If there’s one person who perfectly encapsulates the party-animal rockstar persona, it’s Tommy Lee. With headline-claiming escapades that have ranged from hilarious to downright disturbing, Lee is a pop-culture icon that refuses to fade into obscurity.
1. He Wasn’t Born In America
Tommy Lee was born far from the place in which he would first find fame. The soon-to-be drummer was in fact born in Athens. His father was an American Army Sergeant, and his mother was native to Greece. When he was only two years old, his family made a decision that changed the course of his life forever.
Lee and his family moved to sunny California. But no one could have guessed just how successful the young boy would become...or how turbulent that success would be.
2. He Was A Rebel
Lee’s future career beckoned him from a very young age. Rebellious from the beginning, he dropped out of high school in order to chase a career in music. His first band, Suite 19, catapulted Lee into the LA club scene, and they often played the same venues as other soon-to-be greats like Van Halen.
The exposure Lee received during this time was crucial to the formation of a new—and much more successful—crew.
3. He Formed A Crüe
Suite 19 had its own following, but it wouldn’t be the band that cemented Lee's fame. In 1981, he and his friend Nikki Sixx had a transformative idea.
They decided to start a new heavy metal music group together, calling themselves Mötley Crüe. It wasn’t long before guitarist Mick Mars and vocalist Vince Neil joined. With a full lineup of musicians, the group embarked on a new journey, heading straight for glory and trouble.
4. He Started With A Bang
Lee and his bandmates didn’t have to wait long for Mötley Crüe to take off. They released their debut album under their own label in 1981. However, just one year later, Elektra Records took them on and re-released the album to a much larger audience.
Sure, Mötley Crüe was prolific in the studio—but the energy paled in comparison to Tommy Lee's wild antics on stage.
5. He Was A Showman
Mötley Crüe's live performances were shocking spectacles. Lee in particular often partook in crowd-wowing shenanigans like setting up his drum set inside a large spinning cage. But that wasn't all.
He also often mooned the crowd at their shows. But this particular performance got him into some serious trouble.
6. His Antics Caught Up With Him
In 1990, some show-goers took offense to Lee’s crude antics. Authorities charged the drummer with indecent exposure after he mooned a crowd of about 6,000 during one of their shows in Georgia. Authorities were kind enough to let Mötley Crüe’s mooning menace finish the last thirty minutes of the set before taking him in.
But this was actually one of his most tame on-stage offenses.
7. He Tried To Start A Riot
It wasn’t all fun and games at the group’s live shows. Disturbingly, Tommy Lee tried to spark a riot at one of their shows in 1997. He and Sixx incited members of the show to assault a security guard.
Lee didn’t immediately face any repercussions for his actions, but he turned himself in a couple of years later. Guilty conscience perhaps? This wasn’t the only time Lee took issue with his on-site security.
8. He Tackled A Security Guard
Working security for Mötley’s shows must have been stressful enough without having to worry about the band itself turning against you. Authorities charged Lee and Sixx for hurting a security guard who tried to stop the musicians from bringing audience members onto the stage.
They sentenced Lee to 30 days behind bars for the offense. But the origin of Lee’s "energy" didn’t all stem from a natural place.
9. He Had His Vices
While Lee possessed a certain vibrancy that contributed to his rowdy performances, his stamina had a dark side. Mötley Crüe famously partook in a wide variety of illicit substances. Pretty much everything under the sun was fair game: such is the life of the party-animal rockstar.
With the amount of touring the group did, Lee and his bandmates had to get pretty creative to bring their personal stash along for the ride.
10. He Was A Smuggler
Lee and his bandmates weren’t about to let something like customs put a stop to their good times. Whether on their tour bus or the band’s private jet, the group had methods of sneaking their party fuel through security. Lee has since made it clear that the illicit substances never went inside his body (for smuggling purposes).
They instead made use of emergency exits on the buses and loose flaps in the jet. Talk about bold!
11. He’s Been Married Four Times
Lee is currently married to internet personality and actress Brittany Furlan, but she certainly isn’t the star’s first love. The musician has gotten married four separate times in his life, the majority of which were to other high-profile celebrities such as himself.
Among these women, however, there was one in particular that matched (and perhaps even surpassed) Lee’s own level of stardom.
12. He Partied Hard
Tommy Lee first met Pamela Anderson at a New Year’s Eve party in 1994. A model and Baywatch actress, Anderson possessed a similar level of fame. The two stars instantly hit it off, and partied hard into the night before Anderson gave Lee her number.
After the festivities, Lee wanted to see Anderson again—and his affection could easily be construed as an obsession.
