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The Seven-Year Hitch

The TV/Rockstar couple split after seven years

It was a strange match even in the strange land of '80s entertainment. Ten years ago, on May 10, 1986, Tommy Lee, the whippet-thin, tattooed drummer for the heavy-metal band Motley Crue, and Heather Locklear, the fresh-scrubbed blond babe on Dynasty, were wed. They took their vows in a gazebo at the Marriott Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel in California, the groom bedecked in a white tailcoat and knee-high boots to match, the bride draped in an off-the-shoulder lace number and floor-length veil. After a 40-minute ceremony, the pair were off for a three-week honeymoon in the Cayman Islands.

The marriage confounded gossip hounds. What did the squeaky-clean Locklear, 24, see in the 23-year-old rocker, who resembled nothing so much as a spider with badly teased hair? Her answer, an allusion to the supposedly satanic content of Crue's songs: ''Tommy doesn't worship the devil; he worships me.''

All told, the unconventional union lasted seven years, during which Locklear graduated from playing Dynasty's sweet Sammy Jo Dean to portraying Melrose Place's scheming Amanda, Lee saw Motley Crue's platinum-selling days go up in smoke with the 1992 departure of singer Vince Neil, and the two managed to keep their private life mostly private. When the pair divorced in 1994, however, most reports cited as a prime cause Lee's ill-concealed on-the-road philandering. After the collapse of the marriage, Locklear said, ''I'm not devastated or destroyed. It's mostly just sad.''

If at first you don't succeed, though, try a variation on the theme: Lee and Locklear's subsequent spousal selections revealed that their first match was a near miss. In late 1994, Locklear wed comparatively tame Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora. A former intimate of Cher, Sambora comes across as a man with a detailed knowledge of every holding in his portfolio. The unapologetically gonzo Lee, on the other hand, married Baywatch beach bunny and Playboy perennial Pamela Anderson in 1995, after a courtship of nearly a week. Like Locklear, Lee is a blond with Barbie appeal — but hers seems turbocharged. Pamela Lee, as she now calls herself, is less reticent than Locklear; she happily regales the press with tales of swinging naked above Lee's piano to provide him with musical inspiration and playing heavy metal for their unborn first child, due any minute now, by placing headphones around her belly.

Of course, for prime-time-soap vet Locklear, this kind of Musical Spouses game is scarcely unfamiliar. The only question, as always in Hollywood, is whether this will be the last round. Stay tuned.


Time Capsule: May 10, 1986
Short Circuit electrified moviegoers; John le Carre intrigued readers with A Perfect Spy; TV viewers directed their gaze at North and South, Book II; and the Pet Shop Boys hit No. 1 with ''West End Girls.''

Originally posted May 17, 1996 Published in issue #327 May 17, 1996 Order article reprints
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