According to Variety, MÖTLEY CRÜE guitarist Mick Mars will no longer tour with the band, although he will continue as a member.
A statement from Mick's representative reads as follows: "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."
A replacement guitarist has not yet been named, although John 5 has been rumored to step in for Mars.
Back in 2013, CRÜE singer Vince Neil said that Mars's ongoing battle with Ankylosing spondylitis, a painful form of chronic arthritis that causes vertebrae in the spine to fuse together, as well as the band's desire to "go out on top" were the primary reasons for CRÜE's decision to call it quits after 2015. "It's just time," Neil said nearly a decade ago. "Mick's health is not that good, and touring is tough on him. I'm sure in five, 10 years' time, we'll probably do something together again, but it's not gonna be like a KISS farewell to the farewell to the farewell tour. We're not gonna be like that."
CRÜE drummer Tommy Lee echoed Vince's comments at the time, telling Canadian progressive-house music producer and performer Deadmau5 in a video: "Our guitar player, Mick, he has a spinal disease that's slowly fusing his vertebrae together. It's one of those things that's treatable, but not curable. So it's just progressively getting really worse and it's painful for him, so he doesn't wanna tour much longer. I can't say I blame him… The last thing we ever wanna do is go out running on two cylinders with some hired guy playing guitar; that's just wack. So we wanna go out with one big hurrah with the original guys and be done with it."
However, in an October 2013 tweet, Mars painted a different picture, claiming that his medical condition had never affected his playing. "Once again, any rumors regarding a farewell tour due to 'my poor health is BS," he wrote. "I am doing fine, my AS has never kept me from touring." He added: "Thank all of you for knowing the truth… When I'm done touring, you'll hear it from me."
The 71-year-old Mars has struggled with Ankylosing spondylitis since his late teens and spoke about his first experiences with it in CRÜE'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," he said. "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. 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."
Mick told Metal Sludge in 2008 that his condition had worsened in the later decades and that he stopped playing guitar for almost two years. "Nowadays, it's not so bad, but back then when I was high on all that stuff and MÖTLEY 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."
Speculation about John 5's involvement with CRÜE gained strength after the longtime ROB ZOMBIE guitarist failed to appear with the shock rocker at this year's Aftershock festival in Sacramento. Rob was instead joined on stage by returning guitarist Mike Riggs for the first time since 2006.
John 5 has reportedly already dismissed the rumor of him touring with CRÜE. After a fan commented on an old photo of Mars and John 5 on the latter's Instagram, and asked whether the 52-year-old guitarist was indeed joining CRÜE on the road, John 5 replied in a since-deleted comment: "No, just a rumor."
John 5 spoke about his close friendship with MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist Nikki Sixx in a 2019 interview with Outburn. At the time he said: "Nikki, he's my best friend. We love each other. He has inspired me and taught me so much about life in general. He's a phenomenal songwriter, lyricist, author, everything. He's always telling me to listen to this audio book or see this movie. He has a happy marriage, a happy life, a successful band he started from the ground up. He's one of the most inspiring people. He'll text me all the time to read something or try something. It's wonderful. He's a phenomenal photographer as well. I remember him telling me that he’s going to take bass lessons again and get into playing with his fingers. He was so dedicated. We worked on 'The Dirt' soundtrack together. When we went into the studio, he did it all with his fingers. [MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer] Tommy Lee was like, 'Look at you.' He's just such a dedicated person. I loved ['The Dirt'] movie; it was killer."
Last week, it was announced that MÖTLEY CRÜE and DEF LEPPARD will go global in 2023 with their co-headline "The World Tour". Produced by Live Nation, the trek will kick off on February 18, 2023 at Foro Sol in Mexico City and include stops throughout Latin America before heading to Europe in May 2023.