Mötley Crüe’s Mick Mars retires from touring

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

Mötley Crüe co-founding member and electric guitar icon Mick Mars has officially retired from touring, as a result of his ongoing struggle with ankylosing spondylitis.

Though the guitarist will no longer be hitting the road with his Mötley Crüe bandmates Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, he will remain a part of the band.

A statement from Mars’s camp shared with Variety reads, “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.  

“Mick will continue as a member of the band, but can no longer handle the rigors of the road. A.S. is an extremely painful and crippling degenerative disease, which affects the spine.”

The news comes after Mötley Crüe announced a co-headlining tour with Def Leppard, dubbed The World tour, which will see both bands travel across UK, Europe and South America from February to July next year.

Mars has suffered with A.S. since his late teens, though has managed it to the extent whereby he has been able to fulfill his Motley Crue duties over the decades.

Rumors of Mars’s retirement have been circulating for a few weeks now, with many speculating that Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 – aka John William Lowery – has been drafted to replace him as Crüe’s live guitarist.

There’s been no official word regarding who will replace Mars on the road, though the evidence overwhelmingly suggests John 5 is the player Crüe have called upon to fill the spot.

John 5 was notably absent for a Rob Zombie gig at the Aftershock Festival in California, with the vocalist recruiting his former guitar player Mike Riggs for the show. No acknowledgement was made over John 5’s absence at the time, fueling speculation he may have left the band.

Further flames were stoked when John 5 posed for a picture alongside Crüe drummer Lee, with one commenter noting, “Word is that you're gonna [be] spending more time with Tommy.”

Around the same time, musician and podcast host Jason Green said it was a “fact” that “John 5 will be joining Motley Crue for their upcoming foreign tour” during an episode of his Waste Some Time with Jason Green show.

That, coupled with the fact John 5 has been incorporating Mötley Crüe covers into his solo setlist – footage of his Kickstart my Heart rendition can be found above – has left fans convinced he’ll be filling Mars’ boots.

It remains to be seen whether the confirmation of Mars’ touring retirement will be followed up with an official announcement of John 5’s appointment, but we’ll bring you more news as we have 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.