Away from Vince Neil and with John Corabi as his replacement, the band suffered part of the 90s, when grunge took over and hard rock seemed to have gone out of style.
At the beginning of the 90s, the members of Mötley Crüe added more hours in rehabilitation centers than on stage. They came from an intense decade, due to the successes achieved and the excesses that fame had brought, things were going well … but not so well. On February 29, 1992, Vince Neil, singer of the group, slammed the door and left. In his place came John Corabi, a character who gave his touch to the band and who recorded what for some of his fans is the best album of the group and for many others, a rare moment in its history.
John Corabi was not a fan, he himself made it clear that he did not know how to play the Mötley Crüe songs when he first came to the room. The truth is that Corabi sought to contact Nikki Sixx to offer him a collaboration on an album he was recording. Thus, he reached the band’s manager, Doug Thaler, who asked for his information, promising that they would contact him later. It was not long before Sixx and Tommy Lee called him to tell him that Vince Neil was no longer in the band and to invite him to audition for them. Corabi accepted and after several meetings he began to be part of Mötley Crüe.
John Corabi revealed why the band had to change their sound back in the 90s’.
“I don’t mean this in any disrespect to Motley at all, but the bottom line of it is we did a record and it didn’t sell well — per their standards,” Corabi explains to Rob’s School of Music. “I mean, it went gold, but it didn’t sell well. The tour was a disaster.”
“I think, to be honest with you, Tommy [Lee] and Nikki [Sixx] and Scott [Humphrey] were trying to reinvent themselves to be current,” referring to the 90s music scene such as Nine Inch Nails, Rob Zombie, Pantera.
“[Motley Crue] were just trying to figure out how to be relevant again,” he admitted. “Which kind of led to a little bit of my demise, because I was just, like, ‘This is fucking bullshit. Just do what you do. You’re Motley.'”
The sound of Mötley Crüe changed radically, not only because of the voice but also because of the sound that became darker, for getting closer to grunge and moving away from the hard rock with which they had hit it, even changing the meaning of the signed lyrics by the new duo Corabi – Sixx. Mötley Crüe, the album, did not work as it should, and the band returned to playing in clubs when they were used to playing in huge stadiums. Record sales also fell, they went from being among the best sellers in the Billboard ranking for months (exceeding 6 million copies) with Dr. Feelgood (1989) to fly over the top ten for a short time.
Although Corabi had a much lower profile than his predecessor, his days at Mötley Crüe weren’t quite as uneventful either. In “The Dirt”, the biography that inspired the film about the group, Mick Mars tells of a difficult situation that he lived with the singer. John and Mick had gone out with a couple of strippers to practice shooting in the desert. At one point, Mick shot a sheet of steel and part of the shell escaped and injured one of the girls who were accompanying them.
For Corabi it was a bucket of cold water, Mötley Crüe (1994) had been a great album and he felt that this formation could have a future, but the years helped him to lower the foam and understand that his time there was not in vain.