They’re on their way. Thirty-three years since forming and 29 since issuing the go-to power ballad for “American Idol” finals and real estate commercials, “Home Sweet Home,” the fellas of Mötley Crüe are saying goodbye. Their farewell tour arrives next Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
Please, hold your tears and your heroin injections, this is not a sad occasion. The Crüe want to go out while they’re still strong — or at least still making money.
“We still sell out arenas, have stadium stuff and things like that, so let’s go out when it’s a big deal,” singer Vince Neil told Rolling Stone, sounding like a man with at least one deep conviction.
For metal fans, it is indeed a big thing. The Crüe has been a mixed bag in concert over the past decade. Their best and worst was in 2006, when they truly kick-started the crowd at Myth nightclub’s first anniversary party but then fell flat a few months later at Target Center with Aerosmith, when Neil berated the clearly unimpressed crowd. Through it all, fans stuck by them, in part because they had more hits than most of metal’s hair-band-era groups (with seven Top 40 singles) and they endured more drama and death-defying activities than a Marvel comic book.
Here are a few of the lessons that can be taken from the Crüe’s storied, sordid career, much of which is documented in the band’s ewww-inducing 2001 biography, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band.” There probably won’t be another band like them — and let’s all hope so.
1. No really: Drugs are bad. It is a bona fide miracle all four of the original members are still alive. Bassist Nikki Sixx nearly overdosed on heroin several times and is certainly the worse for wear. Neil has had more legal troubles than the Koch brothers because of his habits. They all burned up money, marriages and the lives of many people around them as they burned on both ends.
2. Keep your private home movies private in the computer age. Drummer Tommy Lee found out the hard way (ahem) when his homemade sex tape with then-wife Pamela Anderson got out in 1995. To their credit, though, they did spark a lot of interest in the Internet when it was still a newfangled gimmick.
3. Fans hate new lead singers (even when the old one’s not that good anymore). He was no Ronnie James Dio, but John Corabi was a good fit and made a pretty decent album with the Crüe in 1994, after the band fired Vince Neil. It didn’t matter. The album and tour stiffed, and Neil was back in by 1997, despite his growing inability to hit the high notes.
4. Guitarists rule in metal. While Neil was feebly reaching for the sky and Lee was hanging upside down in his carnival-ride drum kits, Mick Mars stood back in the shadows and quietly anchored the Crüe. Even as his physical ailment became apparent (he battles a rare form of arthritis), he remained the most sturdy and impressive part of their stage show.
5. G-strings are good for the purse strings. The title track to 1987’s album “Girls, Girls, Girls” is to topless bars what “Amazing Grace” is to churches. How sweet the sound, the band members must think, every time they cash one of the royalty checks that come in from the song’s incessant rotation in the gyration palaces.
6. Record companies = party poopers. From “The Dirt,” here is one of Lee’s memories of their “wildest” tour, the “Girls, Girls, Girls” outing: “We even had this drug kingpin following the tour bus in an exotic Excalibur with a license plate that said: DEALER. 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.” And who named you Columbo, Mr. A&R Man?!
7. Don’t invite your ex-manager to your band’s authorized biography. Among the many harsh lines offered by Doc McGhee in “The Dirt,” there’s this gem, about the time Sixx went on a tear through Hong Kong and purportedly ordered 150 prostitutes: “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.”
8. Some tattoos really hurt. Plenty of people get dumb tattoos, sure — especially people who make blacking out a nightly ritual — but Lee can’t seem to erase the hard feelings over that swastika tat he has long since gotten removed.
9. Nineteen years is too soon to joke about your manslaughter conviction in a friend’s death. The band caught a lot more heat for the inexplicable title of the 2003 box set “Music to Crash Your Car To, Vol. 1.” In their defense, Neil had long since served his jail sentence — a whopping 18 days — after pleading guilty to driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter in the 1984 car crash that killed Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas “Razzle” Dingley.
10. There’s nobility in knowing when to say when. Even a band so notorious for overindulgent behavior seemed to recognize the right time to cut itself off on touring. The Who and Kiss should take note.