12 Times The Motley Crue Movie Lied To You

Motley Crue is one of the most notoriously dangerous rock bands in history, so when the trailer for the Netflix movie based on their ruthlessly revealing The Dirt memoir proclaimed: "This story is true," it was easy to expect a brutally honest story of hard-hitting rock, tragedy, and debauchery. Nearly all of those ingredients are certainly present in the movie, and the filmmakers are all too happy to depict the madness surrounding the band — but even so, the "honest" part is not always quite there.

Some of the movie's inaccuracies are deliberate, thanks to several fourth-wall-breaking narrations describing departures from historical fact. Also, a running time of 108 minutes is barely enough for a quick jog through the most famous beats of the Motley Crue story, and the level of accuracy for a rock biopic is actually pretty good compared to, say, Bohemian Rhapsody. Still, there are several pretty wild differences between the movie and the real story, and weirdly for a movie called The Dirt, some of these inconsistencies make the wildest band in glam metal seem rather cleaner than they actually were. Here are a few ways the Motley Crue movie lied to you.

They had a singer before Vince Neil

The Dirt dances artfully around the subject of Motley Crue singers not named Vince Neil. While the movie does quickly march a smiling, speechless John Corabi across the screen, it doesn't even bother mentioning the band's first singer. As Loudwire notes, before Crue could get Neil locked in, they were on the market for other singers and eventually found a man called plainly O'Dean. Although they recorded a demo with him, the match wasn't exactly made in heaven. In the book version of The Dirt, Tommy Lee describes O'Dean as a round and rather simple man who was a wonderful singer with a voice that sounded like a cross between the Scorpions and the Cult. Unfortunately, Nikki Sixx became furious with the singer because of his weird habit of constantly wearing a pair of white gloves that he refused to remove even when he was supposed to clap in the background of a song.

If conflicts with Sixx weren't enough to oust O'Dean from the band, Mick Mars also had plenty of beef with him. Mars made it clear he hated O'Dean's guts because he thought the singer was a fat hippie. (Mick Mars hates hippies.) The movie actually uses some of Mars' colorful opinions about their first singer in the scene where Mars verbally eviscerates a portly rhythm guitarist also auditioning for the group.

​Tommy Lee's meeting with Nikki Sixx was not a chance encounter at a diner

In The Dirt, Tommy Lee meets his idol — Nikki Sixx from London (the band) — in a post-show chance encounter at a diner. Young Lee nervously introduces himself to the bass player, the two hit it off, and Lee's drumstick spinning skills put him on Sixx's radar despite the drummer's lack of experience in playing rock — he got his mad spinning skills from playing at a marching band.

The real story is slightly different. As Loudwire tells us, Lee had band experience before Sixx recruited him for Motley Crue. He was in a group called Suite 19, and according to Bang Your Head: The Rise and Fall of Heavy Metal, Sixx was well aware of this, seeing as the bassist had unsuccessfully auditioned for the band twice. The two actually met through Suite 19 guitarist Greg Leon, who briefly played with the proto-Motley Crue before quitting the band and leaving Lee and Sixx to find a new guitarist.

Recruiting Vince Neil wasn't exactly easy

In The Dirt, recruiting Vince Neil as the band's vocalist was easy as pie, and a quick chat with former schoolmate Tommy Lee and a few seconds of internal debate is all it takes for the singer to audition. The biggest conflict comes from Neil's girlfriend Lovey, who protests that the band plays too hard until the magic sound of the quartet inevitably wins her over like only hard rock can.

This is relatively close, but the real Neil was a tougher customer. According to Loudwire, the vocalist actually missed his first audition for Crue, which caused them to temporarily experiment with O'Dean on vocals. When he turned out to be a disaster, Lee pestered Neil into actually showing up, which he eventually did with the real-life version of "Lovey" in tow. The lady was decidedly not a fan (and unlike in the movie, there's no indication that she changed her mind), but Neil felt "screwed over" by his previous band and decided to join anyway. When the band went to studio to make a demo, Neil had only been in the band for a couple days and had to keep a lyric sheet on hand to record the vocals.

Their first gig was bigger than the movie would have you believe

Every great band has to start somewhere, and as The Dirt shows us, Motley Crue was no exception. The movie depicts their first gig as a clumsy affair where they initially nearly freeze onstage despite only performing to a handful of meatheads. One meathead spits on Vince Neil's beloved leather pants, which causes a huge fight between band members and the crowd. This is enough to win the audience over, and Crue's reputation is as good as made. Well, that's the film's version, anyway. According to LA Weekly, their real first concert at the Starwood Club was a much-hyped, successful gig opening for an established hard rock band called Y&T, in a packed venue with a 600-strong audience. The more you think about it, the less sense the movie's depiction makes. Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee were both known on the scene thanks to their previous bands, Vince Neil's ability to take over the stage was pretty much his entire thing, and Mick Mars was a veteran of umpteen bands. They may have been new together, but they were by no means wet behind the ears.

