Thomas Lee Bass (born October 3, 1962), best known as Tommy Lee, is a Greek-American musician and founding member of heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. As well as being the band's long-term drummer, Lee founded rap-metal band Methods of Mayhem, and has pursued solo musical projects. He has been married to model Elaine Starchuk and actresses Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson.
Lee was born Thomas Lee Bass in 1962 Athens, Greece, to father David Lee Thomas Bass, an American Army serviceman, and mother Vassiliki Papadimitriou (Greek: Βασιλική Παπαδημητρίου), a 1957 Miss Greece contestant. His family moved to California a year after his birth. He received his first drum when he was four and his first drum kit when he was a teenager. Lee has one younger sister, Athena Lee (Athena Michelle Bass, b. 1964), who was married to James Kottak, the drummer for the band Scorpions and she was also the drummer of his solo band KrunK.
As a teen, Lee listened to Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Cheap Trick, Kiss, AC/DC and Sweet. His main drum influences were John Bonham, Tommy Aldridge, Alex Van Halen and Terry Bozzio. After transferring from South Hills High School; he joined the marching band at Royal Oak High School (now Royal Oak Middle School) in Covina, California.
His first successful band Suite 19 played the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles during the late 1970s. At this time he met future bandmate, Nikki Sixx. Casually, Sixx was forming a theatrical band that would specialize in anthemic heavy metal, and was impressed by Lee's drumming. At this time, he changed his name to Tommy Lee and earned the nickname "T-bone" due to his 6′ 2½″ height and his skinny physique. Shortly afterward, guitarist Mick Mars joined the band. Tommy recommended a singer he had met while in high school, Vince Neil, who soon joined the group, and Mötley Crüe was formed.
Mötley Crüe quickly built a strong fan base and they released their debut album Too Fast for Love in 1981, on their own independent label (Leathür Records). Elektra Records decided to sign the band shortly thereafter, reissuing their debut in 1982. The band then began a string of hit releases throughout the decade—1983's Shout at the Devil, 1985's Theatre of Pain, 1987's Girls, Girls, Girls, and 1989's Dr. Feelgood—establishing the quartet as one of the biggest hard rock/metal bands of the '80s.
Lee used several memorable gimmicks during his drum solos at concerts, such as having his entire kit revolving and spinning, or having the entire kit float above the crowd while he continued to play. He was legendary for mooning the crowd at nearly every show. The band was known for their decadent behavior both on and offstage, often consuming excessive amounts of drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, pills and alcohol.
In 2004, Lee reunited with the original Mötley Crüe line-up to release the double-disc album of hits entitled Red, White & Crüe, which went quad platinum and launched a monumental reunion tour to support it, The Red, White & Crüe Tour 2005: Better Live Than Dead, the band's first in six years. They finished the year number 8 on the top concert money earners list. They played 81 shows and grossed US$33 million according to Billboard Boxscore.
Lee came back once with Motley Crüe to go on the Crüe's Greatest Hits tour in 1999. With the popularity of rap metal, Lee formed a band called Methods of Mayhem. The band released a self-titled album the same year and toured in support of it. Although Lee distanced himself from Mötley Crüe after splitting, he agreed to take part in their 2001 autobiography, The Dirt. In addition to Mötley Crüe and Methods of Mayhem, Lee has made guest appearances on albums by other artists, such as Stuart Hamm, Nine Inch Nails and Rob Zombie. He also contributed a song, "Planet Boom" (originally on Mötley Crüe's Quaternary EP) to the soundtrack of then-wife Pamela Anderson's 1996 movie, Barb Wire, and produced an album for the pre-Goldfinger project from John Feldmann and Simon Williams, the Electric Love Hogs. Lee parted ways with Methods of Mayhem partner TiLo and began recording with members of Incubus. He then released his first solo album. The album, 2002's Never a Dull Moment, has tones of rap metal and electronica. The song "Blue" features guest vocalist Rodleen Getsic (the credits read: "Rolleen"). In August 2002, Tommy Lee and his solo band joined Ozzfest, mainstage. In 2006, he formed a new band called Rock Star Supernova with Jason Newsted (Voivod, ex-Metallica) and Gilby Clarke (ex-Guns N' Roses).
The 2006 season of Rock Star selected Lukas Rossi as the lead singer for Supernova. Dilana, Magni Ásgeirsson, and Toby Rand with his own band Juke Kartel were the three runners up and accepted an offer to go on tour with Supernova. The self-titled debut album Rock Star Supernova was released on November 21, 2006.
