In the world of hair metal, it’s safe to say that Nikki Sixx has lived enough lifetimes for about ten people. During the age of big hair and some of the wildest parties known to man, Nikki was always looking at the big picture, looking to put Mötley Crüe in the same breath as the rock stars of old like Aerosmith and KISS.
It may have been a long ride to get there, but there may have been a little (too much) fun going on along the way as well. For all of the backstage stories that people like to keep under wraps, these are the stories that Nikki will own up to firsthand, talking about all of the mayhem that he got into before becoming the main man behind the crew.
Despite the Crue being a bunch of cartoon characters, Nikki’s story almost feels like he was trying to be the Keith Richards of the group, taking every excess known to man and pushing it that one little step further. There may have been a lot of pain involved and maybe a few brushes with death, but you sometimes need to suffer for your art and to appreciate what you really have. Thankfully these days, though, Nikki is proud to report that he is going on 21 years sober!
There’s probably no one who embodied the mantra of sex, drugs, and rock and roll more than the Crue in the ‘80s. While they may have wanted to live up to their idols, more often than not that meant getting into as much trouble as you possibly could, and hopefully living to tell the tale.
Nikki was certainly living up to his reputation as a drugged-out freak, but things caught up with him on the night that he, well, died. A few days before Christmas, Nikki was at a drug den and was so messed up that he asked someone to give him a fix instead of doing it himself. As soon as the heroin hit his system though, Nikki overdosed, talking about the eyes rolling into the back of his head, turning blue, and remembering the rest of the party almost trying to shove him onto the street to forget about him.
By the time the paramedics had arrived to help save his life, his heart stopped beating for a few minutes, being pronounced dead at the scene before one EMT decided to take drastic measures. Going full-on Pulp Fiction, Nikki was given two adrenaline needles into his chest and then came back to life, only to get more pissed when he woke up in a hospital and then walked home to incredulously go shoot up one more time.
By the time he passed out and woke up with a needle still in his arm, he realized how much of a junkie he had become and sought treatment for his issues. Most rock stars have their stories about reaching rock bottom, but it turns out Nikki had to go a little further down than that to actually have the light go off in his head.
Nikki Sixx doesn’t really strike you as a guy who would say no to a fight. Long before Guns N’ Roses really hit their stride, you could argue that the Crue was the real street gang off of Sunset, being just as likely to start a fight amongst a couple of other bands as they were to fight amongst each other.
As Nikki was walking off the Strip one night though, he got into a little more trouble than he bargained for. Being a clear dividing line between the tough guys of the Strip and the glam rockers, Nikki was ready to prove his street credentials in a back alley, where he saw two Hell’s Angel bikers going to town on a glam kid. After trying to diffuse the situation with words, it didn’t take long for Nikki to break out the weapons, swinging a chain and managing to get a few licks in before figuring out that he was actually fighting two undercover cops who specialized in targeting street kids on the Strip.
After being thrown in a police car and being told that he was to spend 7 years in jail for assaulting a police officer, Nikki ended up escaping the feds for a little bit, before they caught up to him and proceeded to kick the snot of him and leave him on the side of the road.
While he was eventually charged with assault, he never spent as much hard time in jail as he should have, just finding his way back to the Motley House that he was sharing with Tommy and Vince and carrying on as if nothing had happened. It may seem like an average day for a guy like Nikki, but he did end up writing a kick-ass song about it too: ‘Knock Em Dead, Kid.’
Whenever you’re the opening act on tour, you need to make sure you hold your own next to the headliner. And when the Crue went out on their first tour across the world with Ozzy Osbourne, they were more than ready to stoop to the same level as the Prince of Darkness.
After a few days of nonstop shows though, Nikki started a contest with Ozzy that wasn’t necessarily for the squeamish. Between different legs of the tour (and outside of Sharon’s watchful eye), Nikki and Ozzy made a pact of who could out-gross the other, starting with sitting poolside at a resort and Ozzy offering people money for a free round of drinks with the dollar bills tucked away in his ass.
