Motley Crue Icon Reveals If They Ripped Off Nirvana


In a new Heavy interview, John Corabi hit back at claims that he was hired to replace Vince Neil in Motley Crue because Nikki Sixx wanted to hop on the Grunge bandwagon with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, and Alice In Chains. Blabbermouth transcribed his comments.

On why he thinks he became the singer:

John: “Some people have these conspiracy theories that Nikki knew that the grunge era was coming in and knew that Motley wasn’t going to whatever, so they found a guy that might be able to get them through that. Whatever. We were just sitting in a room and jamming and coming up with stuff that we thought was awesome. It was really no rhyme or reason — there was no plan like, ‘Hey, we need to do a heavier record.’ I think it just kind of happened, because once I picked up a guitar, the sound got thicker, and then my background is really The Beatles for melody. I love their songwriting, but in all honesty, I was always a [Led] Zeppelin guy, and Zeppelin was big riff rock. That’s what the Motley record is. To me, our Motley record was a cross between Zeppelin, [Black] Sabbath and Beatles acoustic whatever. We didn’t think about it — we just played, jammed, had fun.”

On many considering his Motley Crue record to be the band’s best:

John: “I know for a lot of the fans, they thought it was a great record. I know for some fans, they were just like, ‘Nope.’ Still to this day, there are some fans who are like, ‘I don’t want to listen to it. I’m not even going to bother with it. It didn’t have Vince [Neil] on it, so it’s not a Motley record.’ That’s the beauty of choice. It doesn’t offend me. To each his own, but at the end of the day, I’m very proud of the record that I did with the guys. I had a great time doing it, and to some degree – not solely because of the Motley thing — but I think being in Motley has helped the longevity of my career a bit. I’m always going to be the asterisk — the other guy. [But] life is good, man.”

On how he ignored the “whirlwind” surrounding the band when he joined:

John: “I didn’t realize the magnitude of the band that I was joining. In hindsight, now I can go, ‘Yeah, they were one of the biggest bands in the world at the time.’ But when I was in it, I wasn’t thinking that. I can’t explain it. Tommy [Lee], Nikki [Sixx] and Mick [Mars] just made me feel like one of the guys. They were just guys; they were pals. We just did what we did — we were just jamming, having fun, and we were just moving forward. It never really crossed my mind. I wasn’t sitting there going, ‘Oh my god — I’m replacing Vince Neil, this legendary, enigmatic singer.’ I just never thought of it — I just did what I do. I’m not a type of person that worries about things like that. Whether it’s joining the Daisies or Motley Crue or moving forward, I just do what I do. I am who I am, and you either like me or you don’t. If you like me, great. If you don’t like me, that’s cool too. I don’t worry about that stuff, because I can’t change it. I just do what I do; I write the way that I write; and I try to keep a level head on my shoulders and not let a lot of the trappings of the music industry get under my skin or change the way that I think about life. I just keep it real.”

On his initial jam sessions with the band:

John: “I jammed with them one day. They asked me to come back the second day. When I went back, we jammed again, and they wanted to stop the rehearsal and go, ‘Okay, cool, thanks for coming.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, while we’re here, it’s only 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Let’s jam a little bit.’ The only thing that I was thinking was, ‘Hey, if I get this gig, great. If I don’t, it’s fine,’ but what I wanted to do was maybe sit down with these guys and possibly write a song that maybe they would use on their next record or I could use on the next SCREAM record. The first song we wrote was ‘Hammered’. We actually wrote a majority of that song — I would say 80, 85 percent — that night. That’s when they kind of said, ‘Okay, that was easy. You know what? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. Welcome to the CRÜE.’ They were stoked at how awesome ‘Hammered’ sounded – the riff, everybody was playing really well, and they were just like, ‘This is awesome. This music, it’s really cool.’ We just kind of went from there, and that set the tone for the rest of the record.”

On leaving the band:

John: “There was some talk that Vince was coming back. It was kind of just brushed aside. I went to rehearsal one day, and when I walked in and saw all the managers and the lawyers, I’m like, ‘Uh oh. This isn’t going to be good.’ That’s when they told me. A lot of people don’t realize it, but I was in the band [for] five years, and they basically said, ‘Hey man, thanks for all your efforts. We love you, but the record label just isn’t going to support this version of the band.’ Out the door I went. It was sudden, but it really wasn’t because there was a lot of rumblings. I’d go to the Rainbow or a club and people were saying, ‘I think I saw Tommy and Nikki at this Mexican restaurant with Vince.’ I’m like, ‘What?’ There [were] rumors and people gossiping, so I kind of thought it might be coming, but it was absolutely definite when I saw the lawyers.”

On whether he thinks his time with Motley Crue made him a better musician:

John: “No. I think it made me look at life a little differently, though. It was definitely a valuable life lesson that I wasn’t at that point, in that time frame when it was all happening, I wasn’t prepared for. When I was in the band, everybody was giving me free guitars. Everybody wanted me to come to the party. Everybody was giving me amps and clothing and jewelry, and then when I was out, it was gone. I even had friends that were calling me 20 times a week and inviting me to parties and all this other stuff that I never heard from again. It just made me realize, ‘Okay, this is how this all works.’ I just kind of realized that a, contrary to popular belief and contrary to how tight or how friendly I thought I was with the Motley guys, it’s a business. It’s business. Then I realized that it really kind of makes you value your family. I realized that I don’t need a lot of friends — I just need a few good friends, people that are with you when things are really high, and they’ll still be there with you when things are really low. Now, I appreciate people’s honesty; I appreciate loyalty. That was a very good lesson I learned from Motley Crue.”

On The Dirt film, which he is featured in:

John: “If I’m not in the movie, that’s fine. If I am in the movie, that’s fine. I just hope that if I am in the movie, they don’t make me look like an idiot or an asshole… It doesn’t really matter if I’m in the movie or not. In the grand scheme of things, the four guys that sold the most, that created the legacy of Motley Crue [were] Vince, Nikki, Tommy and Mick. Do I really need to be in the movie? Probably not.”