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Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee tells Sea World: No more Crüe for Shamu

Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for DC Shoes

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“Sex, drugs, rock and roll and kindness to cetaceans” -- the new battle cry (concert chant)from Mötley Crüe founder/drummer, Tommy Lee.

In a letter to John T. Reilly, President of Sea World San Diego, Lee demanded that the San Diego theme park stop using his band’s recordings during performances by notoriously sound-sensitive killer whales.

Dear Mr. Reilly:

I just learned of the latest way that SeaWorld makes captive marine mammals miserable: "Shamu Rocks," a show in which orcas thrash around in tanks while rock music blares. I'm writing to ask you not to play any Mötley Crüe songs at any of SeaWorld's parks during this sad show.

Although we like to torture the human fans who willingly come to our shows, we don't want to be a part of making innocent animals' lives hellish. I've learned from my friends at PETA that these marine animals are very sensitive to sound, as they communicate by sonar, and loud noises mess with their most basic instincts and drive them more nuts than they already are when trapped in your tanks. Some experts say that a noise level of more than 70 decibels is considered too loud and nerve-racking for the animals. "Shamu Rocks" shows have reached 90 decibels.

The letter also expresses the 49 year-old rock star’s less-than-supportive view of Sea World with his wish that all animals cooped up in Sea World’s tanks be relocated to a “coastal sanctuary,” However, since an orca retirement center on the coast is probably not in the cards for Shamu and his flippered pals, Lee figures the least Reilly and Sea World could do is knock off the high-decibel assault and give these captive apex-predators a little peace and quiet for a change.

Tommy Lee continues:

“Whales are not head-bangers, so stop cranking the music and take one small step toward improving their welfare, as the Navy did, recently changing the course of loud ships that were heading into San Francisco to avoid interfering with the whales' migration.”

Mom was Wrong

Maybe mom was wrong when she counseled you to stay away from boys like Tommy Lee. Sure, he’s got the long, magenta and black hair. Sure, half his body is covered with tattoos. Sure, he makes sex tapes with Pamela Andersen and his friends look like they shop at the motorcycle/lingerie/bondage section of the GAP.

But Tommy Lee’s letter is yet more proof that a significant number of rock and rollers -- young and old -- have strong social consciences with strong moral compasses pointing them toward doing the “right thing.”

Rock and Rollers-with-a-cause came to the fore in a big way with 1971’s Concert for Bangladesh. Arranged by Beatle George Harrison and sitarist Ravi Shankar, the Madison Square Garden show raised $250,000 for the relief of East Pakastani (now Bangladesh) refugees displaced by war and natural disaster. Since then, such musicos as Jackson Browne, Crosby Stills and Nash, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and many other rockers have used their fame and guitars to help defeat disease and injustice in America and around the world.

Like Tommy Lee, many stars promote justice by denying the use of their music to individuals and organizations they perceive as working for the Dark Side. The most recent example of the “not with my record, you don’t” form of protest came from Tom Petty when he demanded that Michelle (“There are 326 card-carrying Muslims serving in our State Department) Bachmann cease and desist using Petty’s hit, “American Girl” at campaign events. In 2010, the Talking Heads sued Charlie Crist for unauthorized use of their song, “Road to Nowhere.” And then there was John Cougar Mellencamp’s insistence that Senator John McCain stop using Mellencamp’s “Pink Houses” and “Our Country” at McCain/Palin rallies. Mellencamp was a staunch supporter of Obama, plus I’ll bet Mellencamp’s mental image of his music entering Sara Palin’s ear canal was just too creepy for Mellencamp to bear.

The modern-day king of causes, U2’s Bono, tirelessly uses his 100,000-watt celebrity on the world’s stages to help cure disease and injustice. Then there’s Pearl Jam fighting for the environment; Alanis Morissette promoting vegetarianism and all things green; Rage Against the Machine are outspoken opponents of what they see as right-wing power grabs. The list of activist rock stars is a long one, indeed.

Tommy Lee the Mensch

But what makes Tommy Lee’s public defense of those glorious black and white beasties stand out from other rock star activism lies in the nature of his band, Mötley Crüe. As the band's fans will tell you, the Crüe is one of those slash-and-burn, degeneracy-on-eleven embodiments of ear-bleed R&R that compel hotel managers to switch professions and local fathers to handcuff their daughters to their wrists.

These kinds of bands aren’t supposed to be thinking about anything other than the number of Brown M&Ms in their dressing rooms and whether the road manager has pulled enough after-show “entertainment” for the long night ahead. The image may not always fit every band, but that kind of debauchery is sure as hell what fans of those bands believe and expect.

Obviously, Tommy Lee’s compassion for beings that can’t defend themselves was a lot more important to him than those 436 brown M&Ms in his dressing room.

Goodonya, Tommy Lee!


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