The untold truth of Motley Crue

Has there ever been a more dangerous band than Motley Crue? Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, these glam rock trailblazers redefined what it is to be a rock star in a way that is still looking for an equal. Vince Neil's vocal stylings, Mick Mars' guitar heroics, and the rhythm section of Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee provided as much cool music as a rebellious kid could endure. However, that was just part of their charm. A significant chunk of the band's allure came from their off-stage antics, which are almost as legendary as Motley Crue's greatest songs.

It's entirely possible that there will never be another band quite like them. Whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing, a look into their party-heavy, anthemic career is sure to be educational. Come, let's take a look at the untold truth of Motley Crue — a band that did things that would be impossible today, and that some no doubt think should have been impossible in pretty much any era.

​They're extremely protective of their legacy

You wouldn't think that one of the filthiest, most famous party animal groups in history would be particularly concerned about image issues, at least beyond what shoes they have on and whether they're wearing enough makeup. However, as Blabbermouth describes, Motley Crue appears to be fiercely protective of the way they want people to remember them. Unlike other, more merchandise-driven bands, Crue are quite careful about what they put their name on. Nikki Sixx says they feel their legacy is too important to do things only for the money, and that they don't want to be the group that "were cool once."

One way they've demonstrated this unflappable attitude is their deal with the Rock of Ages musical and subsequent movie ... or rather, the lack thereof. According to Sixx, the band thought the concept was basically Mamma Mia! with fake guitars, so they said that they don't want to be involved with the project. Judging by the reviews of the 2012 movie, it seems they still have a pretty good idea of what's cool and what's not.

That John Corabi guy

Although Motley Crue is often perceived as a fairly tight (if dysfunctional) unit of four men, there have been other members in the band. You'd be forgiven if you didn't know the name John Corabi, but he was in Motley Crue once — in fact, he was their lead vocalist. As Louder describes, Corabi replaced Vince Neil as the front man on the band's self-titled album that was released in 1994, and as Ultimate Classic Rock notes, he was promptly booted from the band when his vocals for 1997's Generation Swine didn't live up to expectations. This shouldn't be held against Corabi, though, because it's possible that no one on earth could have performed the way the Crue members wanted. The band decided to produce the album themselves instead of giving the helm to an experienced producer, and as a result Corabi was bombarded with unrealistic ideas that he had to sound like the Manic Street Preachers, Oasis, Pantera, Sisters of Mercy, Cheap Trick, and David Bowie ... at the same time.

After Vince Neil returned from his excursion to solo career wilderness, Corabi was reduced to a footnote that the rest of the band reminisces with mixed feelings. Neil is on friendly enough terms with the man, and guitarist Mick Mars has even collaborated with him on some side project stuff. Meanwhile, bassist Nikki Sixx has less cherished memories about Corabi and has described him as "the biggest piece of sh*t to roam the Earth."

Their strange side projects

Some bands are happy to stay together for decades and explore their musical ambitions by evolving as a group. Motley Crue ... well, they've mostly managed the "staying together for decades" part. At some point and to varying degrees, the band members have noticed that the grass looks greener on the non-Motley side of the fence and have popped off to check out other pastures.

As Ultimate Classic Rock describes, Vince Neil was the first to dip his toes in the side gig pool, leaving the band in 1992 and releasing a solo album a year later. While he did his best to keep the party spirit high as the band proper struggled with murky grunge and misplaced aspirations of growing up, Neil ultimately realized that he was most effective at his day job. According to Loaded Radio, Tommy Lee is not terribly fond of his solo stuff and work with Methods of Mayhem, and even says that solo albums are a waste of time. Nikki Sixx has his Sixx:A.M. supergroup that according to Loudwire may or may not be on a hiatus. Even the elusive Mick Mars has dabbled with solo projects, and though he hasn't released his album yet, he has said some interesting things about what's to come. According to Loudwire, the guitar maestro is working on something that's so different from Motley Crue that it will lose him fans, and he says he intends to keep evolving and reinventing himself.

