38 Years Ago: Nikki Sixx Started Mötley Crüe

January 17, 2019

On January 17th, 1981, little did Nikki Sixx know that the band he would start that day would echo in the halls of rock n' roll for eternity known as the world's most notorious rock band, aka Motley Crüe. With a rough emotional childhood on his shoulders, Nikki would use that turmoil and turn it against the world as he joined forces with Vince NeilTommy Lee and Mick Mars.

When Motley Crüe became the embodiment of the "sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll" lifestyle, it wasn't to simply have that title above their heads. Sixx was already waist-deep in substance abuse while working dead-end job after dead-end job and playing with musicians, trying to find his perfect sound.

By the time he left the band London at 22-years-old, which would later recruit Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. and Izzy Stradlin of Guns N' Roses before they themselves hit it big, Sixx set his sights on starting a band of his own. At this time he met an 18-year-old drummer named Tommy Lee and temporary guitarist Greg Leon.

Leon's time with the band came to a very short end, leaving Sixx and Lee searching the want ads in The Recycler where they found one post which read "loud, rude, aggressive guitar player available." From that point, Mick Mars was invited for an audition, which he consecutively passed.

Interestingly enough, both Mars and Sixx had encountered each other in the past before the audition without even knowing it. Mars used to play guitar for a band known as White Horse. When the venue that he was playing at sold $2 tequila shots, Mars decided to visit a liquor store. That very liquor store had a younger Nikki Sixx working behind the counter. Sixx asked what bands Mars listened to, to which Mars proceeded to list off his favorite artists. But by the time he mentioned KISS, Sixx stopped listening because he wasn't exactly a strong fan of the band. Mars decided to invite Sixx to see his band perform anyways after his shift was over.

Once Sixx left work, he proceeded to get drunk and walked in on Mars' guitar solo while using a microphone as a guitar slide. The two got drunk together and Mars gave Sixx his phone number.

Now that they've got the instrumental section nailed down, all that was left was to find themselves a lead singer. They first invited a singer named O'Dean to record a demo with them, but was cut from the band when they auditioned a super-blonde singer Lee knew from high school. A singer named Vince Neil.

Neil brought a lot to the band: killer pipes, strong stage presence, and lots of women to their shows. At first Neil was hesitant about joining, but was later convinced by a persistent Tommy Lee to come in for an audition. After telling Sixx that his former band "screwed him over," Neil finally agreed to audition. When Neil came in to sing on April 1st, 1981, he arrived with a girl the band dubbed "Lovey" acting as a second opinion to see if Sixx and company would be a good fit for him. After his audition, Lovey didn't feel like they would make a good fit, but Neil disagreed and officially joined the unnamed band. Minutes into Neil's rehearsal, SIxx began re-writing the lyrics to "Live Wire" to suit Neil's voice. "Live Wire" would end up as the opening track to their debut album Too Fast For Love.

They would later call themselves Motley Crüe after Mars doodled "Motley Cru" on a piece of paper from his days in White Horse when one of his former bandmates called themselves "a motley looking crew." 

After over three decades together, selling over 100 million records worldwide, and five platinum albums, the rest is history.