Take a look inside the Shout At The
Devil liner notes and you will see "Neil Zlozower (click, click)" in the Special
Friends List. His photography has been used on Mötley Crüe album covers, as well as
printed in rock magazines adored by millions of fans worldwide.
On the 12th of July 1997,
a Saturday morning at 1:30 am my time, I caught up with Neil Zlozower
via telephone to his studio in Los Angeles California. Chronological
Crue is proud to bring you this insight
into his involvement and friendship with Mötley Crüe. Heres it is ZLOZ - From
Behind The Lenz.
(All Neil Zlozower photos used on this site
are with permission)
Chronological Crue: How did you first get
involved in the industry and who are some of the artists youve worked with in the
past, prior to your first involvement with Mötley Crüe?
Neil Zlozower: Basically I consider my
beginning shooting the Rolling Stones at the [Los Angeles] Forum in 1969. That was me just
being a fan. Back then tickets were $6.50 - $5.50 - $4.50 and in 69 I was 15 years
old. I could only afford the $4.50 tickets, but in those days they didnt have the
big security guards. I just bought the cheapest seats and walked to the front row and
basically shot photos from the front row all night.
NZ: So thats when I consider I got my
start. I mean, I didnt have a photo pass or anything, and I basically did it for me
to hang on my walls at home. Thats what I consider is my beginning in RocknRoll photography.
CC: 69 is a great number and
certainly a great year. That was the year I was born!
NZ : Yeah, 69 is my favourite number.
CC: So how did you come to be
involved with Mötley Crüe?
NZ: Back in about 1976, I
used to work with a couple of other photographer - Andy Kent, Barry Levine, Neil Preston
- and we
all sort of parted ways in 78. Then it was in about 80/81 that Barry
Levine, whos probably most famous for all his work he did with Kiss in the
bi-centennial sessions and Empire State Building session, called me up and said he was
working with this new band and wanted to know if Id be interested in doing some work
with him and the band. So we went down one night to one of their rehearsals at a rehearsal
hall called S.I.R. in Hollywood, and basically I was introduced to the guys. At that point
they were sort of a local L.A. band who was pretty well known around the L.A. club circuit,
but at that point hadnt broken out yet. I think their Too Fast For Love album was
out but it wasnt really a smashing success.
CC: Was that before they were picked up by
Elektra? Are we talking 81 here, or are we into 82?
NZ: I think it was on Leathur Records. I
dont believe it was on Elektra Records. It was probably about 82 as they were
getting ready to start the Shout At The Devil thing. I was there when they did the video
shoot for Looks That Kill. I think it was the first video they did, so I was there at the
video shoot. Barry [Levine] was there too. Actually, lets step back a little way.
If I remember correctly, they did a few local shows in L.A. where they opened up for
NZ: I remember shooting them at the
Universal Amphitheatre and then I remember shooting them at Irvine Meadows. I also
remember a funny incident at Irvine Meadows. They were backstage and Nikki said,
"Yeah. This is our last gig with Kiss, so at the end of the set Im gonna go,
'And wed like to thank our Grandmothers favourite band Kiss for having
us open up for them'." He was going to say that in front of the audience and Im
like, "Ohhh! I dont know Nikki. That may not be the greatest idea. You
dont want to burn any bridges before you do anything." So this was before they
were wearing the Shout At The Devil clothes, which obviously was a whole new phase for
them. They went from sort of primitive black leather and belts and bullets and stuff. I
think Barry was the one who really sort of strayed them toward the Shout At the Devil
look, which obviously was a really huge success for them.
NZ: I think the one thing that really
popped them open was that they played the US Festival in 83.
CC: Yeh! May 83.
NZ: I think it may have been June.
Im not sure. It was before the blazing heat of summer. I was there shooting them. It
was a three day thing. I was there all three days. Mötley played the Heavy Metal Day. The
headliner was Van Halen, who I used to do all their photos back then. I think there was
Ozzy, Judas Priest, Scorpions. I believe Quiet Riot played or was supposed to play that
gig. I cant remember. I think they may have cancelled that gig and thats
how Mötley got the spot but I cant really remember. That was a few brain cells ago.
CC: A few thousand?