Though Ozzy seemed to have the upper hand most of the time by sniffing a line of ants on the ground instead of cocaine, Nikki was the one member of the Crue actually looking to hold his own, willing to play the game when Ozzy urinated on the ground and started lapping it up. Before Nikki could respond in kind though, Ozzy beat him to the punch and started licking up Nikki’s urine as well.
That was just the tip of the iceberg for the rest of the guys on tour, with Tommy Lee telling stories about Ozzy being out of his mind in every city he went to, including one time where they went back to the hotel room only to find that Ozzy had spread his feces all over the walls. The rock star lifestyle may look a lot different nowadays, but in the glory days of Motley Crue, almost anything was fair game…as long as Sharon didn’t see it.
As bands like Motley were starting to make a name for themselves, we were already in the midst of Satanic Panic. Aside from the actual music, concerned parents and the PMRC were starting to crack down on music that seemed too offensive for children to listen to, with the Crue’s Shout at the Devil being a prime candidate.
While the guys may have tried to dodge any bad PR coming their way, Nikki did seem to practice what he preached for a while. During the recording sessions for Shout, Nikki was living at his girlfriend Lita Ford’s house and started to really venture into the dark side of spiritualism, dabbling in black magic and getting more out of control by the day.
Though there are a few stories about him dabbling with the devil when a guitar pick magically got lodged in the ceiling, A&R rep Tom Zutuat painted a pretty grim scene in The Dirt, going over to their house and seeing Nikki looking absolutely pale and not taking care of himself, all while different pentagrams and black magic memorabilia was scoured all around the apartment.
While Nikki said that he didn’t necessarily believe in all of that stuff and was just using it to shock people, the dark side certainly wanted a piece of him, as he recalled different kitchen utensils moving across the room and flying through the air without anyone ever moving them. Drugs may have done a number on every member of the Crue, but Nikki apparently had a whole different set of demons to worry about.
Every rock star has always wanted to try and break down the barrier between band and audience. Although they may look like gods when the pyro is going off everywhere, these are just people, and they want to engage you just like they would with any other person. Then again, Nikki probably wasn’t thinking along those lines when it came time to literally break down barriers.
On the tour promoting their divisive record Generation Swine, Nikki decided to spice up the evening by inviting most of the concertgoers up on stage for the very last song, which turned into an all out brawl when the audience actually followed his advice. After getting into a scuffle with a security guard who wasn’t letting people through, the whole concert turned into an all out brawl, ending with Nikki spitting on the officer, calling him racial slurs, and eventually landing him and Tommy in jail for a little while for alleged assault.
Although they served their time for a little while, Tommy said that he didn’t have any regrets about going through with it, saying that he would have been right up on stage if someone like Led Zeppelin had done the same thing. There’s a certain child-like sense of fun that comes with rushing the stage, but once your audience starts exceeding triple digits, you might need to take things down a notch.
The entire backstage escapades of every Motley Crue tour has always been absolute mayhem. While the guys love to have a good time whenever they were on stage, they were just as wild off the stage as well, to the point where their managers didn’t let them go to Europe on one tour for fear that one of them was going to die in the process. Given what Nikki and Tommy did on a train though, it’s not like they were off the mark either.
During the tour promoting Girls Girls Girls, management had someone hired basically to keep both Nikki and Tommy in line. While everything was going fine in the early hours of the morning, both of them pounced when they heard a train horn off in the distance. Cutting across to the railroad tracks, Tommy talked about he and Nikki climbing on the side of the train and holding on for dear life for a few miles down the road, not even knowing where the train was headed.
Since the rest of the band were waiting back at the hotel though, the guys decided to jump off at the right time, getting a few bruises before picking themselves up and hitch hiking their way back to their hotel to make the show the next day. Granted, it was probably a blessing they waited this long to pull a stunt like this. Because if you ask Tommy, there’s a good chance that the guys would have kept going for as long as the train went if they were still young and green.
There’s no ground rules that say every member of a band has to be buddy buddy every time they play together. Years of playing together can do a number on your relationship with your bandmates, and there are more than a few iconic acts that can still deliver onstage but never want to speak to each other whenever they aren’t giving their all to the fans.