13. He Fell In Love
While partying at a club, Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson's initial spark turned into a raging fire. In her documentary Pamela, A Love Story, Anderson described the night as "a big happy blur"—and Lee definitely felt the same.
As the hours passed, his feelings intensified to such a degree that he decided to ask her to marry him.
14. He Didn't Waste Any Time
Without hesitation, Anderson accepted Lee's hasty proposal. What's more? They rushed straight to the altar. Just four days after meeting up in Mexico, the couple stood on the beach—she in her bikini and he in his shorts—and said "I do".
It certainly seemed like the beginning of a promising love story, but this was a celebrity couple destined for heartbreak.
15. He’s No Stranger To Romance
Tommy Lee may be a bit of a wild character, but he can also be quite romantic. In the early days of his marriage to Anderson, he surprised her by reciting words of love while atop a horse, adorned in shining armor like a regular prince charming.
The deep and heartfelt love between Lee and Anderson was palpable, but an intimate aspect of their relationship was about to go public against their wishes.
16. Someone Snatched His Safe
While Lee and Anderson’s house was under heavy construction, they first made an upsetting discovery. They found that their safe—the contents of which included their most cherished and personal possessions—was missing.
However, it would take a couple of years for Tommy Lee to realize the extent of the damage wrought.
17. He Received Some Upsetting Mail
1997 marked the beginning of a horrible ordeal, particularly affecting Lee’s wife Anderson. The couple received a tape in the mail, the contents of which involved the couple partaking in…intimate activities.
To make things even creepier, it was clearly a splice of the spiciest moments from their home movies—tapes that disappeared along with the safe two years ago. Not long after, someone approached Lee and his wife with a shocking proposition.
18. He Got Penthouse’s Attention
Lee received a troubling offer regarding the stolen tape. Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse had somehow gotten his hands on a copy of the tape and offered Lee and his wife five million dollars in cash for the rights, which they refused.
The distressed couple hoped that was the end of it—but sadly, their nightmare was just beginning.
19. His Video Was No Longer Private
Lee had refused the deal, but this decision did little to dissuade the video’s circulation. Someone leaked the tape onto the web, and it became one of the first truly viral videos on this new-fangled thing they called the "internet".
The primary offender was an adult website with the surprisingly tame name of Internet Entertainment Group (IEG). Understandably, Lee and Anderson wanted justice for this affront to their privacy.
20. They Sued The Website That Hosted It
Initially, Lee and Anderson weren’t about to let IEG get away with profiting from the wrongfully distributed tape.
They resolved to sue the website for profiting from their video without their consent. But the psychological strain that resulted from the legal battle began to weigh heavily on Lee and his family—and it forced them to make a drastic decision.
21. They Never Saw Justice
Lee and Anderson eventually dropped the lawsuit, as the mental toll was becoming too much for her to bear, and she worried for the safety of her unborn child. Not long after they dropped the case, IEG began hosting the tape once again.
Lee and his wife would never see any compensation for the circulation of the tape. Interviewed on his company’s practices, IEG’s president stated, "I don’t feel like we’ve done anything negative". Yikes.
Unfortunately, for Lee, the infamous tape wasn't the only thing getting him in trouble.
22. He Had A Particularly Controversial Tattoo
While Lee has a number of tattoos, there was only one that caused him any trouble. The press discovered that Lee had a tattoo of a swastika on his shoulder. The ink sparked a heated discussion from the public as to its meaning, specifically as to whether its intended meaning was that of the symbol’s original concept (that of the holy symbol) or a less savory meaning. You know the one.
But with his day in court fast approaching, the situation somehow got worse.
23. His Lawyer Didn’t Want To Talk About It
The prospect of such a controversial tattoo may not seem to correlate with the assault charges—and it didn’t. But as it turned out, the photographer happened to be Jewish. You can probably see why Lee’s lawyer wasn’t too keen to discuss their client’s tattoo, as it would prove rather inflammatory given the context.
Even if the two things weren’t really related, it didn’t paint Lee in the most sympathetic light.
24. He Paid His Dues
In 1998, Lee’s day in court had finally come. The drummer ended up pleading no contest to the charge of battery, and was sentenced to two years of probation as well as anger management counseling. Lee also had to pay over $17,000 in restitution to the victim.
As for the tattoo that inflamed the situation, Lee has since had it removed to evade any further confusion.
25. He Lost It
On one occasion, Pamela Anderson had to kiss her co-star David Chokachi. Tommy Lee's reaction was utterly disturbing. According to Anderson, "He trashed my trailer on the set, put his fist through a cabinet. I apologized for not telling him—lying, as he put it—and told him it wouldn't happen again".