NZ: Yeh! A lots gone down in my head
since then. I think Quiet Riot was supposed to play but they were pretty big already by
that time and I think they didnt want to do it, or something happened and
actually got the spot at the last minute.
CC: I wanted to talk about the
Session, which I consider to be the best photo session in Mötleys long career.
NZ: Thanks. I appreciate that. Its
one of my all time favourite sessions and as a matter of fact, in my studio I have a
couple of shots of Nikki hanging up from that session that are my favourites. Theyre
actually left over from the movie Airheads, the shots that are hanging. That was probably
my all time favourite photo session I ever did with anybody.
CC: Do you recall what was used for the
NZ: For the actual blood on the guys, I went to a theatrical
place and bought the very, very highest grade blood... artificial blood, that
you can buy. Stage blood. I dont know if you remember around that time, there was
also that band W.A.S.P. that was out and if you ever looked at photos of Blackie, he used to
do a lot of stuff with blood, but his blood looked all watery and thin and wasn't really
red looking. We went and got the highest grade fake blood that you can buy and we used
that for the photo session. On the background, that was actually red lacquer paint that we
put in paper cups and threw sporadically onto the background and let it drip down and do
its own thing.
CC: Where was that actually shot?
NZ: That was shot at my studio where
Im sitting right now!
CC: Awesome. What were the guys actually
like to work with? Are they easy to get along with and get shots done?
NZ: In general?
CC: Yeh. Not specific to any particular
NZ: Well put it this way. Like all bands,
when theyre new in the beginning, theyre all hungry and photos are a big part.
Back in those days, everybody loved seeing photos of themselves in magazines. It was cool... the typical rocknroll star. But as in any band, the bigger they get,
the more money they make, the more everybody is demanding of their time to do photo
sessions, and so on. It gets to be more of a pain in the neck. So in the beginning, they
were real co-operative. They would do anything I would say. Theyd be more gracious
and more humble in the beginning, but towards 91/92 which was the end that I
worked with them, cause I didnt work with them in the John Corabi period and
Im sort of boycotting the band now, they were like... Youd go on the road
and fly into Texas, or fly into Florida. "OK guys, lets do some photos."
Theyd be like, "Oh man, we dont wanna do photos. We dont have time.
Were too cool to do photos. We dont need photos." So throughout the years
that I worked with them, their attitudes changed. They went from being really anxious to
do photos and see them, and then Were big rock stars. We dont need to do
photos. Were too cool to do photos. I actually just spoke to a good friend of
mine who said he was out on the road some weeks ago trying to do some work with them, and
he said it was probably the most painful experience hes ever been through.
NZ: So in the beginning they were cool, and
slowly but surely it drifted from cool, to not as cool, to like, 'why am
I even bothering attempting to do this?'
CC: So that was your last involvement with
them as such, around the time of Decade Of Decadence?
NZ: I just shot Vince about
three weeks ago for
a Washburn ad. Me and Vince are cool. I dont have any problems with me
I really dont have any problems with Mick or Tommy. I havent seen them for a
while. It just seems Nikkis now copping this attitude that he thinks his shit
dont stink and hes the greatest rock star that ever lived and hes too
cool for anything. So, I dont need to deal with that. Considering me and Nikki, I
thought at one point in time were the best of friends. I used to go to Nikkis house
when he used to go on tour in 85/86. He used to live in Laurel Canyon
and I used to have to go and feed his cat every day because he was out on the road and
no-one else was dumb enough to do it. So me being a good friend of his, I went to his
house everyday and fed his little cat. Then also me, Nikki and Robbin Crosby from Ratt, we
took a trip down to the Caribbean in 84 and caused a whole bunch of havoc down
there. We were on this island called Martinique. We went to Club Med and I dont know
if that place has ever been the same since, but we had a great time back then.
NZ: But considering myself and Nikki, who I
thought at one time were such close friends, he really dissed me as far as Im
concerned. But theres not much loyalty in this business. People forget fast. They
get so into their ego and so into like, Im a big rock star. I can do anything
thats possible, they forget who their real friends are. They have so many
yes people around them saying, "Youre the greatest thing since
bubblegum" and they start believing it after a while. I dont know whats
happening with the guys now. I hear their albums stiffing bigger than any album in
history, so maybe Nikki will get a dose of reality. Not Tommy, not Vince, not Mick.
