Thanks to a new documentary on Netflix, metal band Mötley Crüe has enjoyed a resurgence this month, with the four founding members once again generating some buzz in the press, almost 40 years after they first hit the scene.
In the four decades since their founding, Mötley Crüe has become one of the most notorious bands in the world, as prolific for their arena-churning anthems as they are for their off-stage escapades. While Vince Neil, Tommy Lee, Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx recently debuted a new single to coincide with the release of their biopic, the members have said there are no plans to reunite or put out a full album just yet.
While fans wait for new music, here are four books to read, that tell the story of how a band of misfits from Los Angeles rose to fame, rocked the industry and clawed their way to the top.
1. The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band
The inspiration for the new biopic was this book, released in 2002 and penned by the four members of the band themselves (with an assist from journalist Neil Strauss). Released in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of the group’s founding, The Dirt gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of the band, their backstage antics, rocky romances, and ultimately, the vices that lead to the group’s undoing and subsequent hiatus.
The book became an immediate hit when it was released, charting on the New York Times Best Sellers list for multiple weeks, thanks to its sordid — and occasionally graphic — tales of life on the road, which fans and readers lapped up. That part from the Netflix film about Ozzy Osbourne snorting ants out of a sidewalk crack? It was first detailed in this book, which also addresses the band’s scuffles with everyone from Axl Rose to Pamela Anderson. Purchase: $13.52 on Amazon.com.
2. The Heroin Diaries, Ten Year Anniversary Edition: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star
Nikki Sixx’s harrowing memoir about fame and addiction was re-issued in 2017, 10 years after the Mötley Crüe bassist first released his story publicly. Written by Sixx (with author Ian Griffins), the memoir shines a spotlight on Sixx’s darkest days, as he struggled with drug addiction and anger issues that threatened to tear apart his relationship with the band — and his friends and family. Though he was experiencing some of his greatest successes career-wise, Sixx writes that his personal life was in shambles, and the personal photos and journal entries he shares in the book reveal a musician who would often spend days in a coke and heroin-fueled daze (Sixx also released a book of personal photography, This Is Gonna Hurt, in 2013).
The Ten Year Anniversary Edition of The Heroin Diaries features new content and entries from Sixx, who says he was inspired to share his story with a new generation of fans and readers, especially in light of the growing opioid crisis in the country. Though it offers a no-holds-barred account of drug dependency and a frightening descent into paranoia, Sixx says the important part is that he sought help and eventually overcame his demons. His subsequent recovery and transition into an advocate for rehab and treatment is what he wants the book to impart on others. Purchase: $16.36 on Amazon.com.
Also the name of his second solo album, Tommyland, was Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s controversial autobiography, released in 2009 and written with an assist from former Rolling Stone writer, Anthony Bozza.
The confessional-style book chronicles Lee’s rise to fame, from joining Mötley Crüe at 17, to touring the world with the band, to his subsequent marriages — and divorces — from Hollywood bombshells, Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson. Though it’s filled with tabloid-worthy stories, the book also reveals Lee as a father, to two sons with Anderson, and shares the lessons he’s learned over the years from his troubles with the law and his rocky relationships in the music industry.
“Those with weak stomachs, strict morals, or chronic indigestion should put the book down,” he writes in an excerpt. “For the rest of you, there’s one truth that’s real across the board: What you send out is what you get back. Send out the good, people, and it will come back to you.” Purchase: $6.40 on Amazon.com.
4. Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock’s Most Notorious Frontmen
Like the other books on this list, Vince Neil’s memoir is a story of rage and redemption. While Neil contributed to The Dirt, he says he felt confined by the interview process for the book, and, as a result, did not share as much with the publishers as the other members did. Years later, the singer released Tattoos & Tequila as a companion book to a solo album of the same name. Each song on the album corresponds with a chapter in the book, and both projects share the same cover.
Neil addresses some painful moments in the memoir, including being behind the wheel of a fatal car crash in 1984 that claimed the life of a friend and critically injured two others. Neil would be charged with vehicular manslaughter, and sentenced to 30 days in jail and five years probation. The singer and reality TV star (Neil has appeared on The Surreal Life and Celebrity Apprentice, among other reality shows) — also details his three plastic surgeries, his romances over the years and the lessons he’s learned from trying to make it in other businesses aside from music.
“These days,” he writes, “I’ve got businesses to run. I like the action. Something to get your heart pumping. Healthier than a syringe full of cocaine powder like I was doing back in ’81 with my girlfriend Lovey, that’s for sure… But you got to admit…those days are a lot more fun to talk about.” Purchase: $10.74 on Amazon.com.
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