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Vince Neil’s Passion for More Than Just Motorcycles

BY COLLEEN SWARTZ

It has been a long road that Vince Neil has traveled that has brought him to where he is today. And where exactly is Vince Neil today? Vince Neil has just completed a successful reunion tour with the band that made him famous, MÖTLEY CRÜE.

The Vince Neil Ink Tattoo Studio opened at O’Sheas Casino in the heart of Las Vegas between the IP and the Flamingo. Patrons can get inked, check out the memorabilia exhibits or do a close-up examination of the Harley used in the Motley Crue video, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” in the 2200 square foot facility.

Vince has a tequila coming out called Tres Rios.

“It’s my selection,” says Neil.

“There’s an Añejo, Respasado and a Silver.  We’ve already sold close to a million bottles. It will be worldwide [this month]. All the tequila is in customs right now. The casinos and stores are waiting to get their bottles. [Sammy] Hagar kind of started the whole thing. I’ve talked to him about it. It’s a friendly competition. It’s all good. There’s enough tequila to go around. I’ve got my own vineyards [called Vince Vineyards] in Northern California too. I’ve got a Cabernet and a Chardonnay and a Zinfandel called Vin Zin coming in a couple of weeks. I’ve also got a topless show, Vince Neil’s Girls Girls Girls, on the strip. Me and Chris Judd, J. Lo’s ex-husband, are partners on the thing.”

And very recently, March 22nd and 23rd to be exact, Vince Neil was at Austin’s Saloon and Eatery in Libertyville Illinois where I met him and his crew as they embarked on a limited solo tour.

Mark Khayat, owner of Austin’s has recently opened “The Fuel Room” which is a large addition to the back of what was already a large bar and restaurant.  The Fuel Room features a stage with state-of-the- art sound and lighting and although the capacity tops out at about 900, the facility is such that major acts such as Vince Neil, Seven Mary Three, Warrant, Buck Cherry, Saliva, Crossfade, Firehouse and Brett Michaels from Poison and the best of the Chicagoland’s local music scene come to perform.  In addition to Khayat’s commitment to great music, great drinks and great food, Khayat has always run a biker-friendly business and has gone even further than that to host “Austin’s Iron Horse Round Up” three years in a row. This year, the roundup will take place on May 6th and it is with great pleasure that Austin’s announces that Vince Neil will be back to perform May 6th on a brand new, state-of-the-art outdoor stage produced and sponsored by Jagermeister.

The opportunity to have Vince Neil do some cross promoting with Austin’s while he was in town performing was perfect because Vince Neil is a long time biker himself.

Vince Neil’s road begins as Vince Neil Wharton in 1961 when he is born to Odie and Shirley Wharton in Hollywood California. In his teen age years the family lived in Compton and Vince is diagnosed with a form of dyslexia. Vince starts hanging out with street gangs, skipping school and surfing. Having gotten himself kicked out of Charter Oak High School in his sophomore year, Neil is sent to Royal Oak High School where he meets a student named Thomas Lee Bass (aka Tommy Lee) where he discovers music and playing in a band. At 16 Neil and his girlfriend, Tammi have a son named Neil Jason Wharton and Neil drops out of school in his junior year.

But fear not, this sad story is the basis for many a brilliant musician and Vince Neil is no exception. By 1981 Neil finds himself out of school, playing in several different bands, sleeping in the back of Tommy Lee’s car and marrying a woman named Beth Lynn. It is then that Nikki Sixx forms a band he calls Motley Crue which features Neil on lead vocals, Nikki Sixx on bass, Mick Mars on guitar and Tommy Lee on drums. The success they experience is the stuff of legends but like many in the fast lane, life takes a sudden turn for Neil. Shortly after the release of the “Theatre of Pain” album in 1985, Neil is out driving a car with his friend Razzle. Under the influence the unthinkable happens and Razzle does not survive a crash that leaves Neil with the tragedy of the loss of his friend.

Fired by MÖTLEY CRÜE in February 1992, Neil was making a solo career for himself when tragedy stuck again. His five-year-old daughter, Skylar, lost her battle with stomach cancer in 1994. Neil says of the tattoo that adorns his chest, “My favorite one is the one on my chest. My daughter passed away at age 5. It’s a tattoo of a sacred heart on a chain. It’s in honor of her.”

For years Neil worked on various independent projects and tours but his name would be inextricably linked to the band that made him famous and In preparation for the much vaunted 2005 MÖTLEY CRÜE reunion the 43 year old Neil put himself through the unusual step of a full “extreme makevover” course to be aired on national MTV’s ‘The Remaking of Vince Neil’, involving a fitness regime, lifestyle training and plastic surgery.

Neil’s 2005 schedule would be focused on a gargantuan MÖTLEY CRÜE world tour, promoting the ‘Red, White & Crue’ album and stretching through until Australian dates in December. Despite all this activity, Neil made time to diversify into some unexpected areas, collaborating with the Hard Rock Hotel chain in a series of motorcycle cafes and launching his own wine label, Vince Vineyards of the Napa Valley. To launch the latter he put in a solo launch gig at the Pussycat Doll Lounge at Pure Nightclub in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Neil’s love of motorcycles has been part of this life all along this road.

Currently Neil owns 3 bikes built by Count’s Kustoms in Las Vegas, Nevada. Count’s has quickly cemented their place as “bike builder to the rock stars” by creating rides for rockers like Ozzy Osbourne, Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, Chad Kagy, and Matt Hughes.

The road continues on for Vince Neil but you can meet up with him along his journey when he returns to Libertyville Illinois to appear at Austin’s Iron Horse roundup on May 6th, 2007 on a newly-constructed Jagermeister outdoor stage. More information can be found at www.austinssaloon.com.

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