The Dirt: the confessions of Mötley Crüe

They were one of the biggest bands of the 1980s, shifting millions of records with their unique and terrible brand of glam metal. But Mötley Crüe will be remembered more for their exploits off stage. In these extracts from the group's candid memoir, the hell-raisers recall the most extreme tour of their drug, drink and sex-fuelled lives

Tommy Lee, drummer

The 1987 Girls, Girls, Girls tour was the raddest time I ever had in my life, or at least I think it was, because nothing stands out but a blur of insanity. We had a huge-ass jet, we had endless cash, and we could do whatever we wanted. We partied like clockwork, bro. For a while, we even had this drug kingpin following the tour bus in an exotic Excalibur with a licence plate that said: DEALER. Whenever we got out of the bus, he would suddenly appear with his diamond-packed Rolex, gold chains and a token couple of bitches on each arm, throwing bundles of coke to everyone in the band and crew. He was the pimpest drug dealer ever and he always had his party hat on. But the record company flipped out and told us he had to go because he was a magnet for cops and trouble. We were sorry to see him leave, but dealers and pimps and partied-out freaks were a dime a dozen on that tour.

Every day was a battle between a band bent on destruction and a record company determined to keep us in check. And we may have won the battle, but we lost the war. It was the last tour of its kind for us. And, to paraphrase [US comic] Stephen Wright, it didn't go something like this. It went exactly like this...

5pm-6.30pm: Phone rings. Wake up. Remember nothing. Answer phone. Struggle through interview with radio disc jockey or newspaper reporter. If alone in bed, fine. If not alone in bed, that's fine too. If necessary to puke during interview, cover receiver with hand and puke on floor. If there are people passed out on floor, try not to get any on them. If interview is longer than 15 minutes, open door for room service. Eat unless too sick to eat. Throw up again. Finish interview.

6.30pm-6.45pm: Baggage call. Knock on door. Bellboy retrieves suitcases, which have not been opened since bellboy last dropped them off in room. Put on clothes from previous night. Spend 10 minutes searching for sunglasses.

6.45pm-7pm: Wander out of room. Find lobby. See band. Say: "Hey, dude, how about last night?" "That was fucking fun." "Yeah." Find van or limo transportation to the gig.

7pm-8pm: Arrive at venue. Sound check. Nurse hangover backstage. Submit dinner order. Get massage to remove some toxins from system. Drink. Listen to music. Hang out. Come back to life. Meet record and radio creeps. Listen to them ask: "Don't you remember pissing on that cop car?" Answer honestly: "Um, no."

8pm-9.15pm: Drink or snort cocaine with opening act when they come offstage.

9.15pm-9.20pm: Production manager gives five-minute call. Lift weights backstage to get pumped up and sweat out toxins. Production manager yells: "Showtime!"

9.20pm-10pm: Try to get into the groove onstage. Play All in the Name Of..., Live Wire and Dancing on Glass.

10pm-11pm: Blood begins to flow. Adrenalin kicks in. Play Looks That Kill, Ten Seconds to Love, Red Hot, Home Sweet Home and Wild Side, and play them well. Split fifth of whiskey with Nikki during bass and drum solo. Backstage, Vince washes sleeping pill down with beer; Mick drinks glass of straight vodka and smiles because he thinks he has the rest of the band fooled into believing it's plain water.

11pm-11.15pm: Finish show with Helter Skelter and Girls, Girls, Girls. Walk offstage hyperventilating. Grab oxygen mask. Stare at untouched dinner.

11.15pm-11.45pm: Wait for someone to ask: "Anybody got a line?" Cut up drugs. Snort drugs. Change from sweaty stage leathers back into sweaty street leathers. Find hospitality room. Meet fans. Watch rest of band hunt for human entertainment. Consider partaking. Go to production office. Call Heather [Locklear, Lee's girlfriend at the time].

11.45pm-midnight: Ask management for permission to stay in city. Beg management for permission to stay in city. Accuse them of purposely making band travel to next town during the only hours when bars and strip clubs are open. Attempt to punch them when they confirm accusation. Get in van or limo for airport.

Midnight-3am: Arrive at airport. Wait for Vince to finish with girl in airport bathroom. Meet drug dealers on tarmac. Board Gulfstream plane with black leather interior. Find designated seat. Make sure stewardess has laid out correct drugs and drink on each meal tray. For Nikki, white wine and zombie dust - a mix of Halcion, a nervous system sedative, and cocaine, a nervous system stimulant which, when consumed, keeps body awake but shuts brain off. For Vince, sleeping pill. For Mick, vodka. For me, cocktail and zombie dust.

