also available in the book: Chronological Crue Vol.1 - The Eighties
This is where it all
begins. Here's a handy overview of each Mötley Crüe member, before you
move on through all the details below.
- Randy Castillo
Castillo is born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA on this Monday. His
mother Margaret is Spanish, while his father Frank was born to Mexican
and Native American parents. Randy is one of five children, having four
sisters, Frances, Marilyn, Phyllis and Christine, who all play music.
His musical career begins when he plays drums in his elementary school
marching band. He then plays trumpet for about four years, including
performing in his father’s band called Los Aguilas, which is Spanish
for The Eagles. With his father on guitar, they perform Mariachi music
at local weddings and parties, but he soon loses interest when he
realises the kind of bands he likes don’t have trumpet players. He
decides he wants a drum kit instead, especially after seeing The
Beatles rock on the Ed Sullivan Show in early February 1964. His father
refuses to buy one for him, thinking he will also lose interest with
it, as he did with the trumpet.
At fourteen years of age, Randy’s youngest sister is born and on the
same day his mother buys him his first drum set, with her last paycheck
from working as a secretary for the Albuquerque Public Schools,
following Randy’s pleads over the last two years. The small Ludwig kit
has one high hat and one symbol, and Randy plays it nonstop in their
Two weeks later
he is asked to join a local rhythm and blues band called The Sheltons,
one of the city’s most popular bands, but he is kicked out after a few
months when their old drummer Toby re-joins, who had quit before they
asked Randy to play for them. This devastates Randy but inspires him to
take lessons at Luchetti’s Music with Nick Luchetti, at the time one of
the best instructors in the city, if not the state, and owner of the
shop where his drum kit was purchased. Randy later credits Luchetti
with giving him the guidance to help him realise his rock dreams.
A year later,
Randy plays in his next band called Doc Rand and The Purple Blues with
a black singer that can dance like James Brown. Wearing sparkly shirts
and ties, they play a mixture of original tunes and covers, learning
every track on James Brown’s Live at the Apollo album. They soon beat
The Sheltons in a battle of the bands competition at West Mesa High
School, while James Brown and The Famous Flames is the first big
concert that Randy sees.
Blues record a 7” single called I Need A Woman, which soon reaches
number one on local radio station KQUO’s weekly Top 40 chart and holds
the spot for five weeks, turning Randy into a local star.
West Mesa High School, Randy regularly plays until 1:30-2am with
popular local band The Checkers, as his parents take turns sitting in
the bars as chaperones and helping him to load his drum kit into their
truck after the shows. This causes Randy to often fall asleep in class,
but he really wants to be a musician more than anything in life.
As a senior,
Randy plays in a symphonic band at the now-defunct University of
Albuquerque and is named in the All-State symphonic band. He is
recruited to attend school on scholarship, but after a year of school
he decides he has had enough of the class room.
Randy plays in
a band called The Tabbs when he is eighteen years of age and they wear
mustard coloured Nehru jackets on stage. On 18 June 1970 he sneaks into
a Jimi Hendrix concert and hides under the stage to get a closer look,
exactly three months before Hendrix dies. He then plays with The Mudd
after leaving The Tabbs and he begins experimenting heavily with drugs,
including mescaline, peyote and heroin. The band’s lead singer Tommy G
dies of kidney failure, which Randy blames on Tommy’s addiction to
heroin. This causes him to shy away from using the drug again.
He joins his first rock band in the late ‘70s called The Wumblies
(originally called Cottonmouth) and he moves to Espanola where they
predominantly play covers of songs by Yes, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin
and Jethro Tull at as many gigs as possible, including high school
proms. He first experiences life on the road with The Wumblies as they
tour around America, playing four 45-minute sets a night in clubs. The
band moves to Denver, Colorado where they fall apart in 1980; a year
after his father Frank passes away at age fifty one.
has to move to Los Angeles if he wants to make it big, he makes the
transition in 1981 with Albuquerque-bred guitarist Tim Pierce and they
rent a run-down room together in Hollywood at the Montecito on Franklin
Ave. Having endured enough of the local hookers and transvestites, they
move out and Randy lives in his pickup truck. On the recommendation of
another former Albuquerque musician, singer/songwriter Michael Goodroe,
he joins pop band The Motels (whom Goodroe plays bass for) when their
drummer falls sick with a heart condition just as they are about to go
on tour. Randy embarks on his first major arena tour with The Motels in
support of The Cars.
- Mick Mars
Robert (Bob) Alan Deal is
born in Huntington, Indiana, USA on this Friday. He is born the second
son of Tena Deal and Frank Deal, a factory foreman who suddenly one day
becomes a Baptist minister. His older brother is Frank Jr. who later
becomes a highway patrolman. His other siblings are brothers Tim and
Randy, along with sister Susan.
the alias Mick Mars from 1980, consistently saying over the years that
the reason for the change was because he was never comfortable with his
name, due to his initials spelling B.A.D. He tells the press he always
liked the name Mick and chose Mars because of the Roman God of War.
Bob comes down with scarlet fever at three years of age, and runs a
temperature of 106 degrees for three days. He is so sick he nearly
dies, and doctors later say he has possibly never recovered from it.
One day when five years of age, Bob and his younger brother Tim hang
his older brother Frank from a tree with some baling rope, as they play
Cowboys and Indians. His mum’s sister Thelma, who lives at his
grandmother’s, pulls the noose from his neck after a short while; Frank
is OK. The next week, Thelma takes the three boys to 4-H Fair in Hiers
Park where Bob sees a man in a bright orange cowboy suit covered in
rhinestones and wearing a big white Stetson hat introduce himself as
Skeeter Bond to the crowd before singing. Seeing this first concert,
young Bob knows that he wants to make music on stage, as his life.
Christmas, he instantly chooses the stocking he sees with a tiny
plastic guitar sticking out the top of it. The next Christmas his
mother buys him a Mickey Mouse guitar, but he isn’t interested in
playing Mousketeer songs, instead getting a feel for how to tighten the
strings and put melodies together. A kid that lives nearby, who Bob
nicknames Sundance, teaches him to play his first real song called My
Dog Has Fleas, on his guitar called Blue Moon, before showing him how
to pick melodies.
eldest cousin buys him a Stellar Acoustic guitar for Christmas when he
is 9 years old, after seeing it in a pawn shop for twelve dollars. He
teaches himself to play, learning a Righteous Brothers tune called B
Flat Blues first; the B-side of their Cocoa Joe single.
A baby sister Susan, nicknamed Bird, is born soon after. When she is
born with a collapsed lung, his parents decide to give up the tough
Indiana winters, and move to a more arid climate on the advice of
doctors. Ten members of the Deal family then drive for three days to
Garden Grove, California in a ‘59 Ford where they begin their new lives.
father works at a factory where they make cardboard boxes for Fender,
and a year later his mother buys him a forty-nine-dollar St. George
Rodeo electric guitar with some money she makes on weekends by ironing
clothes. After making his own amp and stereo from his little sister’s
record player, he is soon making his own version of the surf music
sounds that are popular in California at the time.
discovers The Beatles and practices singing and playing for a year
before performing The Beatles song Money in front of his family. His
eldest cousin laughs at his singing and Bob gets so embarrassed he
never tries to sing lead again in his life.
