With the possible exception of the gorgeously mulleted burnouts from Heavy Metal Parking Lot, who would’ve thought we’d be sorry to see Mötley Crüe shuffle off into the abyss?
The self-anointed world’s most notorious rock band is, as every lifelong skid knows, currently on the road for its final tour. In an undeniably considerate move, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Mick Mars took elaborate steps to make sure their fans understand that this is officially the end. Instead of coming up with a fanciful name for their swan-song swing—Closing the Casket, Storing the Spandex, Shelving the Hairspray, Flushing a Waterlogged Turd—the band kept things easy to understand for its fans. Mötley Crüe’s final tour is simply called Mötley Crüe’s Final Tour.
Even if you failed every high-school class you ever took—including Power Mechanics, Ashtray Building, and Advanced Bong Construction—you can’t miss the message that the long-running metal quartet ain’t coming back. In the same way that the Who and the Rolling Stones never returned to action after their much-celebrated farewell jaunts of 1982. And the way the Sex Pistols never re-formed after disbanding in 1979. And the way that Nine Inch Nails, the Eagles, Elton John, Cher, Cream, and countless others announced that they were officially calling it a day and then stubbornly refused to play live again.
Evidently having a keen interest in the law (numerous drug convictions, homicide charges, and spousal-abuse allegations will do that for you), the Crüe’s four principals decided to make their retirement legally binding. To drive home the fact that this is the final tour, the band’s members have all signed a legal agreement stating that they will never perform together after 2015—much in the way that KISS promised to fold its circus tent after giving fans one final fleecing with its 2000 farewell tour.
What’s crazy about Mötley Crüe is there was a time when no one would have given a shit about them unplugging the Marshalls and staggering off into the sunset with their lipstick and Aqua Net cans. And no, we’re not talking about the immortal John Corabi glory years.
In some ways, Lee, Sixx, Mars, and Neil are living proof that if you stick around long enough, people will forget that they used to hate you. And hands up if you once saw Mötley Crüe as a bunch of greasepainted hair-metal clowns so inept that they somehow managed to stink up Brownsville Station’s immortal “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”.
The band learned the hard way that there was a price to pay for spending the better part of its first decade flouncing around like full-blown Whalley drag queens. Not even 1989’s undeniably epic “Kickstart My Heart” was enough to save the group once grunge hit like a pop-culture meteor, wiping out half the planet’s hair-metal hordes. By 1991, Mötley Crüe was officially a sad joke. And not just because four of its four members were entirely unable to fathom that Crüe is actually spelled Crew, and that umlauts are utterly useless unless you happen to live in Germany.
Thank The Dirt for changing all of that. Subtitled Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, Mötley Crüe’s 2001 autobiography proved a career turning point, returning the band to the stadium status it enjoyed for much of the ’80s. What The Dirt did was somehow make the metal warriors seem not only human but lovable. Or, perhaps more accurately, as lovable as you can be for tag-teaming unsuspecting groupies in grimy closets, forcing your girlfriend to blow all of your buddies in a hot tub, terrorizing Japan like some sort of heavy-metal Godzilla, drinking and driving and killing your friends, keeping heroin producers working at inhuman production levels, and, well, you get the idea.
There was so much appalling dirt that it was suddenly hard not to love Mötley Crüe, despite the band’s members being unrepentant fucking reprobates. In the post–Kurt Cobain world, 99 out of 100 successful musicians are, in public at least, sad little sensitive Pisces men. Try as you might, it’s hard to imagine Chris Martin of Coldplay, Chad Kroeger, or the members of Mumford & Sons spending all night earning their red wings on a Jack-and-smack bender, and then staggering up the Sunset Strip in the morning looking like something Dee Snider’s cat dragged in.
Lee, Neil, Sixx, and Mars not only ripped it up, they ripped it up good, showing a rare determination to act like old-fashioned, balls-to-the-wall rock stars. They are going to be missed. And even more so than in 2005, when you might remember Mötley Crüe landing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to kick off a special event: the band’s much-ballyhooed final tour.