Saltyrockz Remembers Motley Crue With New T-Shirt Design


May 28, 2009 man Howard Johnson spent years as a rock’n’roll journo for a bunch of the UK’s top music mags including Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Raw, Q and Mojo. Some of his brain was fried by the experience but the bit that remains has some great stories to tell. This week, to coincide with the newest Motley Crue t-shirts, Howard remembers the band with his ‘Rude Crue-d And Lewd’ blog.

Motley Crue inadvertently gave me my first taste of the life that lay before me. Back in 1981 I was running my own heavy metal fanzine, Phoenix. It wasn’t particularly good as fanzines go, unoriginal in intent and overly keen to ape the mainstream commercial music press and Sounds magazine in particular. But if Phoenix wasn’t very unique, at least it was heartfelt. I lived and breathed rock music, wanted to share my passion for it with almost evangelical fervour, and was prepared to put all my energies and efforts into a vehicle to get the word out. Not bad for someone of 16, I suppose.

Motley Crue’s ‘Too Fast For Love’, their independent debut album released on Leathur Records, was the first record I ever got for free. When it arrived at my parents’ house I was amazed and thrilled in equal measure. It seemed totally unreal that someone as far away as Los Angeles had even heard of me and my little magazine. And that they’d thought Phoenix was important enough to want to hunt out a review in it. And it seemed incredibly exciting that people wanted to give me albums at all when I was still in the habit of starving myself at school of a lunchtime so I could use my dinner money to feed my vinyl habit.

If I remember rightly the album had been rave-reviewed in the mainstream music press, but to be honest it could’ve sounded like horse shit and I would still have loved it for the photos alone. On that album sleeve the Crue looked like Gods from another planet. Lee, Sixx, Mars and Neil had their ‘Hollywood Rent Boy For Sale’ image totally down, and while with the benefit of hindsight you could say that they were kinda like a Manga version of Kiss, at the time I thought they were the most original thing I’d ever clapped eyes on.

Saltyrockz Remember Motley Crue With New T-Shirt DesignSaltyrockz Remember Motley Crue With New T-Shirt Design

Two or three years later and there I was working for Kerrang!, receiving all my records for free and loving it, when I remember seeing some Crue photos of an altogether different variety. The photographer Ross Halfin had just come back from a stint on the road with the band, who’d quickly moved up the heavy metal food chain and were already firmly ensconced in the megastar bracket. Halfin had buddied up with the band to the point where they didn’t give a monkey’s either what he saw or what he took photographic record of. Or maybe they just didn’t give a shit what anyone saw? Anyway, the photos that were being bandied around the Kerrang! office were of various gurning members of the band, mugging it up for the camera while shagging any number of groupies in any number of locations, usually hotel corridors if I remember right. The photos were hardcore all right, leaving nothing to the imagination as the Crue went all out to show that they’d fully embraced the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll lifestyle. Remember this was in the pre-Internet days, when hardcore sex wasn’t just two or three clicks away, but this was definitely the real deal!

I wasn’t shocked or appalled, just fascinated by Motley Crue’s utter brazenness, their complete lack of respect for conventional patterns of thinking. It’s not that I particularly admired them for their behaviour either, but at least I knew they were ‘for real’. The band’s bad boy, rock’n’roll outlaw reputation and image wasn’t some kind of an act. These photos provided the proof.

Of course the band let it all hang out eventually when The Dirt was published – minus photos, though. The telling of old war stories in graphic detail made many people’s hair curl, but not mine. I’d already seen the photos some 20 years before, after all!

The new Motley Crue t-shirt designs, as well as much more, can be purchased at

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