3am-4am: Arrive in new city. If city laws allow establishments to serve alcohol until 4am, ask local record company representative distance to nearest strip club. Groan when he says: "Forty-five minutes." Ask if record company planned it that way. Threaten violence when he confirms accusation. Tell limo driver to take band there anyway.

4am-9am: Arrive at the hotel. Look for drugs and alcohol in lobby. If none, tell road manager to bring drugs and alcohol to room. Drink. Do drugs. Go on rampage in room, on roof, or in parking lot. Get caught. Get locked in room or handcuffed to bed by road manager. Yell. Scream. Threaten jobs. Shoot up heroin alone.

9am-5pm: Phone rings. Wake up. Remember nothing. Repeat cycle.

Mick Mars, guitarist

When we were recording Girls, Tom Zutaut [Elektra records A&R man] would stop by the studio and see me drunk, slouched over, and knocked out on painkillers. When he first signed us, he used to call me the purple people eater because he said I had a purple aura. But now he looked at me distraught: "Your purple people eater is fading," he said sadly. "It's fading into this weird alcoholic thing."

"No, it's not," I would mumble back. But it was. When I was recording the staccato guitar line at the end of Girls, Girls, Girls, I fell out of the chair because I was so drunk (though we used the take anyway because we liked how it sounded and I was in too much pain to play any more).

Before I went on stage, I'd line up six shots of vodka next to an open can of Coke, and then down them all. During the show, I'd have a glass of pure vodka on the side, which the other guys thought was water. Afterwards, I'd bring out a jar of Mars-ade - a mix of tequila, orange juice and grenadine - and suck that down.

Alcohol would bring out sides of my personality that I never even knew existed. But I never really got into the decadence or the hard drugs like the rest of the band did. When cocaine became a problem, I stopped. Not like Nikki. I was mad as hell when I first saw him doing heroin. But how can you save someone like that from himself?

Doc McGhee, manager

Nikki, the king of the losers, had begun to unravel on the Girls tour. Neither Doug nor I wanted to be around him so we drew straws to see who would accompany the band to Japan. I drew the short one: Mr Udo, the promoter there, is one of my best friends. Every time he takes a band to Japan, he puts his reputation on the line for them. And it was no different for Mötley Crüe. Except that Mötley Crüe are savages with cash who care nothing about nobody, even each other.

The first thing that happened when we arrived in Japan was that Tommy got caught with pot in his drum kit. Mr Udo bailed us out of that and, a few days later, we were all leaving Osaka on the bullet train after a show. These clowns were in full costume, with make-up running down their faces and chains and tattoos everywhere. Nikki and Tommy went completely out of control. If you flew above the train in a helicopter, you would have seen all these Japanese people scurrying like cockroaches out of the car we were in. If you zoomed in, you would have seen Nikki throwing a bottle of Jack Daniel's and hitting a Japanese businessman on the back of the skull. Lower the microphone and you would have heard the guy screaming as the blood pumped out of his head. It was just brutal.

When we pulled into the Tokyo station, there were hundreds of policemen running alongside the car. "Hey Nikki," I said. "Your fan club's here." And he was so wacked out that he didn't realise they'd sent the riot squad after him. He thought it was an adoring Japanese public.

Finally, despite Nikki smarting off the whole time, he was released at five in the morning. I stayed in the station taking care of paperwork all day and, when I finally returned to my hotel room that night, ready to collapse, who should come banging on the door but Vince? He was smashed and trying to screw the girlfriend of some Yakuza gangster. But at the same time his brain-dead LA girlfriend had just arrived in Japan and was in his room. So he's pissed off because he doesn't want to deal with the latest mess his dick has gotten him into.

"Fire the travel agent," he slobbers. "What?" "Fire the fucking travel agent."

I had taken all I could that day. I smashed him in the face, closed the door and sank into a peaceful sleep. That's how it was with those guys. I called it full-contact management.

When, a few days later, Nikki said he was travelling to Hong Kong, Thailand and Malaysia with nothing but a pack of rubbers, I considered further violence. I knew I'd have to babysit, because if I didn't he'd wind up dead or lost or sold into white slavery. Fortunately he didn't make it any further than Hong Kong, where he ordered something like 150 prostitutes in two days. I could have killed him when he sent a dozen prostitutes to my door while I was on the phone with my family.

Of course, Nikki wasn't sexually active then. He probably just talked and talked and talked to the poor hookers until they came to the conclusion that no amount of money was worth this torture. He was a stone cold junkie, and he was pretty bad off. When we returned to California in December I started getting calls in the middle of the night from the security company that protected his house because they'd answer alarms only to find him slithering around his yard with a shotgun.

A few days before Christmas, I went to dinner with Bob Krasnow of Elektra. "So," he said, "how are the guys doing?" "They'll be OK," I said, "if they can stay alive."

