By 1989, Motley Crue were five albums into their career and about to release their best album to date. Dr. Feelgood closed out the decade with a bang, spending over 100 weeks in the charts, winning a string of awards, and transforming the band from the bad boys of LA into one of the biggest band’s in the world. Over 30 years after its release, it still ranks among the best albums of the last 50 years. Here are 10 things you might not know about Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood.
1. It was their first album recorded sober
According to Loud Wire, Dr. Feelgood was the first album Motley Crue ever recorded completely sober. It was a conscious decision by the band who, in a moment of collective clarity, realized that if they carried on burning the candle at both ends quite as furiously as they’d been doing, it wasn’t going to end well. By then, their lifestyles had already caught up with them on several occasions: in December 1984, Vince Neil was involved in a fatal car accident involving Hanoi Rocks drummer, Razzle, who tragically lost his life in the incident. In 1987, Nikki Sixx legally died after overdosing on heroin. He was revived by a paramedic on the way to the hospital, where, after gaining consciousness, he walked out, grabbed a lift with a crying Motley Crue fan he found in the parking lot, only to shoot up again once he arrived home.
2. It’s named after a real doctor
Before Dr. Feelgood was an album title, he was a real doctor by the name of Dr. Max Jacobson. Jacobson, whose list of high profile clients included celebrities and public figures like Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, and John F. Kennedy, came to be known by the nicknames “Miracle Max” and “Dr. Feelgood” because of the highly addictive, amphetamine laced “vitamin shots” he administered. He eventually lost his license in 1975 after his shady practices came to light.
3. It was produced by Bob Rock
The producer of Dr.Feelgood was Bob Rock. According to iheart.com, Rock found working with the band a challenge, later describing them as “four LA badasses who used to drink a bottle of wine and want to kill each other.” To try and keep conflict to a minimum, he had each of the band record their parts separately. It clearly had the desired effect: Metallica’s Lars Ulrich was so impressed by what Rock achieved, he hired him to work on Metallica’s self-titled record, a.k.a. the Black Album.
4. It spent over 100 weeks in the charts
Dr. Feelgood was inarguably the band’s best and biggest-selling album. It’s their only album to reach the top spot on the Billboard 200. It spent 109 weeks in the charts in total, certifying 6 times platinum in the process. Its titular track and lead single is their highest-ranking single to date, reaching No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and certifying gold. It also managed to win a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance but ultimately lost out to Living Colour.
5. Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler contributed backing vocals
If you thought you recognized the backing singer on the tracks Sticky Sweet and Slice of Your Pie, you’re not imagining it. When the band realized Aerosmith was recording Pump at the same studio as them, they invited Steven Tylor to pop by and lay down some vocals. He wasn’t the only one they invited – other big names to contribute vocals to the album include Bryan Adams, Skid Row, Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander and Rick Nielson and Night Ranger’s Jack Blades.
6. It was inspired by drug dealers
Nicky Sixx, who wrote almost all of Motley Crue’s music, originally had a very different idea for Dr. Feelgood. Speaking to Rolling Stone on the album’s 20th anniversary, he explained, “I remember it had a whole other set of lyrics. I had sort of forgotten that and I found them in a box recently. I was like, ‘oh, wow.’ It had a whole different theme to it. It was called ‘Dr. Feelgood,’ but a whole different thing lyrically. In the end, it was inspired by drug dealers. Is there ever just one? A good drug addict always has more than one dealer.”
7. It spawned a sneaker
Back in 2008, Nike paid tribute to Dr. Feelgood with the release of a commemorative “Dunk High” sneaker. Inspired by the cover art of the album, the sneaker featured three different shades of green, snake print and red.
8. It was the band’s last album with Vince Neil for years
Dr. Feelgood may have established Motley Crue as one of the most popular rock acts in the world, but it also signaled the end of Vince Neil’s time with the band – at least for a while. Although Neil had managed to stay sober for the recording of the album, he soon resorted to his old ways, much to the rest of the band’s chagrin. After they agreed their vocalist was holding them back, they issued him with his marching orders. At the time, they glossed over the decision by issuing a statement saying “Race car driving has become a priority in Neil’s life. His bandmates felt he didn’t share their determination and passion for music.” After things didn’t work out with his replacement, John Corabi, Neil eventually returned to the band for their 1997 album Generation Swine.
9. There’s a Beatles reference
If you listen carefully to the end of Slice of Your Pie, you’ll hear a nod to She’s So Heavy from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. The band also gives a few shout-outs to their own back catalog, along with that of fellow heavy metal band Queensrÿche’s. Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) contains a reference to “Too Young to Fall in Love” from the band’s 1983 album, Shout at the Devil. T.n.T. (Terror ‘n Tinseltown) features a sample of a woman saying “Dr. Davis, telephone please” – the same sample that was used a year prior on Eyes of a Stranger from the Queensrÿche album, Operation: Mindcrime.
10. It’s the band’s favorite album
Since its release, the band have said in various interviews that they consider Dr. Feelgood to be their most solid album. In 2009, they marked the 20th anniversary of its release by performing it in its entirety at the end of every performance of their Summer festival tour, Crüe Fest 2. Speaking via guitarworld.com, Nikki Sixx announced the decision with the statement, “On this summer’s Crüe Fest we really wanted to give the fans something they’ve never seen before. And since it’s the 20th anniversary of the release of Dr. Feelgood, we figured what better way to celebrate than to play it live top to bottom every night.”