Even the most famous rock artists occasionally serve as a reminder that we are all mortal humans. The iconic Mötley Crüe’s main guitarist and co-founder, Mick Mars, has endured a debilitating illness since he was 17 years old.
Mars pursued his passion for playing the guitar and his love of rock and roll despite his discomfort and limited mobility to become one of the 1980s’ most recognizable guitarists.
Robert Alan Deal was given the name Mick Mars on May 4, 1951, in Terre Haute, Indiana. Along with Nikki Sixx and Tommy Lee, he co-founded the heavy metal group Mötley Crüe in 1981.
Mötley Crüe has since become well-known as one of the 1980s’ most well-liked bands. They established their reputation as a legend in the heavy metal genre by selling more than 100 million albums globally.
As a teenager, Mick Mars received a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis. A kind of arthritis known as ankylosing spondylitis (AS) results in the vertebrae fusing together.
The spine and pelvis are harmed by this extremely uncommon, persistent disease. This condition is characterized by severe pain and restricted movement.
Unfortunately, there is no known treatment for the illness, however, there are drugs that can lessen the agony. Surgery and physical therapy are further options, but ultimately, this is a lifelong condition.
Mars never lost his sense of humor and always remained upbeat about his life and career despite the agony and disability brought on by his sickness. Mars cracks jokes in an interview with Goldmine;
I became bent, but my instrument is constantly in sight.
What Caused Mick Mars’ Illness?
Motley Crue guitarist and founding member Mick Mars will no longer tour with the band due to his ongoing painful struggle with Ankylosing Spondylitis, although he will continue as a member. https://t.co/CKXzVNKavh
— Variety (@Variety) October 26, 2022
Mars first became ill when he was about 19 years old, but he didn’t have the money at the time to seek medical attention. He initially realized something wasn’t right when he began to feel agonizing hip discomfort, then pain in his lower back.
Sadly, his health deteriorated over time, even as his band’s notoriety skyrocketed. Mars’s spine was significantly compressed due to the curvature that his ankylosing spondylitis caused in his lower back.
As a result, he lost three whole inches from his height during his high school years. Understandably worried about Mick Mars’ rapidly deteriorating health were his bandmates. The band saw a lot of upheaval and member departures towards the middle of the 1990s.
Nikki Sixx, the bassist for Mötley Crüe, penned an essay on his encounter with Mars at his worst while trying to get in touch with the rest of the group. In his book, This Is Gonna Hurt, Sixx stated:
“What I witnessed still bothers me. A thin, 80–90 pound man with grey skin, a beard that reached his chest, and a shaven head. He had a drug addiction and was dying from sickness.
Being Mick Mars’ closest musical partner throughout the band’s existence, Nikki Sixx was obviously quite worried about his bandmate. “I was not just apprehensive about making music without a companion, but I had that gut-wrenching feeling that something was wrong,” he said in his autobiography.
Mars’ Surgeries and Treatments
In 2004, Mars underwent hip replacement surgery, which improved his health and mobility. However, he has said that the rehabilitation process is quite painful and arduous.
Mars had to stop playing the guitar for two years while receiving physical treatment during his recuperation.
In a 2008 Interview with Metal Sludge, Mars Said:
“I basically stopped playing the guitar for about two years because it just kept getting worse and worse.” Today, it’s not as severe, but back then, when Mötley was taking a break and I was high on all that drugs, I knew if I didn’t stop, I was going to die.
It was quite strange, but I managed to get through it, and in the end, I think I’m actually a better musician as a result. In the end, I had to go to a neuropsychiatrist to straighten me out, and he told me, “Just hold the guitar for an hour a day – don’t play it, just hold it.”
With the assistance of his neuropsychiatrist, Mick Mars had to relearn how to play and hold the guitar after being away from it for two years.
By the time Mars was able to relearn the piano and resume playing, cancer had already advanced to his brain, making it impossible for him to move his head.
Due to this, Mars was unable to perform commonplace tasks like operating a vehicle. Even so, nothing could stop Mars from engaging in the activity he enjoys the most. Regarding his health and his return to performing, Mick Mars stated the following:
“It still grinds occasionally, but as I said, my only interest is music. I work in it. It’s my passion in life. It probably keeps me alive.
I’m just glad to be here and have the opportunity to share my innermost feelings through my music with others. I sincerely hope you enjoy it, but if not, it’s okay.
This assertion makes it abundantly evident that Mick Mars will never be prevented from following his passion. He obviously loves music the most, and despite his severe pain and illness, he still performs and delights his admirers.
It appears that his love of music is what has sustained him and given him the fortitude to battle such a dreadful illness.
The Remarkable Career of Mick Mars:
Being a part of the most infamous bands in history undoubtedly makes for a fascinating life and career. Even after all the highs and lows of fame, Mars is still regarded as a guitar legend.
Mötley Crüe’s slowdown gave Mars the opportunity to start a solo project. Mid-2000s rumors about his upcoming solo project were later confirmed by Mars in his 2012 interview with Goldmine. Mars remarked:
“Everyone says I’m recording a blues album. It will be a blues album, but it will sound more like Edgar Winter’s interpretation of the blues.
It will have a ’70s vibe, but the music I write is more in the present day. I want to combine those two looks. Despite his health issues, Mars has had a long and successful career in music and still manages to develop and produce new, cutting-edge songs.
He has never allowed his condition to stop him from pursuing his life’s biggest passion, rock ‘n’ roll. Check out this film from the masters at Rock Pills for additional information about Mick Mars and his life before joining Mötley Crüe.