Shockingly, Lee's possessive behavior even persisted behind closed doors.
26. He Was Jealous Of His Children
Lee’s jealousy over his wife’s attention affected Anderson’s home life as much as it did her workplace. After their second son Dylan was born, Lee quickly became distraught by the fact that he had essentially become the third most important person in his wife’s life.
This new family dynamic started to become too much for Lee to really process, and in 1998, things took an extremely ugly turn.
27. His Wife Wouldn’t Stand For It
In 1998, things between Lee and Anderson reached a violent boiling point. After Lee struck out at Anderson during a brutal argument, Anderson was worried about the safety of her children, and called the authorities. They arrived at their house and apprehended Lee, charging him with domestic battery. Lee certainly regretted his actions—but the fallout destroyed his family and created a heartbreaking rift between himself and the love of his life.
28. He Faced The Consequences
Lee's mistreatment of Anderson landed him in prison for six months. Anderson was happy about the outcome and said it was "the first step towards healing". But in reality, there was only pain.
Desperate, Lee sent his wife countless letters in an attempt to win her back, but Anderson's response was heart-wrenching.
29. He Couldn't Win Her Back
No amount of apologies could make Anderson take Lee back. She wrote in her diaries how badly this broke her heart: "I’ve never loved someone so deeply. And by deeply, I mean, I loved his soul. I feel like part of me has died". A messy divorce ensued, accompanied by an even messier custody battle.
30. They Both Fought For Custody
Lee and Anderson came to agree that things weren’t going to work out, but this merely brought to light a new and pressing question—who was going to take the kids?
Anderson desired full custody, firmly believing that Lee’s visits with his children should be monitored. The battle resulted in the parents receiving joint custody over their children. However, this would not be the last moment of drama between Lee and his now ex-wife.
31. He Made A Scene At The MTV Awards
What would an award show be without an uncomfortable act of aggression from a celebrity attendant? While the MTV awards don’t share the lofty heights of the Oscars, it did set the stage for an unforgettable tussle.
At the 2007 MTV awards, Lee had an altercation with Anderson’s new husband Kid Rock—and security forced him out of the event. And while Tommy Lee may have gotten the boot, Kid Rock would be the one to get nailed with the charges.
32. He Left The Crew, Sort Of
Lee’s time with Mötley Crüe has had its fair share of tumult. The other members of the band allegedly sued Lee’s manager for forcing the drummer to take on television roles that hampered his ability to continue his duties to the band.
Despite officially leaving the group, Lee still recorded a new studio album with the other members. The separation (if you can even call it that) was not to last.
33. He Returned For A Final Farewell
Lee’s rocky membership in Mötley Crüe perfectly captures the concept of "will they or won’t they?"
In 2014, Lee accompanied the other members of Mötley Crüe on their farewell tour. But it was probably wrong to call it a real farewell, as Mötley Crüe has toured dozens of times since 2014. Clearly, Lee seems to be pretty bad at saying goodbye.
While he seems inseparable from Mötley Crüe, Lee has made a point of forging his musical identity outside the band.
34. He’s Not A One-Trick Pony
Tommy Lee’s impressive discography doesn’t end with Mötley Crüe. In fact, the star has released several solo studio albums, completely separate from Mötley Crüe. He even started a rap metal group called Methods Of Mayhem. Clearly, prolific is an understatement for this musician’s career, and it doesn’t stop there.
35. He Has Another Name
It seems that Lee has a talent for anything that combines musicality with high-energy thrills, and DJing is no exception. Touring with his friend DJ Aero under the name Electro Mayhem, the two musicians have graced many a club and stage with their electronic dance music.
Beyond music, Lee has also expressed other passions.
36. He’s An Activist
Lee’s main passion may be music, but he also cares deeply about wildlife advocacy. As both a supporter and member of the animal rights organization PETA, Lee has done his fair share in the world of animal rights, including writing a letter to the President of SeaWorld regarding the park’s treatment of Tilikum the orca.
Bizarrely enough, this wasn't the end of the story.
37. He Really Didn’t Like SeaWorld
Lee’s next reason for correspondence with SeaWorld would be for more personal reasons. On another occasion, Lee wrote to SeaWorld, imploring them to stop using Mötley Crüe’s songs during their Shamu Rock shows.
He wrote that "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". Fair enough Tommy Lee, fair enough.
38. He Has An OnlyFans
The enterprising musician has recently discovered another trending means of consistent income. You can find Tommy Lee strutting his stuff on the popular website OnlyFans and bask in whatever he’s posting for $19.99 a month. We did our research, but we weren’t about to open that door.