At age fourteen, Bob joins his first band, a Beatles cover band called
The Jades, and he plays bass before replacing their guitarist. His
first-ever gig is at the American Legion Hall in Westminster,
California and he makes five dollars, which is spent on new strings.
Samoan friend, Joe Abbey, he meets the Ruiz brothers, who lead a street
gang called the Bosco Brothers. He goes to their house to borrow an amp
and reverb pedal and together they form a band called Sounds Of Soul,
with Tony Ruiz on guitar, Johnny Ruiz on bass and Paulie Ruiz on drums.
They play at various underage clubs in Orange County.
goes to school in Orange County and does well up until third grade,
even though he acts the class clown and gets into heaps of fights. He
earns the class clown title by trading insults with his 5th Grade
teacher, Mr. Washburn. He tends to question things and form his own
opinions on topics, and also likes to save his writings and memoirs.
His love of the guitar is clearly evident, and he is one of the best
three players in his school.
suspended from school, following an incident where he writes an essay
about the song Pressed Rat and Warthog by Cream and gets an F grade for
it. Upon his return, a substitute teacher kicks him out of class for
writing guitar chord charts in his Science notebook. He threatens the
teacher as he walks out of school for the last time. The police then
pay him a visit at the garden shed he lives in, behind his parents’
Christmas, Bob’s Aunt Annie gives him a beaten up Les Paul that she
bought for ninety eight dollars. The following May, an acquaintance
gives him a ‘54 Fender Stratocaster. Bob soon grows tired of rival
gangs coming to the Ruiz Brothers’ house for fights and their singer
Antone tells Bob of a blues band in Fresno that is looking for a
seventeen, Bob heads to Fresno, expecting to earn money from gigs with
the new blues band he is joining, but even though he teaches the
all-black band everything he knows about rhythm and soul, he feels he
is wasting time since they can’t play well enough for him. He gets a
job picking watermelons to earn some money for food instead, but he
soon heads back home.
in the shed with a friend Ron and together they often swallow fistfuls
of mini-white cross-top pills that are essentially truckers’ speed. He
then progresses to taking a heavy painkiller called Seconal, which he
washes down with gin until his doctor says he will die if he doesn’t
quit. After feeling it’s time to move away from his family again, he
moves in with some bikers in Orange County. He also starts to feel pain
in his hips and other bones.
Bob plays clubs in a band called Wahtoshi with fellow musicians Jim
Cunningham and Mike Malone; the name thought to mean number one in
Chinese. His friend Mike Collins brings his sixteen-year-old former
girlfriend Sharon Copas to a party and she begins dating
Bob. Sharon soon finds out she is pregnant and they ask Bob’s parents
what they should do. Bob’s father tells him to be a man and do the
right thing, so he immediately proposes to Sharon while she is in the
bathroom. They take a drive out to Las Vegas where they get married on
3 January 1971 in a small white chapel. Sharon gets Bob a job in the
industrial laundry where she works. Their son is born on 9 August 1971
and named Les Paul by Bob after his favourite guitar brand, before
Sharon falls pregnant again soon. A daughter is born to Bob and Sharon
on 4 September 1973 in Westminster, California and named Stormy, after
the Classics IV song.
married young father of two, Bob feels his life has run off track, so
he turns to God. He forms a gospel band for a short while and a friend
of his father baptises him, before Bob realises the church is not his
answer. At the laundry one afternoon, a tub swings and smashes into
Bob’s left hand. He panics that such an accident may mean he can never
play guitar again. Wahtoshi replaces him while his hand heals and he
tells Sharon that he will never work a day job again. That Christmas,
Sharon gets sick of working three jobs to support the family and takes
young Les and five-month-old Stormy and leaves him. Broke, Bob moves
back into the garden shed behind his parents’ house and it isn’t long
before he spends two nights in jail for not making his $200 per month
child support payments.
return from jail, Aunt Thelma takes him to see a back specialist, where
he learns he has a degenerative bone disease called Ankylosing
Spondylitis. Not knowing of any other relatives with it, he is told he
has an extremely rare form of the inherited disease that begins in
teenage years. Although they expect it to stop in his mid-thirties, it
never does, causing him to always have inflamed and stiff joints.
Bob and Mike
Collins hang out together, hitching to nightclubs on weekends in search
of bands to jam with. During the summer of ‘73 they see a band called
Whitehorse from Ocean Beach, California at Pier 11 in Costa Mesa. They
had been gigging extensively since forming in September ‘72 as Fat
City. Bob hangs around them for six months, whenever they are in town,
and practices with second guitarist David Day, who had relocated to
Santa Ana from Ocean Beach. Bob becomes good friends with drummer Jack
Valentine and second guitarist/keyboardist David Day, who had a falling
out with original band leader and first lead guitarist Kevin Kohl. Bob
is later introduced to bassist Harry Clay and lead singer Kenny Morse,
who both continue to live in Ocean Beach. Prior to Whitehorse, Harry
had been in a San Diego band Catseye with Kenny, and used to jam with
drummer Stewart Copeland (later of The Police) when Catseye weren't
comes up with the name Motley Croo late in 1972 but management prefers
Whitehorse, named after the bottle of Scotch whiskey. The name Motley
Croo is utilised whenever the band shops their original tunes for a
recording contract, but to this day, there is a disagreement amongst
original Whitehorse members as to whether the band actually ever played
any live gigs under the name Motley Croo or not.
slowly teaches Bob the Whitehorse songs while David’s previous
band-mate, Kim Sherman from the recording group Frantics, fills in as
the second lead guitarist for the group during a ten-week tour of
Colorado in the Fall of ‘73. Kim is also instrumental in teaching Bob
many of the sixty songs in the Whitehorse repertoire. Bob officially
joins the group on stage as lead guitarist in January 1974 at Mr.
Lucky’s in Denver Colorado, during another ten-week Colorado tour, when
Kim finally leaves to return to Los Angeles where he plays session
guitar for Flash Cadillac.
the thirty-six hour marathon return drive to Los Angeles in March ‘74,
the band’s equipment truck blows its engine in the Barstow desert,
while Bob is driving. Dejected by the catastrophic expense, the band
struggles to regain momentum. Harry books an opening slot with JoJo
Gunne in San Diego and the group migrates to Huntington Beach. Harry
and Jack have a large apartment there with a garage where the band can
rehearse. Jack constructs the
world’s first upside-down drum machine here. The band reaches peak
momentum with this line-up playing approximately 280 gigs a year, with
Jack utilising his upside-down drums at many gigs. Bob moves into the
apartment in Huntington Beach with Jack and Harry, sleeping on the
living room floor in a sleeping bag behind a sheet taped to the
ceiling. Bob prefers this arrangement because the apartment is cleaner
than his previous home, and he soon hooks up with new girlfriend Marcia
has been rising over musical direction for the group. The band has five
24-track masters recorded with David, Harry and Kenny being the
principal songwriters. Jack and Bob want the group to move in a harder,
more progressive rock direction. They idolise the group Gentle Giant
from England, as well as Deep Purple, while David, Harry and Kenny
write and sing more straight-ahead rock songs in the vein of Spiders
from Mars, Mott the Hoople and even Bachman Turner Overdrive. Soon
after dislocating his ankle while sliding into third base playing
semi-pro baseball, Jack Valentine leaves the band over unsettled
musical differences in the fall of ‘75.
brings in new drummer Steve Jackson and new guitarist Chris Noe as Bob
leaves the group for about six months. He helps Jack move to San Diego
and soon moves in with him for a while. Jack gets him a job in a music
store but he never shows up. They try to start a band with bassist Gary
Chansley who had just left Wolfgang but Chansley accepts an offer to
join San Diego’s Peter Rabbit. They audition other bassists for a power
trio but feel it is futile, so Bob moves back to Marcia in Los Angeles.
