NIKKI SIXX: It Was 'Never My Intention To Steal' JOHN 5 From ROB ZOMBIE's Band

May 9, 2024

In a new interview with The Mistress Carrie Podcast, MÖTLEY CRÜE's Nikki Sixx discussed his band's decision to hire guitarist John 5 as Mick Mars's replacement following the latter's announcement that he would no longer tour with the legendary rock act. Speaking about how John 5's addition to CRÜE came about, Nikki said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "John's a great guy. I've known John for a long time. I brought John in on a Meat Loaf song that I wrote, 'The Monster Is Loose'. And then some SIXX:A.M. songs. He wrote a song with me called 'Lies Of The Beautiful People', which was a big hit for SIXX:A.M. And I brought him in to do a project that I did for Netflix called L.A. RATS with Rob Zombie and Tommy Clufetos on drums, a Johnny Cash cover. And I wrote 'The Dirt' [MÖTLEY CRÜE movie soundtrack] songs with him, and he played a lot of the guitar on those tracks. And so when this moment that we weren't expecting happened, Mick's leaving the band, we were in the middle of 'The Stadium Tour'. We were in the middle of a huge tour with us and DEF LEPPARD. A world tour, not just a couple gigs. And we had to ask ourselves, like, 'Do we fold? Do we leave Live Nation in the lurch? Do we bone our partners in DEF LEPPARD?' And we had to dig deep and we were, like, 'We've gotta do what's right for the fans.' And John was the guy. We didn't even talk about anybody else. We knew John. I knew John. We knew what he was as a guitar player. We knew he was a writer. And it just was like taking a situation we didn't expect and turning it into something. And now we have new music and we're having a great time."

He continued: "The thing with creativity is it's a circle. And if there's a break in it, you can't really get all the energy going. And this new moment has reinvigorated the creativity in the band. And I will attribute that to John and also just change in general sometimes happens.

"I played with a lot of different musicians over the years. And every time I play with a new musician, I have a new interpretation of something," Nikki added. "And they bring that. So there's a freshness to having John in the band right now."

Asked by Mistress Carrie if he had to have a Mafia-style sitdown with John 5's longtime bandmate and employer Rob Zombie when he was trying to get John 5 to join MÖTLEY CRÜE, Sixx said: "It was one of those things that I feel bad about. It wasn't my decision. It was John's decision. I had been talking to John as a friend during some of the frustrations with Mick's playing, specifically on the tour. And he was my friend. And when I called him and said, 'Wow, we're faced with a really bad situation.' And we talked. And he wanted to do the next-level thing in his life. He'd been with Rob for a long, long time, and they were kind of coming to an end of a tour. And he talked to Rob, and Rob was not happy but understood. I still feel bad about that. That was never my intention, to go out and steal somebody from another band. That's not what we did. But I have so much respect for Rob. It's one of those things where I'm really happy and at the same time I'm, like… Sometimes this stuff's fucking hard. Like making a decision to move on without an original member. It's not exactly as seamless as people would like it to seem. There's some little bumps along the way, little bumps in the road."

Last September, John 5 was asked by "THAT Rocks!"if he had "had dialogue" with Zombie since he joined MÖTLEY CRÜE in the fall of 2022. He said: "I have not had dialogue with Rob. And I wish I would. I miss talking to him. And the [ROB ZOMBIE] band sounds great and the show looks awesome and I really hope to talk to him soon… I miss talking to Rob. And I know he is doing great. But I hope we connect soon."

John 5 touched upon how he came to leave Rob's band for MÖTLEY CRÜE in May 2023 during an appearance on SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation With Eddie Trunk". At the time he said: "Well, I've been friends with Nikki and Tommy [Lee, MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer] forever — forever and ever and ever. I'm so close to Nikki. We talked, like, probably 80 times a day for a decade. And we've done so much work together. We worked on the Meat Loaf song together, 'The Monster's Loose'; SIXX:A.M., of course; L.A. RATS; 'The Dirt' [soundtrack]. But other than music, we were just always around. I mean, he was the best man at my wedding. And we'd always go to the mall and ride bikes and just do total normal stuff. So when this came about… We were talking to each other on tour, like, 'All right, dude. I'm going on stage.' And he's, like, 'All right, dude. I'm going on stage. I'll talk to you after the show,' and blah blah blah. So we talked pretty much every day when he was on tour and I was on tour at the same time with the [Rob] Zombie thing. We were doing 'Freaks On Parade'. It was great — great shows, packed to the nines, and having a good time and laughing and making music. And the tour ended. We went home. Actually, I went to do some CREATURES shows, my instrumental thing. And MÖTLEY was finished. They were off tour. And I was still doing some shows. And Nikki called and said, 'Listen, Mick is going to retire. And we have these obligations from Live Nation. We have South America booked. We have Europe booked. Would you wanna come on board?' And I was, 'Absolutely.' I mean, it's just like your brother asking you or something like that. But now the hard part was telling Rob [Zombie], because we never had a negative word between us. And he's my buddy and we made great music and great live shows together for 17 years, and we never really had a problem. But I was thinking to myself, I was, like, 'Life is short.' And I'm being completely honest with you — 'Life is short. I wanna experience as much as I can in life.' And I was thinking about myself. And I was, like, 'I wanna do this for me, because I'm 51 years old' at the time, and I was, like, 'I wanna do this. I want to experience this.' How many times do you get a new chapter in your life at this magnitude later in life? And I talked to Rob, and he understood. Rob is a smart, rational person. I mean, he wasn't psyched, but he understood. And I think that was amazing of him. And he was just, like, 'Go get 'em.' He was fine about it. And then they got [Mike] Riggs, who I think is a great addition. That's who he was using when Rob did the early solo records, and I think it's a great addition. And they're kicking ass."

