Tommy Lee might sound a bit morbid when he says he wants each show on the final tour with his band, Motley Crue, to be like a wake.
It’s not as gloomy as it may sound – even though fans may be a little teary-eyed about saying goodbye to Motley Crue after sharing in 30-plus years of music, mischief, mayhem and everything else a rebellious, good-time rock band is supposed to represent.
“I always thought it was weird and cool, there’s something very bizarre about going to a wake,” Lee said in a recent phone interview.
“I still find it so odd that after somebody’s funeral, there’s that thing where everybody gets together and has drinks and celebrates and parties. And you’re like, this is (expletive) weird. But there’s something real cool about it (too) because everybody’s celebrating a life and death simultaneously; the beginning of something new and the end of something old. So I think we’ve figured out that’s how we want this to play out, much like a happy funeral, a celebration.”
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A news conference in January at which the band announced its final tour hinted at the vibe it wants to create.
The four members – drummer Lee, singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars and bassist Nikki Sixx – arrived in a hearse, with a New Orleans-style band playing the festive music one hears during a Crescent City funeral procession. Inside, the band members took their appointed seats with their names on faux tombstones in front of them.
Lee said the shows will take that tongue-in-cheek attitude and turn it up to 11. “I think that’s one of the awesome things about Motley Crue. I think people can blindly go buy a ticket knowing full well when they get there they’re going to be like, ‘Holy (expletive), that was insane,’ ” Lee said.
The group has done its best to assure fans that the final tour is exactly what it says – even signing a binding legal document at the news conference in which the four band members agreed there will be no further tours in any form as Motley Crue.
The decision to end Motley Crue didn’t happen overnight.
“This is definitely not something new. We’ve been talking about this for years,” Lee said. “We would constantly ask each other, how do we want to, you know, end this thing? I know how we don’t want to end it. We don’t want to end it with one or two guys still out there touring with two other hired guys. That’s just not how we ever envisioned it – ever.”
The Motley Crue story began in 1981, when the band self-released its debut album, “Too Fast For Love,” and sold 40,000 copies, according to the band members. Signed to Elektra Records after that, the group broke through commercially with the 1983 album “Shout at the Devil,” then reeled off three more consecutive hit albums, “Theatre of Pain” (1985), “Girls, Girls, Girls” (1987) and “Dr. Feelgood” (1989). In all, the band has sold more than 75 million copies of its nine albums. They took advantage of their success, partying like true rock stars. But all was not fun and games.
In 1984, Neil was driving when he had a head-on crash that killed his passenger, Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley, drummer of the band Hanoi Rocks. In 1987, Sixx suffered a heroin overdose that left him legally dead on the way to the hospital before medical personnel were able to revive him.
There have been temporary departures by Neil and Lee before the group reunited for its latest run in 2004, doing several successful tours and making a 2008 studio album, “Saints of Los Angeles,” which was widely praised as a return to musical form for the band.
So Motley Crue figures to end its career on a high note, trying to make each show as memorable as possible.
At this point, Lee isn’t sure how he’ll feel when the last show arrives or what he’ll miss most about Motley Crue. That’s something he said he’ll only know when that day comes.
“There will be a bunch of things that we’ll miss, but I think by the end of the tour, I don’t know, maybe I’ll have a whole different perspective on a lot of things,” he said. “I’ll probably have a ton of stuff (I’ll miss). It will probably be highly emotional, I’m sure.”