Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The Strange Case of Matthew John Trippe
Matthew John Trippe claims that in June 1983, Mötley Crüe's managers Doc McGhee and Doug Thaler decided to bring him in as the new Nikki Sixx after Nikki was unable to continue due to a serious car crash.
In January 1988, he filed a lawsuit against McGhee Enterprises, Inc. citing civil theft and other relief, claiming royalties that were never paid for songs he said he wrote. These included "Danger", "Knock 'Em Dead Kid", "Girls Girls Girls", "You're All I Need", "Dancing on Glass", and "Wild Side".
In March 1989, Mötley Crüe recorded a demo for Dr. Feelgood called "Say Yeah." The song's lyrics, written by Nikki Sixx, are supposedly about Trippe and the lawsuit. The track later turned up on Supersonic and Demonic Relics (1999).
On December 10, 1993, Matthew Trippe finally dropped his lawsuit.
The following is an interview from Chronological Crüe with Roger Hemond of Sixx Pack
CC: Tell me how you hooked up with Matthew Trippe.
RH: Back in the summer of 1987, I had just moved to Florida. At the time I was trying to establish myself in the local music scene in Tampa. After making friends with some of the people at my new place of residence, The Abbey Apartments in Tampa, I began hearing a wide variety of rumours from a variety of people that a guy that used to live at the apartments claimed to have been used as a stand-in for Nikki Sixx while Frank Feranna [the real Nikki Sixx as per his birth name] was recovering from a car accident. Also that he had written music for a bunch of Mötley Crüe's music, and was planning to sue them for royalties. After hearing all these rumours, I was curious to say the least, and as time went on I met some people who knew Matthew Trippe. I urged these people to introduce me to this flake so I could once and for all dispel the curiosity. We made a few trips (pardon the pun) to Matt's house, but he was never home. More time passed and a gentleman by the name of Carl F came to my apartment looking for Matt. Someone had apparently told Carl that I knew how to get a hold of Matt, when I had only been to his house, never actually meeting him. Carl had met Matt while incarcerated (big surprise huh). Matt had told Carl his whole story about being used and abused by Doc [McGhee], Doug [Thaler], and the rest of the gang. That he was in Mötley Crüe until he got arrested in South Florida in 1986. He said that the band and management used his going to jail as an opportunity to slip Frankie back in the band and leave him for dead, in a jail cell, with no money, no way home, and no identity. WWHHHHAAAAA!!!
CC: So why was Carl looking for Matt?
RH: Carl happened to be very good, life long friends with a guy in Tampa who at the time was managing major professional wrestlers, owned a large night club, as well as dabbled in some things of an illegal nature, which was the reason Carl was incarcerated to begin with. Anyway, Carl convinced his friend, (who will remain nameless for my own protection) to invest in Matt. They hired a private investigator named Jerry Oglsbie, they hired lawyers, and planned to hire a band for Matt to record and possibly tour.
CC: What did you tell Carl when he showed at your apartment looking for Trippe then?
RH: I knew where Matt lived, but some of the things I heard were that people had actually made attempts on Matt's life as a result of his claims, so I didn't want to just tell this person I had never met or been where Matt lived, for fear that I might be jeopardizing his family. I was also very curious by this time and didn't want to wash myself from the situation by sending this guy on his way with directions to Matt's house. I told Carl that I would go over to Matt's house personally (who at this time I still had not met) with a note to get a hold of me, so I could relay the message that this Carl was looking for him with good news about having convinced his friend to invest in Matt's case.
CC: So was Matt home when you went there?
RH: Well a few days after that, another guy shows up at my apartment. This time a dorky, stuttering, slightly over weight gentleman, who held his cigarettes between his middle two fingers. I immediately recognized this guy as the person I had seen in pictures some people had of 'this guy going around saying he is Nikki Sixx.' It was Matt. He came into my home, went to my refrigerator, grabbed a beer, sat down at my dining room table, and put his feet up. After knowing him for less than 5 minutes, I was already less than impressed and pretty pissed off about his manners.
CC: Cheeky bugger hey! Why did he come to your apartment?
