John 5 Explains Most Important Thing About Playing Mick Mars’ Solos, Names Most Fun Mötley Crüe Song to Play Live

While recently appearing on the “That Rocks!” podcast, John 5 discussed his work in Mötley Crüe, playing Mick Mars’ solos, and some of the most fun songs to play live with the band. He’s been playing with the band for some time now and this spot felt like a dream come true, especially because he’s a fan and was close to all of the band members. When asked whether the “pinch yourself” feeling has gone away or if he still feels like it’s so surreal to be playing with Mötley Crüe, John 5 replied (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“To answer your question simply, it has not gone away because we’ll be doing shows and things like that, or I’ll be in the middle of a set, and… [Laughs] You know, we’ve watched the ‘Home Sweet Home’ video a billion times because it was on MTV every other video.”

MÖTLEY CRÜE “Home Sweet Home” With JOHN 5

“So I’m up at the front with the guys, and I’m playing all that stuff because we’re all up in front, and then I’ll look at Vince, and it’ll hit me for a second, like, ‘It looks like the video.'”

“So that stuff hasn’t gone away yet. Like the ‘Same Ol’ Situation’, how that’s live, how they film that at a live show or something. That stuff is just very strange, and I hope that that feeling never goes away. I don’t think it will, because I would have never dreamt it in a million years.”

In 2022, John 5 swooped in to replace Mars who was leaving due to health reasons. However, not long after that, Mars went into a legal battle against his former bandmates, accusations were flying all over the place, and the guitarist even claimed that the band was relying heavily on backing track use at live shows for a very long time.

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

Now a permanent member, John 5 might be in an odd position, especially because he’s in good relations with Mick Mars as well. Nonetheless, as he also explains, he’s doing his best to do justice to Mick’s solos. Why? Simply because he’s a Mötley Crüe fan and he believes that these lead parts should not be improvised. Discussing Mick’s solos, he said:

“Well, I think doing them, I want to do them justice. I want to play them how they’re written, and I want to give the fans because — me being a fan as well — I love those solos. I grew up with those solos.”

“So all of them, I want to play to perfection because that’s how we’ve heard it our whole life, that’s how Mick has played them, and that’s how they are on the record.”

Motley Crue Live 2023 Part 1 of 2 videos 4K HDR Ohio Stadium 8/8/23

To explain it further, John 5 compared them to cinema:

“If you go see a movie and you’re like, ‘Hey, wait a minute! That’s not the line in the movie, the line in the movie goes, ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah,’ and that’s how I really want it to be, I just want it to be exactly how it is on the record. So all of it is a challenge to just get those little nuances out of squeals and notes and things like that and certain rhythms.”

But to do them justice and play them note-for-note requires being in shape. John added that he practices all the time so that he’s able to do them well:

“So I practice it a lot, making sure that everything is just right and just perfect. It’s very important to me and — me being a fan — I think it’s important to the fans as well.”

Mötley Crüe • HellFest 2023 • France • The World Tour

When asked what’s the funnest one to play live, it felt like a tough choice for John. Nonetheless, he had one song to single out:

“I mean, all of those songs in the set are a blast, but when we start ‘Wildside’ — because that’s the first song — it gives me this jolt of like, ‘Here we go.'”

But, again, it’s so hard to choose:

“And, of course, there’s so many! Like ‘Live Wire’ and ‘Dr. Feelgood’ — it’s like all of a sudden, you’re in a movie, you’re a part of this movie you’ve watched your whole life. So it really gives me so much excitement, and I think that’s so important.”

Motley Crue with John 5 - Wild Side Atlantic City, NJ February 10, 2023

Of course, a Mötley Crüe show is a Mötley Crüe show. Although everyone is a crucial part of the band, it’s not about John 5, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, or Tommy Lee. It’s about the band. Nonetheless, John is still a very unique guitar player and he still gets to do his own thing during the shows. Reflecting on his solo spot that he does every night, he said:

“I get to do my solo spot and I go so crazy, so absolutely crazy. Every night I have to have a beginning, but I usually change the middle up, and then I have an end, so they know where to end. Because if not, they’d be like, ‘What the hell is going on here?’ [Laughs]”

“So I give them an end, but in the middle, I always change it up. But yeah, I’m very thankful for that because I go absolutely berserk in the solo section.”

"John 5 Guitar Solo & Smokin/Helter Skelter/Bop Medley" Motley Crue@Atlantic City 2/11/23

Photos: Tyrel Snowden (John 5 (cropped)), Shadowgate (Motley Crue 19 (3689109499))

  • 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 and brands like Sam Ash.