Def Leppard’s Phil Collen Reveals John 5’s Advantage Over Mick Mars in Mötley Crüe: ‘Mick Couldn’t Do That’

Amidst the whole legal chaos between Mick Mars and three other original members of Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen shared his opinion on the band’s decision to hire John 5 as a replacement. Collen, who took part in the joint stadium tour as a member of Def Leppard, was interviewed by Linea Rock recently, offering (transcript via Blabbermouth):

“The thing with Mötley Crüe, Mick Mars was really in pain. We’d done the American tour with him, and he has physical issues. So it was great that John 5 had come out.”

Going more into the matter, Collen also explained why he believes that John 5 is, at this moment, a better solution for Mötley Crüe compared to the original guitar player Mick Mars. He continued:

“John 5 is just a wonderful human being and plays great and everything, so he fits in. And he really helped the band out, because Mick couldn’t really do that.”

“Traveling is the problem; he was having trouble [with all the travel]. It just was painful. It worked out great.”

Back in October last year, Mötley Crüe officially revealed that Mick Mars will step down from the band’s touring schedule due to his health issues. Not long after the statement, rumors of former Rob Zombie and Marylin Manson guitarist John 5 joining the touring lineup proved to be true.

However, all hell broke loose in 2023 when Carmine Appice, the legendary rock drummer and close friend of Mick Mars, revealed what was actually going on. Confirming suspicions of Mötley Crüe’s 1990s singer John Corabi, Appice revealed that Mars wasn’t particularly going along well with the three remaining members of the band. And, most importantly, Appice also said that most of the supposedly live music was actually pre-recorded. He said:

“Well, I tell you what I’ve been talking to Mick, and he told me, ‘When I was on the Stadium Tour, I was not happy.’ Basically, everything was on tape; it was all planned out and ultimately a lot of crap. And Mick is a pretty good player, and so, to now let him loose and play the way he wants, that was never going to work for him.“

Motley Crue - Mick Mars's IEM (In Ear Monitor) - Girls, Primal Scream and Kickstart My Heart 2022

“The truth is that everything has been weird for a while with Mötley Crüe, and Mick didn’t like that everything was on tape. Mick told me that people that came to see it could tell that it was all pre-recorded and that everything was on tape.“

 “When you play in a stadium like that, you can hear a lot of things come to the monitors or what doesn’t. And with Vince’s vocals, bass, drums, guitars, and all the other stuff, it was obvious that it was all on tape. And Mick was pissed off and said, ‘I can play these things. I want to play them. I don’t want to make believe I’m playing them.’“

“So, I think that’s one of the reasons why he said, ‘I’m done.’ Sure, the disease that he has doesn’t help, and it doesn’t make life easy on tour, but Mick can play all the licks, and he was allowed to.“

Motley Crue Live 2022 4K 2160p60 HDR First Energy Stadium Cleveland, Ohio July 14, 2022

When asked whether Mars was going along with the rest of the band, Appice replied:

“No, he wasn’t. He had his own means of travel and would travel alone on a bus while the other guys flew everywhere. He said, ‘Man, these guys are pissing their money away, flying to every gig.’ They were all busy still trying to be rock stars, and Mick just wanted to play the music. Mick wasn’t interested in wasting time and money flying everywhere, so he traveled by bus.“

“Their lifestyles are different than his, and so there were a lot of disagreements. I think he was just done. They were supposed to have done their last tour, and then they came back. Then they did the Stadium Tour, and that was apparently supposed to be the last. So, when they came back again, he said, ‘You can do it. I’m not going out with you for this.’“

Mötley Crüe - Live at Estadio San Marcos - Lima, Peru - Feb 28, 2023 (Full Show + HQ Sound)

“He’s a good player. But if they’re on tape, it doesn’t matter. It’s sad because when Motley Crue first went out with Ozzy, they were smoking. I lived out in L.A., and I’d see them perform on the Strip; they’d walk in with their makeup, and they looked like the New York Dolls. A lot of people said, ‘They’ll never make it; that look is over.’“

“But a year later, they blew up and did it all themselves. They put their posters all over town, and they were selling out arenas quickly. Then they got a record deal with Tom Werman producing, and that’s when Ozzy caught wind of them and asked them to open for us. At that point, they were really good.“

Not long after this, Mars came out in public, claiming that what Appice said was true. And, most importantly, he started a legal action against the band. The current state of things is still unresolved with Mötley Crüe continuing on with John 5 as a regular member and even revealing that there’s new music on the way as well.

Ernie Ball: String Theory featuring Mick Mars

A part of Mars’ lawsuit reads (via Variety):

“How did Mars’s brothers of 41 years respond to Mars’s tragic announcement [about quitting the road]? They noticed an emergency shareholders’ meeting for the band’s main corporate entity in order to throw Mars out of the band, to fire him as a director of the corporation, to fire him as an officer of the corporation, and to take away his shares of the corporation. When he did not go away quietly, they purported to fire him from six additional band corporations and LLCs.”

“During much of the band’s recent tenure, Sixx continually ‘gaslighted’ Mars by telling him that he [Mars] had some sort of cognitive dysfunction and that his guitar playing was sub-par, claiming that Mars forgot chords, and sometimes started playing the wrong songs.”

“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. Ironically, 100% 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.”

Mick Mars solo guitar

“In fact, a significant portion of [Vince] Neil’s vocals were also pre-recorded. Even some of [Tommy] 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.”

“Mars, at times on the tour, did play the wrong chords, but not due to any cognitive dysfunction.He was playing live, and his in-ear monitors were constantly malfunctioning, causing Mars to be unable to hear his own instrument.

“The fact is that Mars is rarely mocked or criticized online. He is a quiet member of the group, who shows up to play, and puts his heart and soul into each performance. Conversely, other band members are often criticized online, particularly Neil, who is routinely torn to shreds for, among other things, not remembering the songs.”

Photos: Kevin Nixon (Phil Collen in Australia), De-fexxx666 (Mick Mars – Erie, PA), Tyrel Snowden (John 5)


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.