On the morning of September 1st, 1989 I rode my bike to the Harmony House record store inside the Oakland Mall, arriving just as they opened at 10am, and bought one vinyl album copy of the just released “Dr. Feelgood” by Motley Crue. I rode home with my precious new buy in a plastic bag that was wrapped around my wrist as I steered home, cursing every time the bag swung and bumped the handle bars or frame of my bike because I didn’t want to bend the corners of the album sleeve. I ran up the stairs of my childhood home straight to my bedroom and sheered the shrink wrap off. I placed the shiny black disc on my little, low-end turntable and that’s where it stayed the entire day. Actually, it probably stayed there for a week. Drop the needle, rock out, flip the side, repeat.
That memory came to mind recently when an ad on social media came up on my timeline for the 30th Anniversary edition of “Dr. Feelgood”. When I saw the ad I immediately thought, “sh*t, I’m old”, and then it brought me back to where I was in my life in 1989. I was a kid and I was obsessed with rock music. Like fans from generations before and after me, I was at a point where music was all that mattered. In the days before the internet, rock magazines were the only way to read about the latest shenanigans your fav rock stars got up to. And I bought them all monthly. Hit Parader, Circus, Metal Edge, RIP. I had the posters and pinups on my walls and closet doors. I bought all of the home videos on VHS tapes. And, of course, I bought every album I could. I was all in.
In 1989, Motley Crue was at the height of their popularity. I remember the press behind “Dr. Feelgood” was largely about how the band was clean and sober for the first time and that the album would reflect their newfound lust for life. A month before the record came out, they took part in a first-of-its-kind event called the Moscow Music Peace Festival that was supposed to raise awareness for drug and alcohol abuse. In reality, the festival was conjured up to burn off some of the community service that the promoter of the event was responsible for following a previous drug bust. And most of the bands on the bill spent the trip to the former Soviet Union in one state of inebriation or another. Ahh, the 80s. Back then you literally had to call a telephone number to order a pay-per-view movie or event and I did just that. It was an all-day event that had a pretty high price tag, if I remember correctly. But mom and dad paid the cable TV bill, so I was tight. I don’t think I even asked them if I could order it. Who says entitled young people are a 2019 thing? Ozzy, Crue, Skid Row, Cinderella, Bon Jovi, Scorpions. Dude. That was a stacked bill for 1989. I remember being bummed that Motley didn’t play any songs from the new album during their set. But a week or so after that festival, they released the video for the title track and first single, and then it was Motley Crue all over the place. “Dr. Feelgood” became their first top ten single and the album hit the top 10 on album charts in eight countries.
Exactly two months after the album came out, Motley Crue played Joe Louis Arena and you can bet your ass I was there. December 1st, 1989. I remember that one because not only was it the first time I saw one of my favorite bands live, but it was my younger sister’s birthday and I bought the tickets as a gift. Where the hell was I getting all of this money before I even had a driver’s license? Anyway, it was awesome, of course. There’s no way you can tell me it wasn’t the best concert Motley Crue ever played. At least that’s how I felt then. Before the year was through, I even bought a bootleg VHS tape of that concert so I could cherish it for always. There was this place called Snake Pit on Van Dyke, north of 8 Mile, that was owned by an elderly fellow called Johnny. Anyone remember that place? He sold only the finest in counterfeit band merchandise and live recordings. Simpler times, for sure.
You can pre-order the 30th Anniversary edition of “Dr. Feelgood” now at their website ahead of its November 29th release date. As these things go, it comes in a variety of special packages that include colored vinyl and assorted swag. And I love the idea of getting all of that stuff! I don’t know why I need a faux-leather Dr. Feelgood medicine bag, but I feel like I do.
Nostalgia is funny. Some things really jog your memory and make you think about where you were and what you were doing. And how passionate you were about some things. And how maybe you should be bringing some of that passion to your every day, you know? Don’t forget to enjoy things. I think instead of waiting for the new version of “Dr. Feelgood”, I’m going to spin my original this week.