Motley Crue bassist and co-founder Nikki Sixx told a journalist in 1983, "We’re the loudest and grossest band in the history of rock and roll," That’s a big claim, but in the mid-1980s, this Hollywood-based band, which also included Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee, nearly lived up to it. Mixing glam rock theatrics with punk energy, metal guitar riffs and pop hooks, Motley Crue ruled the Sunset Strip and beyond with its wisecracking take on rock decadence.
Few bands have so effectively fulfilled hard rock’s mandate to live fast or die trying: Sixx nearly expired from a heroin overdose in 1987; singer Neil survived a deadly crash but was indicted for vehicular manslaughter in 1984; and drummer Lee has become one of rock’s most famous Lotharios, involved in messy romances with many starlets including ex-wives Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. (Guitarist Mars is a relatively clean-living gent.) “The Dirt,” the bestselling band autobiography written with journalist Neil Strauss, is the classic chronicle of heavy metal mayhem.
But Motley Crue is very disciplined about one thing: its sound. Hits such as “Kickstart My Heart” and “Girls Girls Girls” are fast, tight classics of three-chord rock, and established the formula that’s kept this bunch of self-proclaimed ruffians popular long into a more sober middle age.