In its episode of VH1's Behind The Music, Motley Crue broke down its backstage dynamic during the band's initial wave of success: "The girls would come in and we'd go, 'Vince Neil,' and the drug dealers would come in and we'd go 'Tommy and Nikki.'" Guitarist Mick Mars was too hobbled by ankylosing spondylitis to live it up and as for Neil, he certainly indulged but was more into groupies and drinking.

In 1984, driving to get more booze while partying with the rest of the band, Neil wrecked his sports car, killing his passenger, Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle, and seriously injuring the two passengers in the other car. Neil was charged with DUI and vehicular manslaughter but plead out and was sentenced to the Theatre Of Pain tour. Three years later, bassist Nikki Sixx turned in the band's scariest drug story in a career full of them when he let his drug dealer shoot him up, overdosed and died. A doctor revived him, and he left the hospital against medical advice and was driven home by crying fans. Once there, he changed the outgoing message on his answering machine and took what he said later was the biggest dose of heroin he'd ever had.

In Motley Crue's 2001 book The Dirt, Sixx described the aftermath: "I woke up the next afternoon sprawled across the bathroom floor with the needle still dangling out of my arm. The tile floor was covered with blood. My blood. I passed out again. Somewhere, far away, a phone rang. 'Hey, it's Nikki. I'm not home because I'm dead.'"