While Bob is unemployed, Marcia falls pregnant. They struggle to
survive on welfare as Marcia is unable to continue working as a
cocktail waitress and part-time nurse due to the advancing pregnancy,
and they become homeless, often living in her VW van. When Kenny leaves
to join Holy Smoke, which later evolves into Vendetta, Bob rejoins
Whitehorse with Harry and David. Bob, Harry and David move into the
former Flash Cadillac mansion on Wilton Boulevard in Hollywood during
the summer of ‘76. With new vocalist Buzz Hatton and drummer Bill
Forbes, they again pick up momentum.
Erik Michael Deal, is then born in Cedar Sinai Hospital to Bob and
Marcia on 18 August 1976. With the five band members, girlfriends, baby
Erik Deal, two roadies, former guitarist Kim Sherman, and Buffalo
Springfield drummer Dewey Martin all living in the three-storey
dilapidated Victorian, the house defines insanity.
the fact that Whitehorse gig constantly with all members making equal
money, Bob is very poor at managing his finances and has to sell out
his shares in the Whitehorse truck and equipment, as well as often
requiring cash advances to stay afloat. When Buzz Hatton departs as the
band’s vocalist in the summer of ‘77, Micki Marz (Michelle Meyers)
joins after walking on stage to audition live during a gig at Gazarri’s.
finally breaks up in December 1977 when another band from England
releases an album that is reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine as
“So-California’s Whitehorse”, while the real Whitehorse has three new
24-track tunes in the can and several offers pending from major labels.
When they take legal action, the band’s lawyers negotiate a $20,000
settlement with Whitehorse to resume under the name Motley Croo but the
new drummer Mike Tolan, Micki and Bob push for $100,000, which blows
negotiations out of the water, and they end up with nothing, except the
end of their band.
decides to keep playing Top 40 with David Day from Whitehorse in
Ten-Wheel Drive, while Harry Clay starts an original outfit in 1978
called Video Nu-R with former Shady Lady singer Stefan Shady, before
he’s replaced on vocals by Randy Lee Miller. Once Video Nu-R begin to
gig steadily at the Starwood and other Hollywood clubs Bob joins them
on guitar, as he, Marcia and young Erik continue to live with Harry and
David in the Whitehorse house. Harry works at Betnun Music in Hollywood
and finances the recording and pressing of Video Nu-R’s two 7” singles;
the first titled Gypsy Woman/You Drive Me Crazy in December 1978,
followed by Decadence Plus in September 1979. This is Bob Deal’s first
record to be released and both singles receive limited radio airplay in
Los Angeles on both KNAC and KMET but Harry finds it increasingly
difficult to support the band financially.
1979, Harry, Bob, Marcia and Erik move to a new apartment and rehearsal
studio on Magnolia Boulevard in North Hollywood but it’s not long
before Bob and Marcia split up as he doesn’t want to marry her and she
can not afford to buy young Erik his first pair of walking shoes. For
the baby’s sake and survival, she decides that she needs to move on,
thus freeing Mick of the responsibility so he can focus on his music
career and she can finish her schooling and find a better job to enable
her to take care of their child on her own.
music career struggles again as Randy Lee Miller quits Video Nu-R after
seeing beer bottles being hurled during their set at the Troubadour.
Subsequent line-up changes alter the politics in the band and Bob is
soon told he has to leave the band, just as they are about to go into
the studio with Warner Brothers Records to record the Decadence Plus
single. The record deal evaporated and everyone was upset within the
band. The single ends up being recorded after the drummer scores one
hour of free time at Mystic Sound in Hollywood, where they record the
song live in one take with Bob Deal back on guitar, Harry Clay shouting
rapid fire vocals over bass synth and organ, and a coked-out drummer
playing too fast. With his time in Video Nu-R now at an end after
recording his first music, Bob places an ad in The Recycler reading,
“Extraterrestrial guitarist available for any other aliens that want to
conquer the Earth” and he receives many bizarre calls. For a very short time, he bounces back to David
Day’s steady cover band Ten-Wheel Drive and their semi-resident gig at
the Stone Pony, within walking distance down Magnolia.
come to the apartment looking for Bob due to non-payment of child
support for his kids. Bob has no assets at all and no regular income,
making it impossible to meet his payments. He finds work at a motorbike
factory on Magnolia where he cleans carburetors, however the pain from
his disease makes him a useless worker and it only lasts a few months.
re-connects with original Whitehorse singer Kenny Morse in the middle
of 1979 and soon joins his band, replacing guitarist Chris Noe, and
they immediately change their name from Holy Smoke to Vendetta. Quickly
leaving town to escape his legal problems, he moves into the band house
in North Redondo Beach, once again in the living room and once again
sleeping behind a sheet hung from the ceiling. With Kenny on vocals,
Bob on guitar, Johnny Gall on keyboards, Barry Leab on bass and Steve
Meade (aka Kinky McKool) on drums, their set consists of at least
twenty originals along with hits by Foreigner, Led Zeppelin, The Cars
and other heavy bands. Bob sings occasional background vocals during
their sets, as well as lead vocals on the Elvis Costello song Pump It
Up. Although he sounds good, he doesn’t really have the confidence to
no vehicle and relies on his new best friend John ‘Stick’ Crouch for
transport, who also helps the band as a driver and road crew whenever
they travel. Vendetta plays rock clubs from L.A. to South Bay to San
Diego to Yuma, keeping their licks up and avoiding the ‘prissy,
colourful silk/satin and scarves’ look, opting for leathers and Levis
instead. The Top 40 clubs don’t hire them because of their look and
attitude, so they end up playing the dives.
really starts to come into his own as a guitarist but is still always
broke and needs money to catch up on child support. Vendetta travels to
Alaska at the end of October for some higher paying gigs, as disco has
not caught on and phased out rock bands up there. Two American
mercenaries fresh from El Salvador hang out with the band, liking them
so much that they drive around Anchorage and literally shoot out the
marquees of other clubs.
his real name and hoping to avoid arrest for his mounting debt, Bob
Deal changes his name while in Alaska. When Vendetta flies back to
California on 1 January 1980, Bob is now Mick Mars. His new name is
very similar to that of former Whitehorse front woman, Micki Marz. He
buys another Les Paul and Marshall stack with his gig money upon return.
home in the South Bay area, a lot of their friends and acquaintances –
like Don Dokken, Juan Croucier and Bobby Blotzer – come by to catch
Vendetta performances. Once
in a while, they see actor Robin Williams sitting in the back of Pier
52 playing harp along to their songs. Another night at Pier 52, blues
singer Big Mama Thornton stumbles in and joins the band on stage for
Hound Dog – the song she wrote back in 1953 and made even more famous
by Elvis Presley three years later.
