Vincent Neil Wharton was born in Hollywood, California. During the 1960s, his family moved around Southern California before finally settling in Glendora. In addition to music, Neil also surfed and played basketball, baseball, football, and wrestled.
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 while performing with his band Rock Candy in 1980 and through the recommendation of Lee. He joined Mötley Crüe in 1981.
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 top rock act.
In 1985, Mötley Crüe recorded Theatre of Pain, and in 1987, the band recorded the album Girls, Girls, Girls. In 1989, the band released their highest-selling album, Dr. Feelgood.
In 1990, Neil had a small part in the film The Adventures of Ford Fairlane playing the character of Bobby Black, lead vocalist of the fictional rock band that consisted of Carlos Cavazo, Randy Castillo, and Phil Soussan.
In February 1992, Vince was fired from Mötley Crüe. Neil sued Motley Crue for 25% of their future profits and $5 million in damages for being fired.
In 1993, Neil released is first solo album Exposed. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard charts. In September 1995, Neil released Carved in Stone, an industrial-oriented album produced by the Dust Brothers. The album was recorded and was put on hold while Neil was dealing with the illness of his daughter Skylar. It sold less than 100,000 copies in the US, and Neil's contract with Warner Bros. Records eventually came to an end. The album was re-released in 2004.
By 1997, both Neil's solo career and Mötley Crüe's fortunes were declining and he accepted their invitation to rejoin the band. They released the album Generation Swine which debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts. It wasn't long before tension erupted again, this time prompting Tommy Lee to leave the band. They replaced him with Randy Castillo, who later on recorded New Tattoo with the band in 2000, but things came to a halt when Castillo died from cancer in 2002.
In 2002, Neil was one of the cast members on the first season of The Surreal Life. In 2004, Neil appeared on the special Remaking Vince Neil, which showed him trying to recharge his solo career. He also recorded the single "Promise Me."
Vince Neil has toured with his solo band, which consisted of Slaughter members Jeff Blando and Dana Strum, as well as drummer Zoltan Chaney. Neil released a live album tiled Live at the Whisky: One Night Only in 2003.
In 2005, after Neil and Tommy Lee put aside their differences, they toured together to support the compilation album Red, White and Crüe. The tour, "Carnival of Sins," featured acrobats, and fire breathers as part of the overall circus atmosphere the band created.