Theater Of Pain

So, in 1983 I first hear the band Motley Crue, and by 1984 they are my favorite band. Then in 1985 I see them at my first concert, cementing it for life.
In the summer of ’85 Motley Crue’s version of “Smokin’ In the Boys Room” was all over the radio. And I was impatiently awaiting the release of their third studio album Theater Of Pain from which the song was from.

I guess I should give a little back ground to this summer. As a teen I took off from home a lot. I guess you could call me a runaway. I didn’t have a bad childhood or home life. But my parents were divorced when I was in third grade. It was  hard on me, as I guess it would be for most 3rd graders. To top it off, when my mom remarried, I did not get along with my step father. When I was in 5th grade and we were going to be moving in with my step father to be. That meant leaving my grandparents in Torrance where we had been since the divorce where I had all sorts of friends and moving to South Central L.A.

I guess it didn’t help that my grandmother had given me Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn arround this time. I fantasized about running away like they did in the book. My best friend at the time, Jeremy ( I think I mentioned him before, he’s the one with the pot head parents who worked with rock bands. Jeremy was also the one who gave me my AC DC albums I mentioned in the post before this, “For Those About To rock” and “Dirty Deeds”) we came up with an idea that we would run away to his uncle’s house in Gardena.

So after school we went to his house grabbed some food and headed out. But my sister had run home and told my grandparents of our plan and he caught up with us before we were even out of the neighborhood.

A year later though, now living in L.A., the idea of running away struck me again. My step dads apartment was small, I shared a room with my 2 brothers, and I just didn’t like my step dad or his family. They treated us like we were step kids and not family, I never liked that feeling.  I was only in 6th grade, but I just wanted to just get out into the world already. Yes, 6th grade.

I went to take the trash out, but had a back pack of clothes as well and I just took off. I won’t get into all the details (a blog for another day, we need to get back to Motley Crue) but I went to a friend’s house and spent the night under a bed. It tore my mom up bad. There were flyers everywhere. My grandparents drove up from Torrance. It was pretty bad. And I was only gone for 24 hours.

My mom had come by the friend’s house I was at, at from under the bed I heard everything that was going on and how upset and sad she was. So the next day I called home to talk to her, she started crying and begging me to come home. So I went home. Funny how quickly a parents sadness turns to anger when they realize I was safe all night while everyone worried and searched for me. (I should mention it rained that night). Yea she was pissed. But really my home life wasn’t that bad and my mom was a great mom, my step dad on the other hand (again a blog for another day), so I didn’t runaway again until the following year, 7th grade. A friend and I skipped school and hung out all night in a park. My second 24 hour runaway and again, it didn’t make my mom to happy.

My mom and step dad eventually separated and we moved to Perris, California. I really came of age the Summer of  ’84, right before the move (I’ve talked a little of that summer before, it was an awesome summer), which I spent most of the time staying at my uncle’s in Torrance catching up with all my old friends. But it is nothing compared to the summer of  ’85.

When we moved to Perris I was ready for more freedom, and if my mom said I couldn’t go somewhere or would try to ground me, I’d just take off for a while. I know, what a little spoiled shit, what can I say, I had that runaway bug in me and I had tasted freedom.

It was during the summer of ’85, waiting for the new Motley Crue album to come out that I took off one Friday night and headed to Riverside. I would go to Tyler Mall and Castle Park most weekends, usually with friends, but sometimes by myself. Like this time. I’d usually see someone I knew or just scam on the chicks.

Well I had spent the day and night playing video games and hanging out, but once everything closed up I had to make a decision on what to do. I wasn’t supposed to go out that night, so I wasn’t going home, plus I didn’t feel like making that long trip (busses had stopped running at that point, and it was a good 20 mile walk). So I started to walk around Riverside when I came across a girl and her brother. I told them I was 16 though I was only 14. I also told them I was looking for a place to crash (I had slept in an apartment laundry room the last time I had done this). Of course they didn’t believe me at first, but as it turns out, she was 16 too (lol) and had a boyfriend who was 19 and she would talk to him so I could crash at his house. There’s a lot more to this story, but I really got to get to Motley Crue.

