MATTHEW TRIPPE & MÖTLEY CRÜE
Kerrang! feature on Matthew Trippe
Part 3: Double Fantasy
by Ed Turner
See Part 1 and Part 2 of the Matthew Trippe story
Jerry Oglesby's arrival signaled the point at which Trippe's claims would begin to draw serious consideration, especially from the media. No longer dismissed as the delusional, chemically-enhanced ravings of a lunatic - a man-child who found himself stranded in a shadow land between reality and fantasy. Substantial, forensic evidence, uncovered by Oglesby, seemed to suggest that Matthew Trippe just might be telling the truth after all. That much of the evidence was photographic, in itself, was explosive.
Oglesby next went to work crunching everything into a case file; investigative notes, supporting documents, photos, exhibits... all corroborating Trippe's allegations against Doc McGhee and Mõtley Crüe.
Soon after, in February of 1988, Trippe's file landed on the desk of Kerrang!, a British weekly devoted to heavy metal and hard rock, just the kind of readership jonesing for a scandal. Kerrang! ran with it, publishing a flashy, 5-page expose - "Trippe or Cheat?" - the following month.
While 'Crue fans had been gossiping about Matt Trippe for years, hooking up in chat rooms to compare notes and swap stories, Kerrang! was the first mainstream publication to explore how this whole thing went down. And the head-bangers ate it up. Sure, the backstory - Trippe's pivotal encounter with Mick Mars at The Troubadour, the conspiracy unspooling from there - was something Kerrang! readers could quote chapter and verse. When it came to that, no big deal. They knew as much. But the photographs? That's what put everyone on high alert.
In a sidebar, accompanying the article: a gallery of publicity photos featuring Trippe as Nikki Sixx and Mõtley Crüe performing on stage. All verifiably authentic. The problem was, there were no two pictures of Nikki Sixx that looked the same. And that was the smoking gun. In one shot, Sixx and lead singer Vince Neil stand shoulder to shoulder, striking one of their crowd-pleasing rock star poses. In another, Sixx towers over his bandmate.
Right away, something was off.
Like most glam metal bands stalking their turf in the '80's, the members of Mõtley Crüe had ditched passe sequined jackets for the bare-chested look. Photos of a shirtless Nikki Sixx reveal the bassist had a protruding navel. You'd be convinced of that until you came across the other picture... You know, the one where it's noticeably flat...
There was more though. The pictures of Nikki Sixx from the gallery all share one striking identifying trait: eye color. And this is where things get even more whack because Trippe's eyes were green and Frank Ferrana (the original Nikki Sixx) had blue eyes. Which is okay, except for one thing. If Trippe was standing in for Ferrana, shouldn't Sixx' eyes be uniformly blue in the photos? But they weren't. They were uniformly green, meaning Frank Ferrano was the one wearing the contacts, not Trippe. But shouldn't it be the other way around?
Predictably, the Kerrang! piece raised more questions than it answered, bringing Matthew Trippe almost overnight celebrity.
Leveraging the sudden notoriety, Trippe hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit against Doc McGhee (identified in the civil action as " McGhee Enterprises, Inc., Defendant"). Claiming he wrote songs for Mõtley Crüe he was never paid for, Trippe filed suit in Florida, citing civil theft and other relief for unpaid royalties.
Soon, media interest in the story was white hot. MTV ran a special. Media outlets were directed to contact Trippe's attorney, Tom Smith, for interview requests and comments.
And it was into this chaotic whirlwind that 18- year-old Roger Hemond would enter Trippe's life.
When he moved from Michigan to Tampa, Florida in 1988, Hemond was a frustrated rock musician looking for a break in the business - much like Matthew Trippe before him. At the time, Tampa was the epicenter of Florida's heavy metal community. With the locals getting behind glam bands like Crimson Glory and Roxx Gang, the scene was beginning to mirror L.A'.s Sunset Strip, relocated to the Panhandle.
For Roger Hemond, this was the place to be. Hemond moved into The Abbey, an apartment building on Busch Boulevard. One day, not long after, he overheard a neighbor talking about Mõtley Crüe's Nikki Sixx, and was surprised to learn that Sixx had once lived at The Abbey. But Hemond was skeptical. Given that the building was in such shabby disrepair, he dismissed the story as nothing more than a fanciful rumor. Or maybe it was wish fulfillment.
Then he met a tenant named Richard Benjamin, who told him he'd known Nikki Sixx from The Abbey, and offered to show Hemond where Sixx was living now, in Tampa.
Benjamin said Nikki Sixx's real name was Matthew Trippe.
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