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The Dirt: History vs. Hollywood

Daniel Webber
Born: June 28, 1988
Gosford, New South Wales, Australia
Vince Neil
Born: February 8, 1961
Birthplace: Hollywood, California, USA
Douglas Booth
Born: July 9, 1992
Greenwich, London, England, UK
Nikki Sixx
Born: December 11, 1958
Birthplace: San Jose, California, USA
Iwan Rheon
Born: May 13, 1985
Carmarthen, Wales, UK
Mick Mars
Born: April 4, 1955
Birthplace: Terre Haute, Indiana, USA
Machine Gun Kelly
Born: April 22, 1990
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Tommy Lee
Born: October 3, 1962
Birthplace: Athens, Greece
Rebekah Graf
Born: July 27, 1982
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
Heather Locklear
Born: September 25, 1961
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
David Costabile
Born: January 9, 1967
Washington, D.C.
Doc McGhee
Born: 1950
Birthplace: USA
Leven Rambin
Born: May 17, 1990
Houston, Texas, USA
Sharise Neil
Born: October 27, 1964
Birthplace: Huntington Beach, California, USA
Tony Cavalero
Born: October 12, 1983
Ozzy Osbourne
Born: December 3, 1948
Birthplace: Aston, Birmingham, England, UK
Pete Davidson
Born: November 16, 1993
Staten Island, New York City, New York, USA
Tom Zutaut
Born: May 11, 1959
Kathryn Morris
Born: January 28, 1969
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Deana Richards
Birthplace: Idaho, USA

Questioning the Story:

Did the movie's raunchy opening scene happen in real life?

According to the Mötley Crüe autobiography The Dirt, the highly explicit sex scene involving Tommy Lee (Machine Gun Kelly) did happen in real life. However, the only way to verify such scenes that were out of public view is by way of what the band members have stated, including in the book. "The movie is definitely sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll," said Vince Neil. "It's really all three of those." (KaaosTV).

The Mötley Crüe movie had been stuck in development for more than a decade and was once attached to Paramount and MTV. Nikki Sixx said that "a certain CEO of a certain company" refused to make the film if the raunchy opening scene was included. Eventually, they teamed with Netflix, who promised them that they would not sanitize the true story. "We had the final veto on the script, and we OK'd everything because we thought it was telling our story," said Sixx. "We felt it needed to be truthful." -Rolling Stone

Drummer Tommy Lee (left) in the 1980s and actor/rapper Machine Gun Kelly (right) on the set of the movie.

What period in Mötley Crüe's history does the movie cover?

The movie focuses primarily on the first 15 years of the band, during which time both their music and debauchery reached its peak. It also captures Vince Neil being kicked out of the band and his eventual return.

Did Tommy Lee meet Nikki Sixx by chance at Denny's?

No. The film finds Tommy Lee bumping into Nikki Sixx by chance at a Denny's after seeing Nikki's band London perform. Nikki tells Tommy that the band is breaking up and that he's planning to form a new band. He welcomes Tommy to try out to be the drummer, despite Tommy mentioning that his only experience was playing in his high school marching band. In reality, Tommy was the drummer in a band named Suite 19. Nikki had seen them in concert and was impressed. Their encounter at Denny's was not random. It was a planned meeting to talk about putting together a new band. -Rolling Stone

Was Vince Neil Mötley Crüe's original lead singer?

No. The original lead singer of Mötley Crüe was O'Dean Peterson, who was part of the band when they recorded their earliest studio demos. Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars felt that O'Dean was too much of a hippie and had an attitude that didn't quite mesh well with the others. They kicked him out and most fans aren't even aware of his existence. However, O'Dean still makes occasional appearances onstage in Los Angeles as a Mötley Crüe cover artist.

