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What Happened The Night Mötley Crüe’s Lead Singer Killed His Friend

Vince Neil, Mötley Crüe’s lead singer, got in a horrible drunk driving crash one night with friend Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley.

By Gina Tron
Vince Neil

Mötley Crüe is one of the most iconic metal bands of all time, but the band's path toward fame wasn't always an easy one — there was some extremely dark moments during their rock days, including when the lead singer accidentally killed someone. This shocking and sad aspect of Mötley Crüe's story is chronicled in “The Dirt,” the biographical drama film about them which began streaming earlier this year on Netflix.

Vince Neil, Mötley Crüe’s lead vocalist, has been arrested and convicted of multiple crimes, but none as tragic as his manslaughter conviction for killing his friend Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley, drummer of the Finnish band Hanoi Rocks, in a drunk driving accident in 1984. Neil’s blood alcohol level was 0.17, well above the limit.

Two years after the crash, Neil was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service, and to pay $2.6 million in restitution to the victims of the crash. He only served 15 days of his 30 day sentence.

True Story Behind The Crash

In Neil’s 2010 book, “Tattoos & Tequila: To Hell and Back with One of Rock's Most Notorious Frontmen,” he described the incident.

On December 8, Neil was having a party with some friends in the apartment, a party he wrote lasted for days. During the third day, despite the “seemingly never-dwindling pile of coke,” they ran out of alcohol. So, around dusk, Dingley and Neil decided to go for a booze run to the liquor store, located just four blocks away.

“I could have walked there, but I’d been partying for three straight days, you know — walking there was out of the question, too much reality to deal with, if you know what I mean,” Neil wrote.

He had just bought a new car, a bright red vintage ‘72 Ford De Tomaso Pantera, which he was excited to drive. He claimed he didn’t see a problem with his state of mind.

“We’d drive the four blocks to the store, get some supplies, be back home in a flash,” he wrote. “I’d been driving drunk for about as long as I’d been driving. It had never been a problem before. The coke kind of evened things out.”

So, he and Dingley got into the car and they made it to the liquor store safely where they bought hundreds of dollars’ worth of alcohol before heading back to Neil’s house. Because the car didn’t have a backseat, Razzle was holding all the alcohol in his lap.

“We were driving along, chatting about this and that, two long-haired guys out on a booze run, me in my customary Hawaiian shirt and shorts, Razzle in his high-tops, leather jeans, and frilly shirt," he wrote.

It was dark out by then, Neil explained in his book, and as he rounded a curve leading to a hill, he downshifted. He said a wet fog leaves the streets “slick during most evenings,” which led to his tires breaking their grip on the wet pavement, as he claimed in his book.

“According to a police report, I swerved to avoid a parked fire truck. My blood level would later test at nearly twice the legal limit," Neil wrote.

Neil said his car lost its grip on the asphalt and he began sliding sideways while another car began drifting into the oncoming lane.

“The next thing I knew a pair of headlights appeared at the crest of the hill and was bearing down on us — a white Volkswagen driven by an eighteen-year-old girl. “

That car struck the passenger side of Neil’s car, where Dingley was sitting with all the booze. The impact of the crash threw him into Neil’s lap.

“I was holding him,” he wrote. “There were broken booze bottles everywhere. Later I’d hear the cop saying something about how bad we reeked. Well, of course we reeked — Razzle had been holding a party’s worth of liquor in his lap.”

He described himself as woozy and the scene as like a movie, but also soundless, “like there were technical difficulties.”

The Aftermath

Dingley died of severe head injuries at a hospital later that evening.

He said police would later tell him he was doing 65 miles per hour. The speed limit there was 25. 

"I didn't know how I could face anyone," the singer wrote in his 2001 book “Dirt Confessions of the World`s Most Notorious Rock Band."

Dingley wasn’t the only victim. The occupants of the other car, Lisa Hogan and Daniel Smithers, were seriously injured and suffered brain damage.

"These people were injured for the rest of the rest of their lives,”  Neil wrote in “Tattoos & Tequila.” “Like, when I saw them, you could tell they were very f--ked up. That was probably more emotional than going to jail. Not probably; definitely."

 Mötley Crüe dedicated their third studio album to Dingley.

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