Kenny Morse quits Vendetta in the fall of 1980 and the band tries to
continue on for a few months. Mick’s loyal friend Stick tries to get
his brother-in-law Allan Coffman to back Vendetta financially but they
are falling apart. So with Vendetta splitting and needing cash, Mick
again plays covers at the Stone Pony with his former Whitehorse
band-mate David Day in Ten-Wheel Drive, who changes name to Spiders and
night before a gig late in 1980, Mick walks into Magnolia Liquor Market
on Magnolia Boulevard in Burbank to get a half-pint of cheap tequila.
Behind the counter he meets Frank
Feranna (about the same time that he becomes Nikki Sixx) and they chat
about bands they are into; none of which are the same. He invites Frank
to come down the road and see him play later that night at the Palomino
Club in Spiders and Cowboys. They get drunk together after Mick’s set
where he plays slide guitar with the mike stand. At the end of the show
he gives Frank his phone number.
- Nikki Sixx
Carlton Serafino Feranna’s life begins in San Jose, California, USA at
7:11am on this Thursday morning. His nineteen-year-old mother, Deanna
Lee Haight (born 5 May 1939), an attractive and wildly adventurous farm
girl from Idaho, wants to name him Michael or Russell, but the nurse
asks his Sicilian father, Frank Serafino Feranna (born 8 April 1918),
who immediately names
him after himself. When Nikki is ten months old, his mother splits from
his father and moves to live with his "Nona" Emma Ervina Poe and her
second husband, Tom Reese,
whom she married when Deanna was sixteen.
A couple of
months later, his alcoholic parents have a girl named Lisa Marie. Not
up around him, his mother later tells him that Lisa left home not
wanting anyone to contact her. However, he finds out during 1997 that
she has a very acute case of Down’s syndrome and is blind, mute and
unable to walk. Nikki sees her for the first time at her funeral in
Later in life,
Frank learns that his father had a son named Randy with another woman,
eight years before he was born.
Frank and his mother, who dates actor Richard Pryor for some time, live
on the ninth floor of the Sunset Towers on Sunset Boulevard. Young
Frank often spends a lot of time with his mother’s parents, who
threaten to take legal custody of Frank if his mother doesn’t give up
her party hard ways.
When Frank is
four, his mother dates then marries Bernie Comer, the trumpet player in
Frank Sinatra’s backing band, in which she herself is singing backup
vocals. They live in a little brown house in Lake Tahoe, where Bernie
is abusive to him. A few Christmases later, a sister Ceci is born, and
Frank’s birth father visits, giving him a red plastic sled with leather
handles. Planning on getting married again to a woman who can’t have
kids, Frank’s father wants to see what kind of kid Frank is, to see if
he is worth taking.
At six years of
age, they move to Mexico, where Frank has the most enjoyable period of
his childhood. His mother and Ceci fly there, while he rides with
Bernie in a drive across the border in a Corvair, with Bernie’s German
Shepherd dog named Belle that frequently bites Frank. He smokes
marijuana for the first time, with his mother at seven years of age.
He soon moves
to live with his grandparents in Idaho, where he often encourages his
cousins to sing along with him as they play. He calls his grandmother
Nona. El Paso, Texas is the destination of his next relocation, where
his grandfather, Tom Reese, works at a Shell gas station and they live
in a trailer. He’s a fast learning and intelligent child, which causes
him to get bored in school.
They then move
to a ranch in New Anthony, Mexico for a year, where his grandparents
hope to make money with a hog farm. One day he slices his finger on the
pigpen so bad that it is hardly attached, wobbling and shooting blood.
Another day while living there, he gets struck by lightning in a
doorway. One of Frank’s chores is to slaughter the rabbits that they
also raise. He takes an interest in words around the age of nine or
ten, writing poetry and little stories. He gets bullied on the school
bus, until he learns how to stand up for himself by retaliating with
violence, which helps kick start his juvenile delinquency.
doesn’t work out for his grandparents, so they move back to El Paso
where he attends Gasden District Junior High. He begins stealing from
lockers and the general store called Piggly Wiggly’s. He slashes tyres
with a buck knife he was given for Christmas by his grandfather, who
sold his radio and only suit to afford it.
back to a sixty-acre cornfield in Twin Falls, Idaho at eleven years of
age, Frank takes up football, which he uses as a release to counter his
aggression from being picked on. He starts taking notice of girls, and
one day hears the song Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean on the radio, and
requests it until he’s told to stop calling the station.
He moves with his grandparents again – this time to Jerome, Idaho,
where he eventually buys his first album. He saves enough to buy Deep
Purple’s Fireball but finds himself buying Nilsson Schmilsson by Harry
Nilsson at the suggestion of his friend’s sister, with whom Frank is
infatuated. The first live band he sees is at the high school gym in
Jerome with about three hundred kids of the town’s population of three
thousand. Frank’s first sexual encounters are with a girl named Sarah
Hopper and he gets laid for the first time at thirteen, in the back of
her parents’ car, while they’re in church.
He becomes too
difficult for his grandparents to look after, so he moves to Seattle to
live with his mother and sister Ceci, with the hope of improvement in
his attitude and actions. They live in the Queen Anne Hill area with
his mother’s new Mexican husband Ramone, who listens to a lot of
Hispanic jazz and funk, and tries to teach Frank how to play guitar on
a battered old acoustic.
They then move
to welfare apartments nearby in Fort Bliss. At his new school, Frank
befriends a rocker, Rick Van Zandt, who soon says he needs a bass
player for his band. So at age fourteen, he steals his first guitar
(thinking it was a bass) from a music store called Music West that he
frequents daily between bus trips to school. He asks for an application
for work and stuffs the guitar into an empty guitar case he had loaned
from a friend of Rick’s. After the band tells him it is not a bass, he
sells it and buys a black Rickenbacker bass with a white pick guard and
tries to learn by listening to The Stooges and Aerosmith songs, but
they realise he can’t play. Frank jams with a guy over the road, as he
is starting a band called Mary Jane’s, but he’s hopeless. He tries his
hand jamming with various other bands, some called Forced Entry and
befriending a punk rocker, Gaylord, who has his own apartment and a
band called The Vidiots, he becomes part of a circle of friends that
are called The Whizz Kids, due to their glammed-out appearance. Doing a
lot of drugs, Frank practically moves into the apartment and sells
drugs for them. He gets into fights at school as kids call him Alice
Bowie, and he breaks into houses on the way home, stealing whatever he
argument with his mother in which he throws his stereo and destroys the
TV, he asks for a knife from a nearby house, and proceeds to stab
himself above the elbow deep to the bone. He calls the police and tells
them that his mother attacked him, so they will arrest her and take her
away. Instead, the police say if he presses charges he will have to
live in a juvenile home for four years until he turns eighteen. He
drops the charges and leaves home, sleeping at a friend’s house until
he is kicked out, before turning to Rick Van Zandt’s parents’ car for
his bed. Frank is eventually thrown out of Roosevelt High School after
another couple of months; expelled for selling joints, at his seventh
school in eleven years – thus ending his school education.
