Monday, June 14, 2010 | 4:48 p.m.
Before he became the frontman of Motley Crue and sold more than 80 million albums worldwide, Vince Neil was just another California surfing fanatic. After he joined the rockers, he didn’t jump on another surfboard until eight years ago while touring in Australia.
“I thought it would be as easy as riding a bike,” he said, “But it nearly killed me. I was just about dead! The giant waves knocked me right off. I was battered, beaten and bruised unconscious. I was drowning under for the last time. There was no more. I washed up on the shore and thought it was all over and I’d gone.”
It’s just one of the stories Vince lived to tell, and there will be many more no-hold’s-barred tell-alls in his new book Tattoos & Tequila being released this fall. It’s also the title of his new solo album, his third but first in 15 years, dropping June 22.
Vince played host at the opening Saturday of his Tres Rios Cantina in the Las Vegas Hilton. I’d been asked to moderate a Q&A with Vince and stand in for Mayor Oscar Goodman to read an official proclamation for “Tattoos and Tequila Day.” Reisha Roopchand, general manager of Tres Rios Beverage Group, who is Vince’s partner in his three Tres Rios tequilas; Ben Greenberg, senior editor of Grand Central Publishing, which releases Vince’s book Sept. 23; and Ken Ciancimino, executive VP of the Hilton, also were part of the panel.
“I’m glad we’re here at the Hilton with the cantina,” Vince told me. “I always feel at home here. The Hilton was where rock and roll started in Vegas with Elvis, so we’re bringing back rock to the place it began. We’re creating a whole new cool rock ’n’ roll hangout at the Hilton. Not only are we continuing the tradition, but also we’re getting it back to better than it was.
“We all took time off from Motley Crue for our own thing, and this year was about my new CD, the new book and now Tres Rios Cantina. I’ve brought in some cool memorabilia off my own walls at home. My life has been tattoos and tequila. I once drank a bottle of tequila straight through while I was having a seven-hour tattoo session on my upper leg. This was the year all about tattoos and tequila for me.”
There are two original songs on the album, the title track and “Another Bad Day.” The other 10 are covers, including nods to Elvis Presley with “Viva Las Vegas,” Sex Pistols, Scorpions, Aerosmith, Creedence Clearwater , ZZ Top, Elton John and The Hollies.
“The response has been great,” Vince said. “I really just set out to make a good-times song with Tattoos & Tequila that encompasses the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. There’s no better way to do that than talk about two things near and dear to me: tattoos and tequila. I wanted to celebrate this great classic ‘Viva Las Vegas’ song because Vegas is my adopted hometown, but as Frank Sinatra would say, ‘do it my way.’ ”
Vince talked about his partnership with Tres Rios. “When the news came out, Sammy Hagar called me,” Vince said. “I thought he’d be so pissed with me, but he was totally supportive and offered his congratulations. He said every time they’ll order tequila from me, people will talk about him!”
Reisha talked about the tequilas Anejo, Reposado and Silver and that Vince’s picks had won awards here at the recent beverage convention. Vince and Ben talked about the book: “It’s raw. It’s hard. It doesn’t pull any punches. It’s the best rock star memoir I’ve ever read. It’ll shock. It’ll surprise, but it’ll also fulfill every fantasy that anybody has ever thought about rock stars’ partying times. It’s been a life journey with a lot of markers. There were a lot of downs, but he came through it and is now enjoying the ups.”
Vince’s wife Lia, Flavor Flav and Zowie Bowie’s Chris Phillips also attended the party. Vince performs at the Cruzan Campfire Concert Series to kick off Independence Day weekend at Palms Pool on July 1. He’ll play a mix of music from Tattoos & Tequila and Motley Crue hits.
Thanks to contributing photographers Victor the SnakeMannn, Valerie Nerres and Mark Bowers for their photos for our Vegas DeLuxe gallery.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.