True Stories Of Big Hair And Bad Judgment: The Dirt On Motley Crue

Music | March 29, 2019

Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil of Motley Crue on May 11, 1984 in Chicago, Il. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

For the hair metal band Mötley Crüe, The Dirt was a fitting title for a collection of true stories and biographical film. The fact is, these guys were filthy -- unkempt, unclean, unpleasant, unrepentant -- and they liked it that way. As one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, Mötley Crüe sold millions of albums and toured across the world, but they also wreaked havoc everywhere they went. The band destroyed hotels, wrecked cars, broke up relationships -- these guys did everything but kill each other while they were at the top of the game. The band’s debauchery was so harrowing that in 2001 they released a memoir of sorts called The Dirt, and in 2019 a movie of the same name was released. It’s impossible to tell every myth and legend about this atom bomb of a band, but these are some behind the scenes stories that the band remembers. 

The Band Almost Burned Down Their Apartment In The Name Of Pest Control

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While living off the Sunset Strip, the guys in Motley Crüe weren’t exactly the cleanest band in Los Angeles. At the time all four of these monsters of rock were living together in one apartment, and because they all had sex, drugs, and rock and roll on their minds they definitely didn’t have any room for cleanliness.

According to the band, they had a major cockroach problem in their crash pad and rather than buy pesticide they resorted to more interesting means. If a roach was spotted they grabbed a can of hairspray and the nearest lighter to torch the nasty little bug. What a way to go. 

The Crüe Traded Sex For Studio Time

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Before the band was fully solidified, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, and Tommy Lee were performing with a different singer and while they weren’t the band we know and love they were on their way to forming their sound. When the group was recording a three-song demo that included "Stick to Your Guns," "Nobody Knows What It's Like to Be Lonely" and "Toast of the Town” they ran out of money mid-session.

Rather than pony up more dough, or just come back another time, Lee hooked up with the woman who was recording the band. Some re-tellings of this story say that they had sex, others say they made out, either way, it beats spending your beer money. 

Nikki Sixx Was Beat Up By Two Undercover Cops

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After a night spent partying at the Rainbow with Vince Neil and Lita Ford, Nikki Sixx saw a couple of bikers messing with a group of girls on the street and he decided to intervene. Sixx writes that he told one of the bikers to chill, and when the biker told him to “f**k off” Sixx removed the chain he was wearing for a belt and smashed the guy in the face.

As luck would have it, Sixx had just started a fight with two undercover cops. They started beating the rocker with their nightsticks and broke his cheekbone before hauling him off to spend the night in the county jail. When Ford bailed him out, Sixx played a show before going home to write the track “Knock ‘Em Dead, Kid.” 

 The Crüe Was Kicked Off Their First Tour With Kiss

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In 1983 Mötley Crüe got their first taste of rock stardom when they received an opening slot on the west coast dates for Kiss’ Creatures of the Night tour. Initially, the shows were stellar, but just over a week into the tour the band was kicked off the bill.

At the time the band's management believed that either Crüe was so good that they were blowing Kiss off the stage or that they were partying too hard, but it was revealed that the band was kicked off the tour because Tommy and Nikki had sex with Kiss drummer Eric Carr’s girlfriend behind his drum set. That’ll do it. 

Vince Neil And Ozzy Osbourne Stole A Car, Allegedly

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After being kicked off their tour with Kiss, the Crüe found a soulmate in Ozzy Osbourne. The singer took a liking to the group and brought them out as openers for his Bark at the Moon tour, which was essentially an excuse for everyone to lose their minds. This was the tour where the band really leveled up their bad behavior, and they went from sleeping with every woman they met to committing felonies.

Supposedly at a tour stop in Memphis, Tennessee Vince Neil and Ozzy went out for a night of partying and stumbled upon a car with its keys still in the ignition. Not wanting to let this opportunity go to waste, the guys stole the car and took it for a ride before cutting up the interior and smashing all the windows. 

Nikki Sixx’s Dealer Saves His Life, Sort Of

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Sixx is famous for two things, writing Mötley Crüe’s biggest hits and injecting an entire opium field’s worth of heroin. In 1985, while on tour with Cheap Trick in London, Sixx let a dealer shoot him up and he suffered a major overdose.

Sixx said, “As soon as it exploded in my heart, I realized that I’d f**ked up.” He writes that's when he woke up. When the dealer was carrying him to the alley like a sack of trash:

I had large welts all over my arms and chest from being struck with a baseball bat. That was the dealer’s idea: He thought he could put me in so much pain that my system would shock itself back into action.

After An Overdose Sixx Had An Out Of Body Experience

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Sixx didn’t let a couple of overdoses stop him from using heroin, however, in 1987 he took so much junk that he was officially dead for a few minutes. On December 23, 1987, Sixx had his dealer shoot him up with a dose of heroin that turned out to be lethal. Sixx remembers his out of body experience as paramedics attempted to kickstart his heart:

It felt as if something very gentle was grabbing my head and pulling me upward. Above me, everything was bright white. I looked down and realized that I had left my body. Nikki Sixx—or the filthy, tattooed container that had once held him—was lying covered face-to-toe with a sheet on a gurney being pushed by medics into an ambulance.

Tommy Lee And Vince Neil Had Interesting Ways To Hide Infidelity

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When it comes to sleeping with random groupies, the Crüe are better than no other - especially Vince Neil and Tommy Lee. As sleazy as they were, there was something about them that attracted people with less than stellar morals. But we’re not here to judge, sleeping with a bunch of randos wouldn’t be a big deal with the guys who were single at the time. In order to hide the fact that they’d been cheating, the boys in the band devised a so-stupid-it's-stupid trick. Neil told Hustler: "We would take Tommy’s van to a restaurant called Noggles to buy these egg burritos and then rub them on our crotches." If this seems a bizarre solution to a simple problem, you're right -- which Neil seemed to realize only later. "We never thought about going into the restroom and just washing our [selves]," he added.

A Dealer Followed The Band On The Girls, Girls, Girls Tour

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In 1987 Mötley Crüe was on top of the world and above the law. While on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour they were followed by their personal drug dealer who drove a Mercedes-Benz Excalibur with a license plate that read: DEALER. In The Dirt Tommy Lee writes

Whenever we got out of the bus, he would suddenly appear with his diamond-packed Rolex, gold chains and a token couple of bitches on each arm, throwing bundles of coke to everyone in the band and crew. He was the pimpest drug dealer ever and he always had his party hat on.

When the dealer was kicked off the tour by the label the band bid him adieu because “pimps and partied-out freaks were a dime a dozen on that tour.”

Mick Mars Drank Straight Vodka Because It Looked Like Water

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While the rest of the guys in Crüe were all dealing with serious drug habits, guitarist Mick Mars just stuck to plain ol’ alcohol. Specifically, he liked to drink straight vodka because he assumed that the rest of the members of the band thought he was just drinking water. According to Tommy Lee, no one was fooled.

Mars writes:

Before I went on stage, I'd line up six shots of vodka next to an open can of Coke, and then down them all. During the show, I'd have a glass of pure vodka on the side, which the other guys thought was water. Afterwards, I'd bring out a jar of Mars-ade - a mix of tequila, orange juice and grenadine - and suck that down.

Tags: 1980s Music | Groupies | Mick Mars | Motley Crue | Nikki Sixx | Rare Facts And Stories About History | Tommy Lee | Vince Neil

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Jacob Shelton


Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.