Mötley Crüe is an American hard rock band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1981. The band was founded by bass guitarist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, who were later joined by lead guitarist Mick Mars and lead singer Vince Neil. Mötley Crüe has sold more than 80 million album copies worldwide, with 25 million in the U.S.
The band members have often been noted for their hard-living lifestyles, and the persona they maintained. All members have had numerous brushes with the law, spent time in jail, suffered from alcoholism, long addictions to drugs, had countless escapades with women, and are heavily tattooed. Their ninth studio album, Saints of Los Angeles, was released on June 24, 2008, while a film adaptation of their best-selling autobiography, The Dirt, is due to be released in 2011.
Mötley Crüe was formed on January 17, 1981 when bass guitarist Nikki Sixx left the band London and began rehearsing with drummer Tommy Lee and vocalist/guitarist Greg Leon. Lee had worked previously with Leon in a band called Suite 19 and the trio practiced together for some time with Leon eventually deciding not to continue. Nikki and Tommy then began a search for new members. Sixx and Lee soon met guitarist Bob “Mick Mars” Deal. Mars was quickly auditioned and subsequently hired by Sixx and Lee. Although a lead vocalist named O’Dean was auditioned, Lee had known Vince Neil from their high school days at Royal Oak High School in Covina, California and the two had performed in different bands on the garage band circuit. On seeing him perform with the band Rock Candy at the Starwood in Hollywood, California, Mars suggested they have Neil join the band. At first Neil refused the offer, but as the other members of Rock Candy became involved in outside projects, Neil grew anxious to try something else. When Lee made one final appeal to audition, Neil accepted and was hired. The newly formed band did not yet have a name. While trying to find a suitable name, Mars remembered an incident which occurred when he was playing with a band called White Horse, when one of the other band members called the group “a motley looking crew.” He had remembered the phrase and later copied it down as Mottley Cru-. After modifying the spelling slightly, “Mötley Crüe” was eventually selected as the band’s name, with the stylistic decision suggested by Neil to add the two sets of metal umlauts supposedly inspired by the German beer Löwenbräu, which the members were drinking at the time.
The band soon met their first manager, Allan Coffman, “the thirty-eight-year-old brother-in-law of Mick?s driver friend Stick”. The band’s first release was the single “Stick to Your Guns/Toast of the Town”, which was released on their own record label, Leathür Records, which had a pressing & distribution deal with Greenworld Distribution in Torrance, California. In November 1981, their debut album Too Fast for Love was self-produced and released on Leathür, selling 20,000 copies. Coffman’s assistant Eric Greif set up a tour of Canada, while Coffman and Greif used Mötley Crüe’s success in the Los Angeles club scene to negotiate with several record labels, eventually signing a recording contract with Elektra Records in late spring 1982. At Elektra’s insistence, the debut album was then re-mixed by producer Roy Thomas Baker and re-released on August 20, 1982, two months after its Canadian Warner Music Group release using the original Leathür mixes, to coincide with the tour.