MÖTLEY CRÜE's manager has accused Mick Mars's representatives of "elder abuse" in the guitarist's legal dispute with his bandmates over their ongoing tour.
When Mars, a co-founding member of MÖTLEY CRÜE, announced his retirement from touring with the group last October as a result of worsening health issues, he maintained that he would remain a member of the band, with John 5 taking his place on the road. However, in his lawsuit, which was filed last Thursday (April 6) in Los Angeles County's Superior Court, the 71-year-old musician said that, after his announcement, the rest of CRÜE tried to remove him as a significant stakeholder in the group's corporation and business holdings via a shareholders' meeting.
Specifically, Mars claims he was asked to sign a severance agreement that would divest him of his 25 percent stake in the band's various business interests in return for a 5 percent stake in the band's 2023 tour. This stake, the lawsuit alleges, would be reduced to 0 percent for future tours. Mick claims CRÜE's management later upped the offer from 5 percent to a 7.5 percent stake in the band's 2023 tour, which would remain contingent on Mars divesting himself from the band and their businesses. When Mars refused to sign the papers, the band took the dispute 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," Mick claims in the lawsuit.
In a new interview with Variety, CRÜE's manager of 29 years, Allen Kovac, said he was so incensed by an interview Mars gave Variety after the suit was filed that he agreed to go on record addressing the musician's accusations — including whether or not the group's performances are largely on tape.
Kovac said Mars is coming out with a list of allegations "to gain leverage in a smear campaign on MÖTLEY. He's attacked the band, and he's done it in a slanderous way, with false accusations and misrepresenting the facts to the fans. Mick is not the victim. The victims are MÖTLEY CRÜE and the brand, which Mick is so prideful of." But, he added, "What's upsetting to me is not Mick, but his representatives, who have guided Mick to say and do harmful things to the brand he cares about so much, MÖTLEY CRÜE. He has a degenerative disease and people are taking advantage of him. It's called elder abuse."
He continued: "Mick's representatives have no idea what they've created, but I've stopped the band from speaking about this, so they're not gonna turn the fans against Mick. But I am going to make sure that people understand that Mick hasn't been treated badly. In fact, he was treated better than anyone else in the band, and they carried him and they saved his life."
Mars suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS),a chronic and inflammatory form of arthritis that mainly affects the spine and pelvis. After years of performing through the pain, he informed the other members of MÖTLEY CRÜE last summer that he could no longer tour with them but would still be open to recording new music or performing at residencies that did not require much travel.
In his lawsuit, Mars also alleged that he was the only band member to play 100 percent live on their most recent tour, claiming Sixx "did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour."
"Everything is live with Nikki's [Sixx] bass playing and Tommy's [Lee] drum playing," insisted Kovac in his Variety interview. "When they've used loops, they're still playing. There are augmented vocals, which were (recorded) in the studio and are backgrounds behind the two ladies who are singing and (other background vocals by) John 5 and Nikki Sixx, and before that Mick and Nikki." He described the pre-recorded vocal layering as where "you multi-track and you do gang vocals with, like, 20 people, just like all the other bands do with background vocals. They've got background vocals in the mix. That's the truth.
"But Nikki played his bass and always has," Kovac continued. "Vince [Neil] was singing better than he was before (on the latest tour). That was in reviews. Now, John 5 is playing like who John 5 is. I've heard John 5 perform and I heard Mick perform. Both are great guitar players. Unfortunately, Mick is not the same. He hasn't been the same for a long time. Which was in reviews! You see that the professionals knew. DEF LEPPARD (which alternated headlining spots on tour) knew. And (Mars) caused a train wreck up there, because he would play the wrong songs and the wrong parts, even with the guide tracks. When he played the wrong song, it wasn't Nikki Sixx that had a tape; it was the soundman bringing it into the mix so the audience could hear a song, even though the guitar player was playing a different song." He says audiences "would hear it at first, but (sound engineers) would fix it so that we could keep the song going. I heard it. I'd go to the sound board."
The manager said that, despite what he alleges was a pattern of terrible performances, the band never thought of firing Mars — until he announced that he would be coming off the road due to the difficulties of touring with Ankylosing Spondylitis. "They honored their commitment and propped him up," Kovac said. "Now there's a new guitar player. I want people to hear the difference. They're gonna play the U.S. again in a bunch of markets, and people will be able to use their own ears, just like they can use their own judgment about third-party declarations and contracts instead of spin."
After Mars filed his lawsuit on Thursday, Sixx responded on Twitter, writing: "Sad day for us and we don't deserve this considering how many years we've been propping him up. We still wish him the best and hope he find's [sic] lawyers and managers who aren't damaging him. We love you Mick."
According to Variety, Mars's attorney said he was warned by the band's lawyers that "if your client rejects the severance package that was graciously offered to him by the band, he will get next to nothing. I suggest you think about the repercussions of this decision… There is undisputed legal cause here for Mick's removal. Mick is unable to perform as a full-fledged band member. Among other things, as demonstrated during the last tour, he repeatedly forgets his chords, does not play the right song, plays chords of a different song while on stage, and so on."
Mick's filing claimed that MÖTLEY CRÜE filed an arbitration case against him in February, "essentially suing him" to prove that it had the right to fire him from the band.
"They clearly commenced an 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," lawyers for Mars wrote in the petition.
Mick is suing MÖTLEY CRÜE so he can go over all the financial books and determine if he's getting what he feels he deserves.