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Neil optimistic about future as Motley Crue’s farewell shows loom

Motley Crue takes its final bow in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean Vince Neil is done.

“I’m excited about the future,” Crue’s frontman declares from his home in Las Vegas. “I’ve had a solo band for the last 15 or so years, maybe longer than that. And when Motley doesn’t tour, I’m always on tour with my solo band. Even after New Year’s Eve, Motley’s last show, I start up again January 10; so I won’t have much of a break.

“The thing is, though, it’s exciting because, you know, Motley Crue takes up 99 percent of your time. And now you get Motley out of the picture, and now you can really focus on solo career and other businesses and anything you want to do. So it’s kind of an exciting time, thinking about what I could do with all this time I have now. It’s going to be sad that we’re no longer playing together, but you know, it’s progress, I guess.”

Neil’s right, of course. If the show here in Vegas and the subsequent victory laps in the band’s birthplace legitimately prove to be the last live vestiges of this lauded rock band — something countless acts before have proclaimed (ahem, Kiss) but which, in the case of the Crue, a legally binding contract allegedly ensures against — it’s going to be bittersweet, the end of an era for a lot of people. While the quartet has never really made music that’s been beloved by critics, the outfit is easily as much of a touchstone for those who came of age in ’80s, as the Stones were to the generation before.

“We’ve never been a critics’ band,” Neil acknowledges. “That’s why we’ve never won a Grammy; we won one American Music Award years ago, but that stuff never mattered to us. Who wants to be a critics’ favorite, when you can be a fan favorite? Either one or the other. The fans have always been there for us, no matter what.

“The critics can say anything they want, but the proof’s in the pudding. When you go to a Motley Crue show and you’ve got 20,000 people singing along and having a great time, the critics go, ‘Ah, you know …’ They always find something to say wrong about it … . They really think that what they’re saying counts, but it really doesn’t. We’re very happy where we are in the rock ‘n’ roll world. I’m proud to be in Motley Crue. We’ve done some great things together.”

The group — which has been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for almost a decade now but, somehow, still hasn’t earned a nod — certainly exceeded all of the band’s early expectations. More than three decades ago when the Crue got its start on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, Neil and company never had any sort of inclination it would even last this long, much less that it would culminate like this with so much fanfare.

“We just wanted to be the biggest band in Hollywood; that’s all we wanted,” Neil says, looking back. “We wanted to play the Whisky a Go Go on the weekend; you made it if you did a weekend at the Whiskey. And then it was just kind of step by step: Then we wanted to play at Civic Center — you know, we played Santa Monica Civic Center — then we wanted to open up for a big band, you know, go on tour.

“Our very first tour was opening for Kiss. We did, like, six shows with them,” Neil recalls. “Then we wanted to … it just snowballed. It kept getting bigger and bigger, just what we wanted to do next. We didn’t set out and say, you know, ‘We want to be these rock stars that have been together for 35 years.’ That just never even … never even contemplated anything like that.”

As anyone who’s read the band’s biography, “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,” can tell you, it’s been quite a ride. No doubt it will make one hell of a movie, one that, with any luck, according to Neil, fans will be able to see sometime next year.

“Just a few months ago, we all got new scripts, and the script was way better than the last script,” he reveals. “We had problems with the last script. But this script is very, very close to the book. … They’re saying it’s going to be done by summer. So hopefully we’ll have this movie out by the summertime. That will probably be the next time you see Motley Crue together again is probably at that movie.

“Obviously it’s going to have a cool soundtrack to it. If you enjoyed the book, you’ll love the movie.”

As much as Motley Crue’s tale is cautionary, nearly derailed by debauchery, it’s also one of resilience. With the exception of a five-year stint in which John Corabi fronted the band, resulting in an album many consider a classic, the lineup hasn’t changed since the beginning. The foursome has stuck it out through death and adversity, not only outlasting most other acts from their era but surviving every musical trend that followed, from grunge to nu metal and everything in between — and its members somehow managed to stay on speaking terms after all these years.

“We’ve always been buddies. Even when we fought, we were still brothers, you know,” Neil says. “You’re always going to fight with your brothers, and we’d always have these little arguments. The press would always make more of our arguments than anything, because it was a good read. Today, we have our little fights, now and then, but now, it’s like 10 minutes later, we’re like, ‘Ah, yeah, you’re right,’ you know, and it’s basically just being in business with somebody and being close with somebody. You’ve got to remember, now everybody has families, too. Nikki travels with his … Nikki’s got six kids, you know. He travels with his kids and his dog. Tommy’s got his kids out with him once in a while. It’s a different way of traveling now.”

Neil also has kids, two of whom are in their 30s, and another daughter named Skylar, who would’ve been in her early 20s, had she not died in the mid-’90s after battling cancer. Neil made a home here in Las Vegas shortly after she passed away. It was a tough time in his life, and from the sound of it, he just needed to get away.

“I was born and raised in L.A., and I just got tired of it, you know. I moved here in ’95,” he recalls. “So it’s been just 20 years. My daughter had passed away, and I just didn’t want to live in L.A. anymore. So I actually came out here. I bought a home at the Desert Inn Country Club. Steve Wynn actually came in and bought my house, bought all the houses on the block, and tore them all down. But I would actually do it in reverse. I lived here on the weekdays, and I would go back to L.A. on the weekends. Finally, I was like, ‘What am I doing?’ So I sold my house in Beverly Hills and stayed out here. That was it.”

Neil has been a fixture in Vegas ever since, from owning a number of businesses in the area, including an indoor football team, a bar, a restaurant and tattoo parlor, to reserving a booth at the sports book at Red Rock Resort every Sunday, where he watches football. Needless to say, it means a lot to Neil to be able to close this chapter on the Crue here in his adopted hometown before going back to where it began for the final farewell.

“I’m jazzed,” he says of his upcoming show at the MGM Grand. “Playing Vegas is … I mean, it’s just funny because my guest list is like 200 people, you know. Everybody wants to go. You have to keep your phone off for a week before the concert. But, no, I’m so excited to be there. We’ve played a few times here and there, some outdoor places, when Red Rock had their outdoor arena thing. We’ve played Mandalay Bay a few times.

“To bring it to the MGM Grand, it’s a great way to go out in Las Vegas, especially with the show that we have. People are going to kind of freak out and go, ‘Wow, man. These guys are really good,’ ” Neil concludes. “It’s the grand finale. That’s it. There ain’t no more. It’s going to be a sad one for me, playing that show at home — I consider Vegas my home. Yeah, it’s going to be a tough one.”

— Read more from Dave Herrera at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at dherrera@reviewjournal.com.

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