False Facts About Motley Crue You Always Thought Were True

Motley Crue may be the reigning champions of rock star debauchery, but at least they're famously upfront about it. The band's collective memoir The Dirt described their career and assorted indulgences in sordid and brutally honest detail, and made few attempts to sugarcoat the hedonistic lifestyles of the 1980s hard rock superstars. Several members of the band have since continued this policy by publishing their own autobiographies, and the movie version of The Dirt brought the best (or rather, some of the worst) examples of their decadence to your Netflix queue.

The thing is, just because these guys talk a lot about themselves doesn't mean everything they say is true. They have an image to uphold, just like everyone else. The Motley Crue movie twisted the band's history in quite a few ways, and that's just the tip of the iceberg: In fact, some of the most famous stories you thought you knew about the band are completely wrong, or at least severely misrepresented. Let's take a moment to dig into some things about Motley Crue you always thought were true.

They've had way more members than you think

Vince Neil sings, Mick Mars plays guitar, Tommy Lee drums, and Nikki Sixx handles bass duty. Those are the guys who played on Motley Crue's first album, and they're the fearsome foursome that wreaked havoc throughout the band's golden years in the 1980s. The same men wrapped up the last show of their Final Tour in 2015, so it's easy to think that Crue is like U2: A rare unicorn of a band that has somehow managed to navigate through their career without losing a single member. As Ultimate Classic Rock describes, this is not exactly true. In fact, Mars and Sixx are the only constant members throughout the band's existence.

Motley Crue briefly had a singer called O'Dean before Neil joined. The most famous Crue member outside the main quartet is another singer, John Corabi (above). He took over after Neil left in 1992 but only featured on the band's self-titled 1994 album. Eventually, Neil returned in 1997 and Crue phased Corabi out after an unsuccessful attempt to keep him in as a fifth band member. In 1999, Lee quit the band, and his replacement was Randy Castillo, a former Ozzy Osbourne drummer. Castillo appeared on 2000's New Tattoo album, but was diagnosed with cancer and ultimately died in 2002. While Castillo was fighting the disease, Crue approached former Hole drummer Samantha Maloney, who held the spot from 2000 to 2002.

Mick Mars deals with a lot more than just age and physical health issues

Guitarist Mick Mars has always seemed the odd man out in Motley Crue. He is the oldest and most reclusive Crue member, and is quite open about his ankylosing spondylitis, a disease that is slowly fusing his spinal joints together. Largely because of that, he was always somewhat different than the other guys. This outsider image goes so far that in the movie version of The Dirt, Iwan Rheon (who was Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones) plays Mars as a borderline vampire-like deadpan snarker.

This actually seems a little cruel because in reality, Mars is dealing with a lot more than "just" debilitating spinal arthritis — he also has some significant mental health issues that have played a role over the years. AV Club notes Mars has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and partly because of his painful physical condition, he has also struggled with suicidal thoughts and chronic depression ... which the rest of the band didn't get around to noticing at the time because they were too busy with their own proclivities.

They DO have a line they won't cross with women

Motley Crue can't help themselves when women are present. The Netflix movie specifically makes a point of saying (more than once) that you should never leave your girlfriend around them because they will ... well, you know. While this is a fairly creepy thing to admit — let alone boast about — at least they're being honest about their famously pleasure-seeking attitude. Or are they?

According to one woman who's had the opportunity to join the band on tour, they do seem to have one line they will not cross: messing with a bandmate. While most Motley Crue stories make them seem like homing missiles whenever women are present, the band's third drummer, Samantha Maloney, has nothing but good things to say about the Crue guys. "The entire band was very supportive and respectful of me. I had the time of my life!" Maloney told NRK. She says she experienced none of the sexism or other tensions Motley Crue is famous for, though since her tenure with the band coincided with the writing process of The Dirt and she heard some of the stories, she's aware that there is another side to the coin. As a result, she has avoided reading the book because it might change the way she views her former bandmates.