Then, just after dinner, Doug called. Nikki had overdosed in some hotel room and they thought he was dead.

Nikki Sixx, bass guitar

After six months of touring Girls, my existence had disintegrated to the point where every waking moment was about drugs: I went onstage to get drugs, I came offstage to find more drugs, I used my per diem to buy drugs, and I travelled to each city only to see if anyone had new drugs. Heroin, coke, freebase, jack, zombie dust: they had all been controlling my life for a year straight. And, like a bad relationship, the longer they stayed in my life, the more miserable my life became.

In Hong Kong, I left the hotel by myself and went to a strip club that the desk clerk at the hotel told me was really a whorehouse. Inside, there were four different rooms: one had a Chinese band playing Top 40 American songs, another had booths full of Chinese triad gangsters, and another had dancers onstage. I took a seat in the fourth room, where women were parading across the floor, numbered one to 800. There was every kind of Asian chick for every kind of fetish you could imagine, from petite nymphets in baby bonnets sucking lollipops to strapping women in leather S&M outfits. I ordered them like food dishes. "I'll take number 14, seven and eight. Send those to my room." Then I ordered 10 for Doc [manager] and a dozen for Mr Udo [minder]. I really thought I was doing them a favour.

I paid for the girls, went back to my room and passed out. If anyone knocked on the door that night, I didn't hear it. Or maybe I did hear it, let them in, and got spanked by a fat Korean. I can't really remember. When I woke up the next afternoon, I threw up, shot up the last of my cocaine stash, put on my leather pants and met Doc and Mr Udo in the lobby.

"Did you guys get your presents from me?" "Nikki," Doc grimaced. "You're sick. I answered the door, and there were two girls in Nazi outfits and a nun. What's wrong with you?" "Doc, I was just having fun. How about you, Mr Udo?" "My wife is like my air," he said. "Huh?" "Without her, I cannot live. She is my air."

Mr Udo went back to Tokyo that day, and Doc booked a flight for himself to New York and one for me to LA for the next morning.

That night, I called my dealer in LA to make the usual arrangement. "I'm coming in tomorrow," I told him. "Meet me with a thousand dollars worth of smack and some coke and syringes. I've got some time off before I have to go to Europe and I want to make the most of it."

I flew into LAX, got high in the silver limo that picked me up, and went back to the house. Sometimes you can't tell how much you've changed when you've been away until you see yourself in your own mirror. I wanted to cry. I was getting a puffy alcoholic face, like Jimmy Page or Mick Mars. My arms were rail thin and covered with long, discoloured track marks, and the rest of my body was soft and gushy. My face looked like one of those slippery kids' toys that has a layer of fluid underneath the skin, though the toy I resembled had clearly been owned by some brat who abused the shit out of it. Even my hair was falling out in clumps and the ends looked split and fried. I was disintegrating.

I needed to go out on the scene to escape from my own decay and loneliness. I flipped through my phone book in search of old friends. I called [Ratt guitarist] Robbin Crosby, then Slash, because Guns 'N' Roses were going to open for us in America after the European tour. I picked up Robbin at his house in a silver limo I liked to rent and gave him some blow. On the way to the Franklin Plaza hotel, where Guns 'N' Roses were staying because they were all homeless, I threw up all over the limo.

I wiped the chunks off on an antique beaver-hair-covered top hat I had bought for Slash and gave it to him at his door along with a bottle of whiskey. Some of the guys in Megadeth were also staying at the hotel, so we all piled into the limo. Robbin scored some junk from his dealer, and we did drugs till our minds went blank.

We drove to the Cathouse, raised hell, and staggered back to the limo, with hordes of fans tailing us. Back at the Franklin, Robbin's dealer was waiting. He said he had gotten some sweet Persian heroin while we were gone, and asked if I wanted some. "Yeah," I told him. "But you do it." By that point in the evening, I was too sloppy fucked up to get myself off. The only time I had let someone else shoot me up before was in the tenement in Hammersmith where I was almost thrown out with the trash.

He rolled up my sleeve, tied off my arm with a rubber tube, and plunged the Persian into my veins. The heroin raced to my heart, exploded all over my body, and in an instant I was blue.

I lost consciousness. When I opened my eyes everything was a blur of light, colour and motion. I was on my back, moving through some kind of corridor. Sounds whooshed in and out of my ears, unrecognisable at first, until a voice slowly emerged out of the white noise.

"We're losing him. We're losing him," it said. I tried to sit up to figure out what was going on. I thought it would be hard to lift my body. But to my surprise I shot upright, as if I weighed nothing. Then it felt as if something very gentle was grabbing my head and pulling me upward.

