In a new interview with Artists On Record Starring ADIKA Live!, DOKKEN frontman Don Dokken weighed in on MÖTLEY CRÜE guitarist Mick Mars’s decision to no longer tour with the legendary rock act 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.

“I really love him and I feel terrible, because my brother, who’s 18 months younger than me, has ankylosing spondylitis,” Don said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). “So your spine fuses together. It’s very painful. And I don’t know how he got through that farewell MÖTLEY tour. I saw him four times. He had his own bus, but they got morphine bags. He had a private nurse. It was like a hospital room in his bus. And I really had to… Even when I think about it now, I started getting teary eyed. It choked me up, ’cause I loved Mick, and I was, like, ‘Man, this sucks. This just sucks.’ He would go on stage and he’d say, ‘Well, the good thing about my ankylosing spondylitis is sometimes your neck’s like this frozen [looks up], or [to the left], or [to the right], or down. And he goes, ‘Luckily, my head turns down, so I can see the [guitar] neck.’ And that’s how he got through the tour, ’cause he could see his neck. And that’s the truth. He said, ‘My neck was frozen down, so I could still play guitar.'”

Dokken, who says that he has known Mars for more than four decades, since he was in the pre-MÖTLEY CRÜE band VENDETTA, went on to call Mick the “most underrated guitar player. Forget about chops. Forget about fucking hammer-ons and Eddie Van Halen copies. His rhythm playing, man, it’s the shit,” Don explained. “Mick Mars wrote a ton of MÖTLEY CRÜE songs. He is an amazing rhythm guitar player, and he wrote all those great rhythms in MÖTLEY CRÜE.

“Nobody talks about Mick because he’s a very private person,” Dokken added. “Anybody ever says [MÖTLEY CRÜE bassist] Nikki Sixx wrote all the songs, and [MÖTLEY CRÜE drummer] Tommy Lee… Fuck you. Mick Mars was a huge factor in MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s cool, groovin’ cool riff uptempo songs. It was Mick.”

When Mars announced his retirement from touring with MÖTLEY CRÜE in October 2022 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, the 72-year-old guitarist has since filed a lawsuit against MÖTLEY 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. In his lawsuit, Mars also alleged that he was the only bandmember to play 100 percent live on their most recent tour, claiming bassist Nikki Sixx “did not play a single note on bass during the entire U.S. tour.”

Mars said that when he refused to sign the papers reducing his share of touring royalties to only 5%, the band commenced an arbitration. His original filing said the group took it 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.”

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.

Mars — whose real name is Robert Alan Deal — served as MÖTLEY CRÜE‘s lead guitarist since the band’s inception in 1981.

In an April 2023 interview with Variety, CRÜE‘s manager of 29 years, Allen Kovac blasted Mars‘s recent live performances, saying: “Mick is not the same. He hasn’t been the same for a long time… [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 soundboard.”

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.

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