Remember When Three Other People Were In Motley Crue?
Anyone who’s read Motley Crue memoir The Dirt, and anyone who sees the upcoming movie version of the same name, is likely to have found it remarkable that the band managed to stay together for long enough to achieve what they did. But that’s exactly what they did – except for two brief time periods when they didn't.
Three other musicians have been part of the band lineup to fill in for those who dropped out. Vocalist John Corabi joined when Vince Neil left or was fired, depending on who you ask. Then, after Neil’s return, Randy Castillo took the place of drummer Tommy Lee, followed by Samantha Maloney in the same role. That means only bassist Nikki Sixx and guitarist Mick Mars have been part of every lineup, and only they have appeared on all nine studio albums.
While many, many others have played a part in the Motley Crue story, Corabi, Castillo and Maloney deserve most special mention – and so here it is.
John Corabi: Vocals, 1992-1996
Despite the success of 1989's Dr. Feelgood, the early ‘90s found Crue in a mire of internal and external tensions. That resulted in Vince Neil’s departure, and the arrival of Corabi, whose different voice, approach and bonus guitar skills lent new power to the lineup’s sound. However, external issues continued to influence the band: as a result of the grunge revolution, bands like Crue were regarded as difficult to sell, while several label bosses came and went.
As a result, 1994’s Motley Crue, the only album Corabi recorded with the band, only went gold on release, which was far short of the label’s expectations. (It’s since been viewed in a better light by many of the fans who rejected it at the time, and Lee called it “one of my favorite Crüe records” in 2015.) The band accused the company of having failed to sell it to both old and new audiences, with Sixx lamenting, “It's so sad that we're not allowed to grow… It's important in life to grow.” With Corabi tired of facing negative attitudes from Neil fans, and the label’s insistence that the original singer return, Corabi was out long before he felt he’d settled in.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I was just like, ‘I don’t even know how I got here,” he said in 2018. “I was just scratching my head. And no disrespect to the band: I was familiar with their videos and stuff that I had seen on MTV or whatever, but I've gotta be honest with you, a lot of the stuff in the '80s kind of went over my head.”
In another interview he recalled that he’d actually spent a month as the band’s fifth member, working alongside the returned Neil as a guitarist, before the collaboration “just kind of stopped.” Corabi, who now fronts the Dead Daisies, reflected: “Who knew they would bring Vince back? Who knew that the record that I did with them would be as disastrous as it was? I mean, at that point, when I joined that band, they could fart on record and it would sell 3 million. Who knew?”
Randy Castillo: Drums, 1999-2002
Following the release of Generation Swine, which marked Neil’s return, it was Tommy Lee’s turn to leave. “This whole motivation for starting another project came to me when I sat in jail for four months,” he said soon after his departure. “I had so much time to think about what I wanted to do with my life musically and creatively. I got really frustrated in jail and I was like, 'Man, I love what I've done and I love the mark I've made on rock ’n’ roll history’ …I got really depressed, thinking, 'I gotta make a move.”
In response, Crue hired former Ozzy Osbourne drummer Randy Castillo, who became the only non-original member except for Corabi to appear on an album – 2000’s New Tattoo. However, he was fated not to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Before touring in support of the LP, he was diagnosed with a serious stomach issue, and following surgery, he was diagnosed with cancer.
“There is nothing like the wave of emotion that hits you when you get told 'You have cancer,’” Castillo said at the time. “Nothing can prepare you for the doom you feel inside upon hearing those words. I am currently getting radiation every day five days a week and chemotherapy once every three weeks for six months...cancer is a bitch.” The disease took his life in March 2002, at the age of 41.
“He always had a smile and positive things to say about everything and everybody,” Sixx said in a band statement. “He was a great drummer. He was a great, caring person and a very spiritual soul. We will miss him so much... and will jam together again someday soon.”
Samantha Maloney: Drums, 2000-2002
With no suspicion that Castillo would never rejoin them, Crue had brought in former Hole drummer Samantha Maloney to cover on the road. She never recorded an album with the band although she appeared on 2001’s Lewd, Crued & Tattooed concert film. “I thought it was cool having a girl drummer,” Neil said in 2011. “We definitely got closer without Tommy.”
“It was a dream for me to be playing in a band that was very influential in me picking up drumsticks in the first place,” Maloney said in 2009. “I was not aware of any sexist behavior or band conflicts when I joined the band. I was a fan of the music. As far as sexist behavior, in my experience, women who surrounded the band backstage had no respect for themselves. Many women will do whatever it takes to get to meet these guys. All I had to do was be myself.”
She added: “The entire band was very supportive and respectful of me. I had the time of my life! Some of the fans at first were hesitant, but I won each and every fan over every night after song one.” She added that, “funny enough,” her closest friend among the members was Lee.
Crue went on hiatus following their New Tattoo activities. Rumors had circulated that Maloney and Sixx had had an affair; but, fielding a question about it in 2002, she’d replied: “Ha!! Now that is funny… I thought rumor had it I was having ‘sexual relations’ with Mick Mars?” In 2004 the band announced a reunion with Lee; and while more turmoil was still to come – Lee and Neil had a mountain of personal issues to deal with as they created three new songs for 2005’s Red, White & Crue compilation LP – the original lineup remained together until the end of their touring career in 2015, and worked together on four new tracks for The Dirt at the end of 2018.
Motley Crue Lineup Changes: A Complete Guide
A Scene-By-Scene Breakdown of 'The Dirt' Trailer