Meet Motley Crue’s Secret ‘Smokin’ in the Boys Room ‘Sideman


From songwriting to performance, credits on major recordings are often affected by whoever decides. It’s a polite way of saying that the backing notes to some of your favorite LPs may not always offer a completely accurate portrayal of the work that went into making the album.

Example: Motley Crue’s Theater of Pain. The album marked their first Top 10 hit on the Billboard album, and also released a Top 20 pop single with their cover of “Smokin ‘in the Boys Room” by Brownsville Station on June 24, 1985.

For all who read the Theater of Pain credits knew, the song’s harmonica solo was performed by frontman Vince Neil, adding rare instrumental credit to his resume. The truth, however, was a bit murkier.

According to the famous harmonica player Mickey Raphael, he really managed the solo.

“Yeah, that was me,” he told the Herald of the Sun in 2017. Raphael’s Crue came courtesy of producer Tom Werman, with whom he had worked on some sessions for rockers in the same way Blue Öyster Cult.

Raphael described the session as a positive experience: “They wanted a harmonica player,” he said. “[Werman] called me and asked me to come and play the song. [Drummer Tommy Lee] was my master in the studio, and he couldn’t have been more courteous. “

Much less graceful was the way the performance credits were divided when it came time to write the Theater of Pain liner notes. “Vince played the harmonica on the last note of the song, so he was credited for the harmonica. If you look in the fine print somewhere, it says, ‘Mickey Raphael’s Additional Harmonica,'” Raphael. “The funny thing is, Vince even won an award that year for ‘Best Heavy Metal Player’.”

Watch Motley Crue play ‘Smokin’ In the Boys Room

There doesn’t seem to be any sign of Neil winning awards as an instrumentalist, heavy metal or whatever. That odd footnote aside, Raphael’s story is not uncommon – neither is it a story he has shied away from telling over the years.

The fact that it remains less than widely known reflects how righteous we want to assume our favorite artists are, and an example of why most session gamers who don’t get the credit they deserve are ‘rarely express.

Neil’s inability to perform the live solo “Smokin ‘in the Boys Room” led to a Spine tap-as at the band’s concert on July 26, 1987 at the Buckeye Lake Music Center in Hebron, Ohio. “We had a little disaster that day,” longtime band security guard Fred Saunders confirmed in Nikki Sixx. Heroin diaries.

“Vince can’t even play the harmonica but I can,” Saunders said, “so we cut Vince’s mic and he lip-synced and pretended to play, when the truth was that I was. hidden to the side of the stage and playing into a mic. I used to watch him up there, pose and suck his cheek. But at Buckeye Lake, I was practicing and the hidden microphone was on, so that harp solo suddenly came out of nowhere in the middle of a completely different song. Vince looked really pissed off. “


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