Matthew Trippe & MÖTLEY CRÜE
Part 5: A Move to Florida For Some Jail Time & Press
by Ed Turner
See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 of the Matthew Trippe story
Had he kept his cool and pulled himself together while he still had the chance, then who knows? Things might have worked out differently. But Sixx Pakk's flaming descent cratered Trippe's travel brochure-vision of Florida as the Land of Opportunity. Scattered among the wreckage was his relationship with his former band mates, now in pieces. With dark eyes roaming the Sulphurous, smoldering landscape, Trippe dropped out of sight.
When he surfaced again in early 1990, he was 75 miles North of Tampa. Hernando, FL, pop. 100,000. For Trippe - a refugee fleeing the ashes of a war-torn country - it was a sanctuary city.
He immediately got himself arrested.
Charged with violation of probation (two counts), making obscene or harassing phone calls, and driving with a suspended license, Trippe was held in neighboring Hillsborough county, where he'd remain until his roommate, a man named Marty Thompson, bonded him out of jail.
In an odd twist, Thompson secured Trippe's release before a date could be set for his arraignment hearing.
The arresting officer though would have already entered the charges against Trippe in a blotter (more commonly referred to as a charge - or rap - sheet), a handwritten record of any arrests, convictions or other daily activity in a precinct.
Working the crime desk the day Trippe was arrested, a reporter from the local paper, Citrus County Chronicle (a daily serving Crystal River, Hernando and Inverness, FL) noticed something unusual while reading the Police blotter. Hastily scribbled along the margin of the page, next to the date and time of Trippe's arrest, was a note: when he was brought in, Trippe told authorities he was, "Nikki SIxx of Mötley Crüe."
On March 30th, 1990, Matthew Trippe was back in the news.
Headlined, “former rock band member to stay in Citrus," the Chronicle ran a story identifying Trippe as a "former member of the hard rock band Mötley Crüe [who] is in Citrus County and says he intends to stay until several court cases in which he's involved are cleared up."
The article continued: "Trippe, who said he played with the band from 1983-'85, currently has a lawsuit pending against the group claiming he replaced Frank Serrafino (sic) during that two years period but never established his own identity. “
"'In the five years since I played with the band',“ Trippe was quoted as saying, “'I've written about 152 songs, soft rock songs. Maybe when this is all cleared up, I'll try to sell a few of them'.“
The Chronicle would also interview Marty Thompson.
"Thompson says he has been a friend of Trippe's for a long time. 'We hung around together in Tampa where we were both raised,' Thompson said, sitting in his living room with the walls covered with Mötley Crüe posters."
Reading the story in the Chronicle that day, Linda Seidel, manager of Faye's Ice Cream and Doughnut Shop in downtown Hernando, recognized Trippe and Thompson's apartment block. She passed it driving to work each day.
The following morning, Seidel was standing in the front lobby of the building, facing a bank of mailboxes recessed into a wall. Stenciled on card stock in block letters, slotted in one of the nameplates: MARTY THOMPSON. Thinking she might be able to help in some way, Seidel left a note - taped to the bronze facing of the mailbox - with her address and phone number.
More than anything, Linda Seidel had wanted to help others. And to those who knew her, she always had; taking over management of Faye's when the restaurant's owner and namesake suffered a potentially life-threatening brain injury, and needed someone to look after the cafe while she navigated the long and difficult recovery period common to such cases.
In a certain sense though, the reason - well, one of the reasons - she had reached out to Matthew Trippe was far more personal. Her 15-year-old daughter, Maria, was a Mötley Crüe fan, and Seidel hoped to surprise her with a visit from Nikki Sixx.
Two weeks later, Matthew Trippe would call.
Already facing criminal charges in Hernando, Trippe couldn't risk a second arrest for driving with a suspended license. So he asked Seidel to drive him to Tampa for a meeting with private investigator Jerry Oglesby, and Maria - the first of many times she would do so - tagged along.
Soon, Trippe was working at Faye's as a short-order cook. Increasingly popular with customers, responsible and hardworking, he seemed, at last, to be finding his way.
But there was a dark side as well. And it seemed to come without warning.
"Matt had his personal demons, like many of us, “ Maria Ashmore (formerly, Seidel) offers today, speaking from her home in Hernando, where she still lives. Now 44 and married , Ashmore remembers, with vivid recall, "the night Matt was threatening to kill himself. One of my best friends and I spent all night on the phone with him, trying to ensure his safety...“ She trails off for a minute, perhaps longer. Then haltingly, her voice cracking with emotion, she adds: “We spent much time together. Most of it was great."
Even when meeting with Oglesby in Tampa, monitoring the progress of his lawsuit against Doc McGhee Enterprises (Crüe management), Trippe otherwise had little to say- other than his comments to the Chronicle- about Mötley Crüe. Only in one regard did he mention the subject to Ashmore, and when he did, it had nothing to do with civil actions, unpaid songwriting royalties or Nikki SIxx impersonations.
"Mick Mars was the only one (of Mötley Crüe) he had a good word for ; he seemed to respect Mick more than the rest of the band. He felt Mick would've had his back, if it came down to it, “Ashmore reasons. “Almost like Mick was too good for the rest of them."
Perhaps Matthew Trippe wanted to free himself from the weight of his past. But could he?
Remember the story in the Chronicle? The answer was there, if you looked for it. And it was the only one that made any kind of sense- too much sense maybe. Which, after all, is the problem everyone faces at one time or another. In this case, it just happened to be Matthew Trippe. Or was it Nikki Sixx? The truth is funny that way, isn't it? Both a lock and a key.
On March 30th, 1990, a reporter from Citrus County Chronicle wrote an article about a former member of a rock band who was now living in the coastal town of Hernando, FL. He was writing about Matthew Trippe, of course, but who was he?
Even Trippe didn't know, and never would...
"Trippe... said he played with the band from 1983 - '85... claiming he replaced Frank Serrafino during that two years period but never established his own identity."
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