Motley Crue visits Riverbend in Cincinnati
By Alan Sculley
The last time Motley Crue toured with Kiss, the situation couldn’t have been much different than it is this summer as these two popular bands hit the road together for one of the year’s biggest tours.
It was 1982, and Motley Crue was just getting started as a band, having been newly signed to Elektra, which had released a newly remixed version of the group’s debut album, Too Fast For Love.
The radio hits didn’t start until the next album, as 1983’s Shout At The Devil, started a string of four platinum-selling albums that continued for Motley Crue through the 1989 album, Dr. Feelgood.
Kiss, by contrast, had already reached the heights as one of the world’s biggest bands and, arguably, the most spectacular concert attraction to date in rock history. Although original members Ace Frehley (guitar) and Peter Criss (drums) were gone by that 1982 tour and the band’s album sales were dropping precipitously, Kiss was still a major headlining live band.
Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx remembers that 1982 tour with Kiss as one of the early big moments in his group’s career.
“Kiss and Ozzy (Osbourne) were the two bands that gave us our first shot,” Sixx said in a mid-July phone interview. “I look back, and it was a short amount of dates (with Kiss). It was four or six dates, but they gave us our first taste of playing up and down the (west) coast and on big stages. We’ll always remember that. They’re fond memories.”
Now, 30 years after the two bands first shared stages, they are back on tour again for the first time since that handful of 1982 shows.
Kiss will still close out the shows this summer, but Motley Crue, obviously, will be in a position to make a much bigger impression on this tour, beginning with the fact that both groups will be doing full 90-minute sets.
“We really look at it as a double headliner,” Sixx said.
Both bands will be bringing out big stage productions this summer. For Motley Crue, that means bringing back the major stunt from last year’s tour, as drummer Tommy Lee will again do a solo as his drum kit does a complete circle on a 360-degree track he has dubbed “The Rollercoaster.” And yes, there will be pyro and other special effects.
“It’s a very raw, dangerous show,” Sixx said. “There are times in the show where if we’re at the wrong place at the wrong time, things could go horribly wrong. It takes a lot of work. And that’s the only way Motley thinks is ‘How do we push it beyond what we’ve done in the past?’”
Motley Crue will also debut a new song, “Sex,” that is being released as a single to coincide with the tour. It came together this past spring while the band was doing a three-week residency in Las Vegas.
Whether “Sex” catches on and becomes another hit for Motley Crue remains to be seen, but the tour with Kiss is part of what Sixx said he expects could be the biggest four or five years in the career of his band (whose other members are singer Vince Neil and guitarist Mick Mars). Exactly what other events populate these next few years remains to be seen.
“It’s nothing I can really unveil,” Sixx said.
But the tour with Kiss may get extended beyond this fall.
“Globally, the concept of Kiss and Motley Crue has promoters salivating, everywhere from Japan, South America, Europe, the U.K. It’s everywhere,” he said. “We all said ‘Let’s get on the road. Let’s see how this works.’ I don’t know 100 percent what Kiss has planned for next year. We’re going to take this up to October. By then we’ll have a clearer snapshot of exactly what we want to do.”
Other activities that are in the wind for Motley Crue include a movie based on “Dirt,” the book about the band’s colorful career, hard-partying lifestyle and internal dramas.
New music is a possibility as well, although Sixx said nothing is in progress yet.
After the flurry of activity ends in several years, Sixx said, it may be time for the band to re-evaluate its future, or whether it’s time for Motley Crue to call it a day.
“We want to go away friends. We want to go out on top,” Sixx said. “We want to leave a legacy where people go ‘Wow, that was a wild ride.’ When that time is we don’t know, but it’s not a negative. It’s a positive. We started on a positive and we want to end on a positive. The bands that just wear it out and just cripple off into the sunset to milk that last nickel, and it’s like if you haven’t saved your money to take care of yourself and you have to do that, it’s not a good look. And that’s not how we want to be remembered.”
Motley Crue and Kiss will perform at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati on Friday, Aug. 31. Opening the evening will be The Treatment. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., music at 7 p.m. For ticket information, visit riverbend.org.
Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at AlanSculley@DaytonCityPaper.com.