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So forgive me if it's a bit hard for me to slice open a vein and let my blood run red all over this page for you. I'll fight you or I'll f*ck you but chances are I'll be hard pressed to sit there and talk to you.
War stories. War wounds. I know, I know. Old rock stars fall hard. I'm forty-nine years old. I'm five-foot-nine, 170. The spandex is over. I've had three plastic surgeries. Still, who do you think gets laid more, me or you? But time does change a man. I ain't twenty-one anymore.
It's a miracle we survived at all. A bottle of Jack Daniel's and uncooked hot dogs do not make for a particularly well-balanced diet. We are all very lucky we didn't kill ourselves. It might look like we were trying to do that but speaking for myself, death was never my intent. I just wanted to feel good, you know? I was just looking for that kick, that high...
These days I've got businesses to run. I like the action. Something to get your heart pumping. Healthier than a syringe full of cocaine powder like I was doing back in '81 with my girlfriend Lovey, that's for sure...
But you got to admit...those days are a lot more fun to talk about..."
Introduction The Opening Act
Chapter One Tattoos & Tequila 1
Chapter Two Nobody's Fault 22
Chapter Three Beer Drinkers and Hell-Raisers 56
Chapter Four No Feelings 89
Chapter Five He's A Whore 106
Chapter Six Another Bad Day 146
Chapter Seven AC/DC 174
Chapter Eight Who'll Stop the Rain 207
Chapter Nine Bitch is Back 244
Chapter Ten Viva Las Vegas 271
About Mike Sager 291
Hey—sorry about yesterday, dude.
I had my Lamborghini brought down from my house in Danville, in Northern California, to my house here in Las Vegas. I had it swapped out for my Ferrari—he took it back to Danville. It’s good to keep the mileage balanced on cars like that. They’re collector’s items—an investment and whatnot. And the Lambo is much more fun in Vegas; they got long, flat roads out here where you can turn it out—not that I would ever break the speed limit or anything.
The driver was supposed to be here at noon, and then I guess there was all this rain and shit—he says there were fourteen different accidents driving from there to here; he didn’t even get here till almost 6:00 P.M. And of course my assistant, who lives here in Vegas and is supposed to have my back on stuff like this, she was out Christmas shopping with my wife and my mother-in-law, who is here spending time with us because my father-in-law died not that long ago. So what can you do? You know how that goes, right? The glamorous life of a rock star. You get to have an assistant, but the chances are she’s busy helping your wife when you need assistance doing something and you end up stuck doing what needs to be done, like fuckin’ waiting at home for this guy to show up with my car so I can let him in the garage. And I was waiting like a long time. I couldn’t leave. I actually ended up screaming at her, too. I was like, “Kelly? Why am I sitting here waiting for this guy to come when I’m supposed to be starting the interviews for my book!” And then she tells me, I couldn’t believe it… it turns out she knew the whole time that the driver was going to be late. She knew it but didn’t bother to tell me. Nobody told me! She was like, “I told you the guy was going to be late.” And I was like, “You did not!”
Nobody tells me anything. I swear to you. When I have my tombstone they can put that on the B side. “Nobody Told Him Anything.” I’m not sure yet what I want on the front. That line hasn’t been written yet. You know when the new Mötley Crüe album came out, the new Greatest Hits? I had no fuckin’ idea that was coming out. It was funny. I was doing this interview with some reporter and they go, “So tell us about the new Mötley’s Greatest Hits album.” And I go, “What are you talking about?” Nobody told me I had an album coming out. It happens that way all the time. ’Cause we could have, like… I told my assistant, I said, “Kelly, I could’ve gotten together with the writer earlier than we’d first planned and then I could have been back in time to get the car,” or to be here for the car, whatever, because there was nobody to punch in the code on the garage door so he could swap out the cars.
The funny thing is, I really do take pride in being early. I am usually always early. I’ve always been early to everything I’ve ever done. Seriously. That’s why I thought it was pretty hilarious when Mötley said they fired me that first time ’cause I was chronically late for rehearsals. Dude, I am never late for shit. It’s like I have OCD or something, obsessive-compulsive disorder. I’m always early. Like even going to an airport, I’ll be sitting there for over an hour because I don’t want to be late. When people are late I can’t stand waiting for them. I fuckin’ hate that. I’ve left people behind on my solo gigs. Band members. Left ’em back at the fuckin’ hotel. Like one guy was constantly late and I just said, “Fuck it,” and I left. And we just pulled out and drove to the next city. The bus pulled away from the curb without him. People should be on time—if they say they’re going to be there on time, you know, they should be on time. If they can’t, they should call and tell you they’ll be late. But don’t show up an hour late, two hours late. Or even fifteen minutes late. You know that drives me up the fuckin’ wall.
