Motley Crue launching 'traveling freak show'

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

NEW YORK -- Rock music's biggest freak show is taking its show on the road.

And the bigger question for Motley Crue is whether the band known for its excesses (sex, drugs and fighting) can keep it together for a year on tour.

"This tour could last a week. It could last a year. I just don't know," drummer Tommy Lee said. "But it definitely brings a smile to my face. You know, the danger part of it, the whether-these-guys-are-going-to make-it-a-month question."

For the band that gained its rock foothold in the 1980s as a glam metal band, the spotlight will be shining bright on their antics as much as their stage production when they open the U.S. leg of the "Red, White & Crue Tour 2005 ... Better Live Than Dead" on Thursday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The tour follows the release of "Red, White & Crue," a greatest hits album with three new songs.

Motley Crue has reportedly auditioned midgets, contortionists and strange animals as part of the stage production, a 2 1/2-hour show with no opening act.

"It's a traveling freak show. We've always been called that and we said, 'Why don't we take that and take it to the next level?"' said bassist Nikki Sixx.

After lighting up the Los Angeles club scene, the band was signed by Elektra and released 1983's "Shout at the Devil" and 1985's "Theater of Pain." But it was 1987's "Girls, Girls, Girls" and 1989's "Dr. Feelgood," which debuted at No. 1, that put the band at the top.

But by the 1990s, the band was falling apart. Singer Vince Neil left the band (or was fired, depending on who tells the story) in 1992. He then reunited with the band for 1997's "Generation Swine." Then Lee left in the late 1990s.

The band regrouped a few months ago but noticed a resurgence in interest in Motley Crue several years earlier.

Neil said he was at a mall once when he saw three teenagers wearing old Motley Crue concert shirts: "I was like 'How do they know us?"'

Lee also had a similar experience, thinking: "That kid was 2 when we were playing."

So what is it about Motley Crue that two decades later seems to grab such fan loyalty?

Part of it is the music and part of it is that most of the band members have continued to be in the spotlight, says Jim Richards, regional vice president of programming for Clear Channel. But he says it's more than that -- there may be a morbid "curiosity of watching a train wreck."

When told of the morbid curiosity factor, the members of Motley Crue laughed. But there was little disagreement.

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