When was Tommy first shot in the nude? What was Sixx's hair procedure? Who were the Pookies 12? Why did the Mafia try and run him out of town? How did Roxanne turn on the red light in the Mötley house? Who was Tommy's first room-mate?
In 1988, Will Boyett wrote down memories of his experiences from the period in his life during the late-70's and early-80's when he was good friends with Tommy Lee, right through the earliest days of Mötley Crüe. He knew his memory may not serve him well in the future, and should he some day want to revive those memories or do something with his photos, it may come in handy. It was from those 60-some-pages of writings that he put together this 'sick love story' below during January 2005, exclusively for Chronological Crue to now present to you as Mötley kickstart their Red, White & Crüe...Better Live Than Dead tour.
(mouse-over photos for more information)
Will Boyett: My encounter with Mötley Crüe started a long time before Mötley Crüe was even formed. The time was November of 1979, I had just turned 22 and was the manager of a photo studio in West Covina. I did mostly portraits of families, babies, and pets.
One day while I was busy balancing the books I was interrupted by a youthful voice. Glancing up from my paperwork I noticed a teenaged boy clad in tight jeans and a T-shirt. The youth introduced himself as Jon Kemp, bassist for a band called Suite 19. Jon was in need of photos of his band but like most struggling young bands, they had no money. In exchange for the photos he offered me free VIP tickets to the Hollywood club his band was playing at. The tickets would also allow me free access to the backstage to party with the band.
I thought that would be pretty fun. At that time I had probably only been to 2-3 concerts in my life and only been to a Hollywood club once. A free show sounded like fun. I also had never done any photography under stage lighting with fast movement so I figured it to be a challenge and a chance to expand my photography skills. So I agreed.
The night of the photo shoot arrived and I headed out to the club in Hollywood. The band was playing at the now defunct Starwood. At maximum capacity the club held about 1200 people. I looked the club over for places to shoot and then went upstairs to find the band’s dressing room. After finding Jon, he introduced me to the other band members, Greg Leon (singer and guitarist) and Tom Bass (the drummer).
The band soon went on stage and I was really impressed by Tom and his drumming. Instantly I knew that here was a guy that was going places. He was an awesome drummer. At the end of their 45 minute set, Greg brought out Kevin Dubrow (singer of Quiet Riot) to sing the encore song. The crowd went wild.
After the set we all went backstage. The groupies were filling up the room fast. Jon came up to me and asked me to accompany him to the club's management office to get their pay. A bouncer answered Jon’s knock at the door and allowed us to enter. When the manager noticed a stranger accompanied Jon he became rather upset and asked me to leave the office. Before I left, I noticed the reason why. On his desk were piles of cocaine and amongst the people at the table enjoying the fine powder was none other than David Lee Roth (I had met David before, back in high school before he was famous. His band Van Halen was frequently hired to play at backyard parties). I left the office and headed back to the dressing room where I took up a conversation with Tom and a couple of groupies that were on his arms. Tom was ecstatic about having photos and made arrangements for me to come to his home to show him the proofs. We exchanged phone numbers and I left.
A few days later, with developed proofs in hand, I went over to Tom’s house. Tom’s sister Athena answered the door and she escorted me into the living room where I met Tom’s parents. Soon Tom came down and took me up to his room where we listened to Scorpions on his stereo and perused my photos. “Wow! These are f@ckin’ great, you are the best f@ckin’ photographer I’ve ever seen,” Tom complemented. I must be the only photographer Tom had ever seen because the photos weren’t that great. It was my first attempt at rock photography under stage lighting conditions. Anyhow, that’s how our friendship started.
I started hanging out with Tom and Suite 19. The music scene was starting to get in my blood. Soon Tom and Jon started showing me how to dress the part of a rocker, tight jeans, woman’s T-shirt, and a leather jacket completed the look. I basically transformed my look from businessman in disco suits to a long-haired heavy metal rocker.
It wasn’t long after that that Suite 19 started to feel a need for each member to go their own separate ways. Greg went on to play in Dokken and Quiet Riot but eventually ended up forming his own band the Greg Leon Invasion. I understood he later sold the name Invasion to Vinnie Vincent of Kiss for Vinnie’s solo project. Jon hooked up with Leif Garrett’s manager and went on to try his hand at becoming a teen idol. Tom on the other hand put out the word he was on the market for a new band.
Tom then hooked up with Mike Cusik who had a band called Dealer. This band has been left out of most all of history on Tom. In Mötley’s autobiography The Dirt, Tom briefly mentions being in this band but gives no mention of the band's name. In his own autobiography Tommyland, Tom talks a little more about this band but incorrectly states that he was in this band BEFORE Suite 19. In actuality, this band came AFTER Suite 19. Tom does say in his book he remembers little about what happened in the early ‘80’s. I guess all those drugs really messed with his brain.
I handled all of Dealer's photography needs. I even went on tour with them. You see, Mike was very smart at advertising. At one time they did some shows at a small club on the Colorado River in the state of Arizona. Since they had now traveled to another state to perform, Mike took full advantage of it when it came to advertising. Upon their return to Los Angeles, he passed out flyers before their next show that said, “Back from their recent intrastate tour.”