So where do we start? I remember when we did The Dirt—the best-selling book about Mötley Crüe written by Neil Strauss—I got interviewed at the Grand Havana Room in Beverly Hills. A lot of people say I didn’t get to say much in that book. It’s probably true. I didn’t read it. When I was young I was diagnosed with dyslexia. I never really enjoyed reading too much. It’s difficult for me. I see printed stuff backwards and out of whack. It’s just a struggle. I’m sure that killed my education before it even got started. If I could read better maybe I’d have been a doctor or a lawyer. You wouldn’t even be reading this book. If you see me after you’ve read this, lemme know what you think. I probably won’t read it myself.
I was pretty much done with school and out in the world by age fifteen, sixteen, seventeen—already a father, out of my parents’ house for good, living in Tommy Lee’s smelly van, sweeping up this rehearsal studio in exchange for time, working as an electrician, trying to make it in Rockandi, my first band. I guess another reason there might not be that much from me in The Dirt is because, you know, I’m not that big a talker. Nikki and Tommy—those guys can fuckin’ talk. They can eat up all the oxygen in a room in no time flat. I don’t tend to run my mouth. I don’t like to talk about stuff—how I feel and shit. It’s bullshit. All those years in rehab and counseling—the talking cure? I can’t say I really got that much out of it. All that cure and I should be cured by now, don’t you think? All this talking. I’d rather just go out and live, you know? Some people have lots to say. Other people just shut up and do what they gotta do. I guess I’m the second. So forgive me if it’s a bit hard for me to slice open a vein and let my blood run red all over this page for you. Somebody thinks it’s a good idea for me to tell my story, so I’m gonna tell it. But remember this: I’m a singer. I let my emotions out through demonstration. I’m demonstrative, isn’t that the word? I’ll fight you or I’ll fuck you, but chances are I’ll be hard-pressed to sit there and talk to you. I’m one of those people who are more comfortable in front of an arena full of screaming fans than I am at a small dinner party. Call it socially inept. Call it quiet and shy. I am kind of shy. Women can sense that. They always want to take care of me. They like that about me. I let them do all the talking. Women love to be heard. I do listen. And I know how to look like I’m listening to a woman even when I’m not. Maybe that’s the secret—listening. It probably doesn’t hurt when they like the way you look and carry yourself. I’ve never really been the kind of guy who had to work it real hard. I never had any lines. I never needed any. From an early age, they’ve just come to me, a flood tide of women, all shapes and colors and nationalities, but most of them blondes, long-haired blondes with big tits and long legs and little round butts and… maybe we’ll get into all that later.
Thinking about the Dirt interviews makes me nostalgic for the Havana Room. Man, we had some epic nights there. It’s this high-end, members-only cigar club. Lots of expensive wines and scotches, and good cigars, and big swinging Hollywood dicks. You could even have your own, like, humidor/safe-deposit box where you kept a stash of Cubans or whatever. I always got a kick out of being there, living the high life, suckin’ on a fat Cuban cigar, doing shit that’s not readily available to the common man—and me, this mixed-breed mechanic’s son from Nowhereville, CA. I remember one night in January 2000 I bumped into the comedian Tom Arnold at an LA Kings hockey game. You know the dude. He used to be married to Roseanne. Another crazy motherfucker—some time when you’ve got nothing else to do, take the time to Google their photo shoot in Vanity Fair back in the day, when the couple was hot and heavy, literally. Wow. I didn’t know they allowed that kinda shit in family magazines. You know I’ve lived in the LA area all my life. I know people all over. Tom is the kind of people I know in Hollywood. It’s small; it’s basically my hometown. You get to be friends with the fun people. Like attract like, I guess. And what can I say? I love a good party. I love fun people. I love crazy motherfuckers like Arnold who have no public filter. Something about them makes it like they just don’t give a shit. And they know other crazy fun people, too. After the game, we went to the Havana Room and we met up with the actor Mel Gibson. Mel is a cool guy, no matter what anybody says. Some people drink and a switch goes off. I know it does for me. They don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. Believe me, they’re telling the truth. I got to know Mel a little bit during my years living in Malibu—I think we drank together a few times at Moonshadows, which was like my hangout for years, I used to drink there with all kinds of people—Kelsey Grammer, David Duchovny. All the Malibu partiers went there, all the heavy drinkers. It was there, in Moonshadows, that I rode out the dark and stormy seas of my daughter’s death. I would go directly from Skylar’s bedside at the hospital, out Sunset Boulevard, hang a right on the PCH to Moonshadows. There I would meet my good friend oblivion.
