MÖTLEY CRÜE's Nikki Sixx has praised the band's new guitarist John 5, saying he "checks all the boxes" as Mick Mars's replacement following the latter's decision to no longer tour with the legendary rock act.
Sixx commented on John 5's addition to CRÜE while answering fan questions on Twitter on Friday (October 28). Asked why the band chose John 5, who is one of the credited co-writers on the three original songs on CRÜE's "The Dirt" soundtrack, Sixx said: "He checks all the boxes. He's a insane player. Has respect for our music, is funny as fuck and has history with us and we've written some pretty big hits together."
Sixx also addressed Mars's announcement that he was retiring from touring because of his long struggles with degenerative disease ankylosing spondylitis. Ankylosing spondylitis is a type of arthritis that causes inflammation in the spine joints and ligaments and can lead to stiffness over time, according to the National Institute Of Arthritis And Musculoskeletal And Skin Diseases.
"He's been a soldier along with us for 4 decades," Nikki said about his longtime bandmate. "We will continue to carrying our legacy to Generations of fans and honor Micks request for us to keep touring as Motley Crue."
In addition to co-writing the three songs on "The Dirt", John 5 collaborated with Sixx and Desmond Child on Meat Loaf's "The Monster Is Loose". Last year, Sixx and John 5 launched the L.A. RATS supergroup in which they were joied by Rob Zombie and drummer Tommy Clufetos.
The 71-year-old Mars — whose real name is Robert Alan Deal — served as MÖTLEY CRÜE's lead guitarist since the band's inception in 1981.
A day after Mick announced his retirement from touring, remaining members Sixx, singer Vince Neil and drummer Tommy Lee vowed to "continue the legacy." In a statement, they said: "While change is never easy, we accept Mick's decision to retire from the band due to the challenges with his health. We have watched Mick manage his Ankylosing Spondylitis for decades and he has always managed it with utmost courage and grace. To say 'enough is enough' is the ultimate act of courage. Mick's sound helped define MÖTLEY CRÜE from the minute he plugged in his guitar at our very first rehearsal together. The rest, as they say, is history. We'll continue to honor his musical legacy."
The statement continued: "We will carry out Mick's wish and continue to tour the world as planned in 2023. No doubt will it take an absolutely outstanding musician to fill Mick's shoes so we are grateful that our good friend, John 5 has agreed to come on board and join us moving forward. We'll see all you Crueheads out on the road!”
John 5 said: "I'm honored to carry on Mick's legacy and am looking forward to playing these songs."
In his statement, Mick said that he had decided to step back from live shows due to his "ongoing painful struggle" with ankylosing spondylitis and while he will continue to be a member of the band, he cannot "handle the rigors" of touring life.
The statement read: "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, 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."
John 5's involvement with MÖTLEY CRÜE as the band's new guitarist was first reported as a rumor by the Metal Sludge web site on October 7.
Speculation about John 5 replacing Mars 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 performed MÖTLEY CRÜE songs a number of times in the past. Back in 2018, John 5 was joined by Sixx along with ANTHRAX's Scott Ian and his wife Pearl Aday at the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood, California to play a cover of "Shout At The Devil". Earlier this year, the guitarist ran through renditions of both "Home Sweet Home" and "Kickstart My Heart" at various shows on his U.S. tour.
Back in 2013, Neil said that Mars's battle with ankylosing spondylitis 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."
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."
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."
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.