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For Tommy Lee - drummer of the infamous hard rock "hair" band Motley Crüe and persistent fodder for scandal-hungry tabloids - a life without drugs, decadence and depravity was one not worth living. Throughout his tumultuous existence, Lee had done more drugs, drank more alcohol and bedded more hookers and porn stars than could be imagined. Along with bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars, Lee helped create chart-topping heavy metal that emerged in the early 1980s to reshape popular music. Despite his talents as a drummer - his skills were long been admired by the angst-ridden male teen set - Lee had become most famous for his run-ins with the paparazzi, particularly in regards to his rocky and reportedly violent marriage to Pamela Anderson. As if hounded by a black cloud, Lee suffered one public indignity after another throughout the 1990s, culminating in a six month jail term for physically abusing Anderson. Never one to be deterred, Lee emerged from his numerous debacles with a renewed attitude and spirit, even to the point of reconciling his long-running feud with lead singer Neil to reform Motley Crüe for a successful reunion tour.Born Thomas Lee Bass in Athens, Greece to a former Miss...
For Tommy Lee - drummer of the infamous hard rock "hair" band Motley Crüe and persistent fodder for scandal-hungry tabloids - a life without drugs, decadence and depravity was one not worth living. Throughout his tumultuous existence, Lee had done more drugs, drank more alcohol and bedded more hookers and porn stars than could be imagined. Along with bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars, Lee helped create chart-topping heavy metal that emerged in the early 1980s to reshape popular music. Despite his talents as a drummer - his skills were long been admired by the angst-ridden male teen set - Lee had become most famous for his run-ins with the paparazzi, particularly in regards to his rocky and reportedly violent marriage to Pamela Anderson. As if hounded by a black cloud, Lee suffered one public indignity after another throughout the 1990s, culminating in a six month jail term for physically abusing Anderson. Never one to be deterred, Lee emerged from his numerous debacles with a renewed attitude and spirit, even to the point of reconciling his long-running feud with lead singer Neil to reform Motley Crüe for a successful reunion tour.
Born Thomas Lee Bass in Athens, Greece to a former Miss Greece and a U.S. soldier stationed overseas, Lee moved with his family to the States while young, settling in Southern California. When he was 5 years old, Lee received his first drum kit, though he had been banging away on pots and pans for as long as he could reach the utensil drawer. With the support of his parents, particularly his father, who soundproofed the garage for ideal practice conditions, Lee began his musical education in earnest, taking lessons for both drums and piano. In high school, he was a member of the marching band drum core, an experience he later said inspired his habit for twirling his sticks and bouncing them off his drums. His first band was Suite 19, which he left in 1980 to join Motley Crüe at age 17, dropping out of high school to the dismay of his parents. The newly formed group recorded their first album, Too Fast for Love in 1981 under their own label, Leathür Records, selling an impressive 20,000 copies. The catchy, hard-driving record spread throughout the Los Angeles area like a cancer, infecting the entire music scene and creating a new glam-metal movement.
In a stroke of good luck, the band left independence behind and decided to signed with Electra Records, recording their first big label album, Shout at the Devil in 1983. With its hard-crunching anthems and quasi-satanic bent, Shout reached platinum status and helped spur the band's constant video rotation on MTV. They subsequently released several more best-selling albums throughout the decade - including Theater of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls - and traveled the world playing large arenas. In 1986, Lee married actress Heather Locklear, whom he met backstage at an REO Speedwagon concert of all places. Meanwhile, Motley Crüe's ever growing popularity reached new heights with 1989's Dr. Feelgood, reportedly the first album the band recorded without the influence of drugs or alcohol, thanks in part to bassist Nikki Sixx's 1987 heroin overdose that left him pronounced dead for six minutes. Despite a massive appetite for booze, drugs and group sex, Lee managed to steer clear of public trouble, unlike the rest of the band, during the 1980s. That changed, however, in the coming decade.
The first sign of trouble for Lee was the information tainting his divorce from Locklear - too much carousing backstage with various groupies - and one porn star in particular - along with years of allegedly abusive behavior led to their separation in 1993. The next year, Lee courted actress Pamela Anderson for all of four days in Mexico before marrying the "Baywatch" star in an impromptu poolside ceremony, during which she wore a white bikini and he, a pair of swim trunks. Both were immediately plunged into the tabloid spotlight, though Lee received the brunt of the bad press. In 1996, both suffered immeasurable humiliation when a video of Anderson and Lee having sex surfaced after a construction worker stole the tape from the couple's home during renovations. From that point on their lives were never the same. They tried valiantly to stave off release of the tape, but the courts ruled against them, eventually prompting the couple to settle. Meanwhile, Motley had gone through a lineup change in the early part of the decade, hiring replacement vocalist John Corabi (formerly of Racer X and The Scream) after firing Vince Neil for allegedly focusing more time on race car driving than the band. With Lee's tabloid celebrity on the rise, Motley Crüe's popularity began to wane, a result of the sea change in popular music from late '80s glam to early '90s grunge.
