Basic Background Info
Tommy Lee is nearly as well known for haphazard celebrity, his bombshell wives, reality television performances, and general outrageous and often illegal, behavior as he is for his skill on the drum set. But not quite. Lee invented the backbeats for heavy metal icon Motley Crue and gave thousands of wildly fresh performances.
Tommy Lee's parents, a former Miss Greece and a U.S. Army soldier, moved the family from Athens, Greece, to Southern California before Thomas Lee Bass was one year old. As a toddler, Tommy Lee invented a drum set from discarded cardboard boxes until his parents bought four-year-old Tommy a real drum. Tommy used his elementary kit for years before upgrading to a real kit in high school.
As a teenager Tommy Lee listened to Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Deep Purple, and Judas Priest. Tommy Lee played with the Royal Oak High School marching band, but he eventually dropped out of school during his senior year of school, hoping to make a career out of drumming.
While Lee's first band, Suite 19, played all over the Sunset Strip in the late 1970s, Tommy Lee befriended Nikki Sixx, who was building an anthemic heavy metal band. After Lee and Sixx jammed together, Tommy Lee left Suite 19 to create Motley Crue with Sixx, Mick Mars, and Vince Neil.
Motley Crue released their debut album, Too Fast for Love, on their independent record label in 1981. After the independent release secured loyal following, they signed with Elektra Records and rereleased their debut. Throughout the 1980s, Motley Crue released hits like 'Shout at the Devil,' 'Girls, Girls, Girls,' 'Dr. Feelgood,' and 'Theatre of Pain.' Their unrivaled live performances dripped with excess; Tommy often played a revolving drum kit and regularly mooned the crowd.
The members of Motely Crue developed individual and collective reputations Motley Crue became as notorious for their on-stage antics as for their excessive drug use. After Sixx overdosed on heroin, the band penned the song 'Kickstart My Heart.'
During a six-month stint in jail in 1998, Lee decided to leave Motley Crue, and after he completed work on the Crue's Greatest Hits tour in 1999, he left the band. Attuned to the popularity of rap metal, Lee created the Methods of Mayhem with rapper TiLo. Their self-titled debut album, featuring guest performances by Snoop Dogg, Fred Durst, Lil' Kim, Kid Rock, Mixmaster Mike, George Clinton, and Scott Kirkland, and produced by Rob Zombie, was quickly certified gold.
After briefly recording and performing with Methods of Mayhem, Tommy Lee worked with Stuart Hamm, Nine Inch Nails and Incubus. He also contributed 'Welcome to Planet Boom' for the film Barb Wire, starring Pamela Anderson, his wife at the time. In 2002, Tommy Lee released his first solo album, Never a Dull Moment, an electronica-rap synthesis. Lee and his backup band performed on the main stage at Ozzfest that year.
Tommy reunited with Motley Crue in 2004 for the double album, Red, White and Crue, and a monumental supporting tour, The Red, White and Crue Tour 2005: Better Live Than Dead. After the multi-million dollar tour of more than eighty performances, Tommy once again left Motley Crue.
In 2006, Tommy, Jason Newstead, and Gilby Clark created Rock Star Supernova and used reality television show Rock Star to recruit a lead singer. After Lukas Rossi won the contest, Rock Star Supernova released their self-titled debut album to lukewarm reception.
Tommy's long list of accomplishments exceeds those with Motley Crue and Methods of Mayhem. Tommy Lee starred in a reality television show that sent him college for a few weeks at the University of Nebraska, guest deejayed at WXRK in New York during the Fourth of July Monster Metal Meltdown in 2005, helped support animal rights with PETA (a cause strongly supported by Pamela Anderson),and launched a clothing line.
Like many a rock star, Tommy's romantic life has seen its share of roller coasters. After seven years of marriage to heart-throb Heather Locklear, they divorced in 1993. Tommy then married Baywatch star Pamela Anderson in 1995, after a three-day courtship. They had two sons, Brandon and Dylan, before the tumultuous relationship ended. Pamela filed for divorce several times but the divorce finally became official after Pamela had Tommy arrested for spousal abuse. He spent six months in jail on the charges. After the divorce in 1998, Tommy and Pamela reconciled in 1999 and again in 2008.
During the summer of 2008, Lee once again returned to Motley Crue to perform for their summer CrueFest tour.
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