When Nikki Sixx first met Mick Mars though, let’s just say they weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. While working one of his first jobs in LA as a cashier, Mick ended up walking into the store and saw Nikki’s ad next to the counter saying that he was a bass player looking to form a band. After discussing influences, the battle lines were drawn when they got into a heated debate about whether Jeff Beck was better than KISS and Aerosmith.
Although Mick was always known to be the older soul of the group, he was not going to put up with some snot nosed kid that wanted to talk about the cheap rock and roll that came from Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, blowing him off right then and there before Nikki eventually threw him out of the store. Mick at least had a silver lining to the whole thing though, challenging Nikki to come see him play the next day and blowing him away with his more bluesy approach to rock and roll guitar. Nikki might come in fists first a lot of the time, but sometimes the happiest of accidents can come out of some pretty hairy situations.
For most of Motley’s career, you weren’t going to get much filter for anything that Nikki said in public. As if the controversial lyrics in songs like ‘Bastard’ weren’t bad enough, it didn’t take much for what Nikki was thinking to find its way out of his mouth. And even after years of getting sober, Nikki has spent a good deal of time dragging as many people as he can through the mud.
While the main dust up in rock circles has been Nikki’s hatred for Godsmack’s Sully Erna, most of his recent tirades have more to do with any major figure in the world of rock, like claiming that he always disliked Pearl Jam after Eddie Vedder had a few choice words to say about the Crue during an interview. Even when he was trying to get the band’s tell all book The Dirt off the ground, he also had a bit of vengeance against Gene Simmons, one of his idols who always judged him in the ‘80s, coming back around when Nikki refused to let Gene own any of the rights to Motley’s story.
In the past few months though, it all comes back to Taylor Swift, and Nikki hasn’t exactly been shy about his feelings, talking about her whining about something every time she releases an album. It might just be a cheap way to get some free publicity, but you know Motley’s doing something right when both Nikki and Tommy Lee are still making headlines when bands like Night Ranger have long since flown by the wayside.
Nikki’s upbringing could never really be described as wholesome and family friendly. From his first few years as a youngster, he had mentioned his dad walking out on him and moving in between his mother’s and his grandparents’ houses before finally linking up with his uncle, who happened to be part of a major record label in California.
Nikki has said that he wants nothing to do with his father, but he did have a few subtle dust ups with his mother. Although Nikki said that his mother never approved of what he did, he had more of a problem with her than anything else, always showing up at home with another boyfriend that he didn’t recognize.
The biggest fight came when he was still in his teens though, when he got so frustrated he took a knife from his mom’s kitchen, plunged it into his arm and then called the cops on his mother claiming that he had been attacked and his mother should be put in prison. Granted, Nikki didn’t really seem to think all of this through either, with the cops telling him that if he should press charges and was telling the truth, then he would have to spend 5 years in a juvenile detention center without having any access to his guitar.
It was back to square one for Nikki, but it wasn’t long before he moved out of the house entirely, only to reconnect with his mom years after the fact when she claimed that she was the one who inspired the song ‘Looks that Kill.’ Nikki may have always had a fractured relationship with his family, but this was the last straw that made him a lone wolf lost in the world.
Most of the glory years of Motley Crue typically just lead to lots of drugs for Nikki. All the way up until they got sober on the album Dr. Feelgood, Nikki was one of the worst offenders in the business, progressing from drinking anything he could get his hands on to becoming a full-blown heroin addict by the time the real money started to roll in.
With drugs comes hallucinations though, and Nikki needed to make sure he was protected at all times. During some of his many heroin binges, Nikki was known for keeping a .357 with him at all times in case he saw or heard something that he didn’t like in his apartment. Apart from the friends that would occasionally visit, most of Nikki’s downtime was spent either shooting up his apartment or having a shooting range of a different kind, making holes in his walls from bullets and even destroying a radio when he thought that the voices from the speaker were demons that were trying to kill him while he slept.
According to Nikki in The Dirt, it got so bad that eventually, the local police department knew to be careful whenever investigating his house in case he thought he was being threatened and wanted to open fire on a whole slew of cops. This should have probably been one of the last warning signs for Nikki to clean up, but he had a much longer road to go down before he woke up.