Nikki Sixx Biography

Nikki Sixx Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Nikki Sixx " (born "Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna, Jr." December 11, 1958 in San Jose, California) is an American bassist and the main songwriter for heavy metal band Mötley Crüe. He has also played bass for glam metal band London, as well as stints in experimental band 58 and the hard rock band Brides of Destruction. He is also currently in the band Sixx:A.M.


Early life

Sixx was born Frank Carlton Serafino Feranna Jr. on December 11, 1958 in San Jose, California. He was raised by his single mother, Deana Haight, and her abusive boyfriend, after his father and namesake, Frank Ferrana abandoned the family. When he was six, he and his mother moved to Mexico for a short time, after which they moved to Jerome, Idaho, with his grandparents. The family moved several more times, to El Paso, Texas, then to Anthony, New Mexico, back to El Paso, and then returned to Jerome.

While living in Idaho, Sixx became a teenage vandal, breaking into neighbors' homes, shoplifting and being expelled from school for selling drugs. His grandparents sent him to live with his mother, who had moved to Seattle. He lived there for a short time, and learned how to play the bass guitar after buying his first instrument with money made from selling a guitar he stole from a guitar shop.

At the age of 17, he moved to Los Angeles on his own; he got jobs at a liquor store and manufacturing plant and auditioned to play in a band called Sister with Blackie Lawless of W.A.S.P. before joining London, a local glam outfit whose major claim to fame to that point was that its singer, Nigel Benjamin, had sung with a late version of Mott the Hoople. Nikki soon left the band, convinced that his ideas for world domination would never come to fruition with Dane Rage and Lizzie Grey as his partners in crime. Soon after leaving London, Nikki formed Mötley Crüe with Tommy Lee and Mick Mars; soon after Vince Neil also joined the band.

Mötley Crüe

By 1981, Sixx had developed a plan to create the ultimate 'theatrical' band for the new decade. He found guitarist Mick Mars, drummer Tommy Lee, and singer Vince Neil to share in this vision. The band Mötley Crüe rose quickly in the musical environment of L.A.'s Sunset Strip, although at first no label would sign them due to their erratic stage performances. They decided to self-record their debut album "Too Fast for Love", which was subsequently released in November 1981 on the band's own Leathür Records label. After signing with Elektra Records they re-released "Too Fast for Love". The album was re-released on a deal cut by the band, to save the album from being dropped by the new CEO of Elektra. Part of the deal was that the album have a less dirty sound to it. "Too Fast for Love" was released successfully with Elektra after the deal. The band then went on to record and release "Shout at the Devil", raising the band to national fame.

Like his bandmates, Sixx took advantage of the excess that rock n' roll allowed, surpassing the level of abuse of his bandmates by binging on alcohol, cocaine, and most notably heroin. Sixx has often stated that he would use his body as a human chemistry set, mixing excessive amounts of drugs on a regular basis to search for a new 'high'. On the night of December 23, 1987, Sixx was declared dead after an overdose, only to be revived by paramedics with two adrenaline shots to the heart (this incident was the inspiration for the song 'Kickstart my Heart'). In an interview, Sixx states that after he was declared dead, the ambulance arrived, but one of the paramedics in the ambulance was a Motley Crüe fan. Apparently, the paramedic took one look at me and said, 'He's not gonna die.' On an earlier trip to London, Sixx overdosed at a dealer's house and, while he wasn't declared dead, he was put into a trash bin by the dealer, He was beat with a bat by this dealer to get the life beat back into him. Here is an excerpt from The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star.

'NIKKI: I had overdosed in London exactly a year earlier: Valentine's day 1986. We had played the Hammersmith Odeon, and the second we left the stage I caught a taxi with Andy McCoy from Hanoi Rocks. He took me to a heroin apartment in a real shabby neighborhood. I was drunk and I remember I was very impressed that the dealer had clean needles. When he offered to shoot up for me, I let him. Big mistake.

The problem with street drugs is you never really know exactly how potent they are from dealer to dealer, so I OD'd on the spot. My lips turned purple: I was gone. The story I heard was that the dealer grabbed his baseball bat and tried to beat the fucking life into me. He couldn't so he flung me over his shoulder to dump me in the trash, because nobody wants a dead rock star laying around.

Then I came to...and I guess I had yet another dark secret to never tell anybody.'

This incident was the inspiration behind the lyric 'Valentine's in London, found me in the trash' from the song 'Dancing on Glass.'

Soon after his overdose, he and his bandmates sought sobriety through rehab. It was then that the band would produce their most successful record, "Dr. Feelgood", in 1989 with producer Bob Rock. The album stayed on the charts for 109 weeks after its release. When Mötley Crüe reformed at the end of 2004, Sixx declared himself sober.

