The year was 2001. My wife and I were both second-year law students at Ohio State, and had just had our first date at what was then the Thirsty Ear Tavern. Casting around for second date plans, I learned that my old guitar teacher’s band was opening up for Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil at the Alrosa Villa. Oh great, I thought, this ought to be hilarious.
Exactly what Neil, who had just gotten off of a world tour with Crue, was doing playing an 800-person capacity club with a group of hair band hacks is an open question. It wasn’t a side project, as he was only playing Crue songs. Maybe he needed beer money? In any event, it was a mess of a show.
Neil was an astonishing ass who couldn’t sing for shit, and my wife still talks about the horrors in the woman’s restroom. Seared in my mind is this weird look of disappointment his guitar player had when a woman in the crown refused to take his suggestion to remove her shirt. In fairness, this was all sort of the point in going.
Flash forward to the spring of 2016. My wife and I had just finished taking our two beautiful children to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus in Las Vegas, and were exiting the hotel through its depressing hell-pit of a casino. As we searched for a cab stand, we stumbled upon a garishly appointed bar, reddish-darkish with a couple of chopped Harleys that would excite the lust of every dentist in America. It was Vince Neil’s Tatuado Eat Drink Party, described by Google Maps as a “[c]ontemporary, rock-themed hangout with a long bar and stage for American grub, cocktails and karaoke.” The place reeked of low-end pornography and middle age desperation. Avert your eyes kids, you’re too young to see something so pathetic.
The next day, when I opened up my hotel door and grabbed the USA Today in the hallway, I saw that Neil had been arrested at a casino down the street for grabbing a female autograph seeker by the hair and throwing her to the ground. In addition to being criminally charged (Neil would plead to misdemeanor assault in July), Neil had gotten his ass kicked by actor Nicolas Cage who happened to be on the scene. Apparently Neil was annoyed that the woman was seeking Cage’s autograph instead of his.
So it was with great curiosity that I heard last week that Neil’s invitation to sing at Donald Trump’s inauguration party had been revoked. Neil told TMZ, somewhat cryptically, “[s]o we were invited, then it turns out when the Republicans won, we were uninvited.” Neil seems to be taking it pretty well, however, indicating that "I don't know who's playing the inauguration, but God bless 'em."
Why did El Vincebo get cut loose? The incoming president is apparently desperate for inauguration performers not named Ted Nugent or Kid Rock. One assumes that the tribute acts Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Marshall Tucker Band will perform cover versions of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker Band songs, but this has not yet been confirmed. Not even Mike Love has (yet) trotted out his sans-Brian Wilson Beach Boys dog and pony show. We do have a confirmation from the 16-year old Jackie Evancho, who will sing not for Trump but for “the Office,” thereby accepting a lifetime sentence of patriotic songs and Christmas albums.
While having a performer currently on probation for assaulting a woman croon to the new President might seem slightly tacky to some politicians, that shouldn’t bother Trump.
Maybe Neil couldn’t hit the notes of the Star Spangled Banner? This is likely -- our (perhaps overly obsessive) friends at Vintage Vinyl News estimate his vocal range as 2 octaves 5-1/2 notes from C3 to Bb5. Compare David Lee Roth at 5 octaves 3 notes and Paul McCartney at 4 octaves 5 notes. Hey, it’s a hard song to sing.
Maybe Trump’s people thought that they were getting the whole band Motley Crue? That seems unlikely. Bassist Nikki Sixx is no fan of Trump, and has stated that “Vince is a disgusting, fat, Republican gopher. As far from rock and roll as you can get.”
Perhaps there was a disagreement on lyrical content? Although from time to time they offered up some fairly solid glam-metal riffs, Motley Crue’s lyrics were mostly devoted to hedonistic sex and shitty love power ballads. Even on those topics, they were notably bad. “Dr. Feelgood,” the only Crue album I ever owned, contained such gems as “Rattlesnake Shake” (“[r]attlesnake shake, shake shake shake, rattlesnake shake, make my body ache”), “She Goes Down” (“[s]he goes down, she goes down down down, all night long!”) and “Without You” (“[i]f I reached out and touched the rain, it just wouldn’t be the same”). In my defense I was only 13, and it was just locker room talk.
Maybe someday we will learn what really happened. But in the meantime we know this: if this long-since-washed-up loser almost made the cut, there is going to be some amazing music on January 20, 2017.
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