CC: Did you work with Vince during his solo
NZ: Yeh, I did do some sessions and you
know what? Like I said, the last sessions I did with the guys, I think I flew out to
Albuquerque and Phoenix in about 1991 on the very last tour they all did together where I
think Warrant was opening. Vince was the same... big rock star... Im cool.
We dont need photos. When Vince left his band and started playin with
all my friends in his solo band, Vince was 100% cooler to work with than he was towards
the last stage. I think there was a lot of pressure and tension off. He was very cool.
Ive run into Vince a couple of times since and Vince is very cool. Me and him get
along great. Were both car fanatics, so we like talking cars and stuff. We like high
performance vintage vehicles. We have a lot in common. Vince is a great guy. I love Vince.
CC: If you had to look back at the times
youve been around the band, what would you consider to be perhaps one of the
NZ: Thats a good one. They all sort
of blend into one another at some point. I cant really remember. Like I said, I used
to hang with Nikki. We had some fun times in the old days when he was living in a little
apartment right above Robbin Crosby, and chicks used to come over. Hes sort of a
jokester Nikki. I mean the Blood Session has to be a great session. Vince was getting
married the very next day after the Blood Session. I think hes been married
two or three
That wouldve been to Beth wouldnt it?
NZ: That was to Beth, yeah. He was
getting married to Beth the next day, so every shot I shot at the Blood Session, I can
read on his face, "I gotta get outta here. Im getting married tomorrow. I
cant deal with this." Mentally, when you do a photo session, you want the
artist to be with you and his mind was somewhere else. So he split about
seven oclock at
night and the other guys split too, but Nikki stayed around. We got a little toasted
to say the least, and me and him continued to work and pour that blood all over him. Me
and him were just going crazy, totally cranking loud music and all that. That was a really
fun time for me. All the times on the road were fun but that was before I was married, so
there was never any shortage of girls at Mötley Crüe shows. They were just begging to do
whatever you wanted them to do.
CC: Were you a part of the backstage
parties as well?
NZ: Yeah. I would be one of the guys that
the Tour Manager would give 20-30 backstage passes to and go find the finest cream of the
crop girls out there and make sure theyre willing to do anything anybody wants them
to do. Being a photographer, Id say I have excellent taste in fine women, so I would
just go out there and get the finest specimens I could find. First thing you ask them is
how old they are, before you ask them anything else. Then Id ask them a couple of
other questions and if they had the right answer, theyd get a backstage pass. If not, see ya later. I did many, many, many
Mötley Crüe shows over the years and it was
always a lot of fun hangin with the guys. Not always the greatest trying to get
photo sessions with them on the road cause theyd be up drinking and partying.
I think most of them are all married now. All been married at one time or another. A
couple of the guys are divorced. It was always fun working with them. I always had a great
time working with the guys. They always treated me like family in the old days.
CC: Is there one particular show that
stands out in your mind? I know the guys say the US Festival is certainly a
that show be the one for you as well?
NZ: No not really, cause in general that was a pathetic three day
weekend being a photographer. They were just one band out of maybe 30-40 bands. Me and
another friend of mine; we rented a hotel room. At those big venues, you gotta
carry lots of cameras, really long lenses. By the third day at the US Festival, I think that
was David Bowie day and Stevie Nicks, which doesnt really thrill me; I remember him
going to me, "OK. Come on Neil. Lets get going. Time to get going to the
show" and Im like, "Look Geoff, you go to the show. Im gonna hang
here and stay by the pool all day. I dont give a fuck about the show anymore."
Somehow he got me to go. The US Festival was great for Mötley cause I think it was
the first glimpse the world really got of them with Shout At The Devil. Back then
they were brutal. There were the Scorpions and Judas Priest but the
Mötley guys were a
little different than all those bands so far as Im concerned. They were supposedly
into that devil stuff, which as far as I was concerned, was just an act. It was a good
gimmick. Everyones got to have a gimmick and that was a pretty good gimmick back
there. I think they did a pretty good blitzkrieg on the audience. No one really knew who
Mötley was at that point. They came out and they were pretty potent stuff back then.