As time passed and Tom’s friendship grew, Tom asked me one day if he could move into my duplex with me. I agreed and soon I became Tom’s first ever roommate. Tom didn’t have a job then, just his gigs in the evenings that barely paid his bar tab. So I let Tom live with me for free. I wasn’t very rich myself in those days but I managed to pay for the drugs, the alcohol, and the food. Living with Tom wasn’t easy. He loved to play his music loud, which caused problems with the neighbors and the landlord. Tom also was obsessed with drumming. No matter where he was, he had to drum. While we watched TV, he would drum on a nearby chair. While walking down the hallway he would drum along the wall. Even when sitting on the toilet, he again, would be drumming on something. You can see why he was successful as a drummer, he was obsessed with a passion for drumming.
During his stay, Tommy would teach me how to play the drums, we would go clubbing together, and we smoked a lot of weed. But all good things must come to an end and eventually after one month, Tom was ready to move back home with his parents. Living on your own in LA with no car and no income is not easy. I came home from work one day to find Tom moved out and a note saying, “Will, thank you so much for letting me stay with you (I owe you one). I had so much fun. Remember the Scorpions” signed Tom. All I can say now is, “Hey Tommy, it’s been 24 years since then, when are you going to repay that debt? I’m ready to come stay at your home for a month now.”
Tom was also very crazy. He loved the women and loved to chase them. One time at a McDonald’s while we were munching on some hamburgers, he spotted a couple of fine young ladies headed for the restroom. He jumped up from the table and ran into the ladies room to get their phone numbers. The girls started screaming and the managers threw us out of the place.
Tom played in Dealer for at least six months. Eventually, they ended up kicking Tom out. He would show up late for practice, punch holes in the studio walls with his fist, and the last straw was when he stole the keyboardist’s girlfriend (not the singer's girlfriend as stated in The Dirt). Also the The Dirt incorrectly names this girl. Sure they mention her nickname as 'Bullwinkle' but the book also says her first name was Jessica, when in reality her real name was Lisa.
By now my rock photography business was expanding. I was working with Greg’s band, Tommy’s band and a couple of others. Most of the bands didn’t make any money so I did most all my work for them for free or at cost. They were my friends and that’s what friends do, they help each other out. Fortunately I was able to save money from my pay-check as a manager at the photo studio I was employed at and I soon opened up my own studio in the city of San Gabriel. This location was about half-way between Tom and Vince's homes in Covina and the clubs in Hollywood.
It was around April of 1981 when I first found out that Tom was in a new band called Mötley Crüe. I went to Tom’s home in Covina and as we sat upstairs in his bedroom I remarked how his hair had changed from brown to black. Tom quickly corrected me saying it was “blue-black.” He then went on to explain, “I dyed it for this new band I’m in called Mötley Crüe. Here, let me show you.” Tom pulled out some paper and a pen from a nearby dresser and began to spell Mötley Crüe. “This is how we spell it with these German marks called umlauts,” explained Tom. “The guitarist, bass player, and I have blue-black hair and the singer has bleached white hair to stand out in contrast with us, as he is the front-man. We stick our hair straight up and we look like a real Mötley bunch, so we named the band Mötley for our sleazy looks and Crüe ‘cause the four of us are a group. We spelled it differently ‘cause we are different. They even have a stage name for me, Tommy Lee!” Up until then everyone had called him Tom, or by his nickname, T-Bone.
In fact there was this one incident involving Tommy’s nickname that caused a little trouble. Tommy’s parents went to most all of Tommy’s concerts in those days. One evening when Mötley was performing, Tommy’s parents headed to the backstage entrance. As they approached they put on their laminated passes. Tommy’s Dad’s pass read “David Bass” and they let him in, but when they read his mom’s pass it said “T-Bone’s Mother”. She had asked Tommy earlier what to put on it and that is what Tommy answered. She did what her son said but now they wouldn’t let her in. The guy at the door said he didn’t know any T-Bone. She argued and argued with the bouncer to no avail. Finally the manager had to come down and set the record straight.
Anyway, back to our story. I asked Tommy about doing their photography. He informed me they were using Nikki’s photographer from his old band London, but he promised to see what he could do. Tommy then invited me to a party he was going to at Vince’s girlfriend’s house. I figured, the more guys in the band I meet, the better my chance of working with them.
It was at that party that I first met Vince. I also got to meet his son Neil, who was three-years-old at the time, Neil’s mother, and Vince’s girlfriend Leah. Leah was ten years older than Vince was and quite unattractive. If the band is going to make fun of Tommy dating Bullwinkle, then they really should make fun of Vince dating Leah. However she was blonde, and Vince really loves blondes, and she was from a wealthy family. She could support Vince with a nice lifestyle. My observations of Vince were that he possessed an outgoing personality when around friends but was very timid when around strangers.
Before I left that evening, Tommy informed me that in two weeks Mötley Crüe was performing their first show at the Starwood. If I came, he would be happy to introduce me to the other two members of Mötley Crüe.
The night of April 24 1981 was to mark the Crüe’s Hollywood debut. Using Nikki’s contacts, the Crüe was booked for a weekend, appearing as the opening band for the popular San Francisco-based band Y&T. The Crüe wanted to make sure nobody left that show without remembering them, so they put together a barrage of promotional items to pass out at the show, including T-shirts and button badges.
