Tommy Lee Year by Year: Photos 1981-2021
Tommy Lee was born in 1962 in Athens, Greece, but his family moved to California when he was just a year old. He began playing drums at a young age and dropped out of high school when he started performing in local clubs. His work on the Los Angeles hard-rock scene put him in the orbit of bassist Nikki Sixx, and, in early 1981, they decided to form a band. They recruited guitarist Mick Mars and singer Vince Neil and named themselves Motley Crue.
Within a year, the new band released its debut album, Too Fast for Love, on its Leathur Records. The LP's success attracted the attention of Elektra Records, and they quickly rose through the ranks with albums like Shout at the Devil and Theatre of Pain, which became their first Top 10 release in 1985. They closed out the decade with the No. 1 Dr. Feelgood, which placed four singles in the Top 20.
During this period, the band became infamous for its decadent lifestyle. Lee, in particular, became tabloid fodder thanks to his high-profile marriage to actress Heather Locklear in 1986. They split up in 1993, but Lee soon moved on to another actress, Pamela Anderson, and they had two sons before their 1998 divorce.
The '90s were also a period of turbulence for Motley Crue. They parted ways with Neil in 1992, and their self-titled album with new singer John Corabi didn't meet expectations, so Neil was brought back in 1997. A couple years later, Lee quit to explore other musical options, first with the nu-metal band Methods of Mayhem and then as a solo act.
Lee returned to Motley Crue in 2004, and they worked regularly until 2015, when they wrapped up what had been billed as a farewell tour. But they regrouped in 2018 to begin work on the movie adaptation of their 2001 memoir The Dirt, which premiered on Netflix a year later and contained four new songs. Its success prompted the members to announce a major tour with Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett that was planned for summer 2020, but it was pushed back until 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Below, we take a look at the life of Lee through dozens of photos that date back to 1981 and go all the way up to the present day.