UPDATED 5/30/23: Bob Rock has issued a statement clarifying his comments about Nikki Sixx’s bass contributions on the first four Mötley Crüe albums, saying his comments were misconstrued and “at no time did I ever actually think Nikki didn’t play bass on Mötley Crüe’s records.” He also notes, “Nikki Sixx is one of the most talented players, lyricists and songwriters I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.”
In a recent interview, Bob Rock recalls a conversation in which Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx allegedly told him he suspected someone had replaced his parts on the band’s first four albums, including Shout at the Devil and Girls, Girls, Girls.
Speaking to the Talk Is Jericho podcast, Rock was discussing his recent work with Mötley Crüe when he brought up a conversation he had with Sixx during the sessions for the band’s landmark record, Dr. Feelgood.
“I’ve got to tell you a story about Nikki Sixx, this is funny,” says the super-producer, around the 40 minute mark. “So, Dr. Feelgood, he says to me, he goes, ‘I don’t think I ever really played on any of the Mötley Crüe records. I think somebody came in at night and replaced all my parts, so I don’t really know how to play bass.’”
Rock makes the remark in a pretty off-the-cuff manner in the interview and seems to have been otherwise unperturbed by it.
“I said to him, ‘Too bad, you’re playing bass on it,’” explains the producer. “So I worked with him on it through Dr. Feelgood and I did a lot of edits and made him play every note.”
The album was regarded as a new high for the band and Rock notes in his chat how lucky he felt to get them out of LA and sober. Indeed, in Mötley Crüe’s biography, The Dirt, Sixx recalls the process of working with Rock as an (uncharacteristically) healthy challenge for the unwieldy group.
“Bob whipped us like galley slaves,” wrote Sixx. “His line was, ‘That just isn’t your best.’ Nothing was good enough… Before we walked into the studio each day, we never knew whether we’d leave that evening feeling like the best band in the world or four angry clowns who couldn’t even play their instruments.
“In eight years together and with millions of albums sold, we had never recorded properly. No-one had pushed us to the limits of our abilities before.”
It seems that it was a turning point for Sixx’s playing and in his interview with host Chris Jericho, Rock says he respects Sixx’s continued dedication to his instrument. In particular, he notes the bassist had taken a huge leap when he came to work with him again on the soundtrack to The Dirt biopic, in 2019.
“He picked up the bass and started playing, and I said, ‘Woah, woah, woah. What's going on here?”” says Rock. “He had been taking bass lessons for five years. All of a sudden, he's an amazing bass player. And I think that's so cool [that] in that point of his career, he wanted to be better. You know what I mean? I admire that.”
Sixx recently reported that the sessions for Mötley Crüe’s first album with John 5 –also set to be produced by Rock – were “100 percent officially done and ready for mix.”
Head to Talk Is Jericho to hear the full podcast interview with Bob Rock.
Read Bob Rock’s full statement, clarifying his comments about Sixx’s bass contributions.