Everything was set for the big night. Their managers Allan and Barbara had flown in from Grass Valley. Tommy remembered to put my name on the VIP list and I got in with no problem. I had brought my camera, but I could tell I was not alone as there were quite a number of photographers in attendance, but they were there to photograph Y&T. The club was filled to capacity and it was getting rather warm in there. I headed backstage to find a more pleasant atmosphere and to wish the boys good luck. I passed a video crew preparing their cameras to tape Y&T. I also passed Tommy’s parents who sat at a nearby candle-lit table.
I quickly found the dressing room and was pleased to find the temperature was much cooler. The walls of the Starwood dressing rooms reminded me of a ghetto street. They were red and completely covered with graffiti by the bands that had previously been there. I found Tommy who took me over to meet Nikki and Mick, who at the time, were busily tuning their instruments. My impression of these two was the same as Tommy’s when he first met them, these two looked real strange. At this point in time most bands were punk, with short haircuts, or rock with long hippie haircuts. These four with their hair sticking straight up were fairly odd.
Once you get past the looks, I found Nikki and Mick that evening to be just a couple of normal guys pursuing their dreams. Excluding Tommy, it was Mick I felt the most comfortable with. In Hollywood, the average musician is between the ages of 16 and 23, and it seems the only thing they care to talk about is music and girls. The conversations become quite limited. That was the impression I got from Vince and Nikki. Mick on the other hand, was a different sort. Mick possessed a much broader knowledge of life, quite possible because he was much older than the others were. Mick and I quickly became friends and even branded each other with nicknames. Mick began to call me Shorty (I stand 6’ 4”) and because of his short stature I gave him the reverse name of Giant.
It was almost show time and I wanted to celebrate a bit with Tommy, so I tracked him down and pulled him into the bathroom. I had brought some excellent Peruvian Flake for the occasion and I wanted to share it with him. Our bodies were flying from the cocaine when we returned to the dressing room. Allan was upset as it was show time and he had been searching for Tommy. Sorry guys, I didn’t mean to delay Mötley’s first performance. Fortunately for us, he hadn’t looked in the bathroom yet, as Allan was very much against drugs.
The boys went on stage and I went out amongst the crowd to shoot my photos. The show that night contained none of the antics the Crüe is famous for, just old-fashioned head-banging and jumping about. The crowd at first didn’t know what to make of this band. After experiencing the onslaught of notes, the Y&T fans began to become receptive to this young band's musical talent.
After the show, there was mixed reaction amongst the crowd. The majority liked them but there were those who felt Mötley looked like a bunch of queers and therefore couldn’t get behind their music. If you take a look at the accompanying photo you can see why. The crowd was very conservative compared to the outlandish way the Crüe looked.
After-show arrangements were made for Mötley’s victory party. Allan’s hotel room at the Beverly Hilton was the selected site. Upon my arrival, I was surprised to find the only ones there besides Allan and Barbara were Tommy’s parents. The room was equipped with a large balcony that overlooked the pool area, was quite spacious and very elegant. It was evident this was no cheap hotel. Bowls of fresh fruit were placed throughout the suite and upon a cart next to the entrance were half a dozen bottles of expensive champagne. The champagne alone cost a lot more than the band had earned that evening. Allan uncorked a bottle and we toasted to the success of Mötley Crüe.
Before we could finish that first bottle, the band arrived followed in tow by Nikki’s photographer, Don Adkins. A few minutes later several more guests arrived, bringing with them their own alcohol. Nobody knew who they were, but what the f@ck, this was a party and if they wanted to be Mötley’s first groupies, they were more than welcome to join in the festivities.
Now that Mötley Crüe had shown Hollywood what they were capable of, additional bookings were easier to come by. One of those bookings occurred three weeks later at a place in Pasadena, California called Pookies. I had planned to be there early, as unknown to the Crüe, I had made arrangements with Pookies’ management to videotape Mötley Crüe’s performance. Pookies was located seventeen miles east of the Hollywood clubs and was designed primarily as a sandwich shop that catered to the Pasadena lunch crowd. Management had other ideas in store for Pookies. Management realised there was a growing number of rockers in Pasadena (Van Halen started in Pasadena). At the time all the city had to offer was Top 40 clubs, so Pookies decided to put their liquor license to better use. Pookies would open at night and bring in extra revenue by booking rock bands to perform. To accommodate the bands, Pookies built a small stage in one corner with lights and a sound system. There was no dressing room or backstage area. Pookies was 'generous' enough to provide a six-by-ten foot storage closet for the bands to use as their dressing room.
It was soon time for the band to take the stage at Pookies. Since the club was not equipped with a private hallway to the stage, it was customary for bands to stroll through the middle of the audience and jump onto the stage. Tonight however was an exception. When the boys came out of the closet, there was no audience. Circus Magazine, when publishing an article on the Crüe’s history, said all of 12 people were there (not counting Pookies employees). That was the truth. In this Chronological Crue exclusive, I’ll tell you exactly who was there. This has never been published before. In attendance were the boys' girlfriends (Tommy's Lisa, Vince's Leah, Nikki's Laurie, and Mick's Wendy), myself and one of my employees, Tommy’s parents, his sister Athena, Vince’s mother, Vince’s son Neil (who kept reminding everyone “That’s my daddy up there!”) and the mother of Vince’s son. There you have it. That was the whole audience. None of the people who had seen them in Hollywood or any of the fans from any of the guy’s previous bands even bothered to show up.