As for the infamous brawl depicted in the movie, the non-Crue people in the LA Weekly article fail to mention it, as does Sixx. Still, according to Ultimate Classic Rock, Vince Neil's account of the fight is remarkably similar to the events depicted in the movie.

​Mick Mars and tour debauchery

Some might have been surprised to see Iwan "Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones" Rheon as The Dirt's version of Mick Mars, but his slightly off-putting charisma is essential in depicting the guitar player who self-medicates his constant physical pain with booze and is always slightly tired of his younger bandmates and their excesses. Rheon's Mars is a stoic, sarcastic sage who only emerges from his bottle to discuss the band's artistic direction or make a passing comment that he, unlike the rest of the band, greatly respects women and refuses to take part in general Crue groupie debauchery.

As for the real Mick Mars, well, he's almost certainly the most virtuous member of Motley Crue, if only because the others were always so happily Dionysian that an older guy with serious health issues could hardly hope to compete. Still, that doesn't mean he's quite as innocuous as The Dirt makes him appear. In the movie, Mars made his comments during their 1984 tour with Ozzy Osbourne. However, in 1985, the real Mars stated in a Georgia Straight interview that not only are groupies a blessing but he probably wouldn't even have become a musician if it weren't for them. Looks like Nikki Sixx may have been right when he told Louder: "Don't let Mick Mars fool you, let me tell you. He had his fair share of debauchery. But that's a conversation you'll have to have with Mick."

Nikki Sixx's overdose featured a few extra players

Regardless of how much music he has contributed to the world, Nikki Sixx will always be remembered for his "death" on December 23, 1987. Naturally, his sort of fatal heroin overdose makes it in the movie, though in a fairly condensed form. What's strange, though, is the way The Dirt shies away from showing just who Sixx was partying with at the time. As Ultimate Classic Rock describes, Sixx overdosed after a hard day of partying with Slash and Steven Adler from Guns N' Roses (and Robbin Crosby from Ratt, for those who remember Ratt). In a movie that has absolutely no problems showing David Lee Roth bombed out of his mind or lovingly recreating Ozzy Osbourne's legendary ant-sniffing bravado, the failure to mention these particular celebrities seems odd.

The presence of the Guns N' Roses crowd in particular was significant because it may have played a part in saving Sixx's life. Slash's girlfriend was the person who gave Sixx mouth-to-mouth resuscitation while the paramedics made their way to the scene. Meanwhile, Slash made himself handy during the emergency by ... uh, destroying the hotel's bathroom. The movie leaves out these events and ends the scene as Sixx passes out and someone shouts "Party's over!" The only thing hinting at the possible presence of the Guns N' Roses folks is a vaguely Slash-like figure we briefly glimpse lounging on a couch at the very start of the scene.

The death of Razzle

One of the events Vince Neil might have liked The Dirt to gloss over is the infamous death of Razzle, the Hanoi Rocks drummer who perished when Neil drunkenly crashed his car during a booze run on December 8, 1984. To its credit, the movie doesn't shy away from Razzle's tragic fate, but it still can't resist making the whole incident seem a little less damning than it actually was. While The Dirt does show Neil with a beer bottle in hand before hopping behind the wheel, he can hold a coherent enough conversation to pass for sober, and the whole accident is made out to be a momentary lapse of attention due to some delightful banter with the Hanoi Rocks man.

According to Louder, the real incident was a significantly harsher look for Neil. Instead of the mild beer buzz depicted in the movie, Neil was "heavily intoxicated" when he hopped behind the wheel, and instead of drifting into the wrong lane while deep in discussion with his passenger, the Crue singer was swerving around a stationary firetruck and hit a wet spot while driving 65 mph in a 25 mph zone. He hit two incoming cars before coming to a halt. To top it off, the driver of the first car was in a coma for a month, and her passenger suffered brain damage.

The firing of Doc McGhee

In The Dirt, David Costabile plays the hard-hitting, heavily fictionalized version of Doc McGhee, the manager who helmed Crue during its turbulent early years. According to the movie, Nikki Sixx eventually fired McGhee for betraying his trust and attempting to set up a meeting with the bass player's estranged mother. This was possibly done to wrap up two storylines in one scene, which is a pity, because the real McGhee went down in a significantly weirder blaze of glory.

As Ultimate Classic Rock describes, McGhee's clients included Motley Crue and Bon Jovi until disaster struck in 1988 and he got convicted on drug charges. Not just a few grams for personal use, either — six years earlier, McGhee had smuggled 40,000 pounds of marijuana into the U.S. The manager walked away with a $15,000 fine and a five-year suspended prison term, but as part of his plea bargain, he had to arrange the Moscow Music Peace Festival, a hard rock event for world peace and against illicit drug use. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a disaster that further escalated when Motley Crue discovered Bon Jovi got to play a full headliner set and they were in an opener role. Sixx was so furious he hunted McGhee down and physically attacked him backstage, and the event became such a massive clash of egos that both Motley Crue and Bon Jovi ended up firing the manager.