So, long story not so long (defiantly not long story short) her boyfriend did let me stay at his house. I stayed there for 2 weeks and it was a blast. The girl’s boyfriend had a brother, Chuck,  who was 17 or 18 I think,  he and his friends had just graduated so they took me in as a sort of mascot (thinking I was 16 though again, I was only 14). We went to the beach, a senior back yard beer party, time of my life!

And it was on June 21, 1985 while I was still at this house in Corona (that’s where they lived with their mom, I’m not sure what she thought of me staying there, but she was cool about it) I was eating cereal, when the girl who lived across the street came running in. She was 17 if I remember right and very cute but my attention was pulled away from her quickly to what she held in her hand:


She had the new Motley Crue album! It had just come out that day and there it was right in front of me. It was a record so it seemed so big and beautiful to me (it was much like the time I first saw the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album). It just sat there glowing like a red-hot flame. She opened it up and I remember what Chuck had said when we saw the boys on the inside:


“I think Nikki might have taken it too far this time”. That’s what he said, and I get it, but to me, it was the most awesome thing I had ever seen. This was the shit!

I went home that day, lol. Had to go get my own copy and blast it in my own room. I played that tape over and over again. I couldn’t get enough of it. Some of my friends thought it was too glam, but the music was just as hard as their other stuff. I think they didn’t realize how poppy the first 2 albums really were. I remember one friend saying Theater Of Pain sucked because it had a ballad on it (Home Sweet Home). I told him that was shit. Too Fast For Love (the first album) had 2 ballads on it, Merry-Go-Round and On With The Show and Shout At the Devil (the second album) had a ballad called Danger. The problem most people had was that Home Sweet Home was such a popular ballad. Lots of fans hate it when their band goes “mainstream”. I’ve never understood this. I get the whole “oh they sold out”, but that only applies to Metalica in my book. LOL, only kidding, sort of. it just makes sense, if a band is good, people are gonna listen to it.

Like I said, I played the fuck out of that album and I remember the first time saw this video:

Friday Night Videos, it was like 2 in the morning when they finally played it (I did not have MTV). Yes, it is very glammy. But let’s not forget, that year even Ozzy and Judas Priest sported the glitter!

Let’s skip ahead to October of 1985. A  friend of mine was having a Halloween party and I was going as Nikki Sixx. The guy giving the party was going as Mick Mars and another friend of mine (Mike, yes Mike) was going as Tommy Lee. Mike was another huge Motley Crue fan and his sister and aunt had already taken him to see the Theater Of Pain show earlier in the tour. He told me all about it and I was so jealous. I had never been to a concert, and I wanted badly to go see Motley Crue on this tour.

Well it turned out Mike’s sister (who was dressing as Vince for Halloween) and aunt had gotten 3 more tickets for when Motley Crue was playing in Long Beach on November 27th. They were going to take Mike again, but during one of my runaway weeks I had spent time at Mike’s aunts house, and they (aunt and sister) thought I should go to the show with them since Mike had already gone and since I was such a huge Crue fan they knew how much I would appreciate it!

Now I just had to get my mom to say I could go. I know that sounds funny. But even though I took off a lot, I couldn’t do it every time. I did respect my mom (believe it or not) and wanted her to let me go. Would I have still had gone if she said no? Duh, of course I would have, but luckily my mom could see how much it meant to me and my mom is one of the coolest, she said yes. Plus my birthday was coming up, you know I threw that in.

So it was set, I was going to see Motley Crue live!  And just a week before the show I saw this video:

You know I was ready!

The night started off with me walking over to Mike’s aunts house. It wasn’t really a house, it was a trailer out by the gypsy camp. yes Perris had gypsies back then… I swear!

Once I was there we got ready for the show, I had brought my Motley tapes over and we were listening to them while we got ready, a tradition I still do before every concert. Mike’s aunt had asked someone she knew to give us a ride for some gas money and he agreed. The only problem was, that this guy had a little 2 seater sports car. My friend’s sister and I had to had to lay on each other across the area where there should have been a back seat. No place for our feet, we just scrunched up together for the ride to Long Beach. I wasn’t complaining though, my friend’s sister was 17 and pretty hot, plus I was on my way to Motley Crue!