In The Dirt movie, the band first meets Vince Neil at a backyard party where he sings Billy Squier's "My Kind of Lover" as a group of women swoon over him. In reality, that song hadn't even been released yet. According to the true story, the band first met with Vince Neil at The Starwood nightclub in West Hollywood, and it took several weeks of stalking him before he agreed to a jam session. When he eventually did come to a session, they didn't play "Live Wire" because Nikki Sixx hadn't penned the song yet. -Rolling Stone

Did Nikki Sixx once call the police on his mom?

Yes. A fact-check of The Dirt Netflix movie reveals this to be true. Sixx grew up in a broken home. His father left when he was young, and he later went to live with his grandparents after his mother abandoned him. Eventually, his grandparents sent him back to live with his mother.

He once got into an argument with his mother, after which he threw his stereo and damaged the TV. He borrowed a knife from a neighbor and began to stab himself above his elbow, sinking the knife all the way to the bone. Like in the film, his plan was to call the police and have his mother hauled away for child abuse. However, when the police arrived they told him that if he pressed charges against his mother, he would have to live in a juvenile home for the next four years until he reached the age of 18. Sixx decided against pressing charges and instead left home.

"The most painful part of the film is my relationship with my mother and how I could never mend that," Sixx told Forbes. "There is a scene where she is calling me and I can’t pick up the phone. I'm addicted to drugs but have huge animosity because she abandoned me." He got sober after rehab but never mended his relationship with his mother before she passed away.

The real Nikki Sixx (left) and actor Douglas Booth (right) in The Dirt movie.

Did Elektra Records A&R rep Tom Zutaut sign the band during his first encounter with them at a bar?

No. In researching The Dirt's historical accuracy, we discovered that Mötley Crüe had actually created their own label, Leathür Records, prior to signing with Tom Zutaut (portrayed by SNL's Pete Davidson in the movie). Also, they didn't sign with Zutaut after speaking with him for less than sixty seconds at a bar. During his first encounter with the band, they were very suspicious of him and made him buy them many free meals before they eventually decided to sign. -Rolling Stone

Did they really throw a TV out of a hotel window, which smashed into a car below?

Yes. The Dirt true story confirms that this happened when the band was in a hotel in Germany. They were hanging out with Claude Schnell, the keyboard player from Dio. After getting high in his room, they thought it would be funny if they threw his hotel room furniture, including the TV, out the window. The furniture smashed into two brand-new Mercedes-Benzes that were parked below. -The Dirt Autobiography

Did singer Ozzy Osbourne really snort a line of ants because there was no more cocaine?

This supposedly happened when Ozzy Osbourne toured with Mötley Crüe and rode on their bus. "It was like trying to kind of outdo each other," recalled Vince Neil. "Nikki snorted some ants, so Ozzy snorted these ants, but then Ozzy peed...and then licked up the pee." Nikki Sixx apparently started to do the same, but then like in the movie, Ozzy went down and licked up Sixx's pee.

As for Ozzy, he has no recollection that he actually snorted ants. "Mötley Crüe say something about the fact that I snorted a line of ants one time," said Ozzy. "And I have got no, absolute no recollection of doing that."

Did the band really start a fire in a hotel room?

Yes. As we separated the facts from the fiction in The Dirt, we learned that while the band was in Switzerland, Vince and Tommy bought flare guns and fired one inside their hotel room. It ricocheted off the walls before setting the bed on fire. They also broke the glass windows in the hotel's elevators. -The Dirt Autobiography

Speaking of fire, Nikki Sixx said that they really did use hairspray and lighters to kill the cockroaches in their apartment. "That's a hundred percent true," Sixx said.

Was Vince Neil charged with vehicular manslaughter?

Yes. On December 8, 1984, Vince Neil was driving drunk and wrecked, which left his passenger, 24-year-old Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, dead. The accident reportedly happened much like it does in The Dirt movie. Neil and Razzle were on their way home from the local liquor store. Neil was driving drunk and going close to 65mph in a 25mph zone when the car went into a 35-foot slide sideways after hitting a patch of water on the road. The car then collided with an oncoming vehicle. The occupants in the other car, a Volkswagen, were seriously injured and suffered brain damage. Neil's blood alcohol level was 0.17, well above California's then-legal limit of 0.10. His punishment included just 30 days in jail (of which he served 19) and five years probation. He was ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution.