Lee released his autobiography, Tommyland and his second solo album, Tommyland: The Ride in 2005. The CD featured as a soundtrack to the book and includes the singles, "Tryin to be Me", "Good Times" which was the theme song to his reality TV series Tommy Lee Goes to College and "Hello, Again" which features Andrew McMahon from Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin. Tommy Lee was also a guest DJ at WXRK "K-Rock" in New York during the Fourth of July Monster Metal Meltdown in 2005.
Lee also recorded drum tracks for the alternative rock band Jack's Mannequin, which has released the album Everything in Transit.
In November 2007, it was announced by Nikki Sixx that Tommy Lee was no longer a member of Mötley Crüe. Lee reportedly quit after the rest of the band sued his manager, Carl Stubner, for forcing Tommy to take part in reality TV shows, thus forcing the cancellation of a lengthy leg of Crüe tourdates in 2006. Lee already quit once in 2007 in September before returning to the band. Vince Neil refuted the claims that Tommy Lee resigned from the band and that the band would be going into the studio in January to start recording their newest studio album. In the end, Tommy Lee did end up recording the new album, Saints of Los Angeles, and toured with Crüe in 2008 in their tour, Crüe Fest. Mötley Crüe is now on their Saints of Los Angeles Tour, which started on February 2, which includes Lee. This tour will be followed by Crüe Fest 2.
Tommy Lee's current artistic endeavors include touring as an electronic dance music DJ with his Methods of Mayhem DJ/production partner, DJ Aero (birth name: Chester Deitz). As DJs, they are also known as Electro Mayhem and have clocked over 60 club dates as DJs throughout North America (with stops in the Bahamas and Central America) in 2007 alone, with more international dates planned for 2008 (including a stop in Iceland). Lee and Aero debuted as DJs on the mainstage at Ultra Music Festival during Winter Music Conference (WMC) in 2004. Lee and Aero have been DJing together since 2000, and they will again have a major presence at Miami's WMC in 2008. In 2009, Lee appeared in select cities with Sharam, one half of Grammy Award nominated and Grammy Award winning Deep Dish, accompanying Sharam live on the piano during his house DJ sets. Lee and DJ Aero also accompanied deadmau5 in his 2011 Meowington Hax tour. He played keyboards too with Deftones at a benefit show for defunct bassist Chi Cheng in 2009.
In an interview held backstage at the 2009 Download Festival, Lee confirmed that he is currently working on his yet-to-be-named third solo album. It is expected to be released sometime in 2010. On June 27, 2010 Tommy played drums for Ludacris at the BET Awards 2010. On March 25, 2010, he co-presented the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA) along with Roger Sanchez and DJ Rap.
In 2014, Tommy Lee joined the Smashing Pumpkins to perform drums for their Monuments to an Elegy album. That same year Tommy Lee joined the rest of his Mötley Crüe bandmates in a farewell tour. As part of the tour each member signed a legal document preventing them from ever touring under the Mötley Crüe moniker again.
In 2004, he starred in a reality show for NBC called Tommy Lee Goes to College. Lee was also one of the producers of the show. In spring 2008, Lee commenced filming another reality TV show with rapper Ludacris for Planet Green (Discovery Channel's 24-hour eco-friendly network) titled Battleground Earth.
Lee has been married three times. His first wife was Elaine Starchuk. On May 10, 1986, Lee married actress Heather Locklear, divorcing in 1993. On February 19, 1995, four days after they met, Lee married actress and Playboy Playmate Pamela Anderson. Together they have two sons, Brandon (born June 5, 1996) and Dylan (born December 29, 1997). They wed on a beach, with Anderson in a bikini. The couple divorced in 1998. Although divorced, the couple reunited briefly upon Lee's release from prison but eventually split again in 2001. They reconciled and split again in 2008.
In 2008 it was announced that Lee and Anderson were back together and living with each other and their children.
Lee announced on February 24, 2014, that he was engaged to singer Sofia Toufa.
Lee and Anderson had videotaped their sexual activities while on vacation. The video was stolen in 1995 and released on the Internet, becoming a prime example of viral pornography. According to The Dirt, Lee claims that he was having work done at his house, and a person (who, according to the book, was a former porn star by the name of Rand Gauthier) working at the house found the tape and sold it. Anderson sued the video distribution company, Internet Entertainment Group. Ultimately, the Lees entered into a confidential settlement agreement with IEG. Thereafter, the company began making the tape available to subscribers to its Web sites again, resulting in triple the normal traffic on the site.
