Mick Mars Opens Up on How His Condition Affects His Playing, Recalls How Jimi Hendrix Influenced Him

Former Mötley Crüe guitar player Mick Mars spoke up on his medical condition, revealing how it impacts his ability to perform.

Now in his early 70s, Mick is still going strong, releasing his first-ever solo record, “The Other Side of Mars,” on February 23. And he’s doing this despite decades of dealing with ankylosing spondylitis. But although he’s holding up, the condition is not an easy one to wrestle with. He’s writing and recording new music, but it’s a never-ending struggle.

As Mick told My Global Mind magazine in a recent interview, dealing with ankylosing spondylitis, or just AS, is a part of his everyday life, and he manages to play his instrument due to a specific type of condition that he’s dealing with.

Mick Mars Talks The Other Side of Mars, How AS Doesn’t Impact His Playing and Plans to Write Book

“AS rarely goes down to your hands or feet, but mine is about down to my knees,” Mars said (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs). “My knees are starting to be really, really whacked, but that’s about it. [Hands] stay fine.”

Of course, there’s still some hands-related issues that he’s dealing with. But fortunately, in Mick’s case, it’s far from an issue that makes his work impossible.

“I think a very small percent of people get it in their hands, and stuff,” the guitar legend continued. “That would be more like a rheumatoid arthritis instead of ankylosing spondylitis, which is what I have. I got lucky!”

And lucky he is. Before the album even dropped, we got the chance to hear its first single back at the end of October 2023. Although it wasn’t blues-rock-based as some people might have expected, we still got a collection of pretty interesting modern metal material, but with Mick’s unique twist.

Speaking of blues rock, Mars also discussed how he was inspired by Jimi Hendrix. Back in the day, when he was just a young guitar player, it wasn’t exactly easy to figure out how to play the instrument properly. And, as he said during the chat, he learned about bar chords from watching Jimi. Discussing the matter of barre chords, he said:

“Actually, I got that part of my playing with Jimi Hendrix because before I discovered Jimi Hendrix, I didn’t play barre chords — I played with my thumb over the top. And he was a guitar player that made me go like, ‘How cool is that?’ [Laughs]”

And this, obviously, helped him make his playing sound different. Mick added:

“But yeah, say you’re playing that chord in A, and when you have this thumb over the top, and it hits the bottom, the energy goes, ‘pfft’! It just sounds fatter.”

Mick Mars on perseverance & post-Mötley Crüe music | On The Record

When it comes to his new album, some people were expecting Mars to bring old recordings featuring John Corabi, vocalist who sang for Mötley Crüe back in the 1990s. However, when asked about what happened to the material, Mick simply said that he felt like it’s not worth releasing, simply because it won’t fit the current times.

In fact, when asked about whether we’ll ever get the chance to hear these songs, Mars simply replied by saying “No, certainly not.” He then proceeded to explain:

“I just feel like they’re dated now. I could have somebody else do them, but I don’t want to put it on my record.”

Mick Mars - Undone

Speaking of the matter, Mars also pointed out that the album where Corabi fronted Mötley Crüe, the 1994 self-titled release, is his favorite one. The guitarist continued:

“And another reason is [that it] is like taking a step backward to me — to the Mötley Crüe John Corabi album, which was, in my opinion, the best Mötley album. A lot of people didn’t like it, but to me, I went like, ‘Wow, this is really good!'”

In an interview from late 2023, not long after his debut solo single was released, Mick discussed his decision to do a metal album instead of a blues rock one as people expected.

“I love all that stuff,” Mars said of bluesy music. “And I was pretty sure that the Mars-listening audience would expect that.”

“And I didn’t want it to be predictable. So I wanted to get the big, thick, heavy stuff that sometimes I couldn’t do.”

“I mean, I could always do it. But yeah, I think that everybody was thinking more that it was going to be a little bit more bluesy and that kind of stuff. So I went in the opposite direction.”

Photo: Shadowgate (Motley Crue 19 (3689109499)), A. Vente (HendrixHoepla1967-2)

  • 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 Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.