During the '80s, Mötley Crüe released a string of best-selling albums that put them on top of the world.
But after frontman Vince Neil took leave from the band in 1992, more than a decade of turmoil followed. When the Crüe played Charlotte in July 2000 without celebrity drummer Tommy Lee, the veteran glam-rockers had trouble filling seats despite a Web promotion that doled out free tickets. Anthrax reportedly dropped off the tour rather than take a pay cut when ticket sales were slow.
But for the past few years, Mötley Crüe has been mending fences and preparing its comeback. And this year – with Neil and Lee both back in place – has been a very good year for the Crüe. Here's how they did it.
1. They grabbed the spotlight by any means necessary.
In 2004 and 2005, Neil and Lee kept America familiar with their mugs by appearing on embarrassing TV shows like VH1's “Remaking Vince Neil” and NBC's “Tommy Lee Goes to College.” Last year, Lee got into a scuffle with Kid Rock over Pamela Anderson at the MTV Video Music Awards, helping keep Lee in the tabloids.
2. They got back on the road.
In 2005, area fans clamored for tickets to see the Crüe in Greenville, S.C. (the fourth date of the reunion tour), fearing that the volatile Neil and Lee would cause the tour to implode before its North Carolina date. However, the band did indeed make it to Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre for the elaborate Carnival of Chaos show – complete with cyclists, clowns, dancers and acrobats.
3. Nikki Sixx found success on the side.
After several mediocre side projects, the bassist found the right formula in 2007 when his rock band Sixx:A.M. released “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack,” which is based on his autobiography. The first single, “Life Is Beautiful,” got a decent amount of radio airplay and worked its way up Billboard's rock charts.
4. When putting together the new tour, they found fresher blood.
Instead of a nostalgia package tour, Mötley Crüe rounded up Sixx:A.M. and a trio of proven hard-rockers – including born-in-the-'90s bands like Buckcherry, Papa Roach and Trapt – for this summer's Crüe Fest.
5. They got hip.
In April, the Crüe performed its new single “Saints of Los Angeles” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and released that song as a downloadable track for the hugely popular “Rock Band” video game for the Xbox 360. That version – which could not be copied on disc or to portable players – reportedly outsold the single on iTunes by 37,000.
6. They delivered the goods.
Its last studio album, 2000's “New Tattoo,” debuted at No. 41 on the Billboard Top 200 and disappeared rather quickly. The Crüe's new disc, “Saints of Los Angeles,” got a positive review from Billboard, and the title track is a Top 10 Mainstream Rock hit. Last week, the album debuted at No. 8 on iTunes' Top Albums chart.