Nikki Sixx: My family values

The Mötley Crüe bassist and songwriter on being abandoned by parents when he was six – but then bathed in unconditional love by his grandparents, who brought him up

My mom was extremely beautiful and my father was a tall and handsome big Italian. From the outside, you’d think, wow, these amazing-looking people are my mom and dad! But my dad left when I was three and my mom left when I was six. I remember seeing my dad just once. Later I was, like, maybe my mom was fucking crazy and he just couldn’t take it – because that was my experience with her later in life.

My most heartbreaking memory was when my mom called my grandparents and said, “Come pick him up.” I was six and she said, “I’m going to lock the door and I’ll just leave you in the porch. She couldn’t wait until my grandparents got there. She left with this guy in a truck. That broke me.

I didn’t know I’d been abandoned because I went to live with my grandparents and they were the complete opposite. My grandfather was a mechanic and grandmother was a homemaker, and we moved every six months. We were very, very poor and lived in trailers, but they gave me unconditional love and undying, unbreakable commitment. My mom would call and they’d say, “Hey, your mom’s on the phone.” I’d say, “Just have her call back,” because I disconnected. I don’t know if I ever 100% reconnected with society – I don’t believe that there are any rules that exist for me.

I always had a shitty relationship with my mom. When she saw a picture of me in a magazine in about 1988 she called me up, “What have you done to yourself? You have all those tattoos over your whole arm. Are you going to join a circus?” It was just like when I was 13 and I had my toenails and fingernails polished and painted black, and then my ears pierced and I put silver paint in my hair and I was wearing women’s suits and she asked, “Are you a transvestite?” I was, like, “I don’t know, am I?” I had to get a dictionary. She never got me and then she even tried to take the credit it for me once. She said, “I’m the one that gave you the fire to have so much talent.”

My dad died in the 1970s, my grandmother in the 80s, my grandfather a couple of years ago, and my mom died recently, alone. My sister went to her bedside but I wouldn’t go. I said to myself, “I should probably go,” but I could never connect the string. I called my sister and she said she totally understood if I don’t come, and I said, “I just don’t feel that she deserves it.” I could never connect the umbilical cord again. But it’s OK. I’m at peace with it.

I’m on my third marriage [to model Courtney Bingham] – my last marriage – and I want to have another child. I have four amazing children and it’s been the greatest thing that’s ever happened in my life. They teach me every day. I try to show them what I’ve learned. Gunner is 24, Storm is 21, Decker is 20 and Frankie is 14.

Telling my children not to take drugs was hard to do with a straight face. I said, “I’m going to be honest with you and tell you that I’ve done a lot of drugs and a lot of alcohol and I’ve never found it worked out.” I’m not the guy that’s going to say, “Don’t you ever drink again,” but I told them: “You’re going to make your own decisions and I’m going to be here to support you because I didn’t have that.” No matter what happens in my kids’ lives, I’ll be there for them. My family means everything to me and I will do anything for them. If somebody offered me a lethal injection right now, that would guarantee my kids will live for ever, I would take it. With my wife, they’re the most important thing in my life. Apart from my dog Leica, who runs the house.

Interview by Nick McGrath

Motley Crue’s final European tour reaches the UK in November. For more information and tickets visit


Interview by Nick McGrath

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Paloma Faith | My family values
The singer-songwriter talks about her strong family bonds and the influence of her glamorous aunties. Interview by Roz Lewis

Interview by Roz Lewis

11, Apr, 2014 @12:00 PM

Article image
Hank Marvin: My family values
The musician and former lead guitarist with Cliff Richard's backing band, the Shadows, talks about marrying too young, the death of his eldest son and having a musical family. Interview by Nick McGrath

Interview by Nick McGrath

13, Jun, 2014 @11:59 AM

Article image
Toyah Willcox | My family values
The actor and singer talks about not getting on with her mother, but idolising her father. Interview by Nick McGrath

Nick McGrath

22, Mar, 2013 @1:00 PM

Article image
Huey Morgan | My family values
The Fun Lovin' Criminal and broadcaster talks about being in the US marines and how he has mellowed and is happy to be called pappy. By Nikki Spencer

Nikki Spencer

01, Mar, 2013 @1:00 PM

Article image
Gloria Estefan: My family values
The singer talks about her Cuban heritage, her mum's strong moral code and how she nursed her dad when he developed MS after the Vietnam war. Interview by Nick McGrath

Nick McGrath

12, Jul, 2013 @12:00 PM

Article image
Carol Decker: my family values
The T’Pau singer talks about her working-class upbringing in Liverpool and having children later in life

Interview by Amy Fleming

29, Jan, 2016 @12:59 PM

Article image
Petula Clark: My family values
At 80, the singer recalls learning Welsh so she could talk to her grandparents and the difficulties of being a child star whose father was also her manager. Interview by Busola Evans

Busola Evans

06, Sep, 2013 @12:00 PM

Article image
Suzi Quatro: My family values
The musician talks about growing up in a volatile, happy, hardworking family that was full of music and attitude, and leaving her sisters behind when stardom beckoned

Interview by Katherine Hassell

10, Jul, 2015 @12:00 PM

Article image
Bonnie Tyler: My family values
The singer talks about her family. By Roz Lewis

Roz Lewis

17, Nov, 2012 @12:04 AM

Article image
Midge Ure: My family values
The Ultravox singer and musician talks about his family. Interview by Nick McGrath

Nick McGrath

21, Sep, 2012 @11:05 PM