At this time I was with the actress and Playboy centerfold Heidi Mark—an amazing woman, an amazing piece of ass. I met her in her prime, twenty-four years old. When she was twenty she’d dated Prince a few times; she was with O.J. for a while after his whole deal with the murder of his wife. This was after that. We were together for a number of years before we got married. This was right before we got married, I think. My third time down the aisle. After Tom left the Havana Room, Heidi, Mel, and I kept going. Since we were regulars, the staff went home at like 3:00 A.M., leaving us to finish our cigars. We ended up at our house in Malibu. We were up all night drinking and playing pool and taking goofy Polaroids—somewhere there is a picture of Heidi riding on Mel’s shoulders around our living room. It was just a howling good time, pretty much PG rated. Finally, around dawn, I passed out. Heidi put Mel in a cab.
The next day on the news we see a story about how the Havana Room had burned down overnight… after two gentlemen threw their lit cigar butts in a trash can that caught a light, setting the club ablaze.
For some reason, they never came after us for that. I’ve been sued so many times by so many people… assholes trying to make a buck just by fucking with me. I don’t know why, but I am grateful. To somebody I owe a debt of thanks. Probably there’s a lot of people I could say that about. I owe a lot of debts of thanks, I am sure. There’s so much I don’t remember….
So how do you like the place? Feelgoods Rock Bar & Grill. There’s another one sort of like it in West Palm Beach, Florida. It’s called Dr. Feelgoods. That was the first one. That’s more of a club. It’s got five bars; it’s huge. But it only serves, like, finger food. This place has the full-on kitchen. Check out the menu. Order whatever you want. The food is great. They have these great homemade tortilla chips, I already ordered some. They serve ’em hot. Amazing. I tasted most of the stuff before we opened.
This is like a flagship store. We spent a lot of money on getting it together, on decorating, on organizing the concept. There are going to be like twenty-five or forty of these around the country before we’re through. A lot of work has gone into all this stuff. I mean the kitchen was open for three weeks before we even opened the place. While the workmen were still working, everybody would have lunch here. They call it a “trial feed” in the business. It gave the chefs a chance to really work on their dishes and tweak the menu and stuff. See here on the menu? This thing above the tuna melt—Pete’s Plate. Pete was my father-in-law, Lia’s father, who passed away. That was his favorite meal—two hot dogs with a sixteen-ounce Budweiser. So we called it a Pete’s Plate. There’s also a Vince Platter. It’s just a really good burger with a secret sauce—Thousand Island dressing. They make it real good; it’s pretty amazing.
I think we’ll do great here. I know you talked about doing these interviews at my house. How it’s intimate there and all that. But believe me it’s not. My house, you know, I’ve got my mother-in-law there. That’s the thing. My dogs, my mother-in-law, my wife. It’s just… it’s too much. And if we did a hotel room—didn’t somebody say a hotel room? Somebody at 10th Street had said something about getting a suite at the Rio, where there’s a Vince Neil Ink. But if we get into one of those environments where I’m just, you know, like, walled up in some room… I would just feel like I wanted to get the fuck out of there, you know? You start walling me up, keeping me places… I don’t know. I don’t react well. I’d rather be here… you know what I mean? If this doesn’t work we could always go to the studio, which has rooms above it. I have to be there every afternoon anyway. We have to get cracking on that record, too. Two weeks is all we’ve got. You’re coming with me after this to the studio, right? This is gonna be a busy couple of weeks. You know we’re also filming the video next Wednesday and Thursday, right? That’ll be cool. We’ll just have to find the time to talk in between, I guess.
I love this place. Like I said, a lot of thought and care went into it. It’s pure rock ’n’ roll. It’s red lights and leopard skin, purple velvet, iron spiderwebs, button-tuck black leather banquettes. Hot little rock chicks waiting tables—suicide grrls in short skirts with lots of eyeliner. And the stage is great. Intimate. Perfect sound. But we can pack them in, too. We have national acts coming in now, which is pretty cool. One night a week my son DJs. His name is Neil Wharton; everybody calls him Neil Neil. My parents raised him for a lot of his life. We’re really just getting to know each other. He sings in a Mötley Crüe tribute band. He only recently moved to Vegas to live. I got him a job working with the clothing line and stuff that we sell.
With Feelgoods, it’s weird, ’cause like most of the bands that are playing in here are bands that we came up with. We got L.A. Guns, Ratt. The BulletBoys just played here. Slaughter will be here New Year’s Eve—that’s my guys who also play in the Vince Neil Band: Jeff Blando, Dana Strum, Zoltan Chaney. You’ll meet them today at the studio. My partner’s got his custom shop down there, too, Count’s Kustoms. He’s got all these restored cars in one warehouse. It’s like a fuckin’ museum. I got my ’32 Ford in there, too—the ultimate hot rod, the engine’s all chromed out, with flames painted on the sides. Speaking of which, tonight is bike and hot rod night at Feelgoods. The whole parking lot will be full of motorcycles. It gets packed in here; it’ll be jammed. And Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays we’re usually kicking out the last people at six in the morning. This is Vegas, right? The people here know how to party.
