Revisiting Motley Crue’s 1983 Stint Opening for Kiss
In 1983, Motley Crue embarked on the most notable trek of their career at that point: opening for Kiss.
At the time, the Crue had only one album under their belts. Initially released in 1981, then pushed into mainstream circulation in 1982, Too Fast for Love had earned the group its first national attention. Even though it wasn't a commercial breakthrough at first, the LP spent more than a year slowly climbing the Billboard chart.
As Motley Crue’s notoriety began to grow, Kiss began to take notice. At the time, the makeup-adorned rockers were in a commercial decline. After closing the ‘70s with four consecutive platinum-selling releases, the group’s first three ‘80s LPs failed to reach similar success. As Kiss set out on their Creatures of the Night Tour/10th Anniversary Tour, the band was met with low audience turnout, with some concerts filling only 30-40 percent of the venues' capacity.
"At that point, we were hurting," Paul Stanley recalled during a 2012 appearance on Nikki Sixx’s radio show Sixx Sense. "We were in a lull, we were on the West Coast, and we thought, 'Who can help us sell tickets?'"
The answer was Motley Crue. The band had already cut its teeth on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip. While the idea of opening for such experienced showmen may have intimidated some bands, the Crue were energized by the challenge.
“I guess you could kind of look at it as a young band that was so hungry and so in its zone, and we had yet to break, being like a young boxer,” Sixx later recalled. “We just wanted to get in the ring with anybody. The ring was getting on that stage, playing in front of anybody’s crowd. We didn’t care whose it was, because we believed in ourselves and we were in that place. We were in that positive place. Everything we were doing was working internally. We were just pushing it out and kicking ass.”
The Crue were supremely confident, convinced they could hang with any band, regardless of their experience level. “I guess we were naive enough not to go, ‘Whoa, they have all this stuff and we really have nothing,‘” Sixx said. “We were just like, ‘Wow, put us on that stage and cut us loose.'“
The short run wasn't perfect. In the Motley Crue autobiography The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band, Sixx complained that Gene Simmons had chastised the young band for its hard-partying ways. Still, the experience gave the young band a glimpse at what its future rock stardom would hold.
"[Kiss] gave us our first taste of playing up and down the coast and on big stages," Sixx noted. "We’ll always remember that. They’re fond memories.“
Even though Motley Crue opened for Kiss on only a handful of 1983 dates, they included some monumental performances. One, at the Universal Amphitheater in Los Angeles, featured a sold-out crowd celebrating the local group’s rise in stardom. Another was the Crue’s debut Las Vegas performance, the first meeting of Sin City and rock’s most notorious bad boys.
That show occurred on April 1, 1983, at the Aladdin Theater. Across their 10-song set, Motley Crue delivered several tunes from their debut LP - including “Live Wire” and “Merry-Go-Round” - while also previewing songs like “Looks That Kill” and “Shout at the Devil,” which would arrive on Shout at the Devil that September.
To commemorate the Crue’s debut Vegas performance, Iconic by Collectionzz has created a new limited-edition poster. The distinctive design features band members Sixx, Vince Neil, Tommy Lee and Mick Mars adorning playing cards being held by a satanic hand. The poster, which comes in standard and mirror foil versions, can be seen below.