Motley Crue's 2019 decision to reunite and tour again, five years after first announcing they were done, comes as a bit of a surprise. While they're hardly the first band to have a change of heart on the subject, the manner in which they originally said goodbye leads to a question: How many times have they towed the company line regarding that topic over the years?

When they announced their Final Tour in January 2014, Motley Crue arrived at the press conference in a hearse, entered the room to a New Orleans jazz funeral arrangement of "Dr. Feelgood" and sat behind tombstones featuring their names. If that wasn't enough of a hint that the band was, in essence, finished, each member signed, in full view of reporters, a "Cessation of Touring Agreement," a legally binding document that said Motley Crue would never tour again.

In fairness, throughout it all, Motley Crue never said they were breaking up. Only a few days after that press conference, singer Vince Neil clarified, "We’re still gonna be making music. We’re still [gonna be selling] merchandise and stuff like Motley Crue things. ... Motley Crue will still be around; we’re just not gonna tour anymore. That’s really kind of it.”

He went to admit that they would consider performing again if they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but firmly stated that no amount of money could get them back out on the road.

They also admitted there was a loophole in the contract that meant it could easily be voided if all four of them agreed to come back. A week later, bassist Nikki Sixx said the agreement was really more of a safeguard against them using the Motley Crue name in their respective solo projects.

"There are bands out there traveling under the same band name," Sixx explained. "Tommy [Lee] said it would be like, 'Nikki Sixx’s Motley Crue at the Troubadour' and 'Tommy Lee’s Motley Crue at the Canyon Club,' and they are all within a week of each other, you know? I can’t get into my car and drive down the road and have that be a reality. Not after everything that we’ve done. Not after everything we’ve been through."

A year later, Motley Crue announced the dates for the last leg of the tour. Even though they released a new single called "All Bad Things" to accompany it, Lee said their decision to hang it up was met with quizzical looks from all corners. “People from financial people to business people, friends, family, are going, 'Are you guys out of your fucking mind?" he said. "The fucking [Rolling] Stones are still doing this shit. Just fucking do it less often or whatever. You're fucking idiots.'"

“You can win Super Bowls," Sixx chimed in. "But in the end, you're going to be a quarterback standing on the field, and somebody's going to bust your fucking knee, and you're going to be lying in the middle of the field with 10 million people watching you while you can't get up. And that's a fact of life — but it's not going to be a fact of our life. We're going to win the Super Bowl, and we're going to fucking leave."

As Sixx looked to transition from Motley Crue to devoting his full-time attention to Sixx:A.M., the bassist was so adamant about putting his past aside that he refused to include Crue's songs in his new band's set lists.

"The people who are coming to see us are coming to see Sixx:A.M." he said. "We don’t play Motley Crue music and we never will play Motley Crue music. The day Motley Crue plays its last show, I will never play another Motley Crue song again ... even if it’s one I wrote."

It didn't take long for Sixx to go back on that promise: In June 2016, Sixx:A.M. performed a slowed-down acoustic version of "Live Wire" when they appeared on a French radio show in support of Prayers for the Damned.

"I mean, the Who is cool and all but, guys, really?" Sixx protested in August 2015. "They're playing half-full places with just two guys left in the band. I get it. They're entitled to that. But it's just not for us."

"Kiss had five farewell tours and four reunion tours," Neil pointed out, incorrectly, in the run-up to the final show. "That's exactly what we don't want to do. That was the whole reason. ... We wanted to go out on top, with people saying, 'Yeah, man, I saw the last concert. It was awesome!' We don't want to be that band, where it's [billed as] Motley Crue, and it's maybe one [original member's] brother left in the band, and they're playing clubs. ... If we let that happen, we wouldn't be thought of or remembered like we wanted to be."

Not long after that, Sixx added that a band reunion "would be over my dead body. All hell would rain down on any lawyers or promoters or anyone out there who thinks they are going to go sneaking around it. Dignity is the most important thing."

Even as the members got back together to oversee the movie version of their book The Dirt -- which included four new songs on its soundtrack -- they continued to insist that the "Cessation of Touring Agreement" would remain in effect. "We signed a contract not to tour anymore," Neil said in answer to fans who thought they had called it quits. "We never broke up or said we would never make music again. Hope this clears it up."

But the movie nonetheless had an effect on the band. In September 2019, Sixx said their time together helped them rekindle their friendships with one another. "I think I was just detached in a lot of ways" on the last tour, he explained. "I wasn’t detached onstage, but it just didn’t feel like a camaraderie backstage. We would do our meet-and-greets and we all would be cordial, but it just didn’t feel the same. Since the movie, it has felt like it used to in the old days. ... It’s the best feeling to at least know that we’re brothers and friends through all this. Rock ’n’ roll tears your fucking heart out sometimes. It’s hard.”

Two months later, Motley Crue officially announced they were back, with a video that showed the contract being destroyed amid reports of a summer 2020 tour with Def Leppard and Poison. In the press release promoting the video was an admission that the uptick in exposure, particularly with younger listeners, due to The Dirt was the reason for the decision.

"Its massive global success earlier this year saw Motley Crue’s popularity rush to new highs, catapulting the band’s music back to the top of the worldwide charts with the younger 18-44 demographic now representing 64 percent of the band’s fan base," the statement claimed. "Moreover, in the six months following the release of The Dirt, Motley Crue have celebrated a meteoric rise of almost 350 percent increase in streams of their music across all streaming platforms. However, most of the new fans have never seen any of the legendary live shows that Crueheads have relished for close to four decades."

 

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