Detailing how he told Rob about his decision to leave his band and join MÖTLEY CRÜE, John 5 said: "I told Rob before it got out in the press. But I agreed to Nikki. And I called Rob and I said, 'This is what's happening.' And we did a show, Louder Than Life, together, and that was my last show [with Rob] in Kentucky. And then they got Riggs and were rehearsing with him and did the Aftershock show. And then it was announced — my time frame is not great, but then I believe it was announced a little bit after that. But it was no bad blood or anything; it wasn't anything bad; it wasn't dramatic or anything. And Rob was super cool. He was, like, 'Hey, I get it.' He was cool about it."

Asked if he had spoken with Rob since his announcement that he was joining MÖTLEY CRÜE, John 5 said: "To be honest, I haven't, and I miss talking with him and texting with him. I'm more worried about him not texting me back or not replying. I think that would really break my heart. That's the thing. I think I'd be really bummed out about that. But I haven't. To answer your question, no, I haven't."

Elaborating on his reasons for leaving Zombie's band and joining MÖTLEY CRÜE, John 5 said: "In the 17 years of being with Zombie, I got asked to join a ton of bands — a ton of bands. But, listen, I am so close with the guys, and with Mick too. So close with the guys. Something said, 'You've gotta do it.' It's just something I really wanted to do. Because life is show. I wanna experience everything. I don't wanna be laying in my bed at 126 years old — that's what I plan to live to be — laying in my bed at 126 years old going, 'God, I wish I would have done this, that and the other thing.' But I'll probably say that to myself anyways. But it's been an amazing ride so far."

In April 2023, Sixx spoke with Wyatt of U.K.'s Planet Rock about MÖTLEY CRÜE's decision to hire John 5 to replace Mick, who announced his retirement from touring with MÖTLEY CRÜE last October as a result of worsening health issues.

"I've been friends with John forever and I would make jokes, 'As long as you're a 5, I feel good being a Sixx.' Y'know, stupid best buddy jokes. Me and that guy have been either hanging out at each other's houses, writing songs… he plays (guitar) all day long. So, he comes over here and he grabs one of my guitars or brings his own and we just sit around and play and talk about the '70s and how great LYNYRD SKYNYRD and 'Scooby Doo' was."

He continued: "My wife just said that when Mick told us he was leaving the band and I told her I'd talked to Tommy and Vince [Neil, CRÜE singer], and everybody feels that John would be a great fit, and I hadn't called John yet because you had to be sure we were doing everything correctly. My wife said, 'Well, that's great.' I said, 'What do you mean by that?' She goes, 'Well, you'll be going on stage and you'll be on the phone to John.' And they're, like, 'You gotta go on stage!', and he'll be like 'Okay, call me back in an hour and a half.'

"So we're always chatting and jamming and the friendship is so wonderful. Him and Tommy are really close. Vince loves him. He's just a great guy and a great musician and he gives us a great opportunity as a three-piece so to speak to really lock in. He's just such a great guitar player."

Comparing CRÜE 's current musicianship to how it was while Mick was still in the band, Nikki added: "It's nothing against any other musician that you play with, just that when you play with new musicians you play differently. We're still playing the same songs that people wanna hear but it kind of like re-inspires you. And I'm sure the same thing would happen if they got a new bass player. They're like 'oh wow, he's attacking it differently.' So it's never about how bad anybody was.

"It's a nice time [for MÖTLEY CRÜE] and it's kind of inspired us to write a little bit," he added. "We love our history, we're very proud of everything we've done. We've always been really supportive of Mick no matter what Mick was going through. We're just happy with where we're at right now."

When Mars announced his retirement from touring with MÖTLEY CRÜE, he maintained that he would remain a member of the band, with John 5 taking his place on the road. However, in April 2023, the now-73-year-old musician filed a lawsuit against CRÜE in Los Angeles County's Superior Court claiming 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.

Regarding Mick 's lawsuit against MÖTLEY CRÜE, Nikki told Planet Rock: "If a member of a band tells you that they can't tour because of health reasons, you have two choices. You can quit as a band [after] 42 years of work. Or we could look at each other and go 'are we done yet?!' We're really peaking and we understand [Mick's] health issues.

"We wish him the best and we know that he's a little bit confused and being misled by representatives right now. But we still have to stay focused on why we're here."

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 in the summer of 2022 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 2022 stadium tour, claiming Sixx "did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour."

After Mars filed his lawsuit, 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."

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