Tommy Lee was born in Athens, Greece, and began playing drums when he was four years old. Growing up, he listened to Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Van Halen, with his main drummer influences being Tommy Aldridge, Terry Bozzio, and Alex Van Halen. He eventually left high school to pursue music in Los Angeles. He began drumming in Suite 19, which was a regular act among the Sunset Strip clubs. During his time performing in LA, Lee met Nikki Sixx (bassist) when they decided to form a new group. They were joined by Mick Mars (guitar) and Vince Neil (vocalist), and called themselves Motley Crue.
In 1981, Motley Crue independently released their debut album, Too Fast for Love. Shortly after its release, they were signed to Elektra Records, where they released some of their biggest hits, “Shout at the Devil,” “Theatre of Pain,” and “Girls, Girls, Girls.” Motley Crue became the hallmark rock band, known for their outlandish performances and boisterous behavior.
Meanwhile, Lee was married to model Pamela Anderson from 1995-98. A Hulu series titled Pam & Tommy, which chronicles the theft and distribution of Lee and Anderson's stolen sex tape, aired in 2022.
In 1999, Lee left the band to pursue a solo career, and the band officially went on hiatus in 2002. They reunited in 2004, when they released Red, White & Crue, which went quadruple-platinum. Shortly after, they went on a tour in support of the record.
Following his time with Motley Crue, Lee formed a new band, Methods of Mayhem. The band released their self-titled record and embarked on a tour. After parting ways with Methods of Mayhem, Lee released his solo album, Never a Dull Moment. In between music projects, the drummer starred in Tommy Lee Goes to College, a reality TV show in which he also served as producer. In 2005, he released his second solo record, Tommyland: The Ride. He continued to drum for other projects, including Jack’s Mannequin.
In November 2007, Lee rejoined Motley Crue in the recording studio for their album, Saints of Los Angeles, and toured with the band in 2008. In recent years, Lee has toured as a music DJ performing over 60 club dates throughout North America. In 2014, he performed on Smashing Pumpkins’ Monuments to an Elegy, and later that year, he joined Motley Crue for their farewell tour.
On December 31st, 2015, Motley Crue performed what appeared to be their last show ever after wrapping up a farewell tour. But in 2019, after the success of the Netflix biopic The Dirt, the band announced its plans to reunite for a new co-headlining stadium tour with Def Leppard. Following two postponements due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the tour finally kicked off in June 2022, with Lee powering through broken ribs he sustained right before the outing’s launch.