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Motley Crue is 36 Years Old!….Kickstart My Heart! PRINTED 5/3/15

In 1981, a hair-metal band -perhaps the king of all hair metal bands- formed. I was truly blown away, a year later (the time it took them to reach the east coast) when I cranked their cassette to eleven in my 1972 dark blue Cadillac DeVille. This car, often referred to as the ‘War Wagon’ was one of the best cars I ever owned. With giant bench seats, it could fit 6 or 7 people in comfortably, and my boyfriend- hooked up a sound system that shook the leaves off of every tree I flew past.  With it’s Pioneer Super-Tuner, Equalizer/Power Booster, and extra amp in the trunk, it slammed the sound barrier. It wasn’t just loud though, it was crystal clear, and it complimented my massive ‘rolling living room of a car’ by simultaneously pleasing my crew and agitating every human being over the age of thirty for miles around.

The car ran low and smooth, and was as insulated as a cop car (from what I’d been told- not that I’d know) The acoustics were amazing. I felt as cool as The Duke in ‘Escape From New York’ when I drove that car. Thunder on wheels, with an interior that always smelled faintly of leather, spilled beer and Aqua Net. It wasn’t cheap on gas, but after I implemented my ‘Ride For Five’ program, we sailed the region-and beyond- as far as L’Amour’s in Brooklyn and Queens to the south, and the Agora Ballroom and Hartford Coliseum to the North.  We went to Jersey (the Meadowlands) and the Forum in Philly. From one rock venue to another: Destination Anywhere. The tunes sounded so great in that car, that many was a time we’d wait out a song in the parking lot, taking long, luxurious tokes off a joint, or chugging down Michelobs.

So it’s really no surprise that one of the clearest memories I have of really fucking rocking, was to the debut album by Motley Crue, in 1982, in that car. Songs like ‘Live Wire’, ‘Piece Of Your Action’ and ‘Too Fast For Love’ spoke directly to the Heavy Metal faction of the day, a faction of which I was a card carrying member, possibly even on the Board of fucking Directors. ‘On With The Show’, ‘Merry Go Round’- this cassette kicked ass.

By 1983, I had started at Norwalk Community College (original location) with the hopes and dreams of being a rock writer.  I quickly joined the school newspaper (‘Soundings’) strolling in with no concept of seniority or waiting my turn, so anxious I was to begin writing articles about the music that I loved so much. In I would walk, my hair teased to within an inch of my life, heavy handed black eyeliner and various layers of spandex, scarves, glitter, fringe, spiky heels, mini skirts. Like a 70’s version of Steven Tyler’s mic stand, with a sprinkle of Stevie Nicks thrown in on the girly side. I looked like I was heading into the Cat Club in broad daylight. Did I look cheap, edgy, different, tacky? I hope so, because it’s what I was going for.  Some people didn’t like it. Those people would be none of my concern.

 Right away, I  announced to the newspaper staff that I was doing an article on Motley Crue’s new album (‘Shout At The Devil’) and then I just did it. (Who did I think I was? I wasn’t consciously rude, but I was very enthusiastic)  

I had blinders on at that age about a lot of things. For one, being a heavy metal fan in college was akin to smacking yourself in the forehead with a Budweiser, and standing on the receiving end of an ‘I’m With Stupid’ arrow. All the ‘cool’ kids were into punk, or anything subversive, deep and/or underground. But what seems somewhat ridiculous now  (the hard rock style of dress, hair and makeup) was pure bad-ass-to me– in 1982. And what 19 year-old doesn’t think the world is their oyster, or that they can achieve all kinds of crazy dreams and schemes? This was probably the only period in my life when I was absolutely certain about what I liked, who I loved, and who I was going to be. And I was right about at least half of it, strictly on accident.