They're shockingly savvy businessmen

Would you take business advice from Motley Crue, of all people? According to Fast Company, there are actually way worse people to look up to, at least when it comes to vocational success. The band might look like (and be) a messy affair, but their debauched antics hide a surprisingly savvy business plan. Nikki Sixx says he understands why an outsider has a tough time understanding why the band even exists anymore, but points out that Motley Crue hasn't been "winging it" in a long time. Their manager, Allen Kovac, joined the Crue crew in 1994 and jackhammered a formal, structured business attitude in the group. This doesn't mean they can't mess around. There's just a core structure that guarantees that important decisions are made and necessary things are taken care of. (In case you're curious, as the primary songwriter Sixx is the band member with the deciding vote.)

Even the sordid book about the band's chemically fueled antics, The Dirt, was part of the design. Collaborating with the writer gave the band a chance to control the narrative, candid as it was, and even drop a tactical Greatest Hits album near the publication date to maximize the profits.

Their obscure first vocalist

The newly formed Motley Crue had their eye on Vince Neil early on, but Neil was initially less enthusiastic. According to Loudwire, he didn't even turn up for his first audition for the band, which forced Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee to shop around. As a result, the man who first held the microphone for Crue was an enigmatic figure who was simply known as O'Dean, and his tenure was ... well, let's just say that it's not exactly shocking if you don't recognize the name. Loudwire notes that O'Dean lasted for a single demo, after which he was unceremoniously banished to an existence devoid of Motley Crue membership.

The band, and Lee in particular, resumed their pursuit of Neil, who was both a charismatic performer and capable of filling a venue with ladies. The drummer finally managed to pester the vocalist to audition. Neil, who had been failed by his previous band, ended up joining Crue immediately after this, and Sixx was soon rewriting lyrics to suit his voice.

Their cessation of touring agreement

Are you annoyed by the constant comebacks and semi-annual "final tours" of old bands that don't seem to know how to quit? Motley Crue are, which is why they decided to do something that prevents them from turning into an eternally touring dinosaur. As Rolling Stone describes, the method they chose to achieve this is called a "cessation of touring agreement," and it's a legally binding contract that went into effect after their aptly named "The Final Tour" at the end of 2015.

Of course, Motley Crue wouldn't be Motley Crue if they hadn't made sure there are loopholes. There's nothing in the contract that prevents them from still being a band, and it says precious little about individual performances. As Global News notes, the band has already "risen from the dead" to record new material for the Netflix movie version of The Dirt, so it's anyone's guess whether we'll eventually see a Motley Crue tour called "Just 150 One-Off Concerts In A Row And Not A Tour, Honestly."

Their altercations with Lars Ulrich

You wouldn't expect the 5'6" Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich to start picking a fight with the towering rhythm section of Motley Crue, and to be fair, Rolling Stone makes clear that it wasn't one of his better ideas. In 1982, Crue and their cohorts were hatching the glam rock revolution, while Metallica, Slayer, and like-minded groups were busy trash-metaling it up in the same So-Cal neighborhoods. This led to bad blood between the two groups, and Ulrich almost got a sample platter of the animosity when he was standing outside a bar and saw Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee. His immediate reaction was to be all "F*ck Motley Crue," which was a mistake because Sixx came after him without a second thought. By his own admission, Ulrich learned that night that the one thing he could do better than Crue was run really fast — though Sixx made it easy, due to the giant platform shoes he was wearing.

According to Metal Injection, Ulrich and Motley Crue have since traded enough personal and professional barbs for it to qualify as a feud, and Lee has even taken the game to a drummer-versus-drummer level by teasing Ulrich about his (lack of) drumming skills. Of course, everyone involved still recognizes that they're in the celebrity game together: Blabbermouth describes how Sixx spiritedly defended Metallica against criticism in 2003, despite openly considering them an enemy. Professional courtesy is a thing, after all.

​They travel on separate buses and avoid each other's company

The members of Motley Crue have spent a lot of time together over the years. As such, they weren't too keen to spend the last stages of their touring life hunched together in the back of a minivan. In fact, according to Blabbermouth, the band traveled together in name only, as each member had their own separate tour bus. What's the reason behind this arrangement? Does it mean they don't like to hang out with each other anymore? Depends who you ask. Mick Mars has accused Vince Neil of distancing himself from the rest of the group. Neil, on the other hand, says everyone's still great friends, and the bus arrangement is merely because they can afford to travel in luxury. Since several band members have their families on the road with them, it's not like there's much room for the kind of rock band nastiness they were once known for.

