Rock ‘n’ roll mythology dictates that the brighter your star burns, the more outrageous your tour rider becomes, and there will be hell to pay for anybody who doesn’t follow your instructions to the letter. But when Motley Crue‘s Vince Neil felt snubbed by the choice of mustard available backstage at the band’s Rochester, N.Y., concert on Aug. 25, 1987, he had to pay the price for his meltdown.
The glam-metal hedonists were traipsing the globe in support of their multiplatinum 1987 album Girls, Girls, Girls, and their fame, debauchery and egos had all swelled to epic proportions. The band members — singer Neil, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee and guitarist Mick Mars — had a team of people at their beck and call at all times and were used to getting everything they wanted. Well, almost everything.
At concerts, one thing continued to elude Neil: yellow mustard. The singer liked to make a sandwich backstage before performing, and he was incensed to repeatedly find only Grey Poupon, which he loathed. As Motley Crue prepared to hit the stage in Rochester, Neil reached his breaking point.
“I was all dressed. I was ready to go onstage. I was in my stage clothes,” Neil recalled in his 2010 autobiography Tattoos & Tequila. “And I was like, ‘I fucking told you I hate fucking Grey Poupon!’ I threw it against the wall, but I threw it really close, or I don’t know what happened, but it cut my finger bad — to this day I can’t even stretch my finger. There was a lot of blood. It basically severed my finger.”
Neil was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery immediately, forcing Motley Crue to cancel their Rochester concert, much to Sixx’s chagrin. “Vince is such an asshole sometimes,” the bassist seethed in his 2007 book The Heroin Diaries. “I’m sitting here backstage waiting for him to return from the hospital. In fact, so are the fans … waiting … nice. Tonight he was making a sandwich and he reached for the mustard to put on it. There was only Grey Poupon (my fave), which he hates, so he threw the mustard jar against the wall. It exploded and flew back and cut his hand wide open. He’s now at the hospital and we’re still waiting to play the fucking show. Nice move, bro … can we say spoiled brat?”
Fred Saunders, Motley Crue’s longtime head of tour security, was not impressed with the singer’s prima-donna behavior either. “I couldn’t believe it at the upstate New York show when I saw Vince Neil pouting and throwing this fucking mustard at the wall,” he recalled in The Heroin Diaries. “It bounced back and sliced his hand right open. Vince said, ‘Well, I guess that the tour’s over,’ and Nikki said, ‘Bullshit — there are 200 people on this tour.’ The tour continued, and for weeks Vince had to wear these gloves that looked like boxing gloves. Like I said, what a piece of work.”
Neil admitted in The Heroin Diaries that his outburst was “pure Spinal Tap,” but he felt it was at least partially justified. “Call me an ass, you know, but who was the food supposed to be for? Me and the other guys, correct?” he asked in Tattoos & Tequila. And although the repercussions of his tantrum were severe for both Neil and Motley Crue’s jilted fans, in the end, the singer got his way.
“Obviously the show was canceled that night. The doctors managed to repair most of the damage to my hand, but I had to wear a full cast up to my elbow for a month,” he recalled. “But they never had any Grey Poupon there again.”
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