Being the central creative influence of the band for much of the 1980s, Nikki wrote most of the Crüe's material. This is particularly true for the earlier period of the band's career, as Tommy Lee and Mick Mars were still developing as songwriters. Nikki penned such classic tracks as 'Live Wire', 'Home Sweet Home', 'Girls, Girls, Girls', 'Kickstart My Heart' and 'Dr. Feelgood'. His songs are known for their distinct heavy and hard sound largely resulting from Nikki and Mick's instruments being tuned down and their fast (almost punk) tempo. The first album with John Corabi marked a move away from their classic 80s sound to a more alternative and experimental style reminiscent of Alice in Chains and alt rock movement of the early 90s. With a change in decade came a change in the songwriting duties for the band, with all four members contributing to the material on the albums. Many fans and music critics believe this to be the reason for the change in band's sound away from the style that had defined them through their career until then.

As of 2006, Mötley Crüe have finished a reunion tour featuring all four original members. They've stated that they will record demos for a 2007 album. An exact target release date has not yet been set. Mötley Crüe also embarked on a 2006 tour co-headlining with Aerosmith, called 'The Route of All Evil'.


Nikki Sixx usually plays Gibson Thunderbird Reverse Basses, and had his own signature bass, the Gibson Nikki Sixx Signature Blackbird produced (it was discontinued in 2003), which has recently been put back in production by Epiphone. His inspiration to use the Gibson Thunderbird came from Pete 'Overend' Watts of Mott the Hoople and John Entwistle of The Who. Early on, he was sponsored by B.C. Rich, and used Mockingbird & Warlock basses (this can be seen in the videos for 'Live Wire' and 'Looks That Kill'). When Gibson weren't making Thunderbird basses to his preferred specification, Hamer made Thunderbird style basses for him. Apparently the mid '70s Thunderbirds have the sound he was trying to emulate with the Hamer produced models. After that he used Spector Basses during "Girls, Girls, Girls" and "Dr. Feelgood".

During the 1990s, Nikki started using 12-string basses made in Japan by the Hiroshigi Kids Guitar Company; less than 30 were produced. Nikki owns at least five of them: a black one with red lettering and white binding, a black one with gold binding, a black one with white lettering and white binding, a red one that has 'Helter Skelter' on it, and a green one. The red and green ones have dragon inlays on the body. He has also used Ernie Ball Music Man 5-String basses, most notably while on tour with Brides of Destruction and the 2 newly recorded songs for the 1998 Mötley Crüe album, "Greatest Hits".

He also has used Fender Precision Basses; when smashing basses at the end of a set, they are usually black with white pickguards Squier Precision Basses. He previously used Ampeg amplifiers, but has switched to Basson amplifiers.

While recording "The Heroin Diaries" soundtrack, Nikki used a '59 Fender Precision which was amplified through a '64 Fender Bassman. The '59 Fender Precision is also his favorite bass for recording in the studio.

Personal life

Sixx was briefly engaged in 1987 to Denise Matthews, a.k.a. Vanity, lead singer of girl group Vanity 6, but the couple never married. From May 1989 to November 1996, Sixx was married to former Playboy Playmate Brandi Brandt; they had three children: Gunner Nicholas Sixx (b. January 25, 1991), Storm Brianne Sixx (b. April 14, 1994), and Dekker Nilsson Sixx (b. May 23, 1995). One month after the divorce from Brandt, Sixx married actress and another former Playboy Playmate Donna D'Errico. The couple separated on April 27, 2006 and divorced June 2007. D'Errico claimed irreconcilable differences. Sixx and D'Errico had one daughter, Frankie-Jean Mary Sixx (b. January 2, 2001) (D'Errico has a son, Rhyan, from her previous marriage).

Other work

Nikki Sixx also formed a band called Brides of Destruction with Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns. After one album, the band broke up due to extremely poor album sales and the inability to get any radio airplay. Sixx also co-wrote the song 'Rest In Pieces' along with singer/songwriter James Michael for Drowning Pool. He had planned to produce their second album but singer Dave Williams died and Sixx didn't know what to do with the song. He later gave it to Saliva after he met their singer Josey Scott. Sixx had a cameo in the 'Rest In Pieces' video.

In 2006, he was one of the songwriters for Meat Loaf's long-awaited album, "Bat out of Hell III: The Monster Is Loose".

He recently got together with Kelly Gray and formed Royal Underground Clothing. Its men's line was debuted in fall 2006 and can be found at Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom department stores. The upcoming women's line debuted in Spring 2007.