Mötley Crüe lead singer Vince Neil (left) was charged with vehicular manslaughter in 1984. Actor Daniel Webber (right) portrays Neil in The Dirt movie.

Did Tommy Lee really meet Heather Locklear the night of Vince's car accident?

No. The film has Tommy Lee meeting Heather Locklear at a house party the same night that Vince Neil's drunk driving accident claimed the life of Hanoi Rocks drummer Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley. However, a fact-check of The Dirt revealed that Tommy actually met Heather backstage at an REO Speedwagon concert when his accountant introduced them. It is true that he confused her with Heather Thomas from The Fall Guy.

Does the movie tinker with the band's timeline?

Yes. In researching The Dirt true story, we discovered that not everything in the Mötley Crüe movie happens exactly when it did in real life. For example, a scene that takes place at the start of Mötley Crüe's Theatre of Pain tour features a sad looking Vince Neil being visited by his wife, Sharise, and their daughter, Skylar. In real life, Neil wasn't yet married to Sharise. However, the scene does line up with the period when Neil was the only sober member of the band (following his manslaughter drunk driving conviction). -Rolling Stone

Did Vince Neil's daughter Skylar pass away from cancer in real life?

Yes. Skylar, Neil's daughter with second wife Sharise Ruddell, passed away from a rare form of cancer on August 15, 1995 at the age of four. Doctors first believed it was appendicitis, but during the operation to remove her appendix, they found tumors. She was diagnosed with Wilms' tumor, a kidney cancer that affects children. Skylar endured six operations and extensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the course of the next four months, but it didn't stop the disease. "This ordeal is something no parent should have to go through," said Neil following her death (People). Neil recounts the story in further detail in the band's autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band.

Learn more about the true story behind The Dirt Mötley Crüe movie by reading the band's bestselling autobiography.

Did the band fire manager Doc McGhee after he arranged a surprise visit from Nikki Sixx's estranged mother?

No. The real Doc McGhee says that he never met Nikki Sixx's mother. In reality, Tommy Lee and Crüe manager Doc McGhee got into an argument over the fact that Bon Jovi had gotten to use stage pyrotechnics and Mötley Crüe hadn't. They were also billed beneath all the other acts at that particular festival. Lee says that he pushed McGhee in his "fat little chest," knocking him to the ground. McGhee was fired by the band following the scuffle. -The Dirt Autobiography

It's important to note that Doc McGhee's partner, Doug Thaler, was cut from the movie. The film acknowledges this and even briefly shows Thaler standing next to McGhee before Thaler literally vanishes from the screen. Doug Thaler was a major player in Mötley Crüe's history and was even more involved in the band's day-to-day operations than McGhee.

Did Tommy Lee really throw up on a stripper?

Yes. As we analyzed the facts vs. the fiction in the movie, we learned that according to Tommy Lee, this happened in real life. When the filmmakers were trying to figure out how to recreate the scene, they hired a real stripper and she suggested that actor Machine Gun Kelly actually puke on her, which apparently made it into the movie. -Rolling Stone

Was Mick Mars diagnosed with a rare spinal condition?

Yes. Mars was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis at age 17. It's a form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine and pelvis. The condition manifests in severe discomfort and chronic pain. In advanced cases of ankylosing spondylitis, the inflammation can lead to the formation of new bone that causes various sections of the spine to fuse in a rigid, immobile position. The real Mick Mars told actor Iwan Rheon, who portrays him in the film, that "it feels like your whole spine is turning into slow-drying concrete, slowly pulling you down" (Rolling Stone). The movie shows Mars getting hip replacement surgery sometime around 1996, but in real life he didn't have the surgery done until 2004.

Guitarist Mick Mars (left) in real life and actor Iwan Rheon (right) in the movie.

Did Tommy Lee punch a woman in the face who was briefly his fiancée?