Frank then gets
a dishwashing job at Victoria Station and shares the rent for a
one-bedroom apartment with seven others, until he quits the job and is
forced to move out. He then sleeps in the closet of two prostitutes who
feel sorry for him, until he has to move out, going back to his
friend’s car. He sells his bass so he can buy drugs to peddle for more
he gets busted selling chocolate-coated mescaline outside a Rolling
Stones concert at the Seattle Coliseum to survive. After being
threatened with a ten-year minimum jail sentence, he is let free and
decides he needs to leave the city and try to get his life on track.
his mother, she puts him on a Greyhound bus the following day. With his
Aerosmith tape, a Lynyrd Skynyrd tape and a beaten up player, he heads
back to his grandparents’ farm in Jerome, Idaho. He works hard, moving
irrigation pipes to earn money and soon buys a $109 replica Gibson Les
Paul from a gun shop.
One day his
mum’s sister Sharon visits with her husband Don Zimmerman, who is
president of Capitol Records in Los Angeles. Don starts to send him
packages of magazines and cassette tapes of bands such as the Sweet and
The Beatles, with Frank particularly liking heavier songs like Back in
the USSR and Helter Skelter.
He saves up a bus fare to Los Angeles, where he initially stays with
his Aunt Sharon and Uncle Don for four or five months. Don gets him a
job at a record store called Music Plus and lets him drive his Ford
pickup, but arrogant and ungrateful Frank is soon kicked out to be on
his own again. He takes a one-bedroom apartment near Melrose Avenue and
manages to not pay any rent for eighteen months, before the police
finally evict him. He buys a run down ‘49 Plymouth for one hundred
dollars and dates a girl named Kaitie. It’s not long before he’s
getting fired from the record store for stealing from the till; he
punches the one-armed owner when confronted.
gains work as a telemarketer, selling Kirby vacuum cleaners, until he
takes a carpet steam-cleaning job, stealing whatever he can from inside
client homes. He puts together his first band named Rex Blade, with a
hairdresser Ron on vocals who lived with him for a while, a girl named
Rex and her boyfriend Blake. They rehearse in an office building next
door to punk band The Mau-Maus, before Frank is kicked out of the band.
garage in the classifieds for a hundred dollars per month, Frank sleeps
on its floor with his only possessions: his stereo and mirror. Intent
on buying some decent music equipment, he works from 6am to 6pm dipping
computer circuit boards into chemicals at a Woodland Hills factory,
before starting a 7pm to 2am shift at Magnolia Liquor Market in
Burbank, where he
steals as much alcohol as possible while also cheating the till. It’s
here that he first meets Mick Mars one night. He goes to many auditions
for bands, as he tries to find others with a passion for Johnny
Thunders, Slade, Kiss and the Sweet.
in 1979, he answers another ad and hooks up with guitarist Lizzie Grey
(real name Steve Perry), with whom he joins his first real band with,
called Sister. The band was put together in 1976 by
Blackie Lawless, and has Chris Holmes on guitar (who both later form
W.A.S.P.), but Sister disbanded. Blackie has also spent a small amount
time in the New York Dolls after replacing Johnny Thunders for a few
months, before moving to Los Angeles and forming Killer Kane prior to
Sister, when the New York Dolls fell apart. Trying to revive Sister,
they rehearse on Gower St in Hollywood, but with their pentagrams and
worm-eating antics, they never make it onto the stage with this new
lineup featuring Frank and Lizzie. After three days in a little
recording studio in South Bay trying to record an album, they decide
the sessions are terrible and they scrap the whole idea. Frank is
kicked out and when Lizzie follows suit the pair decide to form their
He soon moves
into a place in Beachwood Canyon with his singer girlfriend Angie Saxon
(real name Annette Diehl), who works as a secretary and rehearses with
her band. She kicks him out after he tries to sleep with her roommate,
and Frank finds himself living in a Hollywood slum and hanging out in
famed local rock clubs like the Whisky A Go-Go, the Roxy Theatre, the
Rainbow Bar and Grill, and the Starwood, as he tries to get his band
Lizzie put together a new band called London, with a drummer named Dane
Rage, keyboardist John St. John, and Michael White on vocals, who is
later fired and feels Frank is too concerned with image. White is
replaced with former Mott The Hoople vocalist Nigel Benjamin (he
replaced Ian Hunter in Mott), who answers their ad in The Recycler.
Frank is ecstatic and sends some photos of London to his idol – Brian
Connolly from the Sweet – after having his Uncle Don hook him up, but
Connolly basically tells him to keep his day job. This further inspires
fired from his current two jobs doing more telephone sales and selling
light bulbs, Frank works when he feels like it at Wherehouse Music in
Hollywood, and sometimes donates blood at a clinic for money. Still
broke, he manages to contact his father in San Jose who completely
rejects him, pretending he doesn’t have a son. He doesn't see him again
before he dies in Santa Clara on 27 December 1978, when he has a heart
attack in his shower.
While living in
North Hollywood, he dates The Orchids’ drummer Laurie Bell (real name
Laurie Milmerstadt), after meeting her through Kim Fowley of The
Runaways. The Orchids are an all-female band formed from the ashes of
The Runaways. On 14 August 1980, Frank signs a music publishing
agreement with Kim Fowley’s Rare Magnetism Music for the publishing
rights and royalties to a song Stop Hanging On to Yesterday that he
co-writes with Laurie.
He kills Frank
Feranna Jnr. in the lyrics to a new song On With the Show before
lodging a Decree Changing Name form on 7 November 1980 in the Superior
Court of California as he becomes Nikki Sixx. He started using the name
a few months ago, after recalling the time he was looking through a
scrapbook with his former girlfriend Angie, which included photos she
had taken of a Southern Californian band called Squeeze with a guy
called Niki Syxx (real name Jeff Nicholson). Frank was fascinated by
the name and asked what he was up to now; Angie said he was in the surf
band Jon & The Nightriders. Thinking it was a cool name, Nikki Sixx
became Frank’s new identity.
In later years, Nikki tells the media the name was inspired by the
first two characters on his Californian driver’s license: N6. Jeff
Nicholson actually came up with the name by first calling himself Niki
Olson as derived from his surname. Still uncomfortable, he kept the
first name Niki as he thought about a new surname. Driving in Newport
Beach one day in 1975, he pulled behind a Mercedes Benz with license
plates NIKI 6, so he decided to call himself Niki Syxx from then on. He
soon dated a girl named Beth Salvatore, who asked him how he got his
name. It turned out that it was her mother’s Mercedes – Niki was her
mum’s first name and the number 6 represented the number of people in
managed by David Forest, who owns the Starwood where they often play,
and Nikki and Dane also work there as cleaners. This club becomes a
home of sorts, as Nikki is introduced to celebrities and stronger
drugs. One night Mick Jagger and Keith Richards come to see London play
at the club. Nikki writes a song called Public Enemy #1 with Lizzie in
his ‘74 Ford Pinto, while they drink rum and Coke.
After rising to
the top of the Los Angeles club circuit with their brand of originals,
and a few David Bowie and Mott The Hoople covers, London is unable to
secure a recording contract with their demo. Singer Nigel Benjamin
quits London, as musical differences become prevalent and the band
falls apart. Nikki has co-written about half of the band’s original
tunes but he keeps some others aside for his other musical ideas and
26/4/59 - John Corabi
John Corabi is born in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, USA on this Sunday. He’s raised by his two conservative
parents of Italian descent. After being the first born, he is followed
by sisters Anna and Janet, then brothers Nicholas and Todd.