CC: How about the Helter Skelter EP?
NZ: Did you see that?
NZ: After I did the Blood Session, which I
thought was one of my best sessions, I went over to Elektra Records and saw the main
A&R man Tom Zutaut, and Tom was like, "Neil, can I have this session" for
like a week. I came back like a week later and he was like, "Neil, we want to buy
this session from you. We want to pay you $5,000 and were gonna come out with this
Christmas Helter Skelter thing. We wanna make a picture disk. We wanna use your photos.
Were gonna have a poster in there and its gonna have the pictures right on the
disk." I said, "OK. Cool. $5,000 bucks. Yeh I like that." So all I remember...
me, Nikki and Robbin Crosby went to the Caribbean and they stayed an extra week than what I
did. They could take two weeks off. Ive got bills to pay and shit so I only stayed
for a week. So from Martinique, you fly to Haiti. Then from Haiti you fly to Florida and
then from Florida you fly to L.A. So I got to L.A. about 11:30 at night. My girlfriend picked
me up at the airport and shes like, "Oh, Hi." I could tell something was
wrong. I go, "Hey baby, whats goin on?" She goes, "Well you
know Vince." Im like, "Yeah." She said, "Well he was driving with
this drummer from Hanoi Rocks and they got in this car accident and the drummer got
killed." Im like, "Oh, are you kidding me? I wonder if Nikki knows about
this." Down in Martinique they had phones but it was virtually impossible to get
anybody on the phone. You couldnt just call a place like youre calling me and
get hold of Nikki. It was a big ordeal to get hold of someone on the phone. So all I know
is when Nikki got back and Robbin got back a couple of weeks after all this, the record
company had already pressed about a 100, 200, maybe 500 Helter Skelter EPs and the
record company decided that it was in really poor taste at that time to come out with this
Helter Skelter disk. So I actually think they pressed close to 400 or 500, not even 1,000.
So they stopped pressing them. Very few were made. I think they were given out as
promotional items. I actually have one of them to my name and thats it. So
thats the story with that. It was going to be something that was available for
time but they decided to yank it. Even the ones they did press... I dont think that
you could buy it. I think they were just given out to special people.
CC: All right Neil, I thats probably
a good point to round it up at.
NZ: OK. If you ever need any other help,
feel free to give me a ring.
NZ: Hey, just curious. So what do YOU think
of the new Mötley record?
CC: I really like it.
NZ: You like it?
CC: Yeah. They change with each album.
There are more ballads than Id have hoped. The 94 album with Corabi,
that was the shit.
NZ: Meaning that was good or bad?
CC: That was good!
NZ: You like the album with John on it?
CC: Yeh, although I didnt
really like what happened.
NZ: Right. Just to let you know, John used
to live four doors up the street from where I am sitting right now. His wife used to do
makeup for me on quite a few photo sessions. I love The Scream.
CC: Awesome. Me too.
NZ: I think that Scream album is amazing.
One of my favourites. I got it down here. I still listen to that and I remember Nikki
loved it also. Nikki actually called me up and said, "Hey Zloz. What do you think of
that guy John Corabi? I know you know him." I go, "Hey, Johns
amazing. I love John. Hes f*ckin great." But personally, I didnt really
like that record at all. I didnt really like John in Mötley Crüe. I didnt
think it was very good. That was my personal thing. Or maybe I was just pissed off at them
at the time too.
NZ: Well like I said, me and Vince are
cool. Tommy and I have emailed each other about eight or nine months ago. He got my email address
and Ive got a kid about a year old now, so he just had his kid probably a little bit
before me. So we were emailing each other for about a week or two. He was cool and I was
CC: Yeh, Tommy seems like a real dude to me.
NZ: Yeh, Tommys a good dude. I like
Tommy. Ive got no beefs with him. No beefs with Mick. No beefs with Vince. Im
just not very happy with Nikki.
CC: Alright Neil, thanks for your time.
NZ: Sounds good Paul man. Take it easy and
keep up the good work.
Here's some more of Neil's
work with Mötley Crüe for you to enjoy:
Want more ?? Click to see the complete listing
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