One of the most notorious and successful bands of the hair metal era, Los Angeles rockers Motley Crue burned through the ’80s in a blaze of drugs, debauchery, and platinum hits. Their glammed-out image, hard-partying reputation, and a knack for melding pop hooks to heavy metal theatrics took the band to the top of the charts repeatedly throughout the ’80s, records like 1985’s Theatre of Pain and 1989’s Dr. Feelgood bringing them to sold-out arenas around the world. Their wild lifestyles took a toll, however, and by the early ’90s the band imploded, with lineup changes, legal turmoil, and a generally shaky times. They still remained one of the more beloved bands of their pop metal heyday, and the 2000s brought reunions of the original lineup, new albums, and even a biopic focusing on their infamous early years.
Formed in January 1981, Motley Crue were originally the pet project of bassist Nikki Sixx (born Frank Ferrana), vocalist/guitarist Greg Leon, and drummer Tommy Lee (born Thomas Lee Bass). Leon was a veteran of the Hollywood scene, having replaced Randy Rhoads in Quiet Riot two years prior. He butted heads with the strong-willed Sixx, however, resulting in his departure from the lineup several months later. Local guitarist Bob “Mick Mars” Deal joined in his place, bringing the moniker “Mottley Krue” with him. After altering the name and adding a pair of umlauts (allegedly a tribute to German beer), the trio began efforts to recruit Vincent Neil Wharton, vocalist for the L.A.-based band Rock Candy. Neil initially refused the advances, only joining the band after his Rock Candy cohorts announced their decision to transform their group into a new wave act. With Neil now on board, Motley Crue became a cult favorite on the L.A. circuit, infamously known for such theatrics as setting Sixx’s pants on fire mid-song.
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