One day when he is nine years of age, his Mum points out The
Beatles to him on TV and he thinks they are awesome. He then gets a
Sears and Roebuck guitar for his first instrument. One of the first
concerts he attends is the KISS Alive tour in the mid-‘70s. John plays
with many different bands throughout his high school teen years. His
main influences are Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Humble Pie
and Deep Purple.
Struggling in his early days as a musician, John works as a
telemarketer selling inflatable boats and toner for photocopiers. He
also works numerous other jobs, where he drives cars, makes pizzas and
sandwiches, as well as spending some time working in construction.
John dates a girl named Valerie at eighteen years of age, who
is the sister of one of the members of his cover band at the time.
Valerie has a young daughter and in two more years, they marry and then
have their own son named Ian Karac Corabi in 1987.
- Vince Neil
Neil Wharton is born in the Queen of Angels Hospital, Hollywood,
California, USA on this Wednesday. He later lops his surname to be
known as Vince Neil.
Standing at more than six-feet-tall, his half-Native American father
Clois Odell Wharton, but known as Odie, is an auto mechanic who works
as a Maintenance Supervisor of sheriff's cars for the LA County
Mechanical Division. Odie was born in a one-room farmhouse shack in the
rural outskirts of Paris, Texas to his mother from Tupelo, Mississippi,
and father who was orphaned in Oklahoma at a young age when his
part-American Indian parents died. Odie moves with his parents and
sister to California in 1941 when he is five years old, and his father
paints houses for a living. As a member of the Shifters car club, Odie
meets his future wife Shirley one night at the drive-in. They date for
a while during high school, until he quits school and joins the army in
1956, where he serves in Germany for a couple of years between the
Korean and Vietnam wars.
Vince's half-Spanish mother, Shirley (nee Ortiz), grew up in
Albuquerque, New Mexico as one of five children, before they move to
the Inglewood district in southwestern Los Angeles. Her machinist
father dies at forty-two when she is young, and they then move to the
Watts neighbourhood. After graduating, Shirley becomes a hairstylist
and goes to cosmetology school in Hollywood. She later works nights at
a Max Factor factory, packaging lipsticks and makeup products for
shipping country-wide. She also loves listening to Motown soul music.
Shirley marries Odie on 22 November 1958 in Las Vegas, and gives birth
to a sister for
Vince when he is sixteen months old.
Four-year-old Vince witnesses the Watts Rebellion – a riotous racial
uprising triggered by police brutality in his grandmother’s
neighbourhood, which sees thirty four people die, just over a thousand
get injured, as $40 million of property damage caused. Vince watches
some of the four-thousand-strong California Army National Guard who
help suppress the disturbance, and is fascinated by the troops.
move to 1836 E Dimondale Drive in Compton, near the oil refineries. At
the time it is a nice, new neighbourhood with lots of blue-collar
working people and affordable for the middle-class, but it soon changes
to a predominantly black and lower class district rife with gang
activity. When they reach elementary school, they are the only white
students in attendance.
Vince goes to a
music shop with his dad one day, who buys him his first guitar. He
takes some regular lessons up to the age of ten, but never really feels
comfortable playing it, so he prefers to strut around in his bedroom
miming to Aerosmith songs like Walk This Way and Rod Stewart’s Hot
Legs. Vince enjoys playing Little League baseball for the Dodgers in
Carson. He also takes tap dance and ballet lessons, and is very good at
on ice after being inspired to learn when watching his sister perform.
One night as
the family is playing a board game, a bullet comes through his sister’s
window at the front of the house, as a result of feuding from local
rival gangs The Crips and the AC Deuceys; a rental Crips clubhouse is
directly across the road. On another occasion on the way home from
Broadacres Avenue Elementary School at about ten years of age, Vince
witnesses the shooting of a teenager as four kids steal his sneakers. A
few days after the incident, the same kids come out of the Crips house
across the road and approach Vince as he waits for the ice cream van
outside his home in broad daylight. The tallest of them grabs him,
turns him around and takes the fifteen cents from his pockets that he
was going to use for his ice cream. Vince then feels a pressure across
his throat, and when he feels wetness, he realizes he’s been sliced
under his chin from ear to ear with a blade, missing his jugular vein
by an inch.
the night at hospital where he is stitched up, his teacher, former
Playboy Playmate Mrs. Anderson, allows him to hold her hand as they
walk into class the next day. Vince takes every opportunity to get
close to her and credits her with opening up his first sexual feelings.
The following year he finds himself sticking his hands up the skirt of
a neighbourhood girl Tina under a doghouse.
To survive the
tough neighbourhood, Vince makes friends with bigger kids and becomes
accepted as cool, but soon turns to delinquency as well. He would throw
rocks at cars driving down the street, and once got caught when chased.
He often plays with BB guns and sets fire to rubbish bins at school.
one day in sixth grade, he steals a backpack full of giant conch
shells, coral necklaces and sponges from a warehouse full of souvenirs
with three black kids and a Samoan. He buys his first cassette, Cloud
Nine by The Temptations, with the money he makes from selling the
stolen seaside items at the Compton swap meet. He loves to listen to
the soul music of The Four Tops, The Spinners, and Al Green on the
radio. With his five-dollar weekly allowance for washing the car and
doing other chores, he buys 7” vinyl singles of 1972-74 pop songs like
Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple, Dream On by Aerosmith, Hooked On A
Feeling covered by Blue Suede, The Night Chicago Died by Paper Lace,
and Clap For The Wolfman by The Guess Who.
running out of a warehouse with a box full of stolen garden supplies,
Vince is handcuffed and driven home in the back of a police squad car.
His parents decide to send him and his sister to his Aunt’s house in
West Covina, to quickly escape the tough suburb until they can sell
their home and secure another in Glendora. His mum then works in dental
brace factory Ormco and transfers Vince to Sunflower Junior High for
seventh grade, where he struggles with school and discovers he has a
form of dyslexia, which makes reading hard. He prefers to wag school a
lot of the time and go surfing at Seal Beach and Huntington Beach,
instead of working harder at his education. He loves listening to The
Beatles’ white album, and enjoys his time playing in a flag football
team. Walking to school one day, he finds a sex manual paperback book,
which he stashes inside his neighbour’s shed. He rips out the pictures
and sells them to school kids for a quarter each. After selling about
seventy pages, the gym coach finds some in a locker and the kids rat
him out, so Vince gets suspended from school.
Even though he
doesn’t have a driver’s license at age fifteen, his father buys him a
primer brown ‘53 Chevrolet 3100 pick-up for $700, thinking his friend
who untruthfully says he has a license could drive them to Charter Oak
High School in Covina. Vince does a lot of work on the truck, including
re-doing the inside button-tuck leather upholstery, adding an orange
sunset mural on the tailgate, and adding surfboard racks across the
truck’s rear bed. The vehicle also gives him free reign to spend more
time at the beach, where he also explores with drugs, alcohol and sex.
The first time
he takes drugs is when he smokes a joint or two with girlfriend Penny
Panknin at her house. The second time is at drive-in while watching the
movie Silver Streak with four friends in a ‘65 Nova, when his surf mate
John Marshall hands him a pipe of marijuana laced with angel dust.