They're not the one-trick pony people see them as

If there were ever a band that embodied the unholy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, it's Motley Crue. As such, it's easy to see them as a one-trick pony that only writes songs about girls and partying and sometimes shouting at the devil. This is not an entirely unfair assumption, given that a huge chunk of their discography is exactly that. However, this doesn't mean they can't do anything else — it's just that every time they try something other than their trademark sound, the public refuses to give a hoot.

According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Vince Neil left and/or was fired from the band in 1992 partially because the other band members wanted to take Crue in a bluesier direction, which Neil was less than happy about. UCR also says the band was extremely happy to experiment with the new vocal sound and guitar proficiency that Neil's replacement John Corabi brought in the mix, but the resulting Motley Crue album in 1994 failed to reach sales expectations. The band was still keen on taking their sound to new, different places, and Nikki Sixx vowed they'd make their most extreme album while lamenting that no one wanted to allow them to grow as a band. However, the ensuing Generation Swine is regarded as one of their worst efforts ... and according to Neil, it's because of all the experimenting.

Tommy Lee was not Pamela Anderson's only connection with the band

Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee were one of the most famous couples of their time. As E! Online tells us, their whirlwind romance, the tabloid-friendly lovey-dovey period and, uh, the even more tabloid-friendly falling-out hit every button the celebrity-loving public had ... including some of the more sordid buttons, thanks to their famous sex tape. Still, both Anderson and Lee had other partners before meeting each other, and it just so happens that one of Anderson's ex-partners hit a lot closer to home than Lee probably would have wanted.

According to Vince Neil's autobiography Tattoos & Tequila, the singer dated Anderson long before Lee even met her, and is smug enough about the fact to write about it in italics. They met during Anderson's tenure as the Tool Time Girl in Home Improvement, and started dating when she featured in Neil's music video. Though they were never a serious item — Neil claims she was just one of the girls from that video he dated — the two apparently remained friendly enough that Neil says Anderson introduced him to Hugh Hefner and, by proxy, a string of Playmates he later courted. It's impossible for an outsider to know how this little relationship conundrum affected Motley Crue's band chemistry, but seeing as Neil happily gloated about his conquest in a book, it's not exactly impossible to imagine him rubbing the fact in Lee's face during heated discussions.

They're not just hedonistic rock stars who care about nothing but themselves

No one's saying the members of Motley Crue are not hedonists, not even the band members themselves. Too many memoirs and interviews detail their assorted selfish actions and bon vivant tendencies for anyone to believe they're saints. Still, it's easy to see them as purely one-dimensional party machines who play rock 'n' roll and then sink into a degenerate celebrity abyss until it's time to stagger to the stage again. This image is not necessarily untrue — after all, it's pretty much what The Dirt is about. However, it's worth noting that the Crue guys do also make time for good acts.

Tommy Lee is an outspoken animal activist who speaks up for animal adoption for Rolling Stone and works with the controversial animal rights organization PETA. As Look to the Stars shows, the band supports Red Cross, United Way, and the Skylar Neil Memorial Foundation, a charity Vince Neil set up after his young daughter died of cancer. According to Ultimate Classic Rock, Neil has raised millions of dollars for children's cancer research, and UCR also notes that he gave his New Celebrity Apprentice haul of over $750,000 to a memory disorder research program called Keep Memory Alive. Of course, Crue likes to keep up the bad boy image even when doing good. As Loudwire reports, they once partnered with Jack Daniels to sell limited special editions of Motley Crue-themed Tennessee whiskey for charity.

Satanic allegations

According to Loudwire, Motley Crue's Shout at the Devil album in 1983 did a lot to cement their position as the leather-wearing, cool-looking bad boys of the Sunset Strip hair metal scene, but its controversial lyrics and the pentagram in the original album art drew accusations of satanism. Of course, Crue's use of satanic imagery was all about the look. They didn't actually gather in black masses or whatever. As Vince Neil says: "Some people said we were Satanic and angry. We always thought that was funny, but we were like, 'Hey, if it gets us attention let's go with that.' We were so starved for stardom that we were willing to do whatever it took. But there was no anger at all. We were just having fun." Their label decided to use this and their out-of-control party antics to play up the band's image as a ticking time bomb. The now-familiar constant stream of Crue scandals started trickling to the press, as the record company happily reported every insane thing happening to them. (They didn't have to look very hard.)