In 2006 Sixx helped co-write a number of songs from the American debut EP, "Heads Will Roll", for one of ex M2M band member, Marion Raven. Sixx also co-wrote and played on 4 songs on Raven's debut album, "Set Me Free" with DJ Ashba.

Since 2006, Sixx had been working on a book entitled The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, a collection of his journal entries from 1986 and 1987 (when his addiction to heroin was at its most dangerous). The book is written with British journalist Ian Gittins, it also presents the present-day viewpoints of his bandmates, friends, ex-lovers, caretakers, business associates and family as they respond to specific passages with rare candor.

Sixx also worked on a soundtrack to be released with the book. 'Life Is Beautiful', the first single from The Heroin Diaries, was originally available for download on his MySpace page ( (see page) ), and he also has a separate page ( (see page) ) made especially for the book.

The soundtrack was recorded by his new band, Sixx:A.M. The entire album was written and produced by Sixx, James Michael, and DJ Ashba (with other contributors such as Scott Stevens). Michael also sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. DJ Ashba played the lead guitars. The album was released on August 21, 2007, and the book was released on September 18, 2007.


When he was a child he beat up some bullies with a lunchbox full of rocks.

In the book "The Dirt", Mötley Crüe A&R Rep Tom Zutaut remembers freak occurrences at Sixx's apartment during the writing of "Shout at the Devil". Sixx, searching for inspiration, came across Satanic literature. His defacto girl friend of the time Lita Ford said to Zutaut 'Cabinet doors kept opening and shutting, there are weird noises, and things keep flying around the apartment for no reason'. Zutaut later continues 'When I returned two nights later, there were forks and knives sticking out of the walls and ceiling, and Nikki and Lita looked much paler and sicker than usual. Zutaut later confesses that during his disturbing visit, a fork flew straight into the ceiling.

Often has 'Fuck', 'Fucker', 'Fuck off' and 'Fuck You' written on some of his on-stage clothing.

Has the word 'SIXX' and the number '1958' tattooed on his knuckles.

An incident on the same tour as above involved Ozzy snorting a trail of ants through a straw like cocaine, he and Sixx urinating on a sidewalk and Ozzy's amusement in drinking both men's urine. (As reported in "The Dirt".)

He had his name legally changed from Frank Ferrana to Nikki Sixx

He named his onstage personality Sikki Nixx.

Nikki is the reason that Brides of Destruction turned down a tour to open for Kiss and Poison. His reasoning was that he didn't want the Brides to be involved with anything Poison was doing, since he believes Poison ripped off real glam metal turning it into pop music. Ironically, Vince Neil has toured with his solo band as an opener for Poison.

Before changing his name to Nikki Sixx, he was actually going to be called Nikki Nine but was told that it was too punk rock. The name Nikki Sixx actually comes from a man named Nikki Syxx who played in a band that one of Nikki's friends was in. According to Sixx the last time he saw the man, he was a born-again Christian on TV, lashing Sixx as 'the devil' during the 'Girls' tour in his hotel room. The man also claimed Sixx stole his name, and used it for the devil.

His favorite album is "Sheer Heart Attack" by Queen, his favorite song is 'Dream On' by Aerosmith, and his favorite film is "Time Bandits" ("LA Times' West Magazine", 24th September 2006)

Nikki's nickname is Sixxdawg.

In its continuing effort to shed its stodgy image, the New York Stock Exchange invited Mötley Crüe to ring the closing bell on Wednesday March 2, 2005. Nikki Sixx wanted a souvenir; as they left the podium, he picked up the gavel and slipped it into his pocket.

Nikki played bass on the song 'Into The Black' from Butch Walker's solo debut album, "Left of Self-Centered".

Was a co-writer on Lita Ford's song Falling In and Out of Love, the song was written after the two broke up, the song can be found on Lita's self titled album.

He once referred to Jack Daniels as 'mothers milk'.

Sixx co-wrote the Marion Raven song 'Heads Will Roll.'

Some believe that the song Tattooed Millionaire by Bruce Dickinson is about him and that Bruce wrote that in response to Sixx having sex with Bruce's wife.

His book 'The Heroin Diaries' debut at #7 on the New York Times Best Seller list.

External links

(Nikki Sixx Official Site)

(SIXX:A.M. Official Site)

(Heroin Diaries Official Site)

(Motley Crue Videos)

( Review of TheHeroin Diaries)

(Audio clips from an Oct.2007 interview about 'The Heroin Diaries,' recovery, growing up in Seattle, Sixx A.M. and other creative outlets)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Nikki Sixx.