The Mötley Crüe Song Tommy Lee Wrote The Guitar Riffs
Playing drums since he was a teenager, drummer Tommy Lee formed Mötley Crüe alongside Nikki Sixx back in 1981, who later invited Mick Mars and Vince Neil. While rapidly building a fanbase, they released their debut album ‘Too Fast For Love’ the same year through their independent label. Throughout the 1980s, they started releasing a series of hits and became one of the biggest rock bands of the era.
Back when the band was enjoying the success of the ‘Dr. Feelgood’ and ‘Decade of Decadence’ albums and tours, they decided to return to the studio to work on a follow-up for the 1989’s ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ In early 1992, Vince Neil left the band due to personal conflicts. So, the band was left without a frontman. Invited for an audition, John Corabi joined the Crüe later on in 1992 as Neil’s replacement.
With Corabi’s addition, Mötley Crüe started working on their eponymous sixth studio album. They then released ‘Mötley Crüe’ on March 15, 1994. It was the Crüe’s only album released with John Corabi and their first new material since ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ During the recording sessions, the band members committed themselves to sobriety, and they solely focused on their music. Besides, there was another interesting detail about this album: Tommy Lee wrote the guitar riffs of a song. Let’s learn which song that was.
Who Wrote ‘Smoke The Sky’s Guitar Riffs?
In an interview with Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White, former Mötley Crüe frontman John Corabi revealed that Tommy Lee actually wrote the guitar riffs of ‘Smoke The Sky’ and ‘Uncle Jack.’ He then recalled that they would come into the studio with a riff, listen to it, and share their thoughts.
According to the singer, they would then map the song and arrange it. While doing that part, as Corabi said, he would scat a melody, then he and Nikki Sixx would sit down and play with that melody. They would then write the lyrics for the song and return to the studio to record the new material.
Following that, Corabi commented on Tommy Lee’s musical talent. He described Lee as among the most musical people he has ever met. According to Corabi, Tommy Lee knows what he wants to hear in a song, and he is pretty successful in putting his ideas down.
During the conversation, John Corabi said the following about Tommy Lee:
“Tommy wrote a couple of riffs on [a song in] the 1994 record: ‘Smoke The Sky’ and ‘Uncle Jack.’ That was Tommy. We would come into the studio with a riff, and then everybody would listen to that riff and go ‘Oh, that’s cool, what is that?’ ‘I was just kind of d*cking around on my guitar last night, and I came up with this. I put it down on this little recorder.’
And then all four of us would develop the thing I call ‘the maps.’ We would kind of map out the song, the arrangement. While we were doing that part, I was scatting a melody. Once we had that, we would record everything. Then Nikki and I would go away, sit down, and play with that melody and the lyrics. We would write the lyrics, then go in, record it, and take it from there.”
He then continued:
“Tommy is truly one of the most musical people I’ve ever met. I mean, the guy plays piano and guitar. He’s not Eddie Van Halen, but Tommy knows what he wants to hear, and he’s good enough to put his ideas down. If you notice, both songs ‘Uncle Jack’ and ‘Smoke The Sky’ are what we call D tuning. It’s the E string. So, Tommy would lower the E string so he could just bar the thing with one finger. And then we would go from there.”
You can watch the interview and listen to the song ‘Smoke The Sky’ below.