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Dodge sponsorship charges Motley Crue farewell tour

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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One is saying goodbye. The other is saying hello to a new a new direction.

But between them, Motley Crue and Dodge have struck up a strong partnership for the North American portions of the group's farewell tour this year that's based on being kindred maverick spirits.

"It couldn't be more perfect," Crue's Nikki Sixx says about the Dodge sponsorship aboard his tour bus, just before the group -- which has sold more than 80 million albums during its 33-year career -- plays a rare small venue show at "Fast N' Loud" host Richard Rawlings' Gas Monkey Live concert club as part of a daylong Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey event."

"Basically those brothers (Horace and John Dodge), like us, said, 'We have an idea and we know it doesn't go in the same way as everybody else -- and we don't care.' And people associate that with outlaw behavior and rebellious behavior, but in the end what happens a lot of times when you go against the grain is you create something exciting and new, which is exactly what we're about, so it is a perfect match."

Dodge President and CEO Tim Kuniskis, a Crue fan himself since childhood, concurs with Sixx, though the collaboration between "the world's most notorious rock band" -- as Motley Crue declared itself in its 2001 band biography -- and a 100-year-old automaker might seem surprising at first. But Kuniskis says the Crue "fits the brand perfectly," especially as Dodge moves from an family-friendly vehicles such as the Avenger sedan and Caravan minivan to becoming a "mainstream performance brand" with the Viper and Hellcat SRT models.

"Brands succeed when people get who you are and what you're about and you're true to who you are, which is what Motley Crue is," Kuniskis explains. "So I think the two fit together perfectly."

The Crue and Dodge actually began working together in 2013, when the company licensed the group's 1999 hit "Kickstart My Heart" on an as-needed basis for ad campaigns. Kuniskis said that when it came time to renew late last year, the band's management told Dodge about the then-upcoming farewell tour and asked if it would be interested in sponsoring the trek. The company and the Crue also aligned on a new video for the song -- though Kuniskis says Dodge through "there's no way they'd ever let us do that. But they said, 'Yeah, that's awesome...' "

The video has been shown at shows during the farewell tour, which kicked off July 2 in Grand Rapids, while Dodge vehicles have been displayed at some of the concert stops as well. The Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey event, in addition tot he Crue show, featured about 1,000 Dodge cars exhibited by owners from 38 states and Canada -- as far away as Manitoba -- as well as Charger simulators and "thrill rides" with professional drivers in Vipers and Hellcats.

"We didn't even have to think twice about it," says Sixx (real name Frank Feranna, Jr.), 55. "We were even shocked when it came to us. I mean, how many bands fit so perfectly with Dodge?' It's been win-win all the way around."

Kuniskis said the tour sponsorship goes through the end of the North American tour on Nov. 22 in Spokane, Wash., though extending it to 2015 hasn't been discussed yet. The Crue will pick things up again during February in Japan and, according to Sixx, will be touring globally, including Australia, Europe and other territories before returning "for just a few select dates in America" towards the end of the year, finishing with a Dec. 31 show in Los Angeles at a site yet to be determined.

"We have a lot of great things in front of us," Sixx said, including the film adaptation of "The Dirt" that's being directed by "Jackass' " Jeff Tremaine and a likely live DVD and documentary from the tour. But he adds that nothing so far has altered the band's resolve to call it a day at the end of next year.

"If anything (the tour) has solidified it," says Sixx, who recently released "Modern Vintage," the third album by his other band, Sixx:A.M., which will be touring in April. "Let's just get to the core of it; do you want us to renege on our word? We don't want to. I don't need to name the bands that have, and it's OK if they want to do that and their fans accept it. But we don't want to do that.

"We know we want to end at a peak, and I know at the last show I'll be able to look at my band members and say, 'Wow, dudes, everything we said we were going to do at that very first band rehearsal, we did it.' That'll be a very proud moment."

Motley Crue, Alice Cooper and the Raskins

8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8.

Joe Louis Arena, 19 Steve Yzerman Drive, Detroit.

Tickets are $20-$75.

Call 313-471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Note: Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx returns with his band Sixx:A.M. on April 21 to the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Tickets are $34 in advance. CAll 248-399-2980 or visit www.royaloakmusictheatre.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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