Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars, who cofounded the band in 1981, has decided to retire from touring while his band continues its world tour. For years, Mars, who is 71, has pressed forward despite a diagnosis of the debilitating disease ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that affects the spine. Guitarist John 5, who plays in Rob Zombie’s band and previously played with Marilyn Manson and David Lee Roth, will replace him.
“While change is never easy, we accept Mick’s decision to retire from the band due to the challenges with his health,” Mars’ former bandmates — Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, and Tommy Lee — said in a joint statement. “We have watched Mick manage his ankylosing spondylitis for decades, and he has always managed it with utmost courage and grace. To say ‘enough is enough’ is the ultimate act of courage. Mick’s sound helped define Mötley Crüe from the minute he plugged in his guitar at our very first rehearsal together. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ll continue to honor his musical legacy.
“We will carry out Mick’s wish and continue to tour the world as planned in 2023,” they continued. “No doubt it will take an absolutely outstanding musician to fill Mick’s shoes, so we are grateful that our good friend, John 5, has agreed to come on board and join us moving forward. We’ll see all you Crüeheads out on the road!”
John 5 said, “I’m honored to carry on Mick’s legacy and am looking forward to playing these songs.”
A rep for Mars commented on his exit in a statement to Variety. “Mick Mars, co-founder and lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe for the past 41 years, has announced today that due to his ongoing painful struggle with ankylosing spondylitis (A.S.), he will no longer be able to tour with the band,” the rep said. “Mick will continue as a member of the band but can no longer handle the rigors of the road.”
In 2014, when Crüe were beginning what they said would be their final tour, Mars commented that the disease caused him trouble on the road. “Some days are worse than others as far as pain,” he told Rolling Stone. “But I don’t take any painkillers. That’s a big no-no. I went that route about 15 years ago, and I never want to go there again, thank you very much.”
The guitarist’s most recent Instagram post was teasing the kickoff of a new leg of Crüe’s ongoing Stadium Tour with Def Leppard. The band will begin a new leg of international dates in February.