The Untold Truth Of Motley Crue's Mick Mars

The legendary '80s hair metal band Mötley Crüe would not be what they are today if it weren't for Mick Mars, the band's lead guitarist and co-songwriter (born Robert Alan Deal), p  er AllMusic. A founding member of the Crüe, Mars has stood with the group through thick and thin — and since Mötley Crüe is known for their wild lifestyle nearly much as for their seven platinum albums — there's been more than enough of that to go around. There's a reason, after all, that the hard-rocking LA-based four-piece calls themselves "The World's Most Notorious Rock Band" on their official website.

That's not all there is to know about Mick Mars, however. From humble Midwest beginnings to the bright lights of Hollywood, Mars has been a musician since he was a boy. He has also struggled with many personal and health-related issues throughout his life, both before and after he found fame. Among other interesting facts about Mars, his early musical interests were very different from what he would one day be known for. Over the years, he's also lent his guitar-playing skills to a surprising number of projects beyond just Mötley Crüe. Here are some additional things you may not have known about the immortal heavy metal guitarist, Mick Mars — without a doubt one of the greatest musicians of his generation.

Mick Mars didn't start out playing heavy metal music

Per AllMusic, Mick Mars was born on May 4, 1955, in Terre Haute, Indiana before his family relocated to Huntington, Indiana. It was around this time when Mars, known then as Robert Deal, saw a country music act perform at a 4-H fair in Indiana and decided that music was what he wanted to do with his life. In 2012, he told Goldmine that even though he was only 3 years old at the time, he knew he wanted to play the guitar. "I saw this country musician play at the fair; his name was Skeeter Bond, and he had on this orange outfit with sequins all over it," Mars recalled, "and he wore this large Stetson hat and he played guitar and sang ... I said, 'That's what I'm doing with my life'" (via Goldmine). Following that, Mars' mother gave him an Elvis Presley haircut, the first step in becoming a rock star.

"I had every intention of being who I am today," Mars continued. "It didn't matter how many days, or years, it took, or how many dues I had to pay," he said (per Goldmine). It's surprising enough for anyone who's ever heard Mötley Crüe to learn that Mick Mars' early musical inspirations were not hard rock at all but country music. But that's not the only example of an unexpected musical influence in Mars' upbringing. According to his Goldmine interview, young Mick Mars also loved The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Dick Dale.

He's a decade older than his Mötley Crüe bandmates

Reading that list of what Mars liked as a teenager, it's perhaps unsurprising that he's roughly 10 years older than the rest of the Crüe; a Baby Boomer in a band full of Gen Xers. Mars had dropped out of high school and had relocated to Los Angeles to pursue his music career, performing blues rock and working odd jobs, according to AllMusic. He even used the stage name Zorky Charlemagne in this period, as he had yet to adopt the moniker he is now famous for, per

Also according to, one of Mick Mars' pre-Mötley Crüe projects was called White Horse. Interestingly, the members of White Horse were described as a "motley crew," and Mars noted the name for a future project. Around 1980, though, White Horse stalled out. Mars knew of Vince Neil from a group Neil was playing in at the time called Rock Candy and was also acquainted with Tommy Lee. It was also around this time that Robert Alan Deal became Mick Mars. "I was reinventing myself ... things were changing, and I needed to change, too," he told Goldmine.

Mars wrote several of Mötley Crüe's most well-known songs

Not long after Mick Mars got Mötley Crüe together, they were playing sold-out shows at Whiskey a Go Go and The Roxy Theatre, typifying a Sunset Strip hard rock and heavy metal sound that would take off on the radio and on MTV just a few short years later, per the official Whiskey a Go Go website. That later chart-topping success for Mötley Crüe was directly related to the hit songs Mars either wrote or co-wrote with the band. That includes some of Crüe's most memorable material, like "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Dr. Feelgood," and "Kickstart My Heart," according to Ultimate Classic Rock.

And even though he was a good deal older than the rest of the group, age was only a number, as Mars told Goldmine. "My age wasn't my age," he explained, remembering that time in his life. "I was 30, but I wasn't thinking like a 30-year-old. I was thinking more like a teenager. I was hungry, and I wanted to make it." Soon, Mars and the band performed at a major metal festival called Heavy Metal Day and were signed to Elektra Records. "We started recording that just a few months after we were together," Mars said (via Goldmine). To say to those who claim Mars invented the Sunset Strip sound, he says: "I don't think I did anything special. I just did what I did, that's all." 

