On October 27, 2022 co-founding guitarist Mick Mars announced his retirement from touring with Motley Crue after nearly 42 years with them. Mick’s health has been on a downward spiral for over a decade due to Ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a degenerative form of Arthritis and through the years it’s clearly caused Mars to lose most of his mobility both on and off stage and also caused his guitar playing to suffer.
Mick stated that while he would no longer tour with the band, but he would remain a member, could still record, do possible residencies and that he was still a part of Motley Crue despite no longer being able to tour with the band.
The following day Motley Crue released a statement saying that John 5 would be the bands new full time guitarist and the wording for their press release made it sound like Mick Mars was no longer a part of Motley Crue.
Legendary drummer Carmine Appice stated in an interview with Ultimate Guitar:
“Well, I'll tell you what. I've been talking to Mick, and he told me, 'When I was on 'The Stadium Tour', I was not happy.' Basically, everything was on tape; it was all planned out and ultimately a lot of crap. And Mick is a pretty good player, and so to now let him loose and play the way he wants, that was never going to work for him. The truth is that everything has been weird for a while with MÖTLEY CRÜE, and Mick didn't like that everything was on tape. Mick told me that people that came to see it could tell that it was all pre-recorded and that everything was on tape.”
"When you play in a stadium like that, you can hear a lot of things come to the monitors or what doesn't. And with Vince's [Neil] vocals, bass, drums, guitars, and all the other stuff, it was obvious that it was all on tape. And Mick was pissed off and said, 'I can play these things. I want to play them. I don't want to make believe I'm playing them.' So, I think that's one of the reasons why he said, 'I'm done.' Sure, the disease that he has doesn't help, and it doesn't make life easy on tour, but Mick can play all the licks, and he was allowed to.”
"Mick wasn't getting along with the rest of" MÖTLEY CRÜE, Carmine said: No, he wasn't. He had his own means of travel and would travel alone on a bus while the other guys flew everywhere. He said, 'Man, these guys are pissing their money away, flying to every gig.' They were all busy still trying to be rock stars, and Mick just wanted to play the music. Mick wasn't interested in wasting time and money flying everywhere, so he traveled by bus. Their lifestyles are different than his, and so there were a lot of disagreements. I think he was just done. They were supposed to have done their last tour, and then they came back. Then they did 'The Stadium Tour', and that was apparently supposed to be the last. So, when they came back again, he said, 'You can do it. I'm not going out with you for this.’"
Nikki Sixx responded to Carmine’s comments by calling him 'a washed up drummer’
On April 7, 2023 Mars publicly filed a lawsuit against Mötley Crüe. Mars stated his royalties had allegedly been cut to 7.5% as a result of his retirement. Mars claimed he was forced to retire as opposed to being fired by the band due to his medical ailments. Mars sued for unpaid royalties, claiming the band had cut his touring royalty agreement from 25% to 5% as a direct result of his retirement. Mars claimed that the band forced him to sell off his remaining share in the band, calling their behavior ‘bullying’. Mars claimed that the entire band performed to a track while on their 2022 Stadium Tour with Def Leppard and that Nikki was not playing live. Nikki Sixx refuted the Mars story by stating that Motley Crue were playing live and that the bands live broadcast for the NFL Draft which streamed FREE online was proof that the band were playing live. Proof that it was live was evident when Sixx hit wrong notes and Neil stumbled vocally through Crue classics like “Home Sweet Home” and “Wild Side”.
Now that the current situation has been laid out, please allow me to state the honest facts as I see them. I am a life long Motley Crue fan, their music is the soundtrack to my life, and as with most Crue fans I am passionate about the band and their brand. When Motley Crue performed their supposed last show on December 31, 2015 they should have remained over and done with.
During the bands 2014 - 2015 “Farewell Tour” they were showing signs of wear and were not as good as they were during the “Saints of Los Angeles” tour. Mick’s health has been a slow, painfully sad, deterioration which has caused him to lose his ability to move around onstage as robbed him of his dexterity to play. During the bands 2014 - 2015 “Farewell Tour” the Crue used backing guitar tracks for several songs and at that point fans did not call the band out for using tracks because it was not as obvious and only used for certain parts of the set. In all honesty Crue should have hired a second guitarist to help out the ailing Mars; instead the band chose to use tracks to hide the problem. The “Problem” was Mars health and it’s notable to see how the band kept things rolling through that “Farewell Tour” despite Mars limited ability to perform, Vince’s questionable vocals, and Sixx’s limited bass skills.
What many fans are unaware of is that Sixx started taking guitar lessons and actually learned from John 5 and Joe Bonamossa. There are online videos of Sixx playing guitar and this also helped Sixx to become a stronger bass player.
From the standpoint of Nikki Sixx, he kept Mick in the fold for as long as he could, despite the mistakes, flubs, and inability to perform at times. Motley retired in 2015 and that should have been the end, but when the band decided they were not ready to retire they had to decide how to handle Mars health situation. They brought him out on the road for an entire year of touring and his performance was a far cry from what he once was capable of. The band tried to cover the weak spots up by using tracks, backing fills, and even guitar tracks. I give Sixx credit for trying to make it work but at the end of the day Mars was no longer able to do the job and adding John 5 brought new life to what was a sinking ship.
Vince Neil is the last weak link in Motley and there have been various rumors that he may be replaced. I do not buy into those rumors at all because when Crue replaced Vince with John Corabi the band was a stronger unit but sales wise they tanked and management told them they had to get Vince back or it was all over. Vince may be going through the motions onstage, but without him there’s simply NO Motley Crue.
To look at it from Mick’s side of things, yes, the band were backhanded and how they handled things definitely felt wrong, but Mars didn’t know when to say when. Mars should no longer be on a stage performing; he should be at home relaxing, enjoying his remaining years, and be thankful for the years he spent touring the world with Motley Crue. All too often artists fail to know when they are no longer in good enough shape to be onstage and will continue to perform in a manner that does more damage to their legacy than good. Fans want to remember their idols for what they were, it’s sad when artists choose to stay too long at the party and leave fans with memories of bad performances.
Mick Mars was always the strongest musician in Motley Crue and will always hold that place in the bands history.
Do I personally think that John 5 is the right person to replace Mick Mars?
John is a superb musician and way better than every member of Motley Crue. What he does onstage with Motley Crue adds new energy and life to the band, but he also makes Vince, Nikki, and Tommy look old and at times John makes the Motley Crue live show feel like Rob Zombie. “Shout at the Devil” sounds like a left over Zombie track when John plays it with Crue.
At the end of the day it’s the fans who decide. Some will support the Crue without Mars so long as the band stays active while others will say No Mars, No Crue. It remains to be seen how long Motley Crue will continue to fill large stadiums without Mars in the band. In the end, the Motley Crue fans will always view Mick Mars as the only guitarist for Motley Crue and I’m sure John 5 would acknowledge that he’s filling in for Mars and will never be an actual “replacement” for the “silent shredder”.