Mick Mars has filed a lawsuit against his Motley Crue bandmates, claiming they’re ripping him off financially and trying to fully remove him from the band — and accusing them of onstage fakery during the 2022 Stadium Tour.
The Crue guitarist of 41 years announced his retirement from touring last October, ceding his position to John 5. He cited his well-documented ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic, inflammatory form of arthritis that has gradually impaired his movement. The band stated at the time clarifying that Mars would “continue as a member of the band, but can no longer handle the rigors of the road.”
Mars’ newly filed legal papers, however, suggest that his retirement from the road was far from amicable, and was instead a coordinated effort from his bandmates to oust him from the group against his will.
For now, Mars’ lawsuit only demands that his bandmates — Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil and Tommy Lee — hand over documents related to their businesses before both parties go to arbitration. But the suit also accuses the band of deliberately withholding information about the various businesses in which Mars is a 25% owner, Variety reports. Mars claims the band forced him to sign a severance agreement that would divest him of these and future businesses in exchange for a 5% stake in Motley Crue’s ongoing tour and 0% in future tours. The same cut would apply to merchandise featuring Mars, and he would earn nothing off merchandise featuring John 5.
This arrangement runs contrary to the many scenarios in which longtime members of bands maintain their shareholder rights even if they quit or get fired, as the lawsuit explains. “Countless members have left countless bands (typically after much less than 41 years), or died, and still maintained (or their estates maintained) their shareholder, officer, and director status, as well as their concomitant right to profits,” a footnote reads.
The lawsuit states that after Mars refused to sign the papers from his bandmates — and subsequently rejected a counteroffer to earn 7.5% off Motley Crue’s 2023 tour — the band moved to arbitration “rather than a public lawsuit so that the public would not be aware of the deplorable manner in which they treated their ‘brother’ of 41 years.”
Furthermore, Mars maintains that his bandmates have attempted to remove him from Motley Crue entirely and that Sixx, in particular, has disparaged his playing for years — which he finds hypocritical, given the band’s performance on the 2022 Stadium Tour. “During much of the band’s recent tenure, Sixx continually ‘gaslighted’ Mars by telling him that he [Mars] had some sort of cognitive dysfunction and that his guitar playing was subpar, claiming that Mars forgot chords, and sometimes started playing the wrong songs.
“Astonishingly, Sixx made these claims about Mars’ playing while he [Sixx] did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour,” the suit continues. “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 [Vince] Neil’s vocals were also pre-recorded. Even some of [Tommy] 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 suit concedes that Mars did occasionally make mistakes onstage, but they were the result of technical difficulties. “Mars, at times on the tour, did play the wrong chords, but not due to any cognitive dysfunction,” the paperwork says. “He was playing live, and his in-ear monitors were constantly malfunctioning, causing Mars to be unable to hear his own instrument.
“The fact is that Mars is rarely mocked or criticized online,” it continues. “He is a quiet member of the group, who shows up to play and puts his heart and soul into each performance. Conversely, other band members are often criticized online, particularly Neil, who is routinely torn to shreds for, among other things, not remembering the songs.”
Mars’ lawsuit lends credence to recent claims made by drummer Carmine Appice, who told Ultimate Guitar that Mars lamented the band’s reliance on tapes during the 2022 Stadium Tour. Sixx ripped Appice’s claims on Twitter, writing, “A washed-up drummer trying to speak for us? And bottom-feeder media running with it to make money off of lies? Welcome to the sad new world of LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME.”
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