Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx Looks Back on the Long, Dark Road to His Band's Final Show
More coconut water, less of practically everything else.
Mötley Crüe will play the final power chord of their lengthy 34-year career at L.A.'s Staples Center this New Year's Eve, as is spelled out in a legally binding cessation agreement inked nearly two years ago. Though sad for longtime fans, the Crüe's well-orchestrated end should net the band a rather hefty payout for its final 164-date trek with gross ticket revenues estimated to have generated roughly $100 million for a run that began back in July of 2014.
The tour coincided with a country tribute album on Big Machine Records, a new single "All Bad Things," massive merchandising (their 3-night Staples Center stand included a pop-up Crüe store) and even a Groupon deal. Add in the band's long retail success -- which claimed 80 million albums sold globally including 14 albums that charted on the Billboard 200, among them No. 1 1989 album Dr. Feelgood , and 14 entries on the Billboard Hot 100--and it's clear the band's leaving cash on the table.
"I've never been about the money, other than if I can make enough money to have creative freedom," says Sixx, now 57. "I was smart early on and invested my money wisely and had good advisors and made some right decisions. I have a lot of money put away for a rainy day, so money's not really something I think about walking away from all this."
Sixx's thrifty ways and the band's orderly exit may surprise many considering the Crüe's run as pin-up models for '80s hair metal's mindless excess and puerility. It's probably more shocking that Sixx, Tommy Lee, Vince Neil and Mick Mars managed to even survive their career. The band's glammed-out, cock-rocking, "best-party-ever!" ethos is well-documented in the band's 2001 tell-all The Dirt, which oozes with lurid, hyperbolic (sometimes stomach-turning) tales, including juvenile rock star transgressions (copulating with egg burritos, putting a phone inside a groupie and calling her mother), a near-death heroin overdose, accusations of rape and battery, Vince Neil's '84 conviction for DUI and vehicular manslaughter.
Sixx, however, seems contrite and self-aware when discussing his past. "I was in turmoil for so long, to be honest with you, that I just thought that was life," he says. "I was war-mongering, I was angry, I was like, 'fuck you." As the years have kind of chipped away at that, I realized that I was very well served by that, but it was not necessarily the best life to be lived. Becoming a father started to soften my heart, to be more open to who I was in the past and writing books and doing photography -- it's just been this long, long life lesson. I don't think you ever quit learning, but I look back on it myself and it was a really rough patch for a long time. Heroin made sense to me at the time because | was in a lot of pain, I was in a lot of pain."
Now 14-years sober, Sixx's tour rider differs markedly from his past days of swigging Jack and speedball,s as he reaches into the cooler sitting at his feet before the band's mid-December gig at Portland, Oregon's Moda Center. "Sad to say I have coconut water, Monster energy drink, Diet Coke, Gatorade and some pretzels [laughs] -- it's kind of boiled down to the most boring tour rider on earth. What's funny is I have more weights in my room than I have drinks. I have weights, workout bands, stuff to do sit-ups and push-ups with -- I'm more into health and fitness then I am into whatever the past was about."
The Crüe, too, has come a long way since that first show at Los Angeles' Starwood in 1991, opening for the more established Y&T. The band ended up in a brawl after someone spat at Neil. "I dove in the audience and Tommy jumped off the drums," Sixx recalls, "that was just the band's temperament then, there was no marketing plan, it was just pure heart."
As the Crüe closes in on its final tour date, Sixx is getting more sentimental. In a recent Facebook post he noted that, "Everyday I see the guys in the band I feel so grateful WE came, WE saw and WE kicked it's fucking ass together" and that "I have Motley Crue tattoo on my arm but more importantly it's tattooed on my heart."
"I don't know how we're gonna feel," says Sixx when asked about the final performance. "We've been kind of dodging that question for two years and now there's no getting out of it. We're pretty rough-and-tumble dudes, but even the toughest guy going in for his last fight is going to feel a pang in his heart, and I'm guaranteeing that something's gonna happen up there that I don't know about and I probably don't want to think about until it happens. I just hope I don't cry during 'Shout at the Devil.' "