In late 1996, Anderson filed for divorce after alleging that Lee had physically abused her. Unbeknownst to him, she had been keeping a private log of his verbal and physical abuse, including the time he allegedly pointed a loaded shotgun in her face. He reportedly wooed her back by riding to her Malibu home on a white horse, but the reconciled couple were back to old habits soon after, as Lee continued to display violent outbursts. Late one night while the couple was leaving the famed Viper Room in Los Angeles, Lee pushed a paparazzi photographer to the ground, injuring the man's pelvis and ribs. Lee was later ordered to attend anger management classes and was put on two years probation. Then in 1998, police were called to the Lee residence after Anderson dialed 911, alleging he was again being physically abusive - he reportedly kicked her several times while she was holding their two-month-old son. Lee was arrested on the spot, then later pled no contest to charges of spousal abuse and spent six months climbing the walls of the Los Angeles County Jail.
During his stint in prison, Lee began penning songs - actually, he left messages on his home answering machine when he was allowed a phone call because he was refused pen and paper - that later became his first solo album, Methods of Mayhem. A combination of rap and heavy metal album in the vein of Limp Bizkit, Mayhem boasted contributions from Kid Rock, Crystal Method and Snoop Dogg. By the time the album was released in 1999, Lee had already split from Motley Crüe, thanks to his public feud with singer Vince Neil, who returned to front the band in 1997 on perhaps their worst record, Generation Swine. Replaced by Randy Castillo from Ozzy Osbourne fame, Lee went on a tour to support Methods of Mayhem, but poor album sales (it flatlined at No. 71 on the Billboard 200) failed to generate any buzz for ticket sales, forcing Lee to shift gears. He was back in the news in 2000, when he spent five days in the Los Angeles County Jail for violating parole for his 1998 conviction, following Anderson calling police to say he drank alcohol the previous New Year's Eve. The judge also reinstated random drug testing and ordered Lee to attend Alcoholics Anonymous. The new millennium was already shaping up to be a duplicate of its predecessor.
In May 2001, Motley Crüe, with contributions from Lee, published The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band, a tell-all tome that detailed all the deviant and nefarious acts they had performed while on the road - sex, drugs and rock-n-roll taken to thee extreme. Just a month after the book was published, Lee's name was splashed across the tabloid pages again when the 4-year-old son of television producer James Veres and actress Ursula Karven drowned in his swimming pool while attending a birthday party for his sons. While the accident was ruled an accident and Lee was cleared of negligence in 2003 following a $10 million lawsuit, he nonetheless felt miserable about the boy's death. Meanwhile, he released another solo album in 2002, the aptly named Never A Dull Moment, a more diverse album than Mayhem, that crossed genres and managed to crack Billboard's top forty. Also by 2002, Lee seemed to have gotten his public act together - the arrests and accusations of violence were on the wane, giving him the opportunity to explore options beyond music.
Much like former band mate Neil, who appeared in the first season of the reality show for washed-up celebrities, "The Surreal Life" (WB, 2002-06), Lee starred in "Tommy Lee Goes to College" (NBC, 2004-05), a documentation of his stint the University of Nebraska where he attempted to earn an education. The series pulled in poor ratings and lasted only six episodes - watching Lee take biology classes and march in a true marching band proved to be too boring for audiences. Then in December of 2004, Motley Crüe pleased fans with the announcement that they would embark on a reunion tour with the original lineup - something Lee made clear in the past he would never do. While tensions between Lee and Neil remained, the band toured sold-out arenas the world over, raking in tens of millions in ticket sales. In order to keep the peace, the band made sure that each had their own space, including separate tour buses and hotel rooms. And while Sixx and Mars remained drug and alcohol free, Lee and Neil - the two single guys in the band - made sure it was like old times. Throughout the tour, Lee began to shed his apprehensions, declaring that the band was having more fun than they ever had. When the band was off the road, Lee participated in another reality series, "Rock Star: Supernova" (CBS, 2004- ), joining a panel of judges that included host Dave Navarro, bassist Jason Newsted and guitarist Gilby Clarke in a search for the lead singer for a new band, Supernova.
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