Legal Beat: Mötley Crüe Guitarist Sues Band

Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars has sued the band, claiming he was thrown out for failing to tour because of health problems. He also claims he has been denied future profits of the group. The heavy metal band was formed in Los Angeles in 1981. The members of the band (besides Mars) are Vince Neal, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee.

In October of 2022, Mars announced he was retiring from touring because of a chronic spine condition. The band had a shareholders’ meeting to fire Mars from the band and as director of the band’s corporation. They also purported to take away his shares. According to the lawsuit filed by Mars, he owns 25 percent of the band’s companies.  

Mars’ attorney, Edwin F. McPerson, stated:

“It is beyond sad that, after 41 years together, a band would try and throw out a member who is unable to tour anymore because he has a debilitating disease… Mick has been pushed around for far too long in this band, and we are not going to let that continue.”

Mars’ last performance with the group was in Las Vegas in September of 2022. Mars has stated that he would still record with the group and perform in a “residency situation” like in Las Vegas.

The band issued a statement that said Mars had “retired” and that he was being replaced. Mars’ representative released a statement that said, “Mick Mars, co-founder and lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Mötley Crüe for the past 41 years, has announced 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.”

Mars asserts that the band demanded he sign an agreement providing that his share of touring profits and merchandise would be reduced from 25% to 5%. The proposed agreement also stated that Mars would not share in any merchandising income that “named or depicted” the person who replaced him in Mötley Crüe.

An attorney for the band, Sasha Frid, said that the lawsuit was “unfortunate and completely off base.” Frid claimed that the band had entered into an agreement in 2008 that no member would receive any money from live performances if they resigned from the band.

Mars alleges in his lawsuit that Nikki Sixx was making decisions for the group without consulting the other members of the band. Sixx claims Mars’ guitar playing was subpar, that he often played the wrong chords when performing, and he had “some sort of cognitive dysfunction.”

Mars conceded that he occasionally played the wrong chords, but stated it was because of a faulty in-ear monitor that prevented him from hearing his guitar. Mars claims the other band members lip synced to recordings while performing onstage.

My prediction is that this messy lawsuit will settle at some point with the parties reaching some sort of compromise.