How Motley Crue Dismantled the Lord’s Prayer for ‘Wild Side’
Organized religion was not high on Motley Crue's list of priorities by the time they released their fourth album, Girls, Girls, Girls — but Nikki Sixx did receive some divine inspiration for the album's second single, "Wild Side."
By his own account, the bassist had transitioned to part-time musician and full-time dope fiend by 1987, laying around his mansion all day, shooting heroin and having promiscuous sex when he was off the road. One of his paramours, a Catholic schoolgirl whom Sixx referred to only as "Becky" in his 2007 book The Heroin Diaries, gave him a crash course in some of the cornerstones of her faith.
"Becky came around yesterday, during her school lunch break," Sixx wrote. "As she was getting dressed again afterwards, putting that Catholic school uniform back on, I asked her about the Lord's Prayer … is it important? She looked at me and wide-eyed and said, 'Sure, it's real important…' so I got her to recite it for me, and I scribbled a few notes down."
Those notes would soon form the basis of "Wild Side," which Motley Crue released as a single in August 1987. With lyrics like "Fallen angels so fast to kill / Thy Kingdom come on the wild side / Our Father, who ain't in heaven / Be Thy name on the wild side," the anthemic track served as "a raped and dismantled version of the Lord’s Prayer," as Sixx put it in The Heroin Diaries.
"Wild Side" became a fast favorite thanks to Mick Mars' relentless, staccato guitar riffing, Tommy Lee's marshal drumming and the song's supersized gang vocals. A flashy live video directed by Wayne Isham (who previously worked with Motley on "Smokin' in the Boys Room" and "Home Sweet Home") also turned the song into a hot commodity at MTV.
Watch Motley Crue's 'Wild Side' Video
"When we came to shoot the 'Wild Side' video, Nikki said what he always said to me: 'I don't want the same old Bon Jovi shit,'" Isham said in The Heroin Diaries. "So we decided to do a really mental over-the-top live video. I put cameras everywhere. Tommy had his revolving drum kit, so we put a camera on that. I wanted to put a camera on Nikki’s bass but he wouldn't let me, so we put it on Mick’s guitar instead."
Of course, nothing was simple in Motley world, especially on the Girls, Girls, Girls tour, when the band was at the peak of its debauchery. The band members and Isham all participated in a pre-show ritual called "Double Bubble," which involved chugging from a bottle of Jack Daniel’s until it bubbled — twice.
"So I was trying to work the main camera onstage, shit-faced, and Nikki came up behind me and bit me really hard on the arm," Isham recalled. "I suddenly had this searing pain and Nikki was standing in front of me, laughing his head off. He thought it was the funniest thing in the world."
Masticating misadventures aside, "Wild Side" became a lifelong set list staple and fan favorite for Motley Crue — and it gave them a badly needed win on an album that, in the band's opinions, had its fair share of whiffs.
"Like Theatre of Pain, Girls, Girls, Girls could have been a phenomenal record, but we were caught up in our own personal bullshit to put any effort into it," Sixx confessed in Motley Crue's 2001 memoir The Dirt. "You can actually hear the distance that had grown between us in our performance. If we hadn't managed to force two songs out of ourselves (the title track and 'Wild Side'), the album would have been the end of our careers."