Mick Mars allegedly almost got fired from Crüe

By 1984, Mick Mars' band was on top of the rock 'n' roll world, opening for veteran heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne on a U.S. tour. It was at this point, though, that the Crüe considered axing their primary axman. That's according to Ozzy bassist Bob Daisley, who gave a firsthand account of a Crüe band meeting when the other three members conspired to get rid of Mars while the guitarist wasn't around, according to Blabbermouth. "What they were planning on doing was getting rid of Mick and getting another guitarist in," Daisley recalled. And they asked me for my opinion. So I said, 'Well, if you want my opinion, for what it's worth, I would say do not try to fix something that's not broken'" (per Blabbermouth). 

Mars playing was good for the band, according to Daisley. "You've got a chemistry there," Daisley continued. "You've got a functioning unit. Mick Mars is part of that. Don't f*** it up. That's my opinion. Just don't do it.' And I think I saved Mick's neck that night 'cause they were getting serious about getting someone else," he said (per Blabbermouth). According to Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx, though, Daisley's story is completely made up. Jake E. Lee, the Ozzy guitarist that the rest of the band wanted to bring in to replace Mars, on the other hand, confirms it's the truth (per iHeart).

He manages mental health issues

Professional struggles aside, Mick Mars has also managed several mental health challenges throughout his life, as he revealed in 2002's "The Dirt: Confessions of the World's Most Notorious Rock Band," a Mötley Crüe autobiography Mars co-wrote with the other band members. Per AV Club, Mars writes in the book that he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking, and lack of motivation, according to Psychiatry. He's also struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. In the Mötley Crüe memoir "The Dirt," Mars recounted a particularly harrowing experience when he was so inebriated he walked into the ocean in order to kill himself, only to wake up a short time later. When he returned to the rest of the band, he wondered if he might be a ghost.

Substance use disorder has also been an ongoing challenge for the musician. Per The Fix, Mars has been sober since at least 2012, when he said, "I don't smoke. I don't drink. I don't have many vices, except playing my guitar too much," he says. "I guess I'm kind of a boring guy these days. But that's how I'm gonna keep going with Mötley Crüe as long as I can" (via The Fix). According to Mars, his playing has improved with sobriety. "[I]t's really helped," he said. "I'm still no gentleman," he added, "I'm still as big an a****** as ever."

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.

He has a rare and debilitating spinal disease

Substance use disorder and mental and emotional well-being are not the only life challenges managed by Mick Mars. According to Yahoo!, Mick Mars was diagnosed at the age of 17 with a rare spinal disease called ankylosing spondylitis, which causes parts of a person's spine to fuse together, and in the case of Mick Mars, leads to his hunched-forward appearance. It also causes a great deal of pain, which Mars pushes through when he performs. "I am able to keep touring," Mars tells Goldmine. "I have days that are worse than others, and there is always some amount of pain with my hips. There are good days and bad days, but it is more of an inconvenience than anything else. I don't feel sick," he said.

Not everything about ankylosing spondylitis is a problem, Mars continues. "There is one thing that is cool: I ended up bent. I can always see my guitar," he said (via Goldmine). Mars has also lost several inches off his adult height because of the condition (per Yahoo!). According to the Spondylitis Association of America, a combination of environmental and genetic factors contribute to the condition, described as a chronic form of arthritis. There is no known cure, but through early detection and treatments and therapies, progression can be slowed and the pain caused by the disease can be managed. Mars has now had hip-replacement surgery, according to MTV.

Mick Mars has three children

Mick Mars' life is about more than just music and rock bands. According to, he met his first wife, Sharon Deal, when he was 19 and Sharon was only 16 years old. The two would go on to have two children together. The first, a boy, named appropriately enough Les Paul after the legendary guitar maker, and the next, a girl named Stormy. Deal divorced Mars before Mötley Crüe, and she even had Mars thrown in jail over unpaid child support. Mars would go on to marry Mötley Crüe backup singer Emi Canyn but they would divorce only four years later. Otherwise, Mars has been romantically linked to a number of other women (via Ranker). Today he is married to Swiss model Seraina Schönenberger (pictured above), per Famous People.

