Break On Through

Motley Crue
Tower Records : West Covina, CA
October 29, 1983

My buddy Rob and I were huge Crue fans growing up. We were fortunate enough to see some of their early and greatest shows during their climb to the top. One of our highlights was when we were crushed against the stage all night for the infamous New Years Evil show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. In exchange for a ride to the show that night, we had to help set up a New Year’s party in the area…we ended up hitch-hiking home after the show. That’s dedication.

With the release of Shout At The Devil just a few weeks prior, Motley traded in theatrics such as igniting Nikki’s boots on fire for elaborate Road Warrior-esque stage designs. In a move to increase record sales, Elektra Records decided to set up an in-store appearance with Motley Crue. I don’t think they could boost sales any more than they were at…the record sold over two hundred thousand copies in its first two weeks of release. The band chose Tower Records in West Covina…Tommy Lee’s old stomping grounds.

This was the biggest event to come to the San Gabriel Valley since Van Halen played their last shows in Pasadena. Rob and I were lucky enough to convince my friend Howie to drive us there early. We got there around 9am and there were already fifty or so kids in line. As we jumped in line, we decided on what we would have the band sign for us. Getting the band to sign my Leather Records version of Too Fast For Love was my priority that day.

By noon there must have been 500 kids there, the parking lot was a mess – kids everywhere, cars backed up. Panic started to take over the store management. It was obvious that they did not expect numbers like this. The manager screamed at us through a bullhorn to clear the parking lot, to make a single file line – otherwise the in-store appearance would be canceled. People were booing and throwing things…this could turn into a riot at any moment.

As the hundreds of people crammed themselves into a line, the pressure became greater and greater. We were all really starting to get smashed up. My buddy Howie couldn’t take it anymore and he bailed out on us. Luckily we were very close to the front of the line, so we figured we would not have to endure too much more of this. Through the bullhorn they announced that they were going to start letting us in to meet the band. Just then, the pressure really increased as the people in the back of the line all pushed forward. We all pushed back, retaliating to the crowd behind us. They pushed forward even harder this time…. and that was it! The display window that we were leaning against cracked wide open and about twelve of us went flying through the huge glass window into the store.

The band could not believe what was happening. They jumped from their seats as a dozen of us fell nearly at their feat, covered in glass and some covered in blood. I remember Tommy with his eyes super wide and his jaw on the ground. All he could say was “No way, dude, no way!” As we met the band, each of the guys took the time to ask us if we were okay and told us how much they appreciated us. That day, the band realized that the loyalty of their fans was taken to another level.

Last month I spent the day with Motley in their rehearsal room on a shoot for Rolling Stone. During lunch, I asked Vince and Tommy if they remembered that day and that incident. Right away, their eyes popped out of their heads, just like they did back in 1983. They started talking about it like it just happened…there is no way they will ever forget that day.

Photographed with my brother’s Pentax K-1000 and an 80mm fixed lens – no flash (that was all I could get my hands on). Shot on Kodak Negative Film.

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5 Responses to “Break On Through”

  1. Dirt Junior Says:

    fucking sweet story!!!!

  2. Andy Tuba Says:

    Another one of those “why wasn’t Pulley, my ride and fellow Motley fanatic aware of this? I never knew about this one. Unreal!!!

  3. i worked at tower west covina when that happened.

    i’m shocked that vince remembered that incident, because he was so loaded that he needed someone to help him stumble to the bathroom.

    there was absolutely no organization or security for that event.
    it was the most poorly organzied, amateurishly-run in-store i’ve ever seen (and i saw 13 years of them).

    everyone realized that motley crue were big stars that day.
    no one realized it until we saw the crowd.

  4. Ramon Valdez Says:

    Kevin, I too was at this event. It was my senior year of High School. I was a big fan of the Crue.
    I went to get my copy of Too Fast For Love album on the Leathur Label signed. The sad part was like Bosshog stated Vince was always in the restroom, so I missed him on that album. So I went back in line with some other friends and bought Shout At The Devil album to get that one signed and Vince was in the restroom again so I missed him twice. Since there was so many people they could not stop the line.
    To this day I still need Vince on my Too Fast For album.
    Thanks for bringing back a good memory.

  5. chuck ayala Says:

    i was there from baldwin park with some friends , and a short kid from my neighborhood named mousey was on a guys shoulders in front of the display glass and got shoved in and fell and was seriously cut. motley visited him at queen of the valley hospital.. i was 13 and a really small long haired kid and when the crowd was swaying i happened to be right in front with my arm out . the security were hand picking people to go inside and meet crue, one guard saw that i was too small and grabbed my hand and pulled me in to meet them. first thing i thought when isaw them was “they look like crap” i had already seen them at the civic and troub before. i had a BAM magazine signed and Tommy called me little armor man for som reason immediately..it was awesome. i go out the back of the store and around to the front and about 20 minutes got picked again to meet them.. right away Tommy says hey its little armor man again!
    p.s. do you remember the limo that came to the front and all the kids rushed it then another limo went to the back and let the band out? they fooled everybody with a decoy limo

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