There seems to be no end to the star’s creativity in terms of revenue streams. And when it comes to success, it appears to be hereditary in Lee’s family.
39. His Progeny Are Successful
It may come as no surprise that considering their parents, Dylan and Brandon Lee have garnered their own respective followings as celebrities. Dylan has seen success as a model on the runway, and Brandon has entered the acting world, nailing a handful of roles.
While Lee’s sons are accomplished professionals, his relationship with his children hasn’t always been one of unconditional love.
40. His Son Punched Him In The Face
None of us are strangers to a family feud here and there, but Lee’s altercation with his son Brandon seemed to reach new heights. Fingers were pointed on both sides, and Lee ended up in the hospital with a busted-up lip.
Add a string of malicious tweets from both father and son, and you’ve got a whole lot of hurt feelings. With the degree of animosity displayed, there was no telling if they would make up.
41. He Healed Old Wounds
Lee and Brandon seem to have made amends, as they could be seen exercising together on social media during quarantine in 2020 with rock music blaring in the background. The result is a surprisingly heartwarming clip. Lee seems to have established a somewhat positive relationship with his sons, but can the same be said with his ex-wife Anderson?
42. He Left An Impression
Despite the annulment of their marriage over two decades ago, Lee and Anderson have maintained an ongoing and complicated connection. In 2015, Anderson went so far as to state that Lee is the love of her life.
If nothing else, the two celebrities clearly care for each other and acknowledge the impact they’ve had on each other’s lives.
43. He Broke Four Ribs
For Lee, the show must always go on, even when it may not be a good idea. A couple of weeks before a highly anticipated 2022 tour with other members of Mötley Crüe, Lee fell down some stairs and broke four of his ribs.
The star refused advice from his doctor and instead went on to drum for the tour, splitting drumming duties with Tommy Clufetos. If that isn’t dedication, we don’t know what is.
44. They Made A Show About It
Somehow, the world still hadn’t had enough of Lee and Anderson’s leaked tape scandal. Aptly titled Pam and Tommy, the recent 2022 miniseries portrayed the two superstars during one of the most distressing points of their lives.
Anderson was understandably distraught by the show, as she had to live through the ordeal all over again. Lee’s response, however, was much less predictable.
45. He Really Didn’t Care
You would think that a television show parodying one of the most difficult and trying periods of your life would be upsetting to you. It definitely threw Pamela Anderson for a loop—but Lee wasn’t nearly as bothered by the new show as his ex-wife, saying that he was "stoked" about it. It seemed that Lee had well and truly moved on from the matter.
46. He’s Still Got It
With a career in music spanning five decades, it’s amazing that Lee still hasn’t lost the elusive "touch". The 60-year-old heavy metal rockstar is touring with the rest of the Crüe, with no plans of stopping their live performances any time soon.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the genre, or Lee as a person, his tenure and consistency on the stage are impressive. Rock on now and forever, Tommy Lee.
47. He Hunted Her Down
Remember back when Tommy Lee first met Pamela Anderson? Well, after sparks flew that night, Lee embarked on a ruthless romantic pursuit. When she finally picked up the phone, she revealed that she would be doing some work in Cancun, Mexico. Lee knew exactly what he had to do.
He simply told her, "I'll be there. I'll find you". When he kept his word, Anderson caved. After all, one night out couldn't hurt...could it?
48. He Got Physical With A Paparazzo
Of course, when it came to the cloud of drama that seemed to hang around Tommy Lee, his scandalous tape was only the tip of the iceberg. In 1996, there was an explosive exchange between Lee and the relentless paparazzi.
Lee and Anderson were leaving a club when a wave of particularly assertive paparazzi met them outside. Things culminated with Lee throwing one of the photographers to the ground. Doesn’t that just make you wince? Lee was in trouble, but weirdly enough, one of his tattoos had the potential to make things even worse.
49. He Stalked His Wife
By the time 1998 rolled around, Lee and and Anderson's marriage was in deep trouble. You see, Tommy Lee had a history of being an extremely jealous partner with a hot temper—and this was a recipe for disaster.
With his attractive wife working Baywatch, he started to become extremely controlling. Whenever he set foot on set, the star would prove to be nothing but trouble.
50. He Couldn’t Handle It
Tommy Lee's overwhelming jealousy reached a chilling climax—and he revealed a darker side that was as of yet unfamiliar to his wife. The couple argued, and Lee eventually kicked Anderson while she was holding their infant son Dylan. Lee allegedly left his wife with bruises and a broken fingernail.
Terrified of her husband and fearing for the safety of her young children, Anderson had to call for help. That was the beginning of the end of their marriage, though the two have remained close over the years.