RH: I had already been in a band for about three months called Sircor. Matt told me all about having a management team, lawyers, private investigators, and also said he was getting a lot interest from some record labels, RoadRunner for one. He said I should audition for the guitarist position they needed to fill, so I did. They liked me. I suggested that Matt come and watch my band Sircor. He did and Sircor then became Sixx Pakk.
RH: We wrote and played for weeks, but the management didn't like some of the guys in Sircor, so they went looking for very marketable musicians to eventually replace everyone in the band except for Matt, of course, and myself. Lucky me!!!
CC: Yeh sure! Who else ended up joining Sixx Pakk and what was the band like?
RH: We actually had a hell of a band. We picked up Jim H, a David Lee Roth look-alike with an incredible voice, and Joe D, who is probably one of the best drummers I've ever seen, professional or otherwise. All we did was practice and write, and put up with this contemptuous, alcoholic moron, named Matt. We did have a lot of fun though, we had a great rehearsal facility, and some of our bills were being payed by management.
CC: What was the goal of the band at this stage?
RH: Management one day came to us and told us to start writing to record and tour. At the time, we were constantly being told by these guys that we were going to do a series of shows in Amsterdam, Japan or Great Britain. All kinds of things were being discussed, even a tour with Crimson Glory, who at the time was being managed by Warren Wyat, the same guy who managed Saigon Kick. So to a certain degree it was a roller coaster ride to hell... to an 18 year old future rock star. After a lot of meetings, none of the plans ever came to fruition.
CC: Did Sixx Pakk ever get a recording down?
RH: During this time [March/April 1988] we recorded a three song demo at Morrisound Studios in Tampa, where at the time, Juliet, a local band that Kevin Dubrow from Quiet Riot had taken under his wing, were in the next studio doing a mix down or something. When you are recording, you may end up spending a lot of time hanging around a television in the lounge waiting for other guys in the band to cut their parts. Such was the case at Morrisound and I can't tell you how funny it was to see Kevin, out in the lounge, relentlessly malign Matt and tease him saying things like, "Yeah and I was Lita Ford for two years in The Runaways." He really gave him hell. The stuff at Morrisound turned out pretty damn good though.
CC: Who wrote the songs for Sixx Pakk? Did Matthew Trippe prove his supposed song writing abilities?
RH: I had written the music to two of the three songs, and Jim H the vocalist wrote the words to all of them as well as the music to the one I didn't write. The frustrating part was we had to tell the press and everyone else that Matt had written all of it, in order to strengthen his claim. Under protest, I quickly had all of the music copywritten, giving credit to the rightful authors, THEN I agreed to tell people that Matt had written the music. Kind of sucks huh?
CC: What was the deal with his suit against Mötley? It was all a scam right?
RH: He could at times be very convincing and to this day, I don't know whether or not anything he said was true. I have seen copyright forms processed by the Library of Congress that had every member of Mötley Crüe's full real name, aka name, and social security number, with the exception of Nikki Sixx. All it said was Nikki Sixx and gave a social security number, which I swear to God was the same number on Matthew John Trippe's social security card which I was holding in my other hand. I'll tell you one thing, if I were going to try to pull what Matt alleges Thayer/McGhee did, I would probably pick someone a lot like Matt to do it with, because nobody would believe him completely - he was a lunatic! A variety of photos seemed to show differences in facial features through those years for Nikki Sixx. That could be attributed to any number of things though I guess. Matt was at the time that I knew him, a member of the Temple of Set, which is a pretty exclusive organisation. I find it a little strange that they would allow some weird-guy-nobody with no money to be a member, but I guess it could happen.
CC: What about his Nikki Sixx tattoos then?
RH: He had all of the tatts through the Theatre of Pain years. They were not cheaply done and there were several. He had a wife, a brand new baby boy, and no money - so I have no idea how he would have paid for them.
CC: So this is perhaps a case for Mulder & Scully [from the X-Files] in your mind then?
RH: He looked a lot like Nikki Sixx. Maybe a little heavier but the facial features were very similar. There are some things that leave considerable doubt as well, like the fact that he didn't 'remember' some of the music he had written. He was NOT a virtuoso bassist! But weirder shit has happened in this country by far.
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posted 4:23 PM