By Alan Sculley
This fall, Mötley Crüe heads into the home stretch of its final tour with a trek that covers the United States and Europe before a grand finale on New Year’s Eve in the band’s home town of Los Angeles. On Oct. 7, the group will perform at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
One thing that’s happening, according to bassist Nikki Sixx, is that he and bandmates Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee are going into their final run of shows with a renewed appreciation for each other and what they did together in Mötley Crüe.
“This is just probably a bad analogy, but if you’ve been in love with somebody for over 30 years, there are days when you may take them for granted, days when they may get on your nerves,” Sixx said in a recent interview. “There are days when you’re like I don’t know if I love them as much as I used to love them. Then you find out they’re going to die. And all of a sudden, all of the little things about them become so important, and all the laughter and all that seems to get louder and you start to remember things in a positive way. I think that’s how it is for me and the guys. We’re like ‘Wow, this is real…It’s getting fucking real.”
Mötley Crüe has gone to considerable lengths to show fans that this tour, which began last summer, will be the band’s final one. This will not be another farewell outing that turns out to be merely a temporary goodbye when the group reunites a few years later for more touring (see Kiss and the Scorpions) and even more recording.
At an early 2014 press conference announcing the final tour, the band even signed a binding legal document in which the four band members agreed there will be no further tours in any form as Mötley Crüe.
There has been some talk that the band members might write and record new songs here and there – perhaps for a soundtrack to the film adaptation to the band’s autobiography, The Dirt. But all four band members insist there will not be any more full tours or anything that resembles a return to full-time activity. And Sixx said he hasn’t had any second thoughts about ending Mötley Crüe.
“No, absolutely not, not one second thought, never,” he said. “This is on Mötley Crüe terms. We decided to go out the way we came in, and we’re not really interested in any other version of it. There are all kinds of stuff that are around here and there. I don’t know, maybe we’ll make some music. Maybe we won’t. But right now, as far as that specific question, no to us ever getting back together and touring.”
The announcement that Mötley Crüe would end with the final tour may have seemed sudden, and considering the group’s continued popularity, unexpected. But as Lee explained in a separate interview, the decision to end the band didn’t happen overnight, and was orchestrated so the group could go out on its own terms while all four band members were reasonably healthy and able to deliver a high energy show.
“This is definitely not something new. We’ve been talking about this for years,” Lee said. “We would constantly ask each other how do we want to, you know, end this thing? I know how we don’t want to end it. We don’t want to end it with one or two guys still out there touring with two other hired guys. That’s just not how we ever envisioned it – ever. And so to prevent that, before anything bad could happen – Jesus Christ, we’re all still alive and everyone’s healthy – maybe now is a good time.”
The final tour will close the book on a career that has seen plenty of ups and downs, debauchery that reached legendary levels and plenty of fun songs that helped launch the so-called hair metal movement of the 1980s.
The Mötley Crüe story starts in 1981, with the band self-released debut album, Too Fast for Love, selling 40,000 copies of the album, according to the band members. Signed to Elektra Records after that, the group broke through commercially with the 1983 album, Shout at the Devil, and then reeled off three more consecutive hit albums, Theatre of Pain (1985), Girls, Girls, Girls (1987) and Dr. Feelgood (1989). In all, the band has sold more than 75 million copies of its nine albums.
The group took advantage of its success, partying like true rock stars and boasting of numerous sexual escapades. But all was not fun and games.
In 1984, Neil was driving when he had a head-on crash that killed his passenger, Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, drummer of the band Hanoi Rocks. In 1987, Sixx suffered a heroin overdose that left him legally dead on the way to the hospital before medical personnel were able to revive him.
There also was plenty of conflict between band members at various points. Neil quit in 1992, then rejoined the group in the late 1990s after his solo career never took wing, only to be booted again in 2002, after which the group broke up entirely for a couple of years.
Lee also had his problems with the group, leaving Mötley Crüe in 1999, and forming his own band, Methods of Mayhem, before rejoining when the band as a whole reunited in 2004.
The group went on to do several successful tours that led up to the making of the 2008 studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, which was widely praised as a return to musical form for the band.
So Mötley Crüe figures to end its career on a high note. This year’s shows will feature a hit-laden set similar to the one the group played last year, but the shows will be amped up visually, with one of the all-time favorite attractions, the “drum coaster,” which takes Lee and a lucky (and possibly petrified) audience member on a roller coaster loop as Lee does a drum solo, back for most of the shows. Last year’s shows at outdoor amphitheaters couldn’t accommodate the “drum coaster.”
“When we booked this (leg of the tour), not just for the drums, for the whole production, we wanted to make sure we could get everything in the building and use everything,” Sixx said. “So that’s why it’s all arenas. There are a couple of spot dates here and there (that aren’t), but in general that’s why we did it that way.”
As for its year-ending three-night stand in Los Angeles – including the New Year’s Eve final show – Sixx wasn’t offering any specifics about what Mötley Crüe will do to go out in style.
“It’s going to be big,” he said. “We’re going to go out with like a ball of flame, let’s just say that.”
As for how he’ll feel as he leaves the stage with Neil, Mars and Lee for the final time, Sixx, who plans to devote much of his post-Crüe time to his other band, Sixx: A.M. – isn’t sure what he’ll feel.
“I’ve thought about it. I’m thinking about it more every day,” Sixx said. “I guess I’m just going to wait and see what happens. I’m really proud to say goodbye to the same original members we said hello with. I’m proud of that. And I love these guys. I’m a fan of theirs. I look forward to seeing what they do on their own.”