Mick Mars, the lead guitarist and founding member of Mötley Crüe, has retired from touring with the band.
However, Mars, whose real name is Robert Deal, will continue as a member of the heavy metal group, a rep for the 71-year-old musician told 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,” read the statement, provided by the rep. “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.”
Mars’ replacement for the tour is John 5, the former guitarist for Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, who recently concluded touring with Zombie.
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Following news of Mars’ retirement, Mötley Crüe’s lead singer, Vince, drummer, Tommy, and bassist, Nikki, released an official joint statement.
“While change is never easy, we accept Mick’s decision to retire from the band due to the challenges with his health. We have watched Mick manage his Ankylosing Spondylitis for decades and he has always managed it with utmost courage and grace,” the band said.
“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 honour his musical legacy.” the statement continued.
“We will carry out Mick’s wish and continue to tour the world as planned in 2023. No doubt will it 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!,” the band concluded.
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John 5 shared his own statement, saying that he’s “honoured to carry on Mick’s legacy” and is “looking forward to playing these songs.”
The news comes just days after the group announced that they’re taking their recently-wrapped North American tour worldwide with Def Leppard, their co-headliners. The new tour leg will cover Latin America and Europe between February and July of 2023.
Mars, whose struggled with the disease since his late teens, previously spoke out about his first experiences with A.S. in the band’s 2001 biography “The Dirt”.
“My hips started hurting so bad every time I turned my body that it felt like someone was igniting fireworks in my bones. I didn’t have enough money to see a doctor, so I just kept hoping that I could do what I usually do: will it away, through the power of my mind. But it kept getting worse,” he said at the time.
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“I’d grab hold of doorknobs, anchor my legs into the ground, and pull with my hands to stretch my back and ease the pressure out,” the musician added on how he’d cope with the pain.
His condition worsened by the early 2000s and eventually he underwent a successful hip surgery, allowing him to tour extensively with his bandmates.
Mars has yet to comment publicly on his retirement.