Motley Crue (sorry- I can’t find the devilish amulets on my keyboard) epitomized the ‘metal scene’ at the time. Leather, chains, studs, snakeskin boots, tattoos, long lacquered hair, make-up (on guys) combined with high octane vocals, heavy guitar licks, massive drums and driving songs, that blended right in with the up-all-night, raucous club crowd we were  running with. We were ‘on the prowl’-drinking and carousing (Kamikaze shots, Alabama Slammers, and ‘fancy’ Goldschlager-which I hated, but dug the way the gold flecks caught the light), wearing the circles under our eyes from no sleep the night before like badges. Reconstructing the night was part of the fun (it took several people to complete the ‘puzzle’)-we had no idea that this lifestyle would catch up with more than a few of us, and kick ass and take names when it did. Still I say-for me: it was totally fucking worth it.

I loved everything about the Crue at the time. Thanks to a good friend- I even got a Press Packet and first pressing of their debut album, an album which was rare and controversial. Vince’s hair fiasco. Bomb threats in Canada. Having to sleep upside down like bats to get their hair right. (Rumors, my friend, fueling the publicity fire)

Inside the press kit, the boys were described: Nikki Sixx, age 22-bass guitar and vocals, ‘an exceptional song writer, who made a lasting impression in the Hollywood scene, with his group, London.’ Mick Mars, 25, lead guitarist and ‘Newfoundland’s greatest claim to fame.’ Tommy Lee, age 21, on drums is ‘high energy, personified’ and finally, Vince Neil, ‘fair-headed’, 21, lead vocalist and song writer  who ‘will have the girl’s hearts throbbing”

The page goes on to describe Motley Crue’s music as ‘a return to the hard driving sound of the Beatles, re-energized for the 80’s’. Whatever. Personally, I think that’s way off. I wasn’t a big Beatles fan, but I sure loved the Crue. (Is anyone allowed to say that they don’t like the freakin’ Beatles? The Beatles seem to get credited with everything in music. But to me: Yawn! I was a Stones girl. Through the past darkly was how I rolled)

I loved that Motley Crue culled a lot of their style from the Glam Bands of the 1970’s. Bands like ‘Sweet’ (Ballroom Blitz), Slade (Gudbuy T’Jane),Alice Cooper (Be My Lover, Under My Wheels) Mott The Hoople (Once Bitten, Twice Shy, All The Young Dudes) and The New York Dolls. I loved the way these bands dressed, overly dramatic, the platforms, glitter, long hair and eyeliner. There was nothing effeminate about it (and yet there was)-  it was pure animal magnetism.Like vintage (60’s) Mick Jagger, it was dark and sinewy and cool as fuck.

The Motley Crue concerts I attended were phenomenal. I’ve seen them in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Virginia Beach (Norfolk) throughout the 80’s. Sometimes several times during one tour. Lots of theatrics, fire, explosions, stunts, fun. The best time I can recall was when I was dating this really hot guy who looked like Jon Bon Jovi and we were just on fire for each other! We were both probably peaking at that very show-and would never, ever be that beautiful or cool again, but we made out during ‘Home Sweet Home’ below a sky full of lighters,biting each others lips playfully while the fifteen year olds behind us kept asking if we were ‘with the band’ or were we ‘somebody’. (“No, we’re nobody!’) 

Afterwards, we leaned on each other’s shoulders in the backseat of our friend’s car, holding hands in the stop and go traffic jam. I wore one of his finger-less gloves (he wore the other) and  played with his fingers, backlit by the lights from cars behind us, illuminating our perfectly rockin’ hair through the back window. We were ‘it’ for that moment and we knew it. I felt it. It was freakin’ breathtaking.

 Who would have predicted at the time that Motley Crue had staying power? Remember, 1981-1983 were great years for heavy metal, hair metal, glam metal, NWOBHM and there was something for everyone. Judas Priest (Screaming For Vengeance), Iron Maiden (Number Of The Beast) Ozzy Osbourne (Bark At The Moon), Def Leppard (Pyromania) and so on.

