have sometimes overshadowed their impressive musical accomplishments. Emerging out of the Sunset Strip scene with the seminal, independently released ‘Too Fast for Love’ album, in 1981, bassist Nikki Sixx, vocalist Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, and drummer Tommy Lee behaved like a street gang in leather, mascara and high heels. Their 1983 sophomore album and major label debut, ‘Shout at the Devil,’ would move millions of copies and help set them establish the ultimate template for controversy, debauchery, and of course, top-of-the-line pop metal. But on the eve of releasing their highly anticipated third album, 1985’s ‘Theatre of Pain,’ Neil was the driver in a fatal car crash involving Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas ‘Razzle’ Dingley. And while he ultimately escaped with only minimum time served on a vehicular manslaughter charge, the incident would cast a permanent shadow over Motley Crue’s career. This, however, continued to prosper unabated for the rest of the decade from a commercial standpoint, even though Sixx sunk to the depths of drug addiction around the release of 1987’s ‘Girls Girls Girls’ (even being declared officially dead after one particular overdose) before cleaning up his act for 1989’s best-selling ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ Then, just as things were starting to look relatively “sane” in Motley Crue land, Neil split with the band and was replaced by John Corabi for a single, ill-fated eponymous album released in 1994, which catered to the changing grunge sound to dismal fan response and poor sales to match. By 1997, Vince had been reinstated for the ‘Generation Swine’ album but within two years it was Lee’s turn to quit to explore solo projects and his tabloid celebrity status, largely relating to his fiery marriage to Playboy playmate Pamela Anderson. The tell-all band biography, ‘The Dirt,’ became a best-seller in 2001, and Motley Crue spent the next decade repeatedly making up and breaking up, amid sporadic albums and tours, until announcing their farewell jaunt in 2014…though this proved so successful, it shows no signs of actually concluding anytime soon.
- Selected Discography: Too Fast for Love’ (1981), ‘Shout at the Devil’ (1983), ‘Theatre of Pain (1985), ‘Dr. Feelgood’ (1989)
- Related Artists: Vince Neil, Methods of Mayhem, Brides of Destruction, Sixx A.M.
- Further Reading: 10 Best Motley Crue Songs