That Time Motley Crue Got a New Drummer and Brought Back the Riffs on ‘New Tattoo’
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Loyal Motley Crue fans hoped the group’s eighth album, 2000’s New Tattoo, would mark the end of a turbulent, unproductive decade that saw the band release just two studio albums and part ways with lead singer Vince Neil for five years.
But before recording commenced, founding drummer Tommy Lee quit the group to pursue his solo band, Methods of Mayhem, saying he was tired of playing songs like “Girls Girls Girls” night after night. “I always told myself that when my heart wasn’t in it, it was time to quit,” he explains in the band’s official autobiography The Dirt. “And my heart wasn’t in it.”
Former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo was quickly hired to join the three remaining original band members, and the group set out to make a back-to-basics follow-up to 1997’s more experimental, industrial-tinged Generation Swine. “Strangely, with Tommy gone, the band entered for the first time in my memory a period of stability,” bassist Nikki Sixx recalls in The Dirt, “and we recorded the album that should have been the successor to Dr. Feelgood.”
While none of the songs on New Tattoo would go on to become classics – or earn a spot in the band’s current farewell tour set list – it is nice to hear them get loud, rude and riff-based again on minor gems such as first single “Hell on High Heels,” “Fake” and the humorous and highly underrated “First Band on the Moon.”
Sadly, serious health problems struck the band before the tour in support of the album even began. Castillo fell ill with what would eventually be revealed as cancer, which kept him off the road and claimed his life two years later. Hole drummer Samantha Maloney took over behind the drum kit for the trek, as seen on the band’s 2002 Lewd, Crued & Tatooed live DVD.
A couple of years later, the stability that had eluded the band for so long would finally return. After releasing albums and touring both with Methods of Mayhem and as a solo artist, Lee would rejoin Motley Crue in 2004. Although it would be another four years before they released their next (and seemingly last) studio album, 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles, the original foursome has remained together since that time. However, they plan to call it a career following a final farewell concert in their hometown of Los Angeles on New Year’s Eve.
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