Motley Crue Guitarist Mick Mars to Retire From Touring (EXCLUSIVE)

Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars. Tommy Lee, from left, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Mick Mars of Motley Crue pose following a news conference to announce The Stadium Tour 2020 featuring Motley Crue, Poison and Def Leppard, at the SiriusXM offices, in Los AngelesMotley Crew, Def Leppard and Poison Stadium Tour Press Conference, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Dec 2019
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP/Shutt

Motley Crue guitarist and founding member Mick Mars will no longer tour with the band, although he will continue as a member, a rep for the musician tells Variety.

The full statement 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.

There was no immediate official word on who will replace Mars (pictured above, far right) as the band’s touring guitarist, however rumors have been rife for weeks that former Marilyn Manson/ Rob Zombie guitarist John 5, who recently stopped touring with Zombie, will fill in for him.

The news comes days after the group announced another leg of their co-headlining tour with Def Leppard, which is slated to cover Latin America and Europe from February through July of 2023. The two groups recently wrapped a North American tour. The group announced in 2014 that it was embarking on a “farewell” tour and played what was billed as a final show on Dec. 31, 2015, but announced in 2019 that they would reunite for another tour the following year. However, that tour was postponed twice before finally taking place earlier this year.

Mars, 71 (real name: Robert Deal), has struggled with the disease since his late teens but soldiered through for many years, as noted by Ultimate Classic Rock. He spoke about his first experiences with it in the group’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.”

“Then, one afternoon while doing my laundry,” he continued, “I started having trouble breathing. At first, it felt like someone had plunged a knife into my back. But as the weeks passed, the pain kept moving around my back. Next, my stomach started burning, and I worried that my whole body was about to fall apart. I thought that there was a hole in my stomach, and acids were leaking out and destroying my bones and organs. 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.”

By the early 2000s, his condition had worsened and he lost a large amount of weight and became addicted to painkiller.  However, he later had successful hip surgery and was able to tour extensively with the group.

“I kept getting worse and worse, and I just stopped playing guitar for almost two years,” he told Metal Sludge in 2008. “Nowadays, it’s not so bad, but back then when I was high on all that stuff and Motley were having a break, I knew if I didn’t stop I was gonna die. In the end, I had to go to a neuro-psychiatrist to straighten me up and he said to me, ‘Just hold the guitar for an hour a day – don’t play it, just hold it.’ It was pretty bizarre but I got through it, and in the end I think I’m actually a better player because of it.”