MÖTLEY CRÜE: The Party And Aftermath
Some music genres come and go or fly under the radar with very little recognition. Then there are those like glam of the 80’s. Known as hair metal because of the wild hairstyles of the generation, glam metal continued the fashion trends of 70’s glam rock and is considered a subgenre of heavy metal with catchy guitar riffs. Musicians would wear outrageous outfits with tight leather pants, fishnets, and basically whatever they wanted. Their hair and makeup were big and abundant and caught the attention of the audience. They had songs about sex, drugs, and partying and had entertaining and wild live shows.
This was not the first time musicians dressed up and commanded a flamboyant stage presence. As the 70’s came to an end, popular music was shifting and fans wanted more of show and higher levels of entertainment. Glam metal was formed from various elements of different artists and genres. Showmen like David Bowie, Alice Cooper, Van Halen, and Kiss, created the building blocks which helped to mold the fundamental basis of glam metal. The proverbial birthplace of glam was the Sunset Strip, located on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, California. The genre was highlighted by bands such as Poison, Bon Jovi, Quiet Riot, Ratt, and most popularly, Mötley Crüe. The genre and bands held strong throughout the 80’s until a new fad was introduced in 1990: grunge. However, the epic party didn’t end without making a memorable mark in popular culture.
The crazy party boys that made up the hair band Mötley Crüe were a few of the pioneers of glam metal. In fact, they were seen as the “poster boys for eighties hair metal.” In 1981, after leaving the established L.A. band “London,” bassist Nikki Sixx was ready to form his own project. “I wanted a band that would be like David Bowie and the Sex Pistols thrown in a blender with Black Sabbath.” He met the eccentric Tommy Lee who became the band’s drummer, and shortly after met the illusive guitarist Mick Mars through his “loud and aggressive guitarist available” classified ad posting. Then the trio stumbled upon a Cheap Trick cover band and snatched up front man Vince Neil. Together, they became the outlandish metal rockers of Mötley Crüe.
With the glam scene taking shape and garnering a massive following, Mötley Crüe’s hedonist and party lifestyle and persona became the definition of the era. In 1983, the band released their debut Too Fast For Love which was picked up by Elecktra Records. Their third album Theatre of Pain was what really propelled the band into the limelight and established them as a glam force to be reckoned with. Over the course of their 34-year career, the band released nine albums, several chart-topping hits, and “sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.” They reached their peak success with the release of the album Dr. Feelgood. A little over a month after its release, the album hit #1 and would remain there for an impressive 114 weeks. Also, the glam metal era happened to coincide with the launch of Music Television or MTV. Originally, it was designed for young adults to entertain and educate about current music and cultures. This medium helped to further the band’s and glam music in general, popularity and massive success. This coupled with recognition and respect from the king of metal, Ozzy Osborne, Mötley Crüe’s fame quickly became unrivaled by any other band at the time.
The band members were just as famous for their offstage antics. Excessive partying, celebrity marriages, random hookups, and heavy drug use were all part of a normal day. Bassist Nikki Sixx had a crippling heroin addiction, which almost completely ruined and perhaps could have ended his life. He documented his encounters throughout an entire year in his autobiography “Heroine Diaries.” Each member went through hardships of their own. A few of these mixed with the beginning of grunge would determine the band’s ultimate decline. Luckily, in 1989 the band vowed to embrace sobriety and subsequently released the popular Dr. Feelgood album.
Over the years, the band has performed reunion shows in an attempt to reform the band. However due to creative differences and personality issues, the band officially called it quits in 2015. Separately, the members have found other avenues to continue their careers. For example, Nikki Sixx hosts his popular radio show called Sixx Sense Sessions where he talks about life and music with fellow musicians.
The glam metal era was a very interesting time in music history. Bands like Mötley Crüe laid the groundwork for other musicians to follow suit and build off of their legacy. The party might be over for now, but the band’s music continues to entertain all generations of listeners.