35 Years Ago: Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue Start Debauched Tour
The billing of Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue was always going to be a hot ticket. Anticipation of a road trip brimming with rock ’n’ roll excess was high – but no one could have predicted what, and how much of it, was going to go down when the tour started in January 1984.
Osbourne hadn’t really stopped spiraling out of control since his booze and drugs issues had gotten him fired from Black Sabbath five years earlier. His first two solo albums had put him back on the map musically, but the death of guitarist Randy Rhoads in 1982 had shaken the singer to the core again. He didn’t want to keep going, but his wife and manager Sharon Osbourne believed it would be worse for him if he stopped, so here he was, with a new album, Bark at the Moon, to promote.
Crue were moving out of their rising-star stage into their big-deal stage – and their second LP, Shout at the Devil, was about to go gold, and then platinum, during the tour's run. Brimming with confidence and cash, they were ready to take on the Prince of Darkness at his own game.
The parties met during a sound check at Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, on Jan. 10., and from almost the get-to it became one big party. Sensing partners in crime, Osbourne all but moved into Crue’s tour bus starting that first night, and between them they began generating a chain of legendary anecdotes.
The most celebrated moment is recalled in Crue’s 2001 memoir The Dirt, when bassist Nikki Sixx found himself challenging Osbourne, who’d run out of cocaine and was wearing a woman’s dress, to snort ants instead. “I handed him the straw, and he walked over to a crack in the sidewalk and bent over it,” Sixx wrote. “I saw a long column of ants. … And as I thought, ‘No, he wouldn’t,’ he did. He put the straw to his nose and, with his bare white ass peeking out from under the dress like a sliced honeydew, sent the entire line of ants tickling up his nose with a single, monstrous snort.”
Worse was to come. “Then he hiked up the sundress, grabbed his dick and pissed on the pavement. Without even looking at his growing audience … he knelt down and, getting the dress soggy in the puddle, lapped it up. He didn’t just flick it with his tongue, he took a half-dozen long, lingering and thorough strokes, like a cat. Then he stood up and, eyes blazing and mouth wet with urine, looked straight at me. ‘Do that, Sixx!’”
Recalling “peer pressure that I could not refuse,” Sixx took his turn to urinate in public – but Osbourne got to the urine first and began licking. “I threw up my hands," Sixx said. "You win." He later commented that the band didn’t know “whether [Osbourne's] antics were evidence of a wicked sense of humor or a severe case of schizophrenia.”
Watch Ozzy Osbourne on 1984 Tour With Motley Crue
In another outlandish episode, Crue drummer Tommy Lee was in a hotel room with Osbourne, who defecated on the floor and then used the feces to redecorate the room. “He starts smearing shit all over the walls,” Lee said in 2011 movie God Bless Ozzy Osbourne. “He’s painting with it! And I thought, ‘This is some next-level shit. I’m not ready for this! I’m cool with just taking a shit in the toilet.’”
A series of further reported -- but unconfirmed -- events include the time Osbourne, Lee and Vince Neil were arrested after lying drunk on a freeway, and another time when Neil and Osbourne stole a car before trashing it and abandoning it. Plus, Lee is said to have punched a fan who gave him the news that his girlfriend was the centerfold in the latest edition of Playboy, and later, Neil’s gold and platinum discs were smashed by his girlfriend, who’d seen a picture of him cavorting with another woman.
Sixx, meanwhile, was advised to seek addiction counselling after falling out of a plane and smashing his discs and a bottle of whiskey in front of actress Demi Moore. On the last night of the tour, Osbourne’s band attempted to sabotage Crue’s set with flour and custard bombs; Motley Crue retaliated with similar missile attacks and by flashing the audience.
Meanwhile, Osbourne’s guitarist Jake E. Lee had lived through a memorable time for different reasons. Hired after Rhoads’ death, he was taking flak from angry fans. “I got a lot of support, but I also had a lot of ‘Randy Rhoads rules – you suck,’” he told UCR in 2013. “Randy’s gone and it’s not like he’s gone to go play in some other band – he’s just gone. So either you guys want Ozzy to hang up his coat and call it quits, or cut me a little slack. But all the way through Ozzy, there was always a faction of “You suck – Randy rules.”
Lee remembered receiving angry calls to his hotel room before he learned the trick of checking in with a false name. “Some guy … would find out what room I was in and go, ‘You suck! I should have gotten the gig,’ and then start playing guitar over the phone to me! … I never really got to respond to any of them, which pissed me off.”
Speaking in 2010, on the occasion of Osbourne and Crue hitting the road together again, Sixx recalled the 1984 experience as “a blast” and “some of the best times of my life.” Osbourne remembered that "every night, there was something crazier than the night before. … I remember being [arrested] for being drunk and disorderly in a public place. I came out of the jail at 7 in the morning and [Motley Crue] were all waiting outside with the bus – ‘Come on, Oz!’ It just carried on.”
By the following year, he was beginning to think differently. “I have all these old photographs of me in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and I can’t remember taking them,” Osbourne reflected. “I sometimes wonder, ‘Is that really me? What the fuck was I smoking at the time?’ … I’m tired of being that crazy fucked-up person. It wasn’t fun being fucked up all the time.”
That same year, he put much of his behavior down to his inability to deal with Rhoads' fatal accident. “It took me a very long time to get over his death,” he said. “Randy gave me a purpose, he gave me hope. I was fed up fighting people. I just had the greatest respect for him."
You can see the set lists from the 1984 tour's opening night below.
Ozzy Osbourne and Motley Crue, Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland, Maine, Jan. 10, 1984
Motley Crue Set List
“Shout at the Devil”
“Ten Seconds to Love”
“Take Me to the Top”
“Knock 'em Dead, Kid”
“Looks That Kill”
“Piece of Your Action”
“Too Young to Fall in Love”
Ozzy Osbourne Set List
“I Don't Know”
“Rock 'n' Roll Rebel”
“Bark at the Moon”
“Revelation (Mother Earth)”
“Steal Away (The Night)”
“Centre of Eternity”
“Flying High Again”
“Goodbye to Romance”