NEW YORK – It's difficult to remember what first made Tommy Lee famous. But before his current child custody brawl with ex-wife Pamela Anderson, before the 4-year-old boy drowned in his pool last June, before that sex video, Lee was a musician.
In the thick of defending himself along ever-expanding legal battle lines, the former Motley Crue drummer releases a new album tomorrow, the appropriately titled Never a Dull Moment, hoping to remind us of that.
Unlike his former cohorts in bands like Poison, Warrant and Skid Row, Lee is the sole escapee from the black hole of late '80s glam metal. "I pride myself on staying current and moving forward constantly," Lee, 39, told The Post last week.
Never a Dull Moment — recorded at Lee's Malibu home and again featuring the bad-boy rocker on vocals — revamps the old David Bowie/John Lennon tune "Fame," in a nod to his current travails.
The album has already spawned a rock radio hit with the dynamic "Hold Me Down," yet every interview Lee does seems to veer back to his extra-musical headlines.
The biggest is Anderson's recent bombshell that her ex-husband gave her hepatitis C through a shared tattoo needle.
The two are headed for a July 1 courtroom showdown over visitation rights to their sons, Brandon, 5, and Dylan, 4.
Lee insists he does not have the potentially fatal liver disease, and told Howard Stern's radio audience last week that Anderson — now engaged to rapper Kid Rock — "must be on crack" to have made her allegation.
"I don't know why in the world anybody would ever make anything of that nature public anyway," he told The Post. "She claims that I am the one who made it public, but I've never said a word to anybody."
Besides, Lee added, he knows of no tattoo artist willing to let clients share needles. "That's [expletive] crazy," he said.
On another legal front is the $160 million negligence lawsuit brought by the parents of drowning victim Daniel Veres.
He calls the tragedy "the most unfortunate thing I've ever seen in my life," but adds that "I can't even believe that somebody is assuming that I'm responsible for that."
Lee's support group during these tumultuous times is headed by his new girlfriend, Mayte Garcia, who is Prince's ex-wife.
The two have been canoodling for 10 months, since meeting backstage at MTV's Janet Jackson "Icon" taping.
Lee said he'd "like to say" he'd consider marriage again. So far, he's committed just enough to tattoo Garcia's lip print across his neck.
"She's got these big, giant, fluffy, Puerto Rican lips," he said. "They're gorgeous."
Garcia also decorates the new album, singing on the chorus of a song called "Ashamed."
He won't mistake he made with Pamela Lee, whom he married in a beach ceremony in 1995 — after meeting her five days before.
"You always want to believe in love at first sight, but I don't know if that's necessarily true," he said.
"As you can see, I'm taking my time this time."
It's a credo he's also applying to his solo career — it's taken him 20 years to get to this point.
"I'm definitely a different person these days," he said. "Of course, with age you get wiser and you sort of make some more responsible choices. I'm definitely a bit different than I was 10 years ago."