Before long he smokes angel dust in English class with a pipe that
looks like a pen to prevent being caught, but when he is busted and
sent to the principal’s office, he is found wandering lost around a
football field a couple of hours later. John also introduces him to
white cross-top pills that he combines with angel dust, making him
During a school
lunchtime in his freshman year, he finds his stolen surfboard racks in
the car of known bully and football player named Horace. When Vince
confronts him about the theft, he denies it, so Vince punches him,
breaking his nose and cheekbone before getting knocked unconscious as
his head hits the floor. This shocks his football friends watching on
before an ambulance is called. Ten minutes into class, the principal
drags Vince out and has him charged with assault by the police.
Although the charges are dropped at the station, he is suspended from
school for two weeks, but is respected and treated like a hero upon his
return. Horace’s parents sue the Whartons and Vince’s dad goes to court
and pays them about $500.
and his friend John try to pick up girls at the Roller City skating
rink near school. Here they often participate in a daily lip-synching
contest, dressing up in flares, polyester shirts and wigs, to perform
Let It Ride by Bachman Turner Overdrive. Winning his first contest,
Vince realises he loves to perform on stage and it’s further confirmed
when he gets laid afterwards. After two weeks of driving to contests on
the circuit, he wins again when performing You Really Got Me by The
Kinks. Surprisingly, he sings it out loud himself, instead of
lip-synching. In July 1978, Vince sells t-shirts outside Long Beach
Arena as Van Halen performs a concert there on their first world tour,
and he fanaticises about what it would be like to perform on such a big
stage with a real band.
confidence, Vince drives girls home for sex during school lunch breaks
while his parents are at work. One lunch break, he makes love to a girl
Tami Jones in his pick-up truck in the car park. A year older than him,
had met Tami at a skating pipeline in Glendora after he had broken his
leg. After not thinking any more of it and enjoying being with other
girls, two months later Tami tells him she wants to follow through with
her pregnancy to him. Vince tries to do the right thing and make a go
of it, spending a lot of time with her – Tami even moves into his
family’s home for a while – and he supports her best he can when she is
kicked out of school for pregnancy. At age seventeen, Vince’s first
child Neil Jason Wharton is born on 3 October 1978, as it’s said Vince
is working as a roadie loading sound equipment for a concert by The
Runaways. He is the only student at school paying child support, but
the young couple is also helped with the raising of Neil by their
James Alverson transfers to Charter Oak High School and soon asks Vince
to be in his band since he has the longest hair in the school – he
preferred to keep his locks instead of joining the school varsity
baseball team when the coach says he would have to cut it. Vince goes
with Tami to meet James in Charter Oak Park next to school and shows
him his cheap guitar. When James asks if he can sing, Vince says he
sung in a band called Black Diamond, and James correctly thinks he’s
lying. Vince’s dad buys him his first microphone and they get together
at a house in Hacienda Heights belonging to a friend of James’ from his
previous school in East Los Angeles – Nicaraguan bass player Danny
Monge. Their Charter Oak classmate drummer Robert Stokes is also
brought in to jam. As they play Hot Legs by Rod Stewart, James quickly
realises Vince hasn’t really sung before, but sees his potential. They
rehearse more in Vince’s garage, and then in the living room of Tami’s
sister. Danny is quickly replaced on bass by Greg Meeder from Glendora
High for a while, before their roadie friend Joe Marks from Charter Oak
High eventually takes over. James comes up with the band name Rockandi,
after the Montrose song Rock Candy, but written differently. Since they
are under the age required to play bars, they plan to play as many
backyard parties as they can. Covers of I Want You To Want Me by Cheap
Trick, Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith and Smokin’ In The Boys Room by
Brownsville Station are played at their first performance at their
school during lunch break, while other songs by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, ZZ
Top, Pat Travers, Bad Company, Eddie Money, Black Sabbath, and The
Sweet are soon
worked on and added to their roster. Vince often sits in his truck and
writes down the lyrics while listening to songs on eight-track tapes,
as he mimics the singers’ vocal styles. Rockandi quickly builds a
reputation as the best party band in the area during 1978, after they
coax unpopular students to host weekend parties while their parents are
out to gain popularity and girls, and have the band perform while
charging a dollar entry fee.
a party at his own house one Friday night, advertising it on telephone
poles around the city. Tami works as a door-girl, collecting a dollar
entry fee at the back gate. His band sets up under the patio beside the
pool and Vince performs in front of the 300-400 people in attendance.
During the performance, Vince’s parents return home from shooting some
pool with friends nearby, and are shocked to see so many people there,
under the impression from Vince that it was only going to be a small
affair. Eventually the police arrive and disperse the party using
He soon gets
kicked out of Charter Oak High for lack of attendance and begins
cleaning at a recording studio and PA hire company in Covina in
exchange for rehearsal time for his band. Realising he is going
nowhere, he takes his parents’ advice and enrolls in Royal Oak High in
Covina for the start of his senior year. At school, he soon becomes
friends with Tom Bass (later to be known as Tommy Lee) who plays with
another band on the backyard party circuit called US 101. They often
skip school together to jam on music in Tom’s garage, and crank AC/DC’s
Highway to Hell in his van. Vince now drives a blue Datsun 240Z with
surfboard racks, as his Chevy pick-up is left broken down in his
soon drops out of school and moves out of home with his clothes in a
beer carton. He sleeps in Tom’s van, who soon gets expelled from
school. Vince earns money as a pizza delivery boy, and then joins the
carpenter’s union with Joe Marks as apprentices with Kasler Corporation
on a freeway overpass site doing concrete formwork. Making good money,
he finances a blue Datsun 240Z and adds surfboard racks to it, as his
Chevy pick-up is left broken down in his parent’s drive. Vince and Joe
soon find the construction work too hard, so they quit. His 240Z gets
repossessed. He dates a girl called Leah Graham who has her own 240Z
and begins an apprenticeship with her father Raleigh's company Graham
Electric, for whom he digs ditches and helps wire buildings. Leah acts
as Rockandi’s manager by booking them gigs at places like the Starwood
and Gazzari’s, and putting ads in the paper.
- Tommy Lee
Lee Bass is born in Athens, Greece on this Wednesday. He is the first
child for his ex-Miss Greece 1957 mother, Vassilikki Papadimitriou
(known as Boula) and army sergeant father David Lee Thomas Bass, who
was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.
His parents met
at Boula’s parents place when her sister brought David along to a
christening for one of her kids so he could see how the Greeks
celebrate christenings. On army service stationed in Greece, David told
Boula that first day that he wanted to marry her. He bought her a ring
the next day and they married in four more days, once she ditched her
boyfriend. Not speaking a word of each other’s languages, they
communicate by drawing pictures.
Boula had five
miscarriages before giving birth to their first boy, who died within
days of his birth. Boula then stayed in bed for the nine months of her
next pregnancy before giving birth to Tommy. Exactly one month after
Tommy is born they move to Thailand for a while before returning to
The family moves from Athens to the Los Angeles suburb of Covina, at
252 N. Lyman St. His mum works as a part-time house cleaner for some
families, and his father works as
superintendent for the L.A. County Road Department, running the
department that maintains road repair trucks and tractors, after being
trained in diesel mechanics in the army. When
Tommy is two his sister is born and named Athena Louise after her
homeland that she misses so much.
banging on things as soon as he is old enough to reach into the cutlery
drawer, and at three years of age he often arranges pots and pans on
the kitchen floor, hitting them with spoons and knives. At Christmas
after he turns four, Tommy is given his first drum kit; a paper kit
with a blinking light on the bass drum, a miniature cowbell and a
cymbal, which helps keep their kitchenware from being damaged.