Mötley Crüe’s growing schedule saw them opening for many of the local heavies of the day: Snow, Smile, Ratt, and DuBrow (who later became Quiet Riot). While the Mötley Crüe name was making the rounds of club owners, the boys were putting their personal lives together. The boys were tired of having to depend on girlfriends to support them, so they persuaded their manager Allan into financing an apartment for them in Hollywood. This later became known as the infamous Clark Street apartment.
It was here at this apartment where most of their debauchery occurred. The front room had a couple of worn-out sofas that had seen better days, a black and white television that was rarely used, a rack of shelves that contained a cardboard cutout of Cheap Trick in their white Dream Police suits. In fact, the walls were decorated with many promotional items; thanks to the trio’s friends who stole them from the music stores they worked in.
Other items around the apartment included a cracked mirror hung next to a photograph of Vince’s crotch (the same picture they used for the cover of their soon-to-be-released first album). A Ratt bumper sticker was stuck on the door of their puke-green colored refrigerator (which rarely contained more than a carton of eggs and a six-pack of beer). The dining room was enhanced with a sliding glass door that opened upon a community patio. The only nice thing the boys had was Tommy’s stereo in the front room, which the boys constantly played at full volume.
Nikki occupied one of the two bedrooms. Sparsely furnished, it merely consisted of a mattress which laid flat on the floor, a dresser, and a nightstand with a lamp. The walls were pretty bare, as was the closet that had only a leather jacket and a couple pairs of pants. Scattered all over the floor was an assortment of leather belts, chokers, rings, buttons, scarves, and boots.
Nikki used the hallway bathroom while Vince and Tommy shared the main bedroom’s bathroom. As always the boys kept an ample supply of VO5. At one time while Nikki was fixing his hair in the bathroom, I asked him how he achieved his look. Nikki instructed, “Wash your hair, then while the strands are still wet, grab a blow dryer and bend at the waist. While your hair hangs down, brush the hair straight down while blow-drying. When dry, take a can of VO5 aerosol super-hold and spray heavily. Stay in this position until the hair dries. If the top doesn’t stand up real tall, take the palm of your hand and lay it flat against the top of your head. Rub in a circular motion, fluff lightly, then spray again. It may be necessary in uneven spots to hold strands straight out while spraying and drying.”
The usual schedule for Tommy, Vince, and Nikki meant rising from bed when most people were enjoying their lunch-breaks at work. Things remained fairly quiet until around 5pm when working friends would start to stop by with cold cans of beer. The next three hours would be spent socialising and drinking while the boys would take time out to shower and dress for an evening in the clubs. Around 8pm (a relatively early time to go to the clubs), the boys and anyone who cared to tag along, would walk down the street to the Whisky A Go-Go or the Rainbow. Nikki would dress the same offstage as he did on. Nikki claimed because of his limited cash at the time he could only buy so much clothing. Since his stage clothes were more important that’s where his money went and therefore he had to wear his stage clothes both on and off the stage. Wearing high heels, tight designer jeans, and feminine tank tops you were apt to think it was a transvestite walking down the street. No one in Hollywood at the time was doing what they were doing.
In fact, an amusing incident occurred to me one time when I was visiting my photo lab in San Diego. Earlier in the week, I had done a portrait of Tommy for his mother. She wanted a 24”x 30” portrait of her son to hang in her home. When I got to the lab to pick up the portrait, I was summoned up to the Art Department. I was told that 30 or so employees of the photo lab had placed a bet on whether Tommy’s portrait was a portrait of a girl or that of a man. They wanted me to go up and settle the bet for them. At that time, you just couldn’t tell. After that many rock acts adopted the look in the early 80’s, Cinderella, Tina Turner, Heart, and many others. Mötley’s hairstyle even invaded night-time soaps when Joan Collins started sporting a Crüe-cut.
Once the guys would get to the clubs they would grab a stool at the bar. Because of their local fame, they would have no problem finding a friend, or a girl who wanted to be a friend, to buy them drinks. Various people would stop to chat, then around closing time, the Mötley trio would gather their friends and return to their apartment to continue the celebration until the sun came up. Members of the band Ratt would also hang around the clubs and sometimes the party would go to Robbin Crosby’s place instead of the Crüe's. I would see David Lee Roth there, on another night maybe Ronnie James Dio, on another night I found Herman Rarebell (drummer for the Scorpions).
If a person was to show up at the Crüe’s apartment before 5pm, before the regulars showed up, you never know what you may find going on. Since I owned my own business, my schedule was always very flexible. I would join the boys about 3-4 times a week at their apartment for partying or whatever. On one particular afternoon I found them lounging with a guest. When they introduced me to their guest, my eyes about popped out of my head. Her name was Roxanne and she was the most gorgeous brunette (I love brunettes) I had ever had the pleasure of meeting - a perfect 10. In her mid-twenties, this vixen stood about 5' 6” with wavy brown hair that hung mid-way down her back. Obviously Roxanne was bra-less as her ample breasts filled her thin tank top revealing the outlines of her perky nipples. Roxanne’s long shapely legs, equaling any of those featured in Playboy, were covered only by a black mini-dress. Roxanne later revealed to me she earned her pay-check working as a high-class call girl.