I looked down and realised that I had left my body. Nikki Sixx - or the filthy, tattooed container that had once held him - was lying covered face-to-toe with a sheet on a gurney being pushed into an ambulance. The fans who had been following us all night were crowded into the street, craning to see what was going on. And then I saw, parked nearby, the silver limo.

Something rough and impatient grabbed my foot. And in an instant I shot down through the air, through the roof of the ambulance, and landed with a painful jerk back into my body. I struggled to open my eyes and I saw adrenalin needles - not one, like in Pulp Fiction, but two. One was sticking out of the left flank of my chest, the other was in the right. "No one's gonna die in my fucking ambulance," I heard a man's voice say. Then I passed out.

The next thing I remember, I was standing shirtless in the hospital parking lot. There were two girls sitting on the kerb, crying. I walked to them and asked: "What's up?" Their faces went white. "You're alive!" "What are you talking about? Of course I'm alive." They wiped their eyes and stared at me. They were real fans. "Say, can you guys give me a ride home?"

On the ride home, the radio stations were reporting my death. The girls looked at me with big, wet eyes and asked with genuine concern: "You're not going to do drugs any more, are you Nikki?"

It was so funny to me that everyone thought I was dead that, as soon as I returned home, I walked to my answering machine and changed the message. "Hey, it's Nikki. I'm not home because I'm dead." Then I went into the bathroom, pulled a lump of heroin out of the medicine cabinet, rolled up my sleeve, tied off, and with one sink of the syringe plunger realised that all the love and concern of those millions of fans still didn't feel as satisfying as one good shot of heroin.

I woke up the next afternoon, sprawled across the bathroom floor with the needle still dangling out of my arm. The tile floor was covered with blood. My blood. I passed out again.

Somewhere, far away, a phone rang.

"Hey, it's Nikki. I'm not home because I'm dead."

On the fourth night of the party, the booze ran out. I had just bought a '72 Ford Pantera, which is a fast, beautiful car, and Razzle wanted to see what it was like to ride in. We were both fucked up and shouldn't have driven, especially since the store was only a couple of blocks away. But we just didn't give it a second thought. Razzle wore high tops, leather pants and a frilly shirt - a 24/7 rock'n'roll god, he would never be caught in the jeans and Hawaiian shirt that I was wearing.

We screeched into the parking lot and picked up a couple hundred dollars in beer and liquor to keep the party going. On the way home, we were driving along a hilly road that wound up the coast. It was full of little dips and hills, and as I was heading up a slight incline, there was a small bend ahead, just before the top of the hill. It was dark, and for some reason the streets were wet. Since I hadn't been outside that night, I wasn't sure if it had been raining lightly or if the streets had just been washed.

As the car rounded the curve, I shifted into second gear for the final stretch home. But as I did so, the wheels chirped and the car suddenly slid sideways in the water, to the left - into the lane for oncoming traffic. I tried to manoeuvre out of the skid, but as I struggled with the steering wheel, a pair of lights bore down on me. That was the last thing I saw before I was knocked unconscious.

When my head cleared, Razzle was lying in my lap. I forced my mouth into a smile for him, as if to say, "Thank God, we're all right," but he didn't respond. I lifted his head and shook it, but he didn't budge. I kept yelling, "Razzle, wake up!" because I assumed he had been knocked out too. It was like we were in our own little world. I didn't even realise that this was taking place in the Pantera until people began looking and reaching into the car, pulling Razzle out to the street.

I started to climb out of the car, but the paramedics rushed over and laid me on the pavement. "They reek of alcohol!" a medic yelled at the officers as he bandaged my ribs. I thought they were going to take me to hospital, but instead they left me sitting on the pavement.

It seemed like a bad dream, and at first all I could think about was my car and how badly it was totalled. But then Beth and some people from the party arrived and started freaking out, and it slowly began to dawn on me that some thing bad had happened. I saw a decimated Volkswagen and paramedics loading a man and a woman I didn't know into an ambulance. But I was in such a state of shock that I didn't realise this had anything to do with me or real life.

Then a police officer walked up to me. He read me my rights and, without handcuffing me, led me into the back of his squad car. At the police station, the officers flared at me. The phone rang and the commanding officer left the room. He came back and said, coldly: "Your friend is dead."

The parents of the couple who were in the Volkswagen were at my preliminary hearing. They looked at me like I was Satan. Lisa Hogan, the girl driving the car, was in a coma with brain damage, and her passenger, Daniel Smithers, was in traction. He also had brain damage.

• From The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band, by Mötley Crüe and Neil Strauss. Copyright © 2001 by Mötley Crüe. Reprinted by arrangement with Regan Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Doc McGhee and Nikki Sixx

The GuardianTramp

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