Mick Mars opens up on Mötley Crüe legal battle: “They’re trying to take my legacy away. I’m not going to let them”

Mick Mars on stage
(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Live Nation)

Since it was announced that Mick Mars would be retiring from touring last year as a result of his ongoing struggle with Ankylosing Spondylitis (A.S.) – and that he would be replaced in Mötley Crüe by John 5 – relations between the electric guitar player and the band have soured.

In April, Mars sued the band alleging they conspired to fire him, and accused bassist Nikki Sixx of miming on stage. In response, the band asserted “retiring from touring is resigning from the band”, while Sixx denied all allegations of miming and claimed Mars was “being misled by representatives”.

Now, during an in-depth interview with Rolling Stone, Mars has gone on the offensive, saying that his former bandmates are “trying to take my legacy away”.

The core of the issue stems from Mars’ claims that the band had attempted to “gaslight” and fire him, and had cut him out of future profits from all of their corporate entities. 

“When they wanted to get high and fuck everything up, I covered for them,” Mars told Rolling Stone. “Now they’re trying to take my legacy away, my part of Mötley Crüe, my ownership of the name, the brand.”

“How can you fire Mr. Heinz from Heinz ketchup?” Mars adds. “He owns it. Frank Sinatra’s or Jimi Hendrix’s legacy goes on forever, and their heirs continue to profit from it. They’re trying to take that away from me. I’m not going to let them.”

(from left) Mötley Crüe's Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee take a bow at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on June 22, 2022

(Image credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images/Live Nation)

Throughout the conversation, Mars also reflected on his Crüe career, and recalled how he felt as though the band were squeezing him out of decision-making while recording their 1997 effort, Generation Swine – an album he sees as his one Mötley Crüe regret.

Specifically, Mars said he felt “useless” while the band recorded the album, alleging he'd “do a part, they’d erase it, and somebody else would come in and play”.

“I don’t think there’s one note that I played. They didn’t want my guitar to sound like a guitar, basically,” he stated. “They wanted it to sound like a synthesizer. I felt so useless.”

According to Mars, it was a similar case for the recording of New Tattoo, with the guitarist claiming he “wasn't invited” back to the studio and only “got one lick on that album”.

Sixx disputed this, countering, “Mick played lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and any other guitar that’s on that record.”

For the 2022 tour – during which Mars alleged Sixx mimed his parts – the guitarist also said he had been “sabotaged musically so they’d have an excuse to get rid of me”, and that his on-stage struggles were exploited in an effort “to make me look bad”.

“The feed of guitar into my in-ear monitor was horrible,” he said. “It would break up, and nobody else’s seemed to break up but mine. And then they’d switch to prerecorded crap from rehearsals, when I was just relearning the songs.”

Again, Sixx countered the claim, labeling it “insanity”. In his response, the bassist said tapes were only used to cover for Mars who “couldn’t play guitar properly” during rehearsals.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mars briefly discussed his long-awaited debut solo album, Another Side of Mars, which is described by Rolling Stone as “darker and more aggressive than anything in the Crüe catalog”.

Understandably, though, he has no plans to take it on tour: “I’m done touring,” he says. “If somebody really, really wants a one-off, or a couple of nights, I would probably do it. But all that travel stuff and planes… I’m way over it.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.