Everyone was drinking and just wandering about the apartment when I suddenly realized I was the only one left in the front room; the entire party had moved into the bedroom Vince and Tommy shared. Curious to see what was transpiring, I sneaked down the hall and found the bedroom door open. Inside, Tommy was telling some corny joke as he jumped up and down on the bed with two cigarettes hanging from his nostrils. At one point when Roxanne’s big brown eyes met mine, she bent over at the waist, hiked her mini-dress above her hips, taking care not to let her eyes drift from mine. She placed her now exposed bare ass in the direction of Vince who wasted no time in picking up on her hints. Dropping to his knees, Vince proceeded to eat her pussy while Nikki, Tommy and I watched with enthusiasm. Things were becoming increasingly warm in the bedroom so I went to the kitchen to grab a beer and cool off. On my way back I noticed that now everyone was back in the living room listening to the stereo. Before I had a chance to sit down, Roxanne strolled over and threw her arms around me. She looked over at Vince and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you had such handsome friends?” all the while she was rubbing my cock through my pants. Nevertheless, as soon as she turned on to me she turned herself off. Roxanne knew she was pretty, and was using her looks to wrap men around her finger. That is a game I don’t play with women and I eventually excused myself and left the boys with their new play-mate.
Two days later, I paid the boys another visit and was surprised to find Roxanne was still there. I was beginning to think she had moved in with them. Vince was not home at this time, just Tommy and Nikki. We all sat down at the dining room table. I sat at one side with Nikki and Tommy at the other. Roxanne sat between the two boys. All of a sudden an urge came over Roxanne to remove her top. The loveliest breasts God has ever created soon were exposed to my eyes. Apparently Tommy and Nikki thought so too as Nikki started sucking on the right breast while Tommy enjoyed the left. Tommy soon began slobbering all over Roxanne's neck and earlobe. Roxie was evidently enjoying this, as moans of ecstasy began escaping from her sensuous lips. Nikki stood up and went into the other room for some reason. In his absence I felt obligated to keep her now vacant breast company. Reaching across, I was about to fondle her soft breast when she pulled it away and in sort of a dominating voice; she claimed I wasn’t allowed to touch her. Roxanne and Tommy then proceeded into the bedroom where Nikki was waiting nude. Tommy and Roxanne jumped into Tommy’s bed with Nikki and the two cherry busters proceeded to screw Roxanne in every position imaginable. I watched for a while, then I slipped out the front door and left them to their fun.
Now the average reader might be thinking... are you crazy? You should have joined in! But you see, back then in Hollywood, sex was abundant for good-looking guys like me... especially a photographer who hung around rock bands all the time. And it wasn’t just me; pretty much anyone who was thin, had long hair, wore tight jeans in the early 80’s could get laid easily. Just walk into any rock club. No need to buy a girl a drink or dinner, you just walk up to a girl and ask her if she wants to f@ck and 90% of the time the answer was yes. My record for f@cking within a 24-hour time period was eight girls, six of which were at the same time. I knew Roxanne was playing games with me and I also knew it wasn’t the last time I would see her. So I played my own games and eventually she invited me to spend the night with her at her apartment and we f@cked all night long.
On their trips from Hollywood to their parents' homes in Covina, Tommy and Vince would occasionally stop by my photo studio. Lisa usually accompanied Tommy, while Vince preferred various jailbaits since his break-up with Leah. On one particular visit, Tommy and I came up with a unique way of testing their first 7" single on the buying public. Next door to my studio was an ice cream parlor. I persuaded the owner to include Mötley’s single into his jukebox. Our idea was to test the songs on the kids who frequented the parlor. We were quite surprised by the results we achieved. Everyday the kids would stop by the ice cream parlor on their way home from school, and everyday the most-played song on the jukebox was Mötley’s Stick To Your Guns. Tommy and I would sit in my studio, and because of the thin walls between stores, we were easily able to hear the songs played on the jukebox. We would count how many times in an hour the single would play.
After the success in the parlor, we decided to try it on a totally different audience. I hastily persuaded another mall tenant, an Italian restaurant of all places, to include the single in his jukebox. Once again the results were positive. The owner was so thrilled he wanted to meet Tommy the next time Tommy stopped by to visit. I took Tommy over one day, and after their introduction, the owner threw Tommy out for entering his establishment barefooted. Well business is business and you need shoes in a restaurant.
On another day at my studio, I had Tommy and Lisa over so I could shoot some photos of Tommy for his mom. As the photo shoot wore on and Tommy drank more and more Jack Daniels he really began to loosen up. When I was done with his photos, he insisted I take some of him and Lisa. While I clicked off some extra shots, Tommy began pulling his crazy stunts. While the lovers posed together, Tommy kept pulling up Lisa’s top to expose her breasts for the camera. Lisa protested at first but eventually gave in to Tommy’s pleading, on one condition: Tommy would also have to pose nude. Tommy agreed and even suggested that Playgirl magazine might be interested in his photos. Tommy quickly disrobed and started hamming it up for the camera. These were the first nude photos he had ever done and probably the only images of Tommy nude without any tattoos. Tommy soon wanted me to take nude photos of his cock at attention. To get it in that state he had Lisa give him a blowjob while I snapped photos of her sucking on his large cock (this was many, many years before his infamous videotape with Pamela of course).
