Why Greg Leon Passed On Being Motley’s Guitarist
In the May 2017 issue of BURRN Magazine, Vince Neil is the centerfold but the big story is a 9 page interview John Harrell did with Greg Leon.
In case you don’t remember, Greg Leon was the singer and guitarist for Suite 19, Tommy’s first pro band. Tommy mentioned Greg on page 51 of Motley Crue’s autobiography, the Dirt. According to Tommy, Nikki and Greg were jamming and about to form Motley Crue when Nikki kicked Greg out because he didn’t look the part.
Greg’s interview with BURRN Magazine tells a different story. Here’s a small part John Harrell’s interview with Greg Leon:
“I was putting Suite 19 back together and Tommy is the first guy I called. We were going out to the clubs looking for bass players. I remember at The Starwood one night in 1980, LONDON was playing, it was their last gig and Tommy saw Frankie up there (NIKKI SIXX) and he said, That’s the guy we should get, and I said, I’ve already auditioned him twice and he didn’t get the gig either time because he can’t play. You know, I was into being a musician and not dumbing myself down because I wanted to be better, and I aspired to be better by playing with better musicians so I’d have something to look up to. I mean I had to tune Nikki’s bass for him at the auditions, he didn’t know any scales so it was just terrible. So I told Tommy that I was not playing with Frank again because I need more of a musician.
But Tommy just loved him and he loved the image. And Frank did have that. Frank was the best-looking guy on the scene at the time. Nobody looked better than him, nobody had better stage personality than him. I mean Randy Rhoads was a young gorgeous-looking kid, but as far as bass players go Frank had it in spades. I mean he looked like a star, sweeping the floors at The Starwood so you just knew that he was going to be a star one day just by looking at him; you knew that he was going to do something. But I couldn’t play with him because he couldn’t play anything but quarter notes and I didn’t want that in a band.
So I told Tommy, You can do what you want but I won’t play with him, so I drove Tommy to meet Nikki and they wanted me to join the band before they even had a name. And I was sick of sharing the lead vocal thing with somebody else because I figured that I could sing as good if not better than any of these other guys, so I didn’t want to do that. Nikki was dead-set on having a front man because that was the big thing with VAN HALEN and all of these bands who had a front man that only sang. So I told them that I wasn’t interested and I was going to put a band together and write my own songs and do what ERIC CLAPTON does or JIMI HENDRIX, you know the guys who played guitar and sang because that was more of my thing and where my heart was.
So I passed on that and they found Vince (NEIL) from ROKANDI and then they put an ad in The Recycler, as everybody knows the story now, and BOB DEAL (MICK MARS) got the gig. ”