Plain and simple, you have rock stars that retire, rock stars that expire, and rock stars that will live forever. Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue is of the latter variety. Not because he was an awesome heavy metal band member (he was) and not because he did some unbelievably outrageous things in this life (he did) but because he straight up understands what it’s like to be a human and is not afraid to put it out there. That’s something that stands the test of time that nearly anyone can relate to, no matter if you loved or hated Motley Crue.
It may be easy sometimes to forget that band members are so much more than the persona of the band they are in. They each have their own thoughts, strengths, weaknesses, ideas…they are human. It’s easy to forget that. But Nikki Sixx of Motley Crue has never let us forget it, probably because he never has forgotten the struggle of yesterday or today, and he probably anticipates it tomorrow. When Motley Crue began, they were in a filthy apartment that likely should have been condemned. They had lots of girls and drugs and talent, but they also had serious addictions and life-threatening struggles. Struggles so bad that addiction from heroin caused Nikki Sixx to die. He was revived, but the man who lives today likely has a better understanding of addiction, fame, and how the two come together to cause sorrow and shame. Now clean, Sixx remains humble about his horrific and terrifying experience with drugs while he was supposed to be on “top of the world.”
Recently, as many know, Gene Simmons had some harsh words about the death of legendary musician Prince. Prince’s legacy spanned more than three decades, he was able to play more than one hundred instruments, he not only wrote all of his music but lyrics as well, and also wrote many songs for other singers, such as the heart-wrenching ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U” sung by Sinead O’Connor He was never involved in sex scandals, he bore the death of his child privately, and was professional and private about his life and music. Yet his death, rumored to be the result of the narcotic Percocet, has caused plenty of people – some of them fellow musicians – to turn on the singer.
According to Rolling Stone, Gene Simmons said that Prince’s untimely death at age 57 was “a choice.” That’s a fairly heavy claim for anyone, much less someone who wasn’t in the elevator where Prince died at his estate, but Simmons felt that he had the ability to come to that conclusion. True to his fearless nature, Nikki Sixx didn’t let it go. He spoke to a radio station in Norfolk, Virginia, about his feelings on the topic.
“We have no respect for Gene Simmons anymore — nobody in rock does. And I’m not gonna sit back quietly and allow a bully to go out there and put down people he doesn’t know anything about … I think that Gene should call it a day, and that we should look at this beautiful catalogue of music that Prince has given us. And if you wanna compare Prince to Kiss … there’s no comparison.”
Amen to that, Nikki. It’s difficult to imagine how and why any member of KISS could believe that they gave the world something more luminous and timeless than Purple Rain. It’s also difficult to believe that someone who didn’t experience Prince’s life or death personally could call his death a choice.
Like all tragedies, we always find those who rise up and inspire us – to be kinder, more gentle, more human. Thank you, Nikki Sixx. You are so much more than a rock legend – you’re a good man.
[Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]