But the Crue was just getting started. Soon there would be all kinds of rockstar ups and downs- Vince’s wrecking his Pantera and killing the drummer of Hanoi Rocks,  Razzle (who eerily had these words tattooed on his arm, under a cross: ‘Too Old To Live, Too Young To Die’…though, honestly-didn’t  we all knew at least two people who had the same tat?) Tommy Lee began dating (and eventually married in 1986) Heather Locklear, Nikki Sixx’s struggle with heroin, Vince’s baby girl Skylar dying of cancer and all kinds of Scarface level cocaine issues. The wild appearances on Headbanger’s Ball, the fights with each other, and with different bands (Axl Rose in particular), alcoholism- all of which is covered in one of the best rock bios ever-‘The Dirt’ (Did anyone ever look at a burrito the same way again?)

In fact, until Guns’N’Roses showed up, The Crue was the gold standard for decadent music and good times. Who can forget them, driving down Hollywood Boulevard on sweet, gleaming Harleys, heading to the Strip Club? And leaving said strip club with strippers in a hot tub that was built into the back of a ridiculously gaudy Limo? Excessive, overdone, loud- it was like the fall of the Roman Empire, like the Road Warrior meets Gladiator…you laugh, sure, but you really do wish you were there! I was lucky enough to catch a ride on the comet called ‘Hair Metal’ in the 80s, and sometimes I  wish I could time travel for a weekend  just to feel it all again. It was tacky, brazen and always exciting!

And so it was a whole scene, part soap-opera, part heavy, rockin’ music, part circus, part tragedy…..Do I look at these guys now and think they are kind of – dicks? Reading old interviews in magazines from the attic…they’re like wasted little Lord of the Flies, Music Industry Edition and the way they treat women….holy hell!  But back when it all began in 1982, it was just us, the hard-rock music lovers, who saw something in Motley Crue, and more importantly heard something in them. Maybe what they had to say wasn’t revolutionary, or important to society- but it was to us!  And I still think Nikki Sixx was decent when it came to lyric writing. 

Deep down, we all knew the party couldn’t go on forever, but we also knew this would be the last time in our lives we’d have as much leeway, the last time we’d get away with crazy shit and laugh about it. Take chances, move on a dime, have smoking hot sex, party all night, hop planes, do coke-on the planes! with the stewardesses! just live it up before life got too serious. The rich kids in the Ivy League colleges were doing the same things as the middle class kids, only they hid it better. They stayed within the lines (ahem!) where we just scribbled with abandon, all over the page.

Somehow, you just know where your people are, and you run with them. Motley Crue was part of our ‘pack’ and we were part of theirs, and they spoke to us and for us: a newly formed, tight knit community of hard rockers who partied till the morning light, for as long as we could, in a ‘we’re young, wild and free’ fast-lane kind of life, in an 80’s kinda world. We were all so lucky to have been there, to witness. And for some, maybe we were lucky to have made it out. Not everyone did. But the thing is: MOST of us did. Those were the days my friend, or more aptly: the nights.The time of our lives.

EPILOGUE:

I know that Motley Crue- and a slew of other 80’s-and even 70’s bands are still ‘together’ and on the road. I don’t go to see them, partly because my memories are so awesome of seeing the bands in their early days. I don’t want to risk seeing my bands falter, or parody themselves. I know I’m just as old as they are, and that’s fine. But hearing a lead singer talk about getting laid and shouting ‘Hey, Fuckers! Are you ready to get wasted tonight?!’ is one thing when we’re 25, and quite another at 50. It didn’t get sad then, and I don’t want it getting sad now. That being said- if you didn’t live in the 80’s, and just want a taste of what it used to be, have at it. It’s way better than nothing.

*2016: Motley Crue is done with their final tour and 35th year of being a band. Thanks for the memories! Be on your way-ay-ay, we set you free- go home sweet home!

 

  1. In no particular order, and not even *true* hair bands, I’m going to have to go withPoison (*swoon*) Van Halen (the keys on Jump? orasgmic!!!) Crue (and still rocking JUST as hard, and maybe even harder? Stellar!) GNR (who didn’t want that wedding dress!) Whitesnake (you know I still want to be Tawny on the hood of that car!)

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