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Tattoos & Tequila by Vince Neil

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This page also available in the book: Chronological Crue Vol.1 - The Eighties

Pre-1981


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.  

Choose the Band Member:

Real Name:
Born:
Birthplace:
Died:
Of Descent (Mother - Father):

Time in Band:

Starsign:

Randy Castillo - November 195918/12/50 - Randy Castillo
Randolph Frank 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.

Childhood
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.

Teen Years
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 garage.

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.

The Purple 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.

While attending 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.

Rock Beginnings
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.

Realising he 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.

4/5/51 - Mick MarsRobert (Bob) Alan Deal - 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.

Bob uses 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.

Childhood
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.

That 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.

His 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.

His 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.

Bob 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.

Teen Years
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.

Through a 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.

Bob also 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.

Bob gets 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’ house.

At 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 guitarist.

So at 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.

He lives 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.

Rock Beginnings
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 nineteen-year-old 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.

As a 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.

Upon his 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 gigging.

Harry 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.

David 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.

During 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 Tucker.

Tension 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.

Kenny 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.

A son, 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.

Despite 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.

Whitehorse 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.

Bob then 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.

During 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.

Bob’s 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.

Sheriffs 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.

He 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 carry it.

Bob has 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.

Bob 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.

Hating 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.

When at 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.

Singer 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 Cowboys.

One 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.

11/12/58 - Nikki SixxFranklin Carlton Serafino Feranna - Nikki Sixx
Franklin 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 growing 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 2000.

Later in life, Frank learns that his father had a son named Randy with another woman, eight years before he was born.

Childhood
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.

The farm 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.

After moving 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.

Teen Years
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 Sleaze.

After 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 can.

After an 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 money.

At seventeen, 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.

After calling 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.

Rock Beginnings
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.

Frank then 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.

Finding a 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.

Early 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 of 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 own band.

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 going.

Frank and 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 Frank.

After being 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 their family.

London is 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 aspirations.

26/4/59 - John CorabiJohn 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.

8/2/61 - Vince NeilVince Neil Wharton
Vince 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.

Childhood
Vince’s 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.

Vince’s parents 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 figure skating 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.

After spending 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.

After 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.

Teen Years
Caught 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 aggressive.

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.

Rock Beginnings
Vince 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.

Growing in 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, he 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 parents.

A guitarist 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.

Vince organises 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 megaphones.

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 parent’s drive.

Vince 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.

3/10/62 - Tommy LeeThomas Lee Bass - Tommy Lee
Thomas 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 Athens.

Childhood
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 h
is father works as the shop 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 mother’s homeland that she misses so much.

Tommy begins 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.

Teen Years
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.

At around 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.

At school, 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.

Tommy graduates 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 it.

The first concert he sees is Ted Nugent supported by Pat Travers. He is amazed and inspired by Pat’s drummer Tommy Aldridge.

Rock Beginnings
His 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 amongst 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. Tommy’s 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 playing.

His father 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.

Suite 19 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 popular L.A. band Snow. Before auditioning for Dealer, Tommy and his new band-mates take magic mushrooms before jamming on the original tunes.

Dealer 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.

 


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