Being a world-famous rock star puts a strain on a father's relationship with his children. This is particularly true in Mars' situation. His third child, Erik Deal, keeps out of the spotlight and his biological mother has not been made public, via eCelebrityMirror. For her part, Stormy Deal also keeps a low profile, but she has said that she is proud of her parents (via Blabbermouth). She also inherited ankylosing spondylitis from her father. Les Paul, who is also a musician, is a somewhat more visible profile in interviews with Bowling Green, Virginia radio station 96.9 "The Rock," among others, available to hear now on Soundcloud.

Mick Mars likes the John Corabi era of Crüe

In the early to mid-`90s, original Crüe singer Vince Neil was fired from the band. Replacing Neil on vocals was John Corabi (pictured above), best known for fronting The Scream, via AllMusic. Corabi would sing for Crüe on two albums, a self-titled 1994 release, and then later, in the run-up to their next album called "Generation Swine." Never reaching the success of Crüe's earlier material, Corabi himself was fired in the middle of recording that second album, and Neil was brought back in to finish it.

Although never as successful as earlier Crüe records were, Mars has a special place in his heart for the one complete Crüe album the band recorded with Corabi. "I thought that was probably — to me, and I can only speak for me, I think that was probably the best album we've done," he said in an interview. "Musical-wise, the songs, I felt, were strong,' he continued. "And just musically, to me, it was, I guess, my Beatles 'White Album'; that's kind of how I feel about that one. I'm not saying that any of my other albums are crummy or anything like that — I love every album that we did — but that one just has a special thing for me," he said (via Blabbermouth).

He likes to collaborate with younger artists

Mötley Crüe has had an undeniable influence on generations of young musicians, none more so than John LeCompt (pictured above) and Rocky Gray, former members of the popular Millennial-era hard rockers Evanescence. After the dissolution of their band, both LeCompt and Gray formed Machina, and their hero Mick Mars sat in with the group, producing a track in his home studio, according to Blabbermouth. Machina drummer Rocky Gray spoke about the experience. "[T]o play with Mötley and Mick Mars and Nikki Sixx and Vince [Neil], stuff like that — it is really, really, really cool to be able to have those experiences and do that. Play those songs that you love listening to with the people that wrote them you know. It's awesome," Gray said (via Pop Entertainment).

Mars has also collaborated and contributed to a number of other artists' projects as well, including Hinder's "Take it to the Limit" from 2008, Papa Roach, Murderdolls, and Pop Evil, among many others (via AllMusic). On working with Mars, Hinder said in a statement, "Mick Mars was all for working with us, and being huge Mötley Crüe fans we jumped at the opportunity. We took the song to him, and he killed it! He heard the final version and said, 'It was a beautiful thing.' We went to his house, and it was like the Batcave — nothing but guitars and amps. He is a vampire and so are all of us," he said (via BraveWords).

He has an unreleased solo album

With all the time Mars has spent playing with Mötley Crüe, he's still managed to branch out into some projects of his own. A few years ago there were rumors of Mars working on a solo project, which he confirmed in his Goldmine interview. "Everybody is saying that I'm doing a blues record," Mars said. "It will be a blues record, per se, but it will be more like how Edgar Winter interprets the blues. It will have a '70s kind of feeling, but I will be writing in a more current style of music. I want to mix those two styles together," he said (via Goldmine).

One of the musicians collaborating with Mars on his solo debut, Jacob Bunton, told AL that the album was almost finished in February of 2020, but it has yet to be released. Bunton couldn't give an exact date, but he did take the liberty to describe Mars' guitar playing: "The power goes out it's so loud. It's louder than anything you've ever heard in your life. Louder than a jet engine — I'm not exaggerating. He runs through so many cabinets and heads and everything it is insane, but his tone is just the most incredible thing you've heard." The solo Mars record may also feature none other than John Corabi, per VOI. That combined with a 2022 stadium tour planned with his old band, means we haven't heard the last from Mick Mars or Mötley Crüe (via Loudwire).