As Mötley Crüe became more and more successful in Hollywood I began to notice a change in attitudes and lifestyles of the band's three most prominent members in Nikki, Tommy, and Vince. This trio began to live a fantasy they had always envisioned. As for Mick, he was faithfully tied to his girlfriend Wendy. After every show, he would always leave with her and never stayed for the after-party. He just loved being a homebody. Tommy, Nikki, and Vince soon learned they could have any woman they desired. The idols they admired now wanted to be their friends. People would recognise them on the street and ask for their autographs. They enjoyed this so much it began to affect their personalities. Nikki and Vince split up with Lori and Leah, the girls who for so long had supported them (instead of breaking up, Tommy preferred to cheat on Lisa).
The trio’s main goal with women became a game. They had a rating system and would give each other points for the type of girl they slept with. According to Vince, ten points were awarded if they slept with a centerfold-type chick, one point for a good looking chick and they would take away five points for an ugly girl. The last time they informed me of their standings back then, Vince was in the lead. Each wanted to earn more points than the other does by scoring with well-known celebrities and centerfold
type 'sluts' (as they called them). Any other 'sluts' they could find,
f@ck, and forget was extra icing on the cake. On page 62 of The Dirt,
Vince talks about Nikki and him spending the night with two actresses
who did the Wrigley’s gum commercial.
In further attempts to promote themselves and gain needed contacts, Tommy, Nikki, and Vince began to associate with only those people who could improve their image, or who could fulfill their basic needs of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. Anyone else was no longer worth it. These attitudes began to create quite a stir amongst the Hollywood crowd. Friends of the Crüe slowly began to feel left out and in resentment began to call them “the Mütley’s”, or would shout during their live shows in Hollywood, “Mötley WHO?”. At the same time, Mötley’s peers who had performed in the same clubs with them began to grow envious of that raggedy bunch that was getting the best of everything. Words between the Crüe and other bands was common; the most famous at the time was the beef with Kevin Dubrow (singer of Quiet Riot). On one dark evening, members of Lizzy Borden band stole through the night and spray-painted their band's name on the side of Tommy’s van. Fortunately for Tommy, his father, ever the resourceful person that he was, was able to remove the paint without ruining the mural on the side of the van.
Of the unkind words spoken by the Crüe’s friends, most were by those who were unable to understand the price a band must pay for fame and fortune. With Mötley’s popularity came a demand for their time. The time they would normally spend socializing with friends was now spent in recording sessions, touring, public appearances, and interviews. When Mötley Crüe was playing the local clubs they were able to hand out to their many friends backstage passes to their shows. But after Elektra came to own them, and since they hadn’t yet made it as a world famous band, Tommy said they didn’t have the clout to do what they wanted. Mötley Crüe must play by the record company rules, which meant each member was only given five passes each. In Tommy’s case, that meant he could only invite his mother, father, sister, and girlfriend, leaving him only one extra.
Before their record contract, the doors of their rehearsal studio were left open for their friends and the curious. After the record contract, a guard was posted at those doors and no longer were the Crüe’s friends able to drop in and watch them practice. Even I was turned away by those guards one time when I was in the area and wanted to stop in and say hi. I had to wait out in the hallway until the band went on break and came out to chat.
Friends who should have felt joy for the Crüe’s success were instead feeling the bitter taste of resentment for being left out of Mötley’s dream; a dream they had encouraged and supported. Even the Crüe was feeling the tension that was growing in their hometown, so they made a small attempt at solving the problem. After a sold-out show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, in a show of gratitude for L.A., they opened the backstage doors for all their fans and friends. The response was more than anticipated. The backstage area soon was swarming with pubescent fans seeking autographs from their favorite rock stars. For nearly an hour, each member of the Crüe remained trapped, each in a separate corner of the room, until the roadies were able to escort them away to the after-party at a nearby hotel. As I stood there and surveyed the crowd, I noticed fewer than four of the Crüe’s friends from their earlier Hollywood days.
As in every career in life, to be a success you must surround yourself with successful people. And that is what the Crüe did. Some may call it heartless to replace those who where there for you, but if they can no longer help you achieve your dreams it is something that has to be done to rise to the top. Allan Coffman was one of those casualties.
In a taped interview on radio station KLOS in January 1982, before Mötley dumped the man who brought us such a great band, here is what the band had to say about Allan:
Nikki: “Things really came together so fast because of Allan. Allan has done so much for us.”
Nikki: “We worked on an eight week basis (referring to their contract with Allan), now we are on a forever basis.”
Allan: “I consider myself a member of the group. I’ve done everything from, well anything, any kind of involvement with the group from photo sessions, press kits, to getting them to McDonalds, to driving Vince to his voice lessons, to taking care of overdue phone bills…”
Nikki: “We’re family!”
Allan: “… everything, it’s just... just like family.”
Vince: “There are five members of Mötley Crüe!”
