It's been a rough week for fans of legendary heavy metal groups with umlauts in their names. On Dec. 28, Lemmy Kilmister, beloved, hard-living frontman of Mötorhead, died at age 70. And on New Year's Eve, Mötley Crüe played its final concert at the Staples Center, capping an often notorious career that began 34 years ago on the Sunset Strip.
Wrapping up an 18-month global farewell tour in the over-the-top style for which they've always been known, the original Mötley Crüe lineup – singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee – delivered fan favorites like "Girls Girls Girls," "Kickstart My Heart," "Shout at the Devil" and "Home Sweet Home" with exploding pyrotechnics, a giant burning pentagram and a flame-throwing bass guitar.
"I feel very ... grateful I'm alive, first of all," Sixx told the crowd in a nod to the band's years of drug-and-alcohol fueled decadence. "That's an understatement. And that I'm up here with Tommy and Mick and Vince on this beautiful ... night."
At one point during the show, Lee became stuck hanging upside-down from the ceiling in mid-drum solo when his roller-coaster drum kit, dubbed the Crüecifly, ran into technical problems. Then again, it wouldn't be Mötley Crüe without some unscripted chaos.
Rock fans have learned to be skeptical about farewell tours, which all too often seem to lead to reunion tours. So to cement the sense of finality, last year Mötley Crüe publicly signed a "cessation of touring" contract that prevents any of them from performing under the Crüe name beyond 2015.
"In a true spoiled-brat type of way, we would rather break our toy than have someone else have it," Sixx, who post–Crüe will focus on his band Sixx A.M., told The Times in July during a tour stop in Eugene, Ore. "At some point if you keep racing cars you're going to crash. And I think the idea of pulling the racecar off the track and starting a new race team is refreshing to everyone in the band."
"We said, 'We don't want to end up playing in clubs and there's nobody left in the band except for somebody's brother,' " said Neil, who will continue to perform as a solo act. "So we decided to go out on top and on our terms."
Though there have been widely circulated rumors of a possible smaller show at the Whisky a Go Go later this month, the band's reps insist they are totally unfounded. The New Year's Eve concert – which was taped for a concert film to be released in 2016 – will be the last time the band will ever play together.
"Trust me, our accountants and the business people are like, 'Are you guys high? You could keep doing this for a long time!' " Lee told The Times in July. "But we want to leave this thing intact. I think it's respectable."
Granted, that's not a word that's often been used to describe Mötley Crüe. But Sixx said that, while the band may be coming to an end, the relationships between its members – which have survived drug and alcohol addiction, arrests, jail time, lawsuits and public scandals – will continue.
"We'll see each other – I mean, there's going to be weddings, funerals, rehabs," Sixx said. He laughed. " 'Nikki is checking into the retirement home and he lost both his arms from shooting heroin again — let's go check him out!' "