Neil was discovered while performing with his band Rock Candy in 1980, and joined Mötley Crüe in 1981. Neil had been friends with Tommy Lee in high school. Mötley Crüe was looking for a lead vocalist at the time and were impressed by Neil after hearing him through Lee. Mötley Crüe released its first album, Too Fast for Love, the same year. In 1983, Mötley Crüe released Shout at the Devil, which established the band as a big act in rock and roll.
In 1985, Neil regrouped with Mötley Crüe to record Theatre of Pain. In 1987, the band recorded the album Girls, Girls, Girls. In 1989, the band released their highest-selling album, Dr. Feelgood.