He sticks with
accordion lessons with his sister for about four years until the age of
ten when he finally quits because he finds it too hard. He has a
DaVinci electronic accordion that he plugs into an amp and distortion
box and cranks Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water. However, the band that
influences him most is Kiss.
He tries his
hand at tap dancing and ballet classes after a teacher calls upon their
door, but he quits when the boys at school tease him. He tries his hand
with piano lessons but is bored by the repetition of learning about
scales, beats and bars. So he hassles his parents to buy him a guitar
he had seen in a pawnshop, which he loves to play loud to as many
people as he can.
After watching a marching band during a football game, Tommy decides he
wants a proper drum kit and his father gives him a snare for Christmas.
He subsequently works after school and weekends to buy his own kit,
which his father co-signs for. His father helps him deck out their
double-garage with soundproofing materials so he can practice, while
they park their car outside in the driveway. Tommy’s school friends
with guitars like to come over and jam on rock songs.
Tommy loses his
virginity at thirteen to the girl next door and best friend of his
sister Athena, who walks in on them during their act on the floor of
the garage studio. She tells their parents, making it a bad first
experience for Tommy.
fourteen years of age, he hangs out down the street with his friend and
gets turned on to Led Zeppelin records from his friend’s older brother.
He then gets acquainted with Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Ted
Nugent and Deep Purple.
music, co-ed volleyball and graphic design (where he makes Budweiser
and rock t-shirts) are his favourite subjects. Tommy is often grounded
by his strict and protective father, as he wags subjects he dislikes to
sneak home and play his drums. In Grade 10, Tommy and some friends burn
the grade book of his teacher Mr. Walker, which ends up having him
suspended from school. His music teacher, Mr. Dvorak, is his favourite
as he always allows him into Room 505 to play the drums and recognises
his natural talent.
to South Hills High School. Electing not to take drum lessons, he keeps
his playing in check by joining the school marching band, as well as a
local drum corp. He teaches others how to twirl sticks and leads his
troop to many competition victories. However, he is a thorn in the side
of the senior drum captain Troy, who punches Tommy in the nose one day,
sending him to the hospital where they unsuccessfully try to straighten
concert he sees is Ted Nugent supported by Pat Travers. He is amazed
and inspired by Pat’s drummer Tommy Aldridge.
parents sell their house, moving fifteen minutes away, and Tommy
starts his sophomore year at Royal Oak High in the Covina / San Dimas
district. He forms his first band, a blues cover band, which jams in
his garage but doesn’t make it onto any stage. He then moves on to form
a cover band called US 101 (named after the freeway that bisects Los
Angeles) with some guys that later resurface in the
band Autograph. They play songs by Journey, Boston, Foghat and Styx
others, and their parents are very involved in helping. Tom, the band’s
guitarist, is a surfer that loves the
Beach Boys, and the band’s set is also heavily influenced by it.
first gig is under lights at an outdoor concert at Upland High School’s
football stadium, which five hundred or so people enjoy. The band plays
many school dances and backyard parties, with his sister Athena
operating the lights. Tommy’s dad often helps lug his drum kit as a
roadie, while Tommy sometimes lights his drumsticks on fire while
co-signs on Tommy’s first car; a baby-blue Chevy van with tinted
teardrop windows, Center Line rims, a Grand Canyon mural painted on the
side, and a padded bed in the back.
On his band’s
circuit, he meets a blonde-haired surfer named Vince Wharton, who he
thinks is very cool and sees that the girls adore him, especially when
he sings in his band Rockandi. He goes to Charter Oak High, down the
road, but starts coming to Tommy’s school when he gets kicked out.
Tommy then gets kicked out of Royal Oak and commences continuation
school, only to drop out in his senior year, before working as a house
painter with his uncle to earn money. He lets Vince sleep in his van
after he leaves home during high school. When his parents find out,
they let Vince sleep on Tommy’s bedroom floor until he finds another
place to live.
In a year or
so, at seventeen years of age, Tommy grows tired of playing cover songs
and he joins an original band called Suite 19, after his Rams
cheerleader girlfriend Vicki Frontiere tells him they are looking for a
drummer. They are a powerful three-piece instrumental outfit, with Jon
Kemp on bass and a guitarist named Greg Leon. The band rehearses in
Tommy’s garage and plays some shows, thanks to Jon's booking agent
mother, including a gig at the Starwood,
where he has previously seen Judas Priest play. Frank Feranna (Nikki
Sixx) sees the performance at the Starwood. Tommy also sees Frank’s
local band London play and is in awe of their performance.
supports UFO, Y&T and Quiet Riot before falling apart when Greg
Leon jumps at the chance to join Quiet Riot following Randy Rhoad's
departure. Jon Kemp
then accepts an offer from Leif Garrett’s manager to try and shape him
into becoming the next big teen idol, while the rebellious and
aggressive Tommy Lee hooks up with guitarist Mike Cusik (real name
Michael Britton) to join his
band called Dealer. Glenn Bassett plays bass in the four-piece, with
Mark Poynter on keyboards, who had most recently been in the very
band Snow. Before auditioning for Dealer, Tommy and his new band-mates
take magic mushrooms before jamming on the original tunes.
records six songs, which is Tommy’s first experience in a recording
studio. However, he is continuously late for Dealer rehearsals or
doesn’t show up at all. During one rehearsal that he does attend, he
angrily punches a hole in the wall of the practice room at the parents’
house of one of the band members. Tommy soon steals Mark’s girlfriend,
a big-boned blonde twenty-year-old girl named Lisa, who can spray a
fountain when having an orgasm. She is Tommy’s first real girlfriend
and is later nicknamed Bullwinkle by Vince because he thinks she has a
face like a moose.
One day Tommy
takes Lisa to the photo studio of his friend Will Boyett and gets
frisky after some drinks. He starts pulling Lisa’s clothes off in front
of the camera before Lisa gives the naked Tommy a blowjob. While he is
naked he decides he wants to do a couple of solo poses that could be
sent to Playgirl, so pictures are taken of him posing the way Burt
Reynolds did. (Will eventually sends the pictures to Playgirl who
agrees to publish them until Tommy’s attorney, David Rudich, threatens
to sue him and Playgirl, so they remain unpublished.)
When Mark finds
out about the photos and what Tommy has done with Lisa, it ends their
relationship. The rest of Dealer backs up Mark because of Tommy’s
previous behaviour and they kick him out of the band, having drummed
with them for at least six months.
Tommy joins a band called Sapphire with Brad Parker on guitar and Joey
Vera on bass. Tommy and Joey quit after six months or so, and they look
for a new band.
The Eighties: pre-'81
/ '81 /
/ '83 /
/ 85 / '86 / '87 / '88 / '89
The Nineties: '90 / '91 / '92 / '93 / '94
/ '95 /
/ '97 /
The Naughties: '00 / '01 / '02 / '03 / '04
/ '05 /
/ '07 /
The Onesies: '10 / '11 / '12 / '13 / '14 / '15 /
'16 / '17 / Home
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