And all I have to do is collect a check. I can sign for anything I want.
The other thing I like about this place is all the memorabilia. As you walk in there’s a glass case with my flame-proof racing suit from my Formula One racing days, pictures of me and my car. There’s my outfit from Crüe Fest 1, a whole bunch of platinum records, gold records, stuff like that. At this stage in life, my wife jokes that I need a warehouse. And I’m like, I do have a warehouse. It’s called my garage. I have tons of old clothes and memorabilia and stuff I’ve worn onstage. I have tons of guitars these people keep sending me. What are you going to do? Throw it all away? Not that I’m sentimental about stuff. Absolutely, absolutely not. It’s just, I don’t know. I don’t throw it away. Sometimes the Hard Rock buys your stuff from you and you actually make some money off the shit. Where do you think they get it? Like when you go into the Hard Rocks all around the country you see people’s stuff there. That shit is all out of somebody’s garage. They contact you and say, “Okay, we want such and such an outfit.” You know, they want whatever you were wearing at a certain historic concert or occasion or something. Like there’s a really cool outfit of mine at the new Hard Rock that just opened here on the Strip. I went to the grand opening and it’s in a big display case, this big long jacket and stuff I wore when us and Aerosmith were touring together—talk about a trip down memory lane. If only my pants could talk. Maybe they’d remember some of the stuff I don’t. (Remember the leather pants from the cover of Shout? They could tell a whole chapter by themselves.)
So we’ll meet here every day at noon. At least for now. The only thing that might change is if it affects my singing, you know? Because we’re recording this album and talking is the worst you can do for your voice. That’s what I’ve learned over the years: It’s not even singing that’s so bad for your voice; it’s talking. So we’ll see how it works out. We might have to end up changing things around. Like I might have to rehearse and record during the day and you can come to the studio later at night. Or in between sessions, you know. The studio’s not far. Just like five minutes from here, in these warehouses right behind the Strip. I could work for a few hours and then you could come there, talk for a couple hours. Whatever. We’ll get it figured out.
Another reason I like the idea of meeting here at Feelgoods is because I feel like today, as we’re writing this book, I’m a different person than the kid who started out thirty years ago. I’m not just a frontman, a singer, what have you, anymore. Today I’m a businessman as much as anything else. I like business. First of all, business is good because you don’t have to do anything except make decisions. I mean, it’s not heavy lifting. It’s not digging ditches. It’s not even memorizing lines. It’s like: Your money works for you while you sit on your ass. It’s a helluva lot easier than running back and forth across a stage for ninety minutes a night. You try it. I’ve been clocked doing twelve miles a show. Twelve miles back and forth across the stage! I remember back in Atlanta that time, I was what, in my mid-forties I guess, I think it was 2005. You think rock ’n’ roll isn’t a sport? Try this: I’m running across the stage, I’m high-stepping, moving at a fast clip from one side to the other, when all of a sudden, POW!—I feel this incredible pain in my calf. I thought I’d just been shot… or hit with a piece of metal. You take all kinds of shrapnel, bottles, bolts, what have you, when you’re up there onstage; it ain’t all panties (maybe a good subtitle for the book—It Ain’t All Panties). The tour manager was up there on the stage afterwards hunting for whatever hit me. But nobody could find anything. And my calf. Jesus H. It hurt like shit. It swelled up instantly like a balloon.
But it turned out nothing hit me. I tore the sucker. Just ripped it. I got to the hospital and I got the MRI and they confirmed it. Like some weekend warrior at a fucking company softball game ripping his hammie trying to stretch a double into a triple. Only I ripped the calf muscle. Yikes. I was in unbelievable pain; they had me all doped up on Demerol. But like two days later I was back on tour and finished it out. There was another time where I had a broken ankle and I had to go on tour but didn’t even have a walking cast. I ripped up an old tennis shoe and made my own walking cast. The show must go on, right?