Yes. Some movie reviewers have said that this scene merely foreshadows Lee's abuse conviction during his marriage to Pamela Anderson, who is omitted from the film. However, the scene did happen in real life. Lee was briefly engaged to a woman named Honey. Lee's mother didn't insult her by calling her a groupie. Instead, she accidentally called her Jessica (Bullwinkle's real name) on the phone. Jessica was the one performing the lewd sexual act in the opening scene of the movie.

Like in the movie, Honey later began to repeatedly call Lee's mother a c*nt. It happened when they were in a limo, not a bus. Lee told the driver to pull over and he kicked Honey out of the car. She resisted and started punching Lee. He dragged her from the limo to the sidewalk, throwing her belongings next to her.

Honey continued to call Lee's mother a c*nt and him a "spoiled little brat." He clenched his hand into a fist and punched her in the mouth. She dropped to the ground with her hand over her face. As they drove away, Lee saw "mucusy strands of blood" coming from her mouth as she spit teeth into her hand and onto the sidewalk. Tom Zutaut told the driver to stop. He got out to help Honey collect her teeth. It marked the end of her engagement to Lee.

Did Nikki Sixx really overdose on drugs and die for two minutes?

Yes. In 1987, Nikki Sixx overdosed on heroin and was declared legally dead on the way to the hospital. After two minutes, he was brought back to life by shots of adrenaline to the heart. The Dirt movie seems to be in line with the true story, depicting this as it's been reported. -Forbes

Did Mötley Crüe really regain the rights to their publishing?

Yes, but it happened in 1998 after their album Generation Swine was a flop. The movie doesn't show it, but they were only able to secure the rights after a long, grueling battle with Elektra head Sylvia Rhone. Unlike the film, Tom Zutaut had no involvement in any of this. By then, he had already left Elektra for Geffen.

Do the band members regret some of the things that they did?

"The band has lots of regrets," Nikki Sixx said in a Build Series interview. "We wouldn't do a movie like this if we were just only celebrating. There's a lot to celebrate about the movie – the music is very important, the music that we made is still important. ... I just think that you have to be honest about decisions that we made and then how we got to where we're at today."

Sixx says that the band didn't have anyone to steer them in the right direction. "Back then, every time we did something wrong, we sold more records and we got another pat on the back. We were like being trained to be dysfunctional."

Mötley Crüe in the movie (top) and their real-life counterparts (bottom).

Why isn't Pamela Anderson in The Dirt?

That's a good question. Tommy Lee married Anderson in 1995 after knowing her for only four days. The couple had two children together. They made a tabloid-hyped sex tape and Lee served six months in prison for assaulting her. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1998. Anderson blamed him for giving her hepatitis C. Seeing that all of this scandalous drama got far more attention than the band's music in the 1990s, it's hard to believe that she was omitted from the movie, unless it was at the direct request of Tommy Lee and/or they're planning to do a sequel. In any case, it's a significant deviation from the true story.

Did the actors chosen for the movie know how to play the instruments?

Not all of them. After the actors were cast, the producers had them go through a month or so of training that they referred to as "band camp". Game of Thrones actor Iwan Rheon, who portrays the band's guitarist, Mick Mars, did already know how to play guitar prior to being cast. -Rolling Stone

How involved was the band in the making of the Mötley Crüe movie?

Not all of the band members visited the New Orleans set during the filming, but they did speak extensively with their onscreen counterparts. "I think that they captured it really truthfully," Nikki Sixx told Rolling Stone. "Of my friends or my wives that have seen it, a lot of people cry at different parts of the movie. A lot of laughter, a lot of crying, a lot of shock. Honestly, I hate to say this, but I think they got every fu**ing thing perfect."

Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx (left) with actor Douglas Booth (right), who portrays him in the movie.

Mötley Crüe Music Videos & New Songs

Further get in rhythm with The Dirt true story by watching the Mötley Crüe music videos below, including the video for their new song 'The Dirt', as well as videos for some of their biggest hits.