Matthew Trippe died in December 2014. You may not recall his name immediately – if you even recall it at all – but for a while in 1988, the story he had to tell was one of the strangest of a long, strange era. Trippe claimed that earlier in that crazy decade, he had replaced Nikki Sixx as the bass player in Mötley Crüe.
Not as a stand-in or a new member, but as a doppelgänger chosen for his physical resemblance to the ‘original’ Nikki, just after the latter had been injured in a car accident and at the exact point that Mötley Crüe began the meteoric rise that would end with them becoming one of the biggest rock bands in America.
It was a story that brought Trippe a brief, bright notoriety but one that came to shadow the rest of his life, which faded in a long, slow and sad decline. It began, he said, in 1982, when he left home in Erie, Pennsylvania and moved to Los Angeles, where he met guitarist Mick Mars, who brought him into Mötley Crüe because the other Nikki had been injured in a car accident. It was a wild year that would conclude with Matthew in jail for armed robbery, abandoned by the band and their manager Doc McGhee, and with the original Nikki Sixx back in place.