War stories. War wounds. I know, I know…. Old rock stars fall hard. But I ain’t singing the blues. Here I sit in the VIP section of my own restaurant, at this cool custom set of guitar-shaped tables. I’m not just behind the velvet rope. I own the motherfucker. I’m forty-eight years old. I’m five foot nine, 170. The spandex is over. I’ve had three plastic surgeries. But who do you think gets laid more, me or you? Time changes a man. I ain’t twenty-one anymore. But I’m probably in better shape than I ever was. In the early eighties, we were skinny, but we weren’t very healthy. It’s a miracle we survived at all. We were not exactly treating our bodies very well in those days. A bottle of Jack Daniel’s and a package of stolen Hebrew National hot dogs do not make for a particularly well-balanced diet. (Looking back, I don’t think we even bothered to cook the damn things.) Later, when we all had money for the first time, we had a period in there when everybody in the band kind of blew up. Everybody was looking kind of green around the gills. Our problem? We could afford at that point to eat, drink, snort, swallow, or shoot up anything and everything we wanted. We were gluttons. We spoiled ourselves with any whim… and it showed. We are all very lucky we didn’t kill ourselves. It might look like we were trying to do that, but speaking for myself, death was never my intent. I just wanted to feel good, you know? I was just looking for that kick, that high, that superintense orgasm. Die young and leave a beautiful corpse? Not my style. I think I’d rather take the plastic surgery route.
These days, the debauchery is done. After years of unchecked drinking, I’m pretty straight now. I don’t do any drugs at all. Not anymore. And I stopped drinking three years ago. I’ve owned the tequila company for four years. And that’s what made me stop drinking—I was drinking too much tequila. But yeah, I haven’t, I haven’t even tasted my own tequila in three years.
I don’t miss getting high or drunk. I don’t miss it at all. I have so much more productive time now. I get so much more accomplished. I get up at 7:00 A.M. and make the coffee. Who’d ever thought I would be a morning person? I couldn’t have any of these businesses going if I was still that fucked up as I was for so long. Getting high never crosses my mind. Drugs are just… lame. Sobriety is cool. Well, I mean, I’ll have maybe a glass of champagne once in a while. That’s it, you know. But it’s nothing like it used to be. I have too much stuff going on. The tattoo shops, Vince Neil Ink. My solo record. Mötley Crüe. Feelgoods. Tres Rios. Vince Neil Aviation—I’m just getting things going with that right now, but you know what? My planes are tricked out—I’m talking flames on the sides, leopard-skin interior, full bar. If you want to fly like a rock ’n’ roller, you fly with me. It’s gonna be great.
Probably all of us watch our diets—especially when our wives are watching. How much chicken can you eat? The answer is: a shitload. Not to disappoint you, but I have been known to order a Chinese chicken salad and a Diet Coke for lunch. Some of us have weight issues and stuff when we’re off tour. But when you’re on tour, onstage, that’s different. When I’m on tour, I’m running for ninety minutes straight, sometimes longer. When I get offstage in between songs, it looks like I’ve been playing basketball. I am just dripping wet, drenched. And that’s every night, five days a week. I always keep a towel and a blow-dryer on the side of the stage, along with my other stuff. During a drum or guitar solo, I’ll towel off and blow-dry my hair. They call it Vince’s World—my area backstage right with all my shit. My towel, my blow-dryer, lots of water, my throat lozenges… here’s a trade secret—licorice lozenges. They really open up your throat. It used to be I kept a groupie or two waiting in Vince’s World, too. Now, being married for the fourth time and all… let’s just say that kind of stuff is in the past.
I read somewhere that an NBA player runs five miles in the course of a forty-eight-minute game. So there you have it. I do more than twice that five nights a week. Put me up against Kobe! He and I do have something in common: We both have four Lakers championship rings. Just like his, my rings have my initials in them, too. I’m actually waiting for my fourth one right now. It’s on order. I love the Lakers. I’m an LA boy, a huge fan. I grew up part of my life not far from the Forum, in Inglewood, where the Showtime Lakers used to play. The owner of the team, Jerry Buss, is a good friend of mine. When he gave me my first Laker ring he said he was doing it ’cause I “score more than any other Laker.” How cool was that, you know? If you wonder what I have in common with a guy like Dr. Jerry Buss, a seventy-six-year-old business mogul with a Ph.D. in physical chemistry, I’ll just say this: We both like beautiful women and drinking our alcohol out of the bottle. Strong friendships have been built from less.
As I’m telling you this, Dr. Buss is recovering from a stroke. I hope he’s doing okay. One thing Jerry and I always talked about was business. He would give me advice (whether I wanted it or not!). No, I’m joking. When he spoke I listened—at least before I blacked out. Because a lot of things he told me really did sink in. I think over the last several years, as I’ve been sober, I’ve been able to capitalize on some of the things he taught me. One thing he used to say: With business, you always know there’s going to be problems. You have supply and demand, employees, shipment problems, what have you. As a businessman, you have to learn to deal with it. You take care of problems, fix things, figure out how to make the business better. It’s never been like that with Mötley Crüe. With Mötley Crüe, there’s problems and nothing ever gets better. It’s very frustrating, I have to tell you. I’m at a point in my life where I just don’t want to fuck with it anymore. I’ve always said I’ll stop singing when it’s not fun anymore. Well, lemme tell you this. When it comes to Mötley Crüe, it’s getting to be not fun anymore. It might even be a little past that.