Nikki: “I don’t know if that’s unusual in the music business, that’s the way we want it to be always!”
Allan: “I know I can depend on them, and they know they could depend on me.
The truth was, Allan was not a music industry person and had taken them as far as he could. You can’t blame the Crüe for getting a more experienced management team. However, I really think they should have paid him off for all the money and time he had invested in them. It’s not like the band is poor.
I too was another of the casualties. When they got their record contract, they informed me that the record company had their own photographer and I never worked with them again. I can’t blame them. I’m sure the record company's photographer was much more experienced than I and knew exactly what they wanted. After the Crüe left L.A. to go touring, I eventually used my knowledge and skill to work with other top bands who were visiting L.A. at the time; bands such as the Rolling Stones, The Tubes, and Tom Petty.
As for my friendship with Tommy and the rest of Mötley Crüe, that ended not much longer after they left to go touring. It’s a bit of a long story, but here’s what happened…
The space for my photo studio was leased in a mall that was owned by an Italian man. This man’s son (who I will call Joe) was managing the business next door and we became well-acquainted. Joe bragged to me on one occasion that his father was part of the Mafia. I never knew if that was true but I did come to believe it later as I will explain here. My landlord had just built that mall just previous to me moving in. Six months later he wanted to sell the mall for five times what it cost him. Millions of dollars was at stake. The landlord felt that my business, with all these 'longhaired weirdos' (as he called the musicians who frequented my studio) and young girls (aspiring models) was bringing the value of his mall down and he wanted me out so he could make the big bucks. Unfortunately for him I had a lease and he couldn’t get me out unless I violated that lease. He had asked me to leave on a couple of occasions but I too had a lot of money invested in my business, so I refused to leave. The landlord then hatched a plan to get me out.
The landlord’s son, Joe, had been to my studio on many occasions and knew that I had done nude photos of Tommy. Joe told his father that I used drugs and was taking nude photos in my studio. The landlord used that information to plot his plan against me. The landlord sent his son Joe to my studio with a young lady. Joe hired me to videotape him and the girl having sex. I wasn’t the richest guy and I needed money anyway I could get it (as long as it was legal). The girl had told me she was divorced and looked to be about 20 years old. I was 23 and naïve and I didn’t photocopy her driver’s license. Anyhow, after the video was done, Joe asked to watch it back. As we did so, he asked that I delete everything except the close-up scene showing the girl’s face sucking a cock. He’s the client, so I did what he wanted. Joe and the young lady then left but he left without the videotape. I began to think that was odd since he just paid me $500 to shoot it. I didn’t worry long as I knew I would see him around the mall.
The next day, the San Gabriel Police Department showed up at my studio. It turns out the landlord called the police and told them of the video. I later found out that the Mafia landlord had bribed the police department and other city officials into doing whatever he asked. The police show up and say they are there looking for drugs. I ask to see a search warrant and they don’t have one, but since I have no drugs on the premises I agree to let them search. The first thing the police do is head straight to the video machine and promptly begin to playback the videotape from the day before (which was still in the machine). If you are looking for drugs you are NOT going to look at a videotape. It was then that I knew I was set up. The police claim that it is I in the tape, and that the girl is a minor so they haul me off to jail. They also find the nude photos of Tommy and Lisa and they claim Tommy is a prostitute and they file pandering charges against me for procuring him to appear in the photos. They also confiscated many other things including my videotape of Mötley Crüe’s performance at Pookies!
(Readers: Please note that Tommy was not arrested for prostitution nor were any charges filed against him for said activity. Tommy has not prostituted himself and this is something the police just made up to make their case against Will look stronger.)
I was in jail for two days before I raised bail. I know exactly how Tommy was to later feel when he was incarcerated. I too wanted to hang myself (as he explained in Tommyland). After my release on bail I went back to work at my studio. My landlord was pissed. His plan didn’t seem to be working. He decided to take it a step further and have the police harass me. One day the police waited outside my studio. When I exited my studio they pulled up, put cuffs on me, and said they had a warrant for my arrest. I asked to see the warrant. They replied they had forgot it at the station. The police then searched my vehicle. Finding nothing and without a valid warrant they had to release me. Other store owners came out of their businesses and were soon yelling at the officers to quit their harassment.
Seeing that his plan to run me out of town wasn’t working, the landlord decided to step it up a notch. One day he sent two thugs to my studio who threw me up against the wall and put a knife to my neck. They claimed that if I didn’t leave they would slash my neck the next time they came. After they left I called the San Gabriel Police Department to file a report but they wouldn’t listen to me. I was the long-haired young criminal and the landlord was the upstanding citizen in the community. I eventually started working with a neighboring police department who informed me that, yes, the San Gabriel Police Department was corrupt.
During the prelims of my court case, the District Attorney put the girl’s grandmother on the stand. Under oath, she flat out lied and said that she had met me and told me that her granddaughter was only 17. I’m sure that lady is now rotting in hell for lying under oath. The only person who could prove my innocence was the girl herself. The prosecutor wouldn’t allow her to testify during the prelims. My attorney said not to worry, she would have to show up on the day of the trial and we would get her to say she had told me she was of age and that it was not me in the videotape. The day of the trial came and my attorney informed me that the girl was found dead the day before the trial while in the police’s protective custody. Either the police or the Mafia had killed my star witness.
