Born as Vince Neil Wharton on February 8, 1961, in Hollywood, California, to Odie and Shirley Wharton. The family moved around greater Los Angeles several times during Neil’s childhood, passing through Inglewood and Watts before settling in Glendora. There, Neil attended Royal Oak High School, where he met Tommy Lee, a drummer and future Mötley Crüe bandmate. Neil was much more interested in music and the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle than in school, and he was eventually expelled for fighting and drug use. He even lived for a time in Tommy Lee’s van after getting into too much trouble with his own family.During this time, Neil became more and more engrossed in the resurgence of hard rock that would later define the 1980s Los Angeles sound: “I was born and raised in L.A. and all of a sudden the music scene just burst into Hollywood. … And we were lucky enough to be one of the young bands that were up and coming at the time. It was a cool scene. The streets were packed with guys who were in bands or wanted to be in bands, and with girls who wanted to meet a guy who looked like he was in a band.”

Birth of Mötley Crüe

In 1980, Vince Neil joined a band called Rock Candy as a vocalist and began touring the L.A. club scene with his new act. Meanwhile, Tommy Lee and bass guitarist Nikki Six began rehearsing together as Mötley Crüe on January 17, 1981, along with guitarist and vocalist Greg Leon. When Leon opted out, Lee and Sixx approached Vince Neil about joining the band, but Neil was reluctant to leave Rock Candy. A few months later, though, after watching his Rock Candy bandmates pursue their own side projects, Neil finally signed on with the Crüe.

Neil, Sixx, Lee and guitarist Mick Mars soon recorded 1981’s Too Fast for Love, launching Mötley Crüe’s rise toward stardom. In the same year, Neil married his first wife, Beth Lynn, with whom he later had a daughter, Elizabeth Ashley, in 1983. She was his second child; he had a son, Neil Jason Wharton, with a girlfriend in the late 1970s.

The band’s debut album was quickly followed in 1983 by the quadruple-platinum-selling Shout at the Devil. The Crüe’s music was equally heralded, and derided, for its open praise of sex, drugs, drinking and violence. With his long blond hair, shrieking falsetto, and outrageous costumes and makeup, Vince Neil epitomized the hair metal front man. “I had the longest hair in high school,” Neil says, jokingly claiming that it was his hair that made Tommy Lee and Nikki Six interested in his vocals, not to mention their shared love of women and Jack Daniel’s whiskey. 


After The Band

Throughout the late 1990s and into the 2000s, Vince Neil mostly operated as a solo act, but he also began to pursue business ventures outside of music, opening a bar, a strip club and a clothing store — all of which he eventually abandoned. In 2002, however, he finally hit on a highly successful business idea with a Las Vegas tattoo parlor called Vince Neil Ink, followed by a successful tequila line, Tres Rios, and a restaurant in West Palm Beach, Florida, called Dr. Feelgood’s Bar and Grill.

Explaining his business endeavors, Neil said, “You can’t just do Mötley Crüe your whole life. Well, I mean you can, but you have to have other interests, too, at least I do. The tattoo shops were just an extension of something that I love. I’ve been getting tattooed my whole life. … And then with the nightclubs, it’s the same thing, too. ‘Hey, let’s go out to a cool rock ‘n’ roll bar.’ … That all goes along with my tequila. I own a tequila company so … I think if you have all of the vices, you’re set. I have rock ‘n’ roll; I have gambling in Vegas (you can actually sit and play Blackjack at my tables while you’re waiting for a tattoo); I have the tattoos; I have liquor. You know, just stay with the vices. Now I just need pornography and cigarettes and I’m all set.”

Vince Neil has toned down his lifestyle substantially from his wild younger years. When asked about his past, he says confidently, “I don’t have any regrets. Anything that I’ve done wrong, I’ve learned from.” He has recently appeared on reality TV shows such as VH1’s The Surreal Life, released more solo albums, and penned an autobiography entitled Tattoos & Tequila. Still, heavy metal and rock music are at the heart and soul of everything he does: “We’re lucky, being musicians, to be able to put our feelings in song and let other people experience it along with us. We’re very, very fortunate.”

In 2014, Neil, Sixx, Lee and Mars reunited for what was dubbed “The Final Tour.” Set to run through the end of 2015, the tour showcased the aging but still-energetic hair rockers thrilling fans with “Girls, Girls, Girls,” “Home Sweet Home” and other hits. – Written by Biography.com Editors