Tragic Details About Tommy Lee

The following article includes mentions of domestic abuse and alcohol use.

Heavy metal rock stars often lead wild lives, but "wild" may just be an understatement to describe the story of Tommy Lee. The Mötley Crüe drummer has had high highs and even lower lows, notoriously known for dating a few of Hollywood's most iconic sex symbols. But life has been anything but a happily ever ending for the rocker. 

Lee has made his fair share of awful moves, including the time he and Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx incited a racially motivated riot, per MTV News, and when he allegedly sexually assaulted a fan. (The latter incident was recounted by Sixx in the band's autobiography, "The Dirt," but he later recanted the story in a statement to Rolling Stone.) Then there was the time Lee attacked a Jewish photographer with his swastika tattoo visibly present, as reported by AP. Somehow, all of this is often overshadowed by one thing and one thing only: his leaked sex tape with then-wife Pamela Anderson. The stolen tape was the start of a tumultuous relationship with Anderson, which would get worse before it got better once their two sons were born. Lee is not the victim in most of his controversies, but alcohol abuse has often led the star to ruin. Let's take a look at the tragic details of Tommy Lee's life. 

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His sex tape with ex-wife Pamela Anderson was stolen

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson's whirlwind marriage is synonymous with their infamous sex tape. However, the story of how the tape was viewed by millions on the internet is actually unfortunate. In 1995, Lee and Anderson were renovating their home and had construction workers in and out of their house, per Rolling Stone. One day, Lee reportedly yelled at one of the contractors and fired the crew, despite still owing them several thousand dollars.

Seeking revenge, a contractor, who was formerly in the porn industry, dressed up as the couple's shaggy dog to get past security cameras, broke into the couple's garage, and stole a safe. The couple was mortified when they saw the news. "We knew the tape was in the safe, but we never thought that thieves were after anything but guns and money," Lee wrote in his memoir, "Tommyland."

Despite the couple's individual successes, they could never shake the stigma of the tape. It became relevant to a new generation in 2022 with the release of Hulu's "Pam & Tommy." Lee told ET that he was "stoked" about the series based on the true story of the origins of the tape, but he added, "The story's actually cool, what actually happened wasn't." As for his ex, sources told ET that the release was "very painful" for Anderson.

He couldn't adjust to being a family man

Although Tommy Lee was madly in love with Pamela Anderson during their marriage, he struggled to handle her divided attention when their sons Brandon and Dylan were born. In "The Dirt," he wrote that he felt "non-existent" and became a "whiny, needy little brat." His jealousy came to a boil in 1998 when he allegedly kicked Anderson over a dispute about her parents visiting, per the Los Angeles Times. Anderson reportedly had her baby boy in her arms at the time and was concerned about both children's safety after the attack. Her resulting injuries were described as some bruising and "a torn fingernail" in court.  

In "The Dirt," Lee wrote that he "couldn't understand why Pamela had followed through with pressing charges" for spousal abuse and lamented that she likely viewed him as a "crazy, violent monster." The rock star pled no contest and was sentenced to six months in jail for the incident. He was also ordered to attend anger management classes, complete "200 hours of community service," and donate over $6,000 to a women's shelter, per the Los Angeles Times. Anderson filed for divorce after the incident. 

Lee served four months in jail and was released early. While a judge once praised him for being on his best behavior during a post-release check-in, he didn't behave well for long and was sent back to jail for five days for violating his probation by drinking alcohol, per Rolling Stone.

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If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Tommy Lee has been married four times

Tommy Lee's marriage to Pamela Anderson wasn't his first — or his second — legal union. As of 2022, the rock star has been married four times. In 1984, he married model Elaine Starchuk, but they separated after just one week, per The U.S. Sun. Lee then married actor Heather Locklear in 1986. Her squeaky-clean image and Mötley Crüe's rumored satanic ways were an odd pairing to some, but that didn't phase Locklear. "Tommy doesn't worship the devil, he worships me," she famously told People. However, Lee reportedly couldn't stay away from other women during their marriage, per Entertainment Weekly. Locklear filed for divorce seven years later.

Then came Anderson. The "Baywatch" star wore a white bikini, and the drummer was clad in swim trunks for their 1995 Mexican beach nuptials just four days after they met, per People. Their three-year marriage ended in 1998.

But the rocker didn't give up on love. Social media star Brittany Furlan became Lee's significantly younger wife on Valentine's Day 2019. In an Instagram post, Furlan said the couple had planned on keeping their wedding photos private, but they decided to share a few snaps after receiving thousands of DMs.

A 4-year-old boy drowned in his pool

In 2001, Tommy Lee was a newly single dad hosting his son Brandon's 5th birthday party when tragedy struck once again. A 4-year-old boy named Daniel had attended the party with a male babysitter. In his memoir "Tommyland," Lee said that the sitter came up to him and told him he was leaving to go to a rock concert, but he informed Lee that another adult at the party had agreed to watch the child. Moments later, Lee recalled other adults pulling Daniel from the pool, where he had been "floating face down," per ABC News. Lee said he learned that the woman who was supposed to be watching Daniel was walking her dog at the time of the incident.

The rockstar said he called 911 while others tried CPR. Daniel later died at the hospital. His family filed a $10 million lawsuit against Lee for negligence, but a jury found him not responsible for the child's death. "As a parent, you know, I'll always feel responsible," Lee told ABC News in 2006. "I wish I could have done something or I wish I would have seen it. I wish I could have done anything."

Tommy Lee's son knocked him out cold with a punch

Tommy Lee's issues with alcohol became public on Father's Day 2018 when his son Brandon, 21 at the time, allegedly punched his father in response to comments Lee made on social media about Brandon's mom, Pamela Anderson, as reported by TMZ. Brandon posted a video to Instagram of Lee lying on the floor unconscious, per ET Canada.

Anderson wrote about the incident on her website in an essay titled "Alcoholism is the Devil," explaining that Brandon acted in self-defense and had been staying with his father to help him with his drinking. "I will never talk to Tommy again before he is sober and in his right mind," she wrote. "Jealous of his son's talent and beauty from the day they were born. He is sick." Lee told TMZ that he was not "this deviant alcoholic abuser" and wanted to file charges against his son, but he never did, ET reported.

In 2020, Lee told Yahoo! Entertainment that he began drinking two gallons of vodka a day during the coronavirus pandemic and went to rehab for the issue after his wife, Brittany Furlan, expressed her concerns. At the time of this writing, he has now been sober for over a year. "I don't know if it's a forever thing, but for now, I'm not drinking vodka today," he said.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).