Fearing the jury would feel sympathy for the dead girl, my attorney suggested a plea bargain the DA had offered. I plead guilty to a lesser charge and there is no jail time, I walk and they get a conviction. If I continue with the trial and am found guilty, it’s 22 years in the slammer. I sure would love to have fought it but I knew I was up against a corrupt system. I took the plea bargain, found a buyer for my studio and I got the hell out of there. I knew if I hung around that mall anymore I would end up dead like the girl. I went into hiding for over a year after that until I felt the landlord was no longer after me. I made no contact with Mötley Crüe or any of my other friends or clients. I just had to lay low. I’ll have to add to what Tommy said on page 23 of Tommyland, don’t EVER videotape yourself, OR ANYONE ELSE, bumpin’ fuzz.
After the trial, the nude photos of Tommy were returned to me, but the police kept all my videotapes including Mötley Crüe’s performance at Pookies.
Soon word of what had happened spread throughout the photography community. I was blackballed and couldn’t find work. The only one who seemed to want to work with me was Playgirl magazine. They wanted to publish the nude photos of Tommy. I agreed to go ahead with the project, since Tommy himself said he wanted the photos to appear in the magazine. The photos would not tarnish his image, there had already been previous news reports of him running naked through hotel hallways and such. The photos were newsworthy and thus I had the legal right to sell them and Playgirl had the right to publish them.
I wrote to Tommy at his management office, since I didn’t know where else to find him. I wanted to find out if he had any objection to Playgirl publishing the photos. A couple of months went by and I heard no objection from him so I told Playgirl I would go ahead with the project. That was when Tommy’s attorney sent both Playgirl and I a letter threatening to sue if the magazine published the nude photos of Tommy. If you have read Tommy’s book Tommyland, you would know that he bitches many times throughout the book about those who want to sue him for his actions. Yet here he is the first to file suit against others. As Tommy has said, “what comes around goes around” and it has come back to him many times over since then.
Playgirl only wanted to publish those shots of him nude and semi-nude, not the ones with Lisa and the sex. I desperately needed the money to help cover all the legal costs I had recently incurred. I was praying Tommy wouldn’t object. Maybe as a way to repay me for the many times I helped him out, giving him a place to stay, selling him photos at cost or on many occasions, for free. He did say he owed me one. Still, out of respect for Tommy, if he didn’t want them published, I wouldn’t have them published in the magazine. No matter how others treat me (or mistreat me), I still try to do them right (remember, what comes around goes around). That’s what friendship is all about. I told Playgirl magazine to forget it and I dropped the project.
In ’84 (?) after I came out of hiding, I went back to Hollywood a few times after Mötley and most all of the other LA bands got signed and had moved on to touring. Without them the scene was dead. I did run into Tommy one time at the Troubadour when he was married to Candice. Tommy and Candice came in and sat at my table and we shot the bull for a bit. On another trip to the Troubadour, I ran into Nikki and Lita Ford and we caught up on old times as we stood on Santa Monica Boulevard in front of the club.
I even tracked down Tommy’s parents one time after Tommy had married Heather. They had moved from Tommy’s childhood home into a new place where Tommy’s Dad worked. I really liked Tommy’s parents. I had always wished my parents were more like his. We caught up on old times and then I asked them to do the Mötley Crüe fans a favor. I wanted to take all the photos I had of Tommy in all of his bands and put together an autobiography of Tommy’s life. After Mötley Crüe became big there was all these people writing books on them, people who were never even there during Mötley’s rise to fame. One book was even written by a bouncer in a New York nightclub. Needless to say, most of these books had the wrong information in them. I felt the Crüe fans needed to hear the true story from Tommy with my pictures. Tommy’s mom told me a few days later she had talked to Tommy and he refused to do it.
After I left the photography field, I eventually went back to school and earned a degree in Computer Science. I loved writing gaming software and I eventually developed several programs for playing online games. My software became very popular and soon was selling all over the world. A couple of years later a big software company came along and bought all the rights to my software. I made a ton of money on that so I decided to just retire. That’s when I discovered the ponies and poker.
I used my new-found wealth to play the horses by day and cards by night. I eventually met a dealer in this casino who became my wife of ten years (we divorced in ’97). She talked me into joining the casino and I now work for the world’s largest card club. I work with the tournaments and two times a year we do taping for the World Poker Tour, and once a year we do an episode for the Professional Poker Tour. My job is to get people into the tournaments and onto the TV shows and hopefully turn them into millionaires. During the course of my duties I get to work with all the biggest names in poker.
In my spare time, I own and operate two online ventures. One capitalizes on the growing popularity of poker, and the other is used by myself and a few select investors to achieve our financial objectives through stock investing.
In my personal life, I have a 14 year-old daughter I am raising on my own and a 22 year-old son who is making it on his own. I’m currently engaged to a fantastic 34 year-old woman, who a few years back, was a local beauty queen. She won the title of Miss Vietnamese Los Angeles.
So there you have it!
Now you've learnt some more about this period in Tommy Lee's life,
you can learn a lot more about him in his autobiography Tommyland.
Buy it Now
All text and photos Copyright 2005 by Will Boyett
and must not be used in any way without permission.
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