Motley Crue and Def Leppard Members Recall Bands’ Car Crashes
Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx and Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott discussed how the car crashes that figured in each band’s history affected them.
Crue singer Vince Neil caused the death of Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle in December 1984, while leaving two other people with brain damage, after he lost control of his car while drunk. Just a few weeks later, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm when his car left the road and flipped several times.
In a joint interview with Classic Rock ahead of their tour together, Sixx and Elliott recalled the impact of the tragedies. “Vince changed that day,” Sixx said. “For us, it was kind of hard to grasp that somebody died in a car accident because Vince was drinking. We all drank and drove in the ‘80s. It’s just what we did. We got lit up at home, we jumped in the car, we went down to Hollywood, we drank more, we grabbed a bunch of chicks, we got kicked out of a bar at 2AM, we went to a party and then we got ourselves home.”
He recalled that "when Razzle was killed, that was the first time we realized there was consequence to this. And it wasn’t that you were gonna get in trouble. Somebody died. Vince changed that day, and I don’t think he’s ever changed back. It’s something that’s embedded in his DNA. I haven’t had that experience, so I don’t know how to explain it – other than to say that I’ve seen a man change forever.”
Elliott said he remembered "the phone call from our manager, Peter Mensch. He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’ And having seen enough movies, I knew that you don’t say that unless somebody has died. But when he said, ‘Your drummer’s had a car crash and he’s lost his arm,' there’s no way for you to process that information. It doesn’t make any sense. I just burst into tears. I thought, for Rick, not being able to play the drums again was probably worse than death – he’s going to be this walking corpse that used to be a drummer.”
But, the singer added, "within about eight or nine days, he started telling us, ‘I think I’ve figured out a way around it.' And of course we all thought it was just the morphine talking. But he was back on a drum kit within three months. It was inspiring.”
Sixx agreed with that assessment. "To me, that’s one of the most amazing stories ever," he said. "The fact that Rick said, ‘I’ve lost my arm, but this is my band and I’m gonna play drums again.' And the band did exactly what a family would do. They said, ‘We’re here, let’s do it.' I mean, how fucking insane is rock ’n’ roll when you have a one-armed drummer? That isn’t even possible. It’s a miracle, that’s what it is.”
Motley Crue's comeback tour features Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett. It begins on June 23 and runs until Sept. 5.