Legal troubles and spousal abuse
In 1998, Lee served six months in county jail after pleading no contest to kicking Pamela Anderson while she was holding their son Dylan. During an altercation over Anderson's refusal to call and ask her parents not to come over to the family's house, Lee assaulted his wife, leaving her with "bruises, a torn fingernail and fear for the safety of her two sons, Dylan and Brandon."
Lee faced a 1998 lawsuit when he allegedly exposed a right-facing Nazi swastika tattoo on his arm to public scrutiny (the tattoo was in fact a left-facing swastika). In 1996, Lee had pleaded no contest to criminal charges of battery against a Jewish photographer after Lee attacked the man outside the famous Viper Room, in L.A. When the photographer sued Lee, the swastika tattoo (which has since been removed) was said to be visible and Lee's lawyer argued it would inflame the jury and create unfair prejudice against Lee. Shortly after claiming that the introduction of the tattoo into the court record would produce prejudice, Lee denied its existence. Lee's attorney reported the swastika was a "stupid tattoo obtained several years ago."
In October 1999, Lee was arrested in North Carolina after instigating a riot during the 1997 concert at Greensboro Coliseum. Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx allegedly made racist comments to a black security guard, suggesting that the crowd attack him. Sixx and Lee were said to have poured beer over the guard's head.
On June 16, 2001, four-year-old Daniel Karven-Veres drowned in Lee's swimming pool while attending a birthday party for Lee's 5-year-old son, Brandon. His parents, James Veres and Ursula Karven, sued Lee for negligence. Lee was cleared by a jury in April 2003.
In September 2007, Lee was kicked out of the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony after engaging in a fight with Kid Rock. Kid Rock was cited for assault on Lee and pleaded guilty.
Lee is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. In 2010, Lee sent a letter to Terry Prather, the president of SeaWorld, protesting the treatment of Tilikum the killer whale. Lee believed that the animal should be set free and claimed that SeaWorld would not comply as Tilikum is their primary sperm donor. Lee wrote that he was appalled by SeaWorld's "sick and twisted" methods for obtaining Tilikum's sperm. Lee concluded that he wished to avoid further tragedies of trainers being killed, as these tragedies had resulted from the whales' aversion to captivity.
In 2013, Lee sent a letter to Alberta premier Alison Redford requesting that she end the Calgary Stampede's chuckwagon races that have resulted in the death of 50 horses, since 1986, being euthanized from injuries. Lee, in his capacity as a member of PETA, wrote, "There was a time when cowboys respected their horses instead of riding them to death just to show off for a crowd," to which the ministry responded that Lee's letter was worthwhile.
Lee currently uses Pearl drums, Pearl and Remo drum heads, Zildjian cymbals, and Ahead drumsticks. He has, in the past, also used drum sets by various other companies including Tama in Mötley Crüe's early days, Sonor, and dw. He has since returned to Pearl in the late 2000s. In the past Lee also used Paiste cymbals and signature Vic Firth and later Vater drumsticks before signing on with Ahead. He also briefly used Aquarian drumheads in the late '90s.
- Never a Dull Moment (2002)
- Tommyland: The Ride (2005)
Methods of Mayhem
- Methods of Mayhem (1999)
- A Public Disservice Announcement (2010)
Rock Star Supernova
- Rock Star Supernova (2006) US #101
- Rush Street – Richard Marx (1991)
- The Urge – Stuart Hamm (1991)
- Whore – Dalbello (drums on "Revenge of Sleeping Beauty" track; remark by Sergey Lavrov) (1996)
- Hellbilly Deluxe – Rob Zombie (1998)
- The Sinister Urge – Rob Zombie (2001)
- Everything in Transit – Jack's Mannequin (2005)
- Death Valley - Fall Out Boy (DJ) (2009)
- Angels & Devils – Fuel (2007)
- Pounds of Blood - Figure (2013)
- Raw (Single) – The Bloody Beetroots (2014)
- You Know My Name/Wedding Day – Courtney Love (2014)
- Monuments to an Elegy - The Smashing Pumpkins (drums on all tracks) (2014)
- Pattison, Louis: "Q&A", Uncut, January 2015, p67, ""I've known Tommy since 1992," explained Billy Corgan. "Didn't know him real well, but enough to call him up. He was like, 'The Pumpkins drumming style is a lot busier than I play.' But he heard it in demo form and said, 'I wanna play on all of them.' You can hear on tracks like 'Run To Me', where he did a lot of drum programming – he took real investment in the material."
|US ||AUS ||GER ||UK |
|2002||"Hold Me Down"||—||—||—||—||Never a Dull Moment|
|2005||"Tryin to Be Me"||—||—||—||—||Tommyland: The Ride|