Who here is up for hopping a plane and heading to Punxsutawney? Tomorrow is the annual event where the country watches Punxsutawney Phil come out to see if he sees his shadow. That’s right it’s Groundhog Day. Or if you’re a little off the path, Groundhogs Day. As the story goes if he sees his shadow there’s 6 more weeks of winter. If not it means there’ll be an early spring. I think that’s what it’s supposed to mean. One would think I’d remember that, I really enjoy the comedy movie starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Oh what a wild day, eh?
Not the same wild, but more in tune with this tune would be the stories I’ve heard about the heyday of the hair metal scene in Hollywood. Back in the time of Skid Row, Tesla, Warrant, Mr. Big, The Scorpions, actually I’m naming bands that aren’t part of that scene. The big one was MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e. They were from that era. There’s a little strip of the Sunset Blvd. that was known as “The Strip”. I believe it started around The Whiskey A Go-Go and ended a little ways past The Roxy at a liquor store.
Girls would get dolled up in leather and lace, tease out the hair until it was a giant rats nest on top of the head and put on a layer of makeup. The guys had hair down to their butts, or at least would grow it to be down past the shoulders. Wore really tight jeans that were tattered and would join a band to get the girls. I’ve heard it got so crowded along that strip that it was difficult to walk on the sidewalk. That every guy was pretty much in a band, would be passing out flyers to anyone that would take them to attempt to get people to the show they were playing along the strip.
If I learned correctly it was the hair metal bands that performed at places like the Whiskey, the Roxy, Gazzari’s and such that help instigate the “pay to play” system. Someone figured out that bands were so desperate to be heard they would actually pay money to perform. The unfortunate result of that is the aftermath we have now. “Promoters” got lazy and shoved the responsibility on the band. Why not, the band was already paying them to perform on the stage. They got their money. What bands soon learned is that they needed a gimic, otherwise they were playing to an empty room. So they’d create a show, pass out flyers and attempt to get the girls to come watch. In the theory that the A&R people, the guys (not in bands) and others, would come see them play and them get signed. Sounds like fun, don’t it?
Today’s Single of the Day is one band that got through that process and has since become a classic of the genre. There are stories from the road. There are stories of the singer, Vince Neil. There’s a book and concept album by the band’s ringleader, Nikki Sixx. There’s been a couple of reality shows for the band’s drummer, Tommy Lee. The one guy you don’t hear much about is the band’s guitar player, Mick Mars. Usually it’s the guitar player that got popular, or the singer. This is backwards in this band. Nothing was normal about them actually. Their first release was called Shout At The Devil. Talk about going for the attention getting headlines.
Everything about MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e is well planned marketing. Do I really think they believed in Satan worshipping? No. Much like Marilyn Manson – another smart cookie that plays to the religious folk that will give them free press by saying a few words like Satan. Instant free press. Gotta love it. One thing the music of that era did have… Fun.
One thing a lot of the bands and music had was fun. It was about partying, the opposite sex, or rather, sex and fun. I suppose was is the wrong term, as you can still buy the music and it would still be fun in terms of subject matter. Not sure the production and the image of the music would still be fun. Who would like to play dress up as the hair metaller? Actually last Halloween I think I saw a few people do that.
Anyway, sit back and imagine you’re part of the hair metal era as you imagine your walk on the wild side!
(** Disclaimer: If MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e’s label decides I need to be sent back to the strip era, I’ll have to hide the audio in a rats nest. The post will remain for the story therein. **)