We got to the stadium and the guy said he would park and wait. I couldn’t believe he was just gonna sit in his car for 3 hours while we went to the show, but I didn’t care, I was walking around like the king of the world. There were people everywhere, many dressed in Motley Crue shirts (as was I). Remember I was 14, this was my first concert and it was a Motley Crue show. There was so many hot chicks dressed in the tightest, skimpiest outfits. (Did I just say hot chicks?) It was heaven all around me.

We got into the show, 8th row tickets, hell yes! I remember when we first got there a couple of girls were talking to a guy at the stage who looked a lot like Tommy Lee. back then when Tommy and Nikki were out of makeup they were very hard to tell apart, and as I started to say “Hey that looks like Tommy Lee”, I realized my mistake and what came out was “Hey, that’s Nikki Sixx!” I jumped from my seat and ran for the stage, I was too late, he was already heading back stage. I had missed a chance at meeting my hero. That’s OK, when I returned to school the following week, that story was changed to me meeting Nikki Sixx and it was almost like I had. And don’t come down on me about lying, I was in 9th grade and besides, I finally came clean, right.

Alright, I missed Nikki Sixx, but the night was just getting started. When Mike had seen the Crue with his aunt and sister the band Loudness had opened for them:


They were a Japanese  metal band. Really good band, and I was a little disappointed they were not playing at our show. Instead we got Autograph:


Yes, I was a little disappointed.

We did stand up for “Girls In Black Cars” and “Turn Up The Radio”:

It was the least we could do since most everyone else was out getting beers and snacks while they played.

Which reminds me, we didn’t have any money, but the girls did have some weed and they sold some to the people behind us so we could get nachos and a drink. The whole thing was just a fantastic blur to me. And when  that curtain came down and the Crue took the stage I was reborn.

Tommy’s drum set came down like a draw bridge and they blasted into Looks That Kill. Nikki looked like a God to me up on that stage. I was having sensory overload!

Use It Or Lose It was next, my favorite track off Theater Of Pain. I was up in my folding chair, fist high above me, singing every word!

Third song was Shout At The Devil and everyone in the stadium was up on their seats “devil horns” pumping into the electric air.

And it went on…

Fight For Your Rights, Ten Seconds To Love, Piece Of Your Action, Home Sweet Home, Red Hot, and then an amazing guitar solo from Mick Mars leading into Keep You Eye On The Money.

Followed by Louder Than Hell (and it did get louder than hell in there). Then I saw my first Tommy Lee drum solo. If you have never seen one, that is too bad, because they are unbelievable! That night his drum kit that had unfolded like a draw bridge was now  going up the opposite way till it was straight up and down with Tommy strapped in with seat belts. As the drums slowly raised to that 90 degree level Tommy played faster and faster till at the top he stopped, opened a beer, took a big drink, and threw it out into the audience, yelling “This Buds for you!”

Everyone went crazy, I went crazy! I really wanted to catch that beer.

The night went on as they screeched into Too Young To Fall In Love followed by the best 2 songs of the night in my opinion, Knock ’em dead Kid and Live Wire. Knock ’em Dead had special meaning for me which we’ll get to in a future post I’m sure. And Live Wire, well I would learn over the next few years and many more Crue shows, that Live Wire was always one of the best songs of the night! They finished the show with Smokin’ In The Boys Room and City Boy Blues. Well you might think that if you have never been to a concert before, because then came the encore!

They came back out and did a cover of The Beatles Helter Skelter… you know I was on the highest cloud at that point. What a fucking show! What a fucking night! All through it there were pyro explosions and sparks and fire.

Then to top it all off Vince Neil announced they were recording the next song live for their next album. And with that they closed with another cover… Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock. They rocked it and the night was complete. A couple of years later when Motley’s next album “Girls, Girls, Girls” came out, sure enough my first concert was immortalized there on the final track. But that’s later. For that night, 30 years in the past, we headed out of the stadium, my ears ringing, again people everywhere. We found the guy waiting for us in his little sports car, and I climbed into the non back seat, wrapping around my friend’s older sister because we had to but also to stay warm (that trip home was cold for some reason, don’t know if the top was down or just the windows, but I remember it was cold), with the biggest grin on my face. That grin returns now as I remember it all like it was yesterday!