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A Revealing Look At The Outrageous Band

DETROIT – What do you do when life hands you lemons? Or worse, in this case, leg warmers, “Just Say No”, and the makings for what could be the worst decade in recent memory? According to singer Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue, “You make it your own”. This is the basic philosophy for one of rock and roll’s most notorious acts. The story of Motley Crue is really a post teenage dream come true that every angst ridden kid really wants.

This is the subject of a book, “Motley Crue The Dirt, Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Band” by Neil Strauss. The book is broken up into chapters by the band members themselves namely Niikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars. The book has also been the basis of a popular film on Netflix entitled, “The Dirt”.Like many rock and roll books this one is raw and in your face. It has been featured as a New York Times Bestseller and has attracted a large fan base on social media. This book gets into the details and depravity of this sensational rock band. Some of it is hilarious, shocking, and vile all while telling the complete story.

Inside The Los Angeles Nightlife Nightmare

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The exciting thing about the Motley Crue story is where the band started. They were playing small clubs in Los Angeles and later were able to bring their self made mania to the masses. While other bands in L.A. were following Punk Rock and stripping down their appearance the Crue took things in the complete opposite direction. This included outrageous stage clothes, makeup and pyrotechnics. Bands like X, The Germs, FEAR, Black Flag, and the Circle Jerks were gathering angry kids and pitting them against each other and society. Motley Crue on the other hand were gathering up their own fans and creating a real party scene. They took something they had built on their own at the Whiskey A Go Go and then took it to every strip mall in America.

The journey along the way is a rough one. There are scenes in the book that never made it to the film and those might be the most interesting ones. They certainly were the most haunting. The film version of, “The Dirt” was a bit short and should have been a little bit longer. Every band member has something significant to say and carries an equal part to the overall story. That is what makes reading the book so fascinating. Along the way some of the stories conflict each one another with each telling and the reader is supposed to put them altogether in some logical fashion. It is more than just some quick rise to fame it is also a war story.

Early Humble Beginnings and a Cult Following

Lead singer Nikki Sixx grows up in a dysfunctional home and has problems with his mother at a young age. He is abandoned by his real father and does not see him while growing up. This leads to Nikki leaving home and living with family out in the country. He strives for identity and finds a real home and purpose in rock music. His struggle with finding self worth haunts him and he finds himself in fights. After getting pounced on by local thugs Nikki loads up his metal lunch box with rocks and uses it like a weapon. The result is spectacular. From here Nikki goes to the city where he works in a record store and has run ins with Mick Mars. Although the two of them don’t see eye to eye on music the conversations they have are somewhat humorous.

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Lead singer Vince Neil has really interesting account. Before he joined the band there are strange stories of drug abuse. The book describes Neil having conversations with people in his hallucinations. He describes seeing people walk through walls and through the floor. Vince somehow manages to keep a job while doing all of this and living with his girlfriend. This is a very rough world. This is the Sunset Strip and it is a very fast drug and alcohol fueled life. As the band comes together Nikki and Tommy end up living a few blocks up from the night club scene. Their apartment becomes the center for wild parties and outrageous nights.

Reading about the Strip is eye opening and very scary. We get a sense of how rough life is over there when one of Vince Neil’s girlfriends pops up as a corpse with 60 stab wounds. Fights break out freely among the night air and smell of cheap booze and hairspray. This is a violent pre-MTV world of rock and roll. Its a side of life many people outside of Los Angeles ever get to see. This is a crazy world. And apparently its also a filthy one. The condition of Nikki Sixx’s apartment is like something out of a horror comic. There are cockroaches, and the smell of bodily secretions and rot gut alcohol throughout the place.

The MTV Era

The band is eventually picked up by Elektra Records by a young talent scout looking to make his way. Tom Zutaut has a real eye for something exciting even though there is really nothing rock and roll about him. He has the fashion sense of someone in grade school with his pretty striped shirts. Zutaut steps into the nightlife of the Crue which is a world of big hair, makeup and excessive everything. The band already has a following without any album support and are doing their own flyers and getting their own fan base. This is a rare phenom and not many bands can do it quite like that. The only other band that I can recall doing it like this would be KISS. The band name Motley Crue comes from mastermind sessions with all four band members and the prompting of Mick Mars. It was said that the distinctive umlauts come from the Lowenrbrau beer label and logo. This distinctive marking comes from German / Hungarian origin. It proves to be a definitive move that places the band in a whole other category. It demands to be noticed.

The band would delve into shock value by using pagan imagery. This would prove to be hazardous when Nikki Sixx experiences spiritual activity in his apartment. As witnessed by band scout Tom Zutaut who later claimed he saw flying knives upon entering Sixx’s apartment. The band had to change the name of their first album to cease this activity. Motley Crue was advised to knock it off. This was how the band entered into the mainstream and videos were made for them as they entered into the living rooms of millions of homes. Motley Crue was featured in the famous 1983 US Festival playing alongside of Van Halen, Scorpions and Judas Priest.

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The stories continue to get even more outrageous. Along with fame comes epic multi day parties. It is at one of these wild nights that took the life of Hanoi Rock’s drummer Razzle. Vince Neil was at the wheel and showing off his car while going on a alcohol run with the UK drummer. He slid into an oncoming lane and collided with another vehicle killing Razzle instantly. Trouble seemed to follow the band with no ceiling in sight. Guitarist Nikki Sixx drove his car into a tree and totaled it all while being naked at the time of the accident.

The stories of being on the road are almost too outrageous to comprehend. There is no safety net for anyone who comes along this ride. The on road shenanigans continue with rock and roll madman Ozzy Osbourne. There are tales of Oz on the tour bus entertaining a blow up sex doll. He seemed to be whacked out of his mind on drugs and in deep conversation. Later on stage he has a melt down while decked out in a woman’s dress of all things. Ozzy cries on stage and informs his audience, “I am not an animal”. From there he goes on to do insane things like snort ants up his nose. He informs his wife Sharon on a long distance phone call that he wants a divorce. She tells him, “Shut up Ozzy and go to bed.”.

The book is amazing in the sense that more people didn’t get killed. Tommy Lee is lucky he didn’t die a few times in this book. There is a story here where he falls out of his drum kit after it is suspended upside down over the audience. He is on safety chord and he free falls into the audience. Another tale talks about how he and bassist Nikki Sixx jump out of a moving train. These guys are lucky they didn’t break their ankles or arms when they landed as they had a show to do that night.

The story is complete once you read the book and watch the film. The book is very detailed and fills in the gaps. It often tells you more than what you need to know but a real fan will find it fascinating. The book follows two decades of reckless living. It is filled with women, groupies, marriages, divorces, deaths and near death experiences. There is trite two page summary about their debauchery ways. It is unclear if they really learned anything. They claim that they learned some things and appear to be unfazed at other lessons in life. This is a survival story and a success story, despite never winning a grammy, it is a great read.

And that’s the Dirt.



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