The movie forgets Vince Neil's solo career

When Vince Neil ended his first Motley Crue tenure in 1992, The Dirt makes it seem like his main post-band activities include hanging out in his favorite bar and desperately trying to cope with the fact that his young daughter is dying of cancer. As People tells us, the sickness and death of Neil's daughter Skylar happened for real and was absolutely devastating to the singer. However, this doesn't mean Neil spent all his waking hours focusing on that and feeling bad for himself. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Neil signed a new solo deal with Warner Bros. pretty much as soon as he was out of Crue, and his debut solo single was released the same year. His first solo album, Exposed, was out in the spring of 1993 — a year before Crue would release their only album with John Corabi — and he embarked on a tour with Van Halen.

There's no telling what Neil (or the Neil-less Motley Crue, for that matter) could have achieved had the tides of pop culture not turned against them. As grunge started taking over the world, glam metal started going the way of the dodo ... and Neil's second solo album peaked at a less than respectable No. 139 on the charts.

Their reunion was not as simple as the movie tells you

In The Dirt, Motley Crue reunites with wayward vocalist Vince Neil like old friends making amends after a stupid argument that drove them apart. It's easy, it's organic, and all it really takes is a conversation in a bar. It would be an amazing story ... if it were true. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Motley Crue had no intention of letting their new singer John Corabi go, despite his lackluster reception by the fans. Nikki Sixx even vowed that the Corabi-led Motley Crue would use adversity as fuel and make the follow-up to their commercially failed self-titled album from 1994 a true magnum opus. Meanwhile, Neil seemed happy with his solo path, despite dwindling album sales. No one really wanted a reunion, and it was actually Motley Crue manager Allen Kovac and Neil's manager Bert Stein who started working together to bring their clients back into their money-making original form. In 1997, their efforts finally bore fruit.

Of course, this still left the minor matter of Corabi. Ultimate Classic Rock says the replacement singer was completely and utterly out of the loop during the transition. First, he was surprised by the fact that the band had suddenly decided to bring Neil back in. Then, he actually spent a month as a fifth member of the band, playing guitar. Finally, it all just "kind of stopped," and with that, he was out.

Mick Mars and the hip replacement surgery

As The Dirt mentions during his introduction, guitarist Mick Mars suffers from a condition called ankylosing spondylitis, a rare form of arthritis that is slowly fusing his spine solid and severely affecting his mobility. In the final moments of the movie, the band is reunited with Vince Neil, and Mars' story receives a small bookend of its own when he goes through a hip replacement surgery that restores some of his mobility. We are given to understand that this takes place immediately after Vince Neil rejoins the band in 1997, and Mars springs out of the hospital as his usual surly self, but the real road to the operation was far longer and grimmer than the movie shows.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Mars was living in chronic pain for a long time after Neil rejoined, and when Motley Crue took a break in the early 2000s he even stopped playing guitar for a full two years. When Nikki Sixx sought to reunite the original quartet in 2004, he was shocked to discover Mars had turned into a frail wreck of a man with a chest-length beard, grey skin, and a severe addiction to painkillers. His hip replacement operation was part of digging him out of this rut, but even worse was the fact that he couldn't play — or even hold — the guitar anymore. He says he had to reacquaint himself with the instrument with the help of a neuropsychiatrist.

They did not play together "for another 20 years"

The Dirt ends on a surprisingly warm note. The band is happily reunited in a rousing power walk through the backstage area, and if you managed to blink through the happy tears once they reached the stage and started performing, you would have noticed some onscreen text saying they played together for 20 more years. It's great that the fearsome foursome got their act together in the movie because in reality, that very much didn't happen. The movie's narrative ends in 1997, which gave the Crue quartet roughly two years of "together" before Tommy Lee walked out of the band in 1999. According to MTV News, Lee had some time to think about his life in prison, where he spent a few months for assaulting his wife Pamela Anderson Lee (who, along with the couple's infamous sex tape, is noticeably absent from the movie). This helped the drummer decide to focus on non-Crue things.

As Ultimate Classic Rock tells us, former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo took over after Lee's departure, but his tenure was cut tragically short by a cancer diagnosis and his subsequent death. NRK reports that the next person in line (and the only female member Motley Crue has ever had) was Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, who replaced Castillo for the New Tattoo tour of 2000. While Reuters notes Tommy Lee eventually ended up rejoining Crue in 2004, that and the fact that they played their last show in 2015 cuts down the film's "20 years of playing together" significantly. Of course, the movie did feature a couple new songs, so maybe they'll walk back the legally binding contract they signed in 2015 to never tour again.