Louder has Nikki Sixx's version of the story, in which he describes the other Crue members as "not enemies but not friends." It also offers an outside view to the band's chemistry during their final tour, courtesy of tour manager Tim Krieg, who describes them as four people moving in as many different directions. Still, Krieg also points out that the band absolutely comes together onstage and they will all jump any poor soul who messes with one of them, so clearly, some old magic still remains.

The Motley Apartment

Motley Crue's first apartment probably deserves a movie of its own, or at least it would if anyone could decide whether it needs to be a comedy, tragedy, or a straight-up horror movie. The Dirt gives us the, uh, dirt about the apartment the group shared near the legendary Whiskey A Go-Go, where they often played. Every surface of the sparsely furnished place was either rotting, broken, crawling with vermin, or some combination of the three. The door (rotten) wouldn't stay closed, but that was all right because even if it had, people would have flowed in through the window (broken). The place saw quite a lot of drinking and nastiness, but relatively little cooking because they had to turn the oven (crawling with vermin) on for ten minutes before using it to make sure all the cockroaches hiding inside had died or at least left.

The odd occasion when they had some non-spoiled food (read: hot dogs) in the fridge brought yet another terror in the house: The 450-pound bouncer from a nearby bar would randomly wander in and eat what he found because all the band members were too scared to tell him otherwise.

​Their initial debauchery at the Sunset Strip

If you want nonstop debauchery, peeing in cop cars through their open windows, and a rock band inviting literally everyone in the audience to party at their place after the gig is over, look no further than Motley Crue's early years. According to Ultimate Guitar, the band routinely interacted with their audience by inviting them to their home, and when things got wild enough, absolutely no one was safe. People got wasted out of their minds, orgies happened, and ... well, let's just say that the police car thing wasn't just a cute metaphor. Rolling Stone attests that people would pour inside the Crue place to party, and many of the visitors were future stars in their own right from bands like Ratt and W.A.S.P.

So just how raunchy were the parties? According to Nikki Sixx, the band would never have survived if they started out in the age of Twitter and cell phones because some of the stuff they did would have ended up on social media.

They used to have a female drummer

As much of a boys' club as Motley Crue seems like, they're not quite as exclusive as you might think. In fact, they even used to have a female drummer. According to NRK, the band's "New Tattoo" tour in 2000 was plagued with Spinal Tap levels of drummer trouble. Tommy Lee was not in the band at the time, and his replacement, Randy Castillo, became ill and was unable to take the stresses of touring. In their search for a replacement, the band turned their inquiring eye to Samantha Maloney, the former drummer from Hole. Nikki Sixx contacted Maloney, who immediately jumped on the plane and proceeded to play the rest of the tour.

For a band so famous for treating women like, well, groupies, Motley Crue was remarkably courteous with Maloney. They took her in as one of their own and were extremely respectful and supportive, and Vince Neil was visibly proud of her during concerts. However, she was aware of their history, and since writer Neil Strauss was following the band around and interviewing them for The Dirt, she got to hear a fair few of the stories straight from the horse's mouth. In 2009, she admitted she was avoiding the book because she felt it would affect the way she thinks of the Crue guys.

Ozzy Osbourne showed that they aren't so hardcore after all

Every gunslinger knows that one day they're going to run across someone who draws faster and shoots straighter. As Ultimate Classic Rock attests, Motley Crue met their match in 1984: Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness himself. Osbourne had spiraled out of control when his guitarist and friend Randy Rhoads died in 1982, and he mostly toured and made albums because of sheer inertia — his wife feared that things would get even worse if he stopped. This was the deranged, nothing-to-lose man that Motley Crue ended up touring with, and although there was a sense of camaraderie in debauchery, the Ozzman soon showed that the L.A. kids had a thing or two to learn.

Nikki Sixx recalls a time when he jokingly suggested that Osbourne, who had ran out of cocaine and was wearing a women's dress, would snort ants instead. Osbourne coolly grabbed a straw, found a line of ants on a sidewalk, and inhaled them with a single snort. Then, he urinated on the sidewalk, got on his knees and drank from the puddle, and told the bassist: "Do that, Sixx." Driven by peer pressure, Sixx relieved himself on the sidewalk ... but before he could do anything about it, Osbourne drank that, as well.

Sixx immediately admitted that Osbourne had won. The deflated Crue could never quite decide whether Osbourne had the most demented sense of humor or if he was suffering from severe issues.