With Mötley Crüe, it’s always like the Greatest Hits album—I’m the last to know everything. I’ve always had the distinct impression that nobody in this band gives one shit about what I think. I mean, it’s weird. I get no respect in that band, and it’s fucked up. It’s old.
I know, I know. I was the last one to join the band. I’m just the singer. I’m the entertainer. I’m the person in the front; I’m not the one bringing the songs. But I don’t care about all that. I don’t mind if somebody else writes the songs. It’s my job to interpret the songs, to sell them, to sing the shit out of them. To perform them and make them memorable enough to sell 80 million copies. Who knows how many more times than that Mötley has been downloaded or sharewared or pirated or whatever? Do you think Mötley has suffered from my lack of songwriting? Or is it my singing that sells the songs? We all know what happened when they tried to replace me with John Corabi. They set up this whole fake meeting to try and get me to come back. I knew it was a fucking meeting. What do you think, I’m an idiot?
The thing is, I know my role in the band. I’ve never really needed to bring songs to Mötley Crüe because the songs they have are, you know, there have always been really good songs coming in. I’m not gonna say I haven’t made some good suggestions. It was me who suggested covering “Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room.” Everybody knows that song kind of saved our asses at the time. But I’m not a guy who says, you know, “If my name is not on the song, I’m not going to sing it.” Fuck no. I’m not that guy. I’m the opposite of that guy. I mean, my name’s been on plenty of the hits that we’ve had. That’s fine. But that’s not the biggest thing. The biggest thing is does the song sell? The biggest thing, right now, is eliminating all the bullshit in my life, number one, and number two, finding the business model for each part of my business life so that things work smoothly. ’Cause that’s what I want. The same as I’ve always wanted: I just want things to be easy. Like Saints of Los Angeles. The producer knew my voice so well he would sing the scratch vocals first; I would know going in what was expected of me, what would work, you know? So when I went in to sing the record it was like totally smooth. I did a song a day and I could’ve done more, because each song took me no more than two hours to lay down. To tell you the truth, it took me longer to drive to the studio and back to my hotel than it did to actually do the work on the album. That was Saints. And Saints was up for a Grammy last year. So how can you argue with that?
In the old days it was sooooo… fuckin’… hard… to put out a record. Everything was a struggle. Everything was heads beating against the wall. I hated it. You know, we would spend eight months in a studio grinding it out, arguing. Sometimes it would get really nasty. It was like a rock ’n’ roll cockfight, 24/7. Nikki would be in there telling me to sing a song one way and then another: “Try it this way. No, try it that way.” He was always trying to lord his power over me, whatever. To this day I feel like he’s pulling the strings over at the agency. And then you’d have the producer stepping in and he would tell me something different about how to sing the song… and I’d just go, you know, “What the fuck? What the fuckin’ fuck. Fuck all you-all, I’m gonna sing it like I’m going to sing it; we didn’t get this far with everybody second-guessing my voice. Remember, you were the ones who came to me and wanted me to sing for you.”
I’m glad those days are gone. Today it’s more about business. I got a contract. We handle it like business. We don’t have to like each other. We just have to make music together. It’s like a friendly divorce with shared custody. We do it for the sake of the music. Because what we made together, something from nothing, was valuable and groundbreaking. Today it lives, like a child all grown.
I think one of the problems is that Nikki resents me. He has always seen this band as his baby. And I think he resents the fact that, since I’m the singer, the songs are identified more with me than with him. I mean, I can go out on the road solo and sing the Mötley catalog. And I do. And people love it. One thing everybody knows: You can change the band around and still maintain your sound. If you get good musicians, they can play whatever they need to play; they can imitate anybody. But you can’t imitate the singer—the front man is not interchangeable. He’s the face and the voice of the band. They learned that before when we broke up. I think that weighs on Nikki and Tommy both. Because Nikki wants to be known as the musical genius he is. And make no mistake, he’s fuckin’ awesome. And Tommy has just always wanted to be famous. So there you have it: Everybody resents me—except Mick, who’s this gnomish musical genius who’s always had enough of his own shit to worry about. It’s like, he was the older brother, living in the house, while we lived in the tree house out back, three younger brothers at each other’s throats.
Whenever we get together to do things now, that’s the dynamic. Who needs that kinda crap, right? Nowadays I pick my own band members. And I pick my own partners. I have partners in all my different things, you know, my business ventures. But it’s usually me and one guy, or me and two guys who are making the decisions. Like with Feelgoods, I have one partner. At my bar in West Palm Beach, I have one partner. I have two partners that I’m gonna work with to build a bunch of these in the next two years, so they’ll be all over the country. Twenty-five or forty. We’re working on the numbers. But the thing I’m trying to say is… in business, there’s no ulterior motives. But with Mötley Crüe everybody has an ulterior motive. Which sucks. And you have to just try and live with it. Because there’s a lot of dishonesty in rock ’n’ roll. And there’s a lot of money in Mötley Crüe. It’s like that movie The Perfect Storm. If you don’t watch out, you can end up on the bottom of the ocean.
