The first three episodes of Pam & Tommy are available now on Hulu, and so far viewers have seen Tommy Lee do quite a few things. They’ve seen him lick Pamela Anderson’s face seconds after meeting her at a club, follow her down to Cancun for a Baywatch promotional event, and marry her just days later. They’ve also seen him pull a gun on a contractor (played by Seth Rogen) who winds up stealing a homemade sex tape from his house. And in one of the more memorable moments, they’ve even seen him have a conversation with his own penis.
One thing they haven’t seen him do is play with Mötley Crüe or really acknowledge his band besides a brief scene where we see him watch a bit of their VH1 Behind the Music special three years before the thing was made. That’s because this miniseries is focused on his relationship with Pamela Anderson and the fallout from their sex tape, but it’s also because these early episodes take place in 1995 and the band was in a very awkward limbo that year. They parted ways with original frontman Vince Neil a couple years prior and replaced him with John Corabi, but their 1994 self-titled album was a commercial dud and the tour played to oceans of empty seats.
The only show they played in 1995 took place on Jan. 30 at Club Shelter in Pasadena, California. It was a benefit gig for guitar tech Sammy Sanchez after he lost his daughter in a tragic accident. Billy Idol, Steve Stevens, Matt Sorum, and Duff McKagan opened up with a short set of covers, and the Crüe followed with “Shout at the Devil,” “Hammered,” “Live Wire,” “Home Sweet Home,” and “Primal Scream.” House of Pain’s Danny Boy sings backup on “Live Wire,” though someone swiped his wallet when he dove into the audience. You can hear an audience recording of Crüe’s entire set right here.
Just weeks later, Lee met Anderson and their entire crazy saga began. Corabi was still the frontman of the band at this time, but they’d lost confidence in him following the disaster of the previous year. In the official Mötley Crüe memoir The Dirt, Corabi says that they told him to somehow sound like David Bowie, Sisters of Mercy, Cheap Trick, Nine Inch Nails, and Oasis all at the same time while working on a new song. “Dude, what the fuck do you do when you go home?” he remembers Tommy Lee saying to him. “You suck.”
“I was devastated,” he said. “Two years ago, if I had farted these guys thought it was the greatest sound they had ever heard. Now, I was the shittiest singer in the world in their eyes. It felt like a relationship in which your girlfriend knows she wants her freedom, but she doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. So instead, she just gets moody, critical, and mean, hoping to drive you away.”
In the Netflix adaptation of The Dirt, Corabi is reduced to a non-speaking extra who gets about three seconds of camera time. Let’s hope he at least gets the chance to use his voice in a future episode of Pam & Tommy. He was given a near-impossible job when tasked with fronting Mötley Crüe at the peak of the Nineties hair-metal backlash. As you can hear from this audience 1995 tape, he did as good a job as anyone could have reasonably expected. But fast forward to the 22:20 mark. He’d just nailed the final notes of “Home Sweet Home,” and someone very near the recorder clearly says, “I want Vince.”
That man spoke for Crüe fans everywhere, and he got his wish in 1997 when they finally brought him back into the fold. This 1995 Club Shelter show was Corabi’s last public performance with the band.