Neil Wharton, the twenty-six-year-old son of Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil, is now experiencing the rock lifestyle firsthand — fronting his own Crue tribute band, Rock ‘n’ Roll Junkies. And it’s for a good cause.
Wharton assembled the band to play Cruefests, shows in Los Angeles and Cleveland featuring Crue impersonators and benefiting the Skylar Neil Memorial Foundation. The foundation was established by Vince Neil in memory of his daughter Skylar, who died of cancer in 1995 at the age of four, and has raised nearly $1 million for research into pediatric cancer, leukemia and AIDS. The Junkies — Wharton, guitarist Steven Talbott, bassist Matty Vincent and drummer Patrick Labuda — are set to play the ‘fests, as well as a full schedule of shows this summer.
Unlike tribute bands that dress the part, Wharton’s outfit lets the music do the talking. “We play with the raw energy that Crue had in their early days,” he says.
When asked what from his dad’s repertoire he likes to perform, Wharton points to “Take Me to the Top,” “Primal Scream” and “Public Enemy #1.” “But the crowd fave is ‘Ten Seconds to Love,'” he says. “If you ever want to get a girl in the mood, play that [laughs].”
With the Crue currently playing to sold-out arenas on their reunion tour, has there been talk of Wharton’s band opening? “I don’t think that would be a good idea,” he says. “I mean, we’d play the parking lot as a warm-up — but let the fans see the real thing inside, with some killer openers.”
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The fifth-annual Hollywood Cruefest takes place where the Crue got their start, Los Angeles’ Whisky a Go-Go, on July 30th.