Mick Mars launches explosive lawsuit against Motley Crue

A picture of Mick Mars
(Image credit: Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Mick Mars' estrangement from Motley Crue has taken an ugly turn after the guitarist launched a lawsuit claiming – among other things – that bassist Nikki Sixx was "gaslighting" him.

In legal papers filed today (April 6) at Los Angeles Superior Court, Mars makes a number of explosive claims, including that Sixx, singer Vince Neil and drummer Tommy Lee all used pre-recorded backing tracks during their recent run of shows with Mars.

The 71-year-old guitarist stepped back from touring duties last year due to his ongoing battle with Ankylosing Spondylitis. The announcement at the time said Mars would continue to be a member of the band.

He was later replaced in the live line-up by John 5, who has been touring with Crue ever since.

As reported by Deadline, the lawsuit reads, in part: "Although Mars had indicated that the 12 U.S. stadium dates would be his last shows while touring, the 12 anticipated shows ultimately expanded to 36 shows, and Mars performed at every single one of them, in constant pain.

"Sixx’s gaslighting came to a crescendo during the stadium tour, when he, knowing that this was Mars’s last tour as a result of his increasingly painful and debilitating AS, and apparently already plotting to force him out of the band and take his shares, repeatedly told Mars that he was playing the wrong chords, and that fans were complaining about his playing.

"Astonishingly, Sixx made these claims about Mars’s playing while he (Sixx) did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour. Ironically, 100% of Sixx’s bass parts were nothing but recordings. Sixx was seen fist pumping in the air with his strumming hand, while the bass part was playing.

"In fact, a significant portion of Neil’s vocals were also pre-recorded. Even some of Lee’s drum parts were recordings. Some fans actually noticed that Lee was walking toward his drum set as they heard his drum part begin."

The legal papers add that any mistakes made by Mars on that tour were down to "malfunctioning" in-ear monitors.

The lawsuit also claims that Crue wanted to cut Mars' share in profits from the band's earnings from 25% to 5%.

Hours after Mars filed the legal papers, Motley Crue released a lengthy statement in response. It denies the claims about using backing tracks and instead says Mars was unable to perform his guitar parts properly on stage.

It reads: "Mick's lawsuit is unfortunate and completely off-base. In 2008, Mick voted for and signed an agreement in which he and every other band member agreed that 'in no event shall any resigning shareholder be entitled to receive any monies attributable to live performances (i.e., tours).'

"After the last tour, Mick publicly resigned from Motley Crue. Despite the fact that the band did not owe Mick anything — and with Mick owing the band millions in advances that he did not pay back — the band offered Mick a generous compensation package to honor his career with the band.

"Manipulated by his manager and lawyer, Mick refused and chose to file this ugly public lawsuit. Equally unfortunate are his claims about the band's live performances. Motley Crue always performs its songs live but during the last tour Mick struggled to remember chords, played the wrong songs and made constant mistakes which led to his departure from the band.

"There are multiple declarations from the band's crew attesting to his decline. The band did everything to protect him, tried to keep these matters private to honor Mick's legacy and take the high road.

"Unfortunately, Mick chose to file this lawsuit to badmouth the band. The band feels empathy for Mick, wishes him well and hopes that he can get better guidance from his advisors who are driven by greed."

Motley Crue still have a string of dates lined up for this year, with John 5 continuing as their touring guitarist.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.