Motley Crue is playing the Greensboro Coliseum tonight and I’m not going. No surprise there, as my musical tastes run a tad deeper than their populist metal fare. These days I’d much rather sit back and groove to some acoustic Blues than pound my fist in the air at all that simulated bombast. But I must admit I’m still intrigued by this rogue foursome with the hair-metal history. Sitting here now, I think I know why.
In my senior year of high school I took part in one of those embarrassing rituals unique to pep rallies and adolescence: The Air Band Competition. Flattered at being chosen yet worried about making a complete ass of myself, I took to the gymnasium floor and played my best air guitar to the Crue’s remake of ‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room’. Luckily I wasn’t down there alone. Instead I was flanked by two righteous buddies who’s just joined me in a little boys room smoking’ of our own. We may not have been cool as we shook our mullets in head-banging unison, but we were damn sure rock and roll.
As with many landmark events in my life, it was captured on videotape, thanks to the steady-handed efforts of a well-off buddy and his early camcorder. We used to cue that puppy up and watch it all the time, but as the years wore on we thought better of sharong the tape’s contents with others. That musty beta-tape now lives happily in the Embarrassment Relocation Program.
Several years later I found myself a reluctant member of the U.S. Navy. While stationed din Norfolk, some squid buddies and I scored tickets to the Motley Crue/Whitesnake show at The Scope. I wasn’t a huge fan of either band but looked forward to getting off the ship and maybe even seeing some girls in the process. All went well until the night of the show, when I somehow lost my ticket between the car and the Coliseum. To this day I don’t know how I lost that ticket but it may have had something to do with all the ‘losing juice’ I’d been drinking that afternoon. Whatever the case, I was absolutely crestfallen as my buddies left me in the parking lot to fend for myself as they went inside to soak up all those pyrotechnics and drum solos.
Suddenly, I wanted to attend that concert more than anything. As the first chords of Whitesnake’s opening act wafted outside, I trolled the grounds of the Coliseum’s complex, bummed out, broken and bereft. But my luck changed after I spotted a disheveled figure sitting on a park bench. For a homeless guy he sure was popular. After a few more minutes of watching the casual traffic around his bench, I approached the old guy and soon bought my first scalped concert ticket. My last too, come to think of it.
Thanks to the old man, and willingness to sell me a ticket at only double the face-value - I rawked with the Crue in all their cocksure swagger. More accurately, I hung back and watched individual audience members as they shimmied and genuflected to their own-stage gods. To this day I can still see a rotund fellow in a wife-beater t-shirt pumping his chubby fists in drum solo supplication. Perhaps therapy would help erase that.
Instead of erasing memories, let me hit the fast-forward button to, oh …about twelve years. No longer a high school poseur or drunken sailor, I paced the spaces of an underground parking garage and shifted my betacam from shoulder to shoulder. Two flights up, a bailiff readied a courtroom for the arrival of one Nikki Sixx, due in court to face charges related to an earlier concert turned near-riot. Loitering in the subterranean darkness, I no longer gave a flip about the misadventures of a spoiled millionaire. But since Nikki Sixx’s mug on tape was what my bosses demanded me of that day, I was once again following the Crue. I was trying to remember all the words to ’Dr. Feelgood’ when my cell phone rang.
“Eugene Street Side! Eugene Street!”
The slight panic in my co-worker’s voice told me Mr. Sixx was on the property. As I ran out of the garage and into the sunlight I caught a glimpse of my fellow photographer chased in man with long, impossibly black hair. I tried to join in the pursuit but by the time I leveled my own weapon, the tattooed pseudo-bass player had slipped into the courthouse and out of sight. Left with nothing but empty tape and rock star vapor, I huddled with my co-worker and exchanged notes. After a brief strategy session, I took position to await Nikki Sixx’s inevitable egress from the Guilford County justice system. As clerks and lawyers took their briefcases for morning walks all around me, I sat on a low wall and thought about my role in life and that of a globe-trotting eighties metal icon. Whatever lay ahead, I was glad to be nearing the end of my interaction with one Motley Crue.
And here I sit writing almost 900 words about them. Sheesh…