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Mötley Crüe Fake-Plays to Recorded Music on Tour, Guitarist Claims

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Mötley Crüe has been an active band since 1981, but having over 40 years of history didn’t prevent its members from being involved in a nasty legal battle. Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars has filed a lawsuit in which he claims that he is being forced out of the band and denied his fair share of profits from touring and merchandise.

But, another assertion in the lawsuit is certain to stand out more to fans. Mars claims that the other members of the band do not actually play all of their music live during their concerts. According to him, bassist Nikki Sixx, lead singer and guitarist Vince Neil, and drummer Tommy Lee often use pre-recorded music and fake-play their instruments along to the songs at live shows.

Through their lawyer, Mötley Crüe has responded to Mars’ claims about his status in the band and about allegedly not playing live on  tour. Read on to find out more.

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Mick Mars performing in London in 2007
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In October 2022, Mars announced that he was retiring from touring with Mötley Crüe due to his struggles with Ankylosing Spondylitis. According to Mayo Clinic, this is “an inflammatory disease that, over time, can cause some of the bones in the spine, called vertebrae, to fuse.”

In a statement to Variety, a representative for the guitarist said, “Mick will continue as a member of the band, but can no longer handle the rigors of the road.”

However, a day later, the band released a statement to Variety indicating that Mars was leaving the band altogether.

“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,” the statement reads, in part. It goes on to announce John 5 as the band’s new guitarist.

Mick Mars performing in Denver in 1997
TDC Photography / Shutterstock

As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Mars filed a lawsuit on April 6 requesting to review Mötley Crüe’s accounts. The lawsuit claims that the band reduced Mars’ profits from touring and merchandise—from 25 percent to five percent—and tried to remove him from the band entirely after he announced that he could no longer tour. As noted by Deadline, the defendants are not his bandmates, but rather various LLCs and companies related to the band and its touring engagements.

Mars’ new lawsuit is in response to arbitration started by the band in January in regard to his transition out of the band.

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Mötley Crüe perform during the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

In his filing, Mars claims that the other members of Mötley Crüe don’t always play their instruments on tour, instead pretending to play them along to a recording.  This came up in the filing because Mars asserts that Sixx was “gaslighting” him by telling him that fans were complaining about his guitar playing.

“Astonishingly, Sixx made these claims about Mars’s playing while he (Sixx) did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour,” the filing reads, as reported by Deadline. “Ironically, 100 percent of Sixx’s bass parts were nothing but recordings. Sixx was seen fist pumping in the air with his strumming hand, while the bass part was playing. In fact, a significant portion of Neil’s vocals were also pre-recorded. Even some of Lee’s drum parts were recordings. Some fans actually noticed that Lee was walking toward his drum set as they heard his drum part begin.”

Mötley Crüe at a press conference in 2012
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Through their lawyer, Mötley Crüe responded to Mars’ claim about the use of pre-recorded music. They counter that it was Mars who was having issues playing music at gigs.

“Mötley Crüe always performs its songs live, but during the last tour, Mick struggled to remember chords, played the wrong songs and made constant mistakes which led to his departure from the band,” attorney Sasha Frid told Variety. “There are multiple declarations from the band’s crew attesting to his decline. The band did everything to protect him (and) tried to keep these matters private to honor Mick’s legacy and take the high road. Unfortunately, Mick chose to file this lawsuit to badmouth the band.”

The band’s legal representation says that Mars will continue to receive royalties from recordings but that he can no longer be a full-fledged member of the group. Frid explained, “Retiring from touring is resigning from the band. The band’s primary function is to tour and perform concerts. And as you saw from the amendment, if a shareholder resigns, he cannot receive any compensation from touring—which is what Mick is trying to get. It’s clear-cut that Mick is not entitled to any more money.”

Nikki Sixx performing in Canada in 2016
mirjana simeunovich / Shutterstock

In addition to the statement’s from the band’s lawyer, Sixx posted about the rift on social media.

“Sad day for us and we don’t deserve this considering how many years we’ve been propping him up,” Sixx wrote on April 6, along with a link to the Variety article about the lawsuit. “We still wish him the best and hope he find’s lawyers and managers who aren’t damaging him. We love you Mick.”



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