You’d think with Mötley it would get better over time. You’d think as we all grew up and became older things would be different. Like maybe it was just everyone’s youth—we were all so young when we started out, and things just kerranged out of control. It sounds like a cliché now, but when you’re living it, you’re not exempt. Isn’t that why clichés exist? Because there’s truth in there? Unfortunately, I’m telling you, it’s worse now than it ever was. Like we’re all getting older and even more set in our ways. Instead of wiser and more mature, like my wife suggests we should all be. But it’s just the same old shit, over and over again. Like, we have this Canadian tour coming up that nobody told me about until the day tickets went on sale. And then of course I start getting texts and e-mails from people, like: “Oh, you’re coming to Canada!” And I’m like, What the fuck are you talking about!!!!
So I’m pissed off. I’m going on this Canada tour and I’m pissed off. I mean, I just wrote my schedule down in a calendar. You want a glimpse into my life, here it is. Right here on my iPhone. From now till the nineteenth I’ll be recording the album and working on the book with you. Then it’s Christmas. I have the first week of January off. Then I’m booked solid at least until March. I have to rehearse with Mötley; I got to go to the Grand Caymans for a tequila promotion, I got to go to Palm Beach for my two-year anniversary of Dr. Feelgoods. Then I start the Mötley thing and that’s till the fifth of February. After that I go to the Super Bowl. And then my birthday’s the next day, and then I play St. Louis and Kansas City with the Vince Neil Band, and then we’re off to Mexico and South America, where we have a huge following. It doesn’t matter if they know the language; they know the songs. I actually toured South America before Mötley did. Last year was the first time Mötley ever went down there. And I’ve played there twice already. Argentina, Brazil, Chile. All those places. It’s really cool down there. And then, you know, I’ll start, I’ll probably start the book tour.
With all that shit, I really wasn’t in the mood to go on the Mötley tour of Canada. I told them, “Fuck you, I ain’t going to go….” But then, you know, I found out I had to go because of our T-shirt deal. No show, no T-shirt deal.
And so, you know what? Fuck it.
I’m playing Canada with Mötley. It turns out Mötley would get sued if I didn’t do it. And then I would get sued. I would have to give some lawyer all kinds of money to represent me. That’s just like flushing it away; paying lawyers is like wiping your ass with hundred-dollar bills. Plus, if I didn’t do the show, I would lose a chunk of change. I was like, You know what? I’ll just go ahead and do Canada. I keep reminding myself—I’m not part of Mötley anymore. I just have to play with them. It’s a better situation than before. Especially in the beginning. Back then I just, you know, I wouldn’t… I felt like I was bullied around. For some reason I wouldn’t stick up for myself. I just kind of didn’t want to make noise. But now I’m like, fuck it, you know? I’ve got to have a voice. I was always the odd man out. (Another good subtitle for this book: Odd Man Out. That’s me when it comes to Mötley Crüe. I don’t think anybody would argue.)
Think about it. ’Cause Mick is Mick. Mick’s always just been Mick. And you know Nikki and Tommy were always… they tried to be, you know, like Tyler and Perry when they were the Toxic Twins. They even had their own nickname and stuff like that. But it was like… they’ve always tried too hard to be rock ’n’ roll people. Where me, I never really dressed to be a rock star, not offstage. I didn’t go out in the street looking like a rock star. (Not since the early days at least.) I’m just… I’m a surfer guy from LA, you know? I don’t have to wear chains around my waist and leather jackets and boots every minute for people to go, “Oh, that must be a rock star.” That’s what it was always like to be with Nikki and Tommy. They still do it today. It’s like we’ll be on an airplane or in Japan on the bullet train and they’ll come decked out like they’re going to a concert. Full rock ’n’ roll regalia. And like it’s like, Fuck, what’s up with that? Where are we going? We’re supposed to sit on a train for three hours, man; put on some sweats, lose the makeup. I mean, I’m as much for wearing eyeliner as the next guy, but only when I’m actually working. Back in the day, on tour, I’d actually try to pretend I wasn’t with Nikki and Tommy. I’d try to walk a ways behind them. I still do it today. Just so that I don’t kind of have to really be associated—which is bad, but that’s what it’s come down to.
