On April 24, 1981, Motley Crue gave their debut concert in west Hollywood at a club called the Starwood Hotel. The only reason they got the gig was because the band’s drummer, Nikki Sixx, worked at the venue. It was a tough crowd — a hard rocking, hard partying crowd, and they were not too happy to see a band they didn’t know take the stage. Vince Neil, the lead singer of the band, remembers when pandemonium broke out in the first set, according to Ultimate Classic Rock.
“People were yelling ‘F— you!’ and flipping us the bird during Take Me to the Top. Then one meathead, in a black AC/DC shirt, hocked a loogey that landed on my white leather pants. Without even thinking, I leapt off the stage mid-phrase and put him in a headlock and started pummeling him.”
Nikki Sixx couldn’t allow the fight to go on without him, so he jumped into the crowd, Neil remembers.
“[He] had his white Thunderbird bass over his head. He swung it forward like a circus strength-game mallet and cracked it over some guy’s shoulder blade. If there was a bell on the guys’ head, it would have gone through the roof.”
Despite the fight, the band members made it back to the stage to continue the gig, and that tumultuous beginning was so typical of the glam rockers, who were setting the stage for more than a concert. It was the beginning of a heavy guitar, big hair, outrageous period for rock and roll. Nikki Sixx remembers the night as being something amazing.
“I remember walking down the stairs onto the stage and hardly knowing Tommy Lee and Vince and Mick Mars, but at the same time feeling like I’d known them my whole life. Breaking into that first song, I remember just feeling at home.”
Motley Crue would continue on for the next 34 years, finally retiring on December 31, 2015. Their years were much like their first concert, filled with outrageous antics, success, failure, despair, addiction, recovery, breaking up, and making up. To this day, they continue to have a life that is filled with more drama than post people.
In fact, on Thursday, Nikki Sixx revealed his feelings when Vince Neil was briefly replaced by John Corabi in 1994. Neil had addiction and personal problems that caused the band to break with him for a while. Sixx said it was a difficult time for him, according to Antimusic.
“I’ve gotta tell you, I think it was a very unfocused record. It was painful for me, because John Corabi can’t write lyrics, and I had to do all that work. It was the first time I ever had to work with somebody that wanted to participate in the lyrics. And my standard is so high that it was just… It was so hard, it took months… Usually, I write a set of lyrics in an hour. And it’s all about having pent-up information and aggression and just [letting it out]. And it was just hard, because he was… a nice enough guy, but he just didn’t have that fire, and it was hard for me.”
Vince Neil eventually made his way back to the band, and Corabi was out. Corabi replied to the criticism from Nikki Sixx this week.
“As my email, texts, and phone is blowing up over this, I’d like to publicly retort to this. ‘Thank you to Motley Crue for the 5 years we had together. I’m extremely proud of the record we recorded TOGETHER!!!!And your phone call to me asking to join your band, has honestly helped my career immensely. I have done everything since, MY WAY, under MY TERMS, and I’m happy knowing I haven’t followed any trends, caved to any record label, and just basically been myself. I am who I am, I write the way I write, and I’m beyond happy being the person I am…I have nothing but mad respect for Motley, including Mr. Sixx…And wish them ALL the best with their future endeavors…I REALLY don’t give a sh*t about any of this nonsense!!!! (This is it kids… Enjoy your day!!!)'”
The band may be retired, but as Motley Crue’s song goes, it’s the “same ol’ situation.”
[Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]