Still, despite their insistence that their satanic image was all in jest, the band actually did its part to help the next generation keep the devil in rock music. In an interview with Consequence of Sound, Tobias Forge of the current leading "satanic" band Ghost names Motley Crue as one of the things that introduced him to the concept of Satan.

The record they made without Vince Neil is really not bad

Most bands would do anything to have their record sell gold, but as Ultimate Classic Rock reports, Motley Crue is a different story. The band spent the 1980s crafting albums that sold millions and routinely went platinum, so when they released their self-titled album in 1994 with new singer John Corabi, going "merely" gold was a rank disappointment. But is the album really the sad, two-of-five-stars effort Allmusic makes it seem? Motley Crue came out during an extremely difficult time. Crue had changed their singer and sound, and their label was going through executive turmoil that took resources away from the album's promotion. There was also the issue of grunge, a musical tsunami that was washing over bands with glam metal roots.

Because it's the sole Crue album recorded without Vince Neil, it's pretty unlikely for Motley Crue to ever break into the upper echelons of Crue discography, but fans have seemed to warm up to it through the years. While Allmusic rates Motley Crue as a flop that is second only to 1997's Generation Swine in its awfulness, the album's user reviews are significantly more positive and rank the album solidly in the middle of their discography. Louder even considers it the band's best non-1980s album. Songs from Motley Crue often feature on lists of most underappreciated Crue songs, and as Ultimate Classic Rock notes, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars have readily praised the album, with Lee calling it one of his favorite Crue albums.

Their memoirs may be less accurate than they'd like you to think

In early 2019, Nikki Sixx found himself in hot water because of a story in the book version of The Dirt in which he essentially admits to orchestrating a rape. As Consequence of Sound reports, Sixx's explanation was that he doesn't remember the incident and has no idea what it does in the book. Yes, it's the good ol' "I can't recall the events in question because I was on way too much heroin for a decade" defense. Sixx also says he doesn't recall a lot of his interviews with author Neil Strauss — which suggests there's no telling whether the stories in the book are actually true or are just tall tales. This is pretty big because The Dirt book and Nikki Sixx's own The Heroin Diaries present themselves as warts-and-all memoirs that leave no debauched stone unturned.

Perhaps not coincidentally, multiple people with inside knowledge of the Crue world say many of the events described in these books are pretty different from reality. Blabbermouth reports that one-time band member John Corabi and Crue producer Tom Werman have called Sixx out about the authenticity of his Heroin Diaries stories. The site also notes that an incident where Hanoi Rocks guitarist Andy McCoy and a drug dealer supposedly beat up an overdosed Sixx and left him to die didn't go quite like that: McCoy says he actually saved Sixx's life that night. McCoy has also said that The Dirt's version of the famous car crash that killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley is "pure lies."

All that hoopla in 2015 means the band is really done for good

In 2015, Motley Crue played their final concert. As Global News reports, they made sure of this by signing a "cessation of touring" agreement that legally forbids them to ever play together again ... or does it? In 2018, Crue announced they were recording several new songs for the movie version of The Dirt, which didn't really seem like something such a famously broken-up band would do. Vince Neil replied to the criticism by saying that the band never said they broke up or that they would never make new music — just that they'd never tour under the name Motley Crue again.

Even if you ignore the fact that they can completely undo the "binding agreement" quite easily if they all agreed to hit the road again, there are some pretty handy loopholes there, such as minor name changes and collections of "individual" shows that totally aren't a tour. Recent interviews with Loudwire and Rolling Stone also make it seem that the band doesn't feel they're done yet. Although Nikki Sixx insists there will be no "one-offs," they gush about how much they enjoy each others' company again, and how they look at all the other old bands still tearing away, wondering whether they stopped too soon. You'd probably be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing smells a bit like the band shuffling their feet, looking for an excuse to eat their words. And if they hadn't made such a big stinking deal about it in 2015, no one would even care!