These days I’m basically like a free agent. I have a separate deal. I got out because I just didn’t want to deal with their bullshit anymore. If we have to go on tour, the corporation hires me. I still get 25 percent of everything I do, so it’s not like, you know, I get a paycheck. But I have an option not to do stuff. This last Canadian tour is the end of this tour cycle. And what they always seem to do is piss me off about something, and then I have to renegotiate with them for the next tour and next album. Which makes me not want to fucking do it. They’re not the cool people who they want people to believe they are, who they represent themselves to be. It’s pretty sad. Nikki tries to run everything with the management, but they make a lot of wrong decisions and, you know… fuck. I just like keep my mouth shut and just like whatever. (Except for now of course.)
For me, the best thing for now is just to limit my contact with Mötley Crüe. It’s not like working with my solo band. I mean those guys—Blando and Strum especially—we’ve been together for years. These guys are my friends. With Mötley Crüe, those guys are not my friends. And they haven’t been for a long time.
But the thing is, you know, they need me to do Mötley Crüe. And unless they want to go out on their own and do their solo stuff, they’re stuck with me.
Anyway, fuck the negative. That’s not where I’m at right now. This book is about Vince Neil. It’s about taking stock of the life I’ve lived and telling the tales, dredging up the good old days, and having a good laugh, maybe a good cry, too, before it’s all over. By doing this I feel like I can move forward into the next chapters of my life, you know what I mean? Put some closure on the past. Open a door to the future. Nobody stays the same. We grow; we change. You have to find peace with what you do, with who you are, with what you’ve accomplished.
One thing I have to say, I think I’m singing better than ever. Especially the last two years. At Crüe Fest—both 1 and 2—I sang better than I’ve ever sung in my life. I think I moved better, too. I think I am healthier and have more energy. I keep telling myself that I want to be the best I can be. There have probably been a lot of years of my life that I wasted. I don’t think I want to lose that kind of time ever again. Now I hear the clock ticking. It’s easy to get older. That’s gonna happen whether you like it or not. The trick is to pick up some wisdom along the way.
The point is, you got to go with the flow. I love my life. I love where I live. Viva Las Vegas. Sin City. City of possibility. To me, Vegas is like the Wild West. That’s why I needed to have my Lambo here, you know? A Ferrari fits wine country. A Lambo is pure Vegas. You can do things here, businesswise I’m talking about, that you can’t do anywhere else. Like with me opening up not one but two tattoo parlors on the Strip—you can’t do that on Rodeo Drive. You know what I mean? The most expensive real estate in the world is the Strip. And to get on that street, that’s exciting. It’s funny: When I started dating my wife I lived in Beverly Hills and she was living in Northern California. She was playing hard to get. She’d fly in on weekends. By the time I finally persuaded her to move in with me in LA, I decided I was sick of LA, that I was moving to Vegas. Hollywood is a small town. I’d had about enough. But she was disappointed. She told me, “I moved in with you so I could be in LA and now you’re taking me to Vegas?” I guess the answer to that is “Yes.”
And it is also the answer to the question of why we have another huge house not far from the place where she grew up.
So what do I do when I’m not on the road? Check my Web site. I’m all over the place all of the time; the Vince Neil Band does a lot of touring. But when I’m not on the road I like being home. I like running our foundation, the Skylar Neil Foundation. We have a huge golf tournament every year. I like playing golf. I like being normal. I like eating good food and hanging out. I like driving my cars. I like cooking shows. You know like Top Chef is one of my favorite shows. Project Runway, I like that show. I don’t like all reality shows, just the ones where people have some talent and they’re actually doing something. I haven’t seen Jersey Shore yet. I just keep reading about it—I want to watch it. It’s good entertainment ’cause the people are so weird. That’s sort of my guilty pleasure is all these kinds of shows. And I like Haunted and Ghost Hunters, and Ghost Adventures, and all those haunted shows. And I do love Survivor. I’ve loved that for a long time. Of course I was on one of the first reality shows, Surreal Life. It was just the very first year. There were like nine seasons of it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a copy of it.
My real guilty pleasure these days is betting football. I have my own table at the sports book at the Red Rock Casino off the Strip in Las Vegas, a beautiful place. I have my own big booth right at the center in this roped-off, reserved area; it’s got a separate TV, but all the huge screens on the walls are dead center front of me. I go in there every Sunday, usually at eight o’clock in the morning till about eight o’clock at night. To have a reserved booth you’ve got to bet at least three thousand dollars a game or ten thousand dollars a day or something like that. That’s my big vice now, I guess. I like the action. Something to get your heart pumping. More healthy than a syringe full of cocaine powder like I was doing back in ’81 with my girlfriend Lovey, that’s for sure….
But you got to admit… those days are a lot more fun to talk about.
Excerpted from Tattoos & Tequila by Neil, Vince Copyright © 2010 by Neil, Vince. Excerpted by permission.
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