Mick Mars has always been the shadowy figure of Motley, the most unlikely & the blackest of the Crue sheep. The ‘Mars Face’ was the horror element in those old posters & would stare down from the wall as both a threat & an invitation to the dark side of the Crue.
Mick is a complicated person. He is partly a revision of himself, his success & vindication as a musician with Motley Crue seems to have almost erased his original personality as Robert Deal from Indiana. His alcohol addiction in the 1980s & then his present-day troubles with the rare bone disease Ankylosing spondylitis & his perseverance as Motley’s strange & ragged guitarist has made him a bit of an underground hero. His figure on stage is both Quasimodo & elder Rock God, his restricted movements making him look like Lon Chaney jr. in the Mummy’s garb.
This is s a video of a Mick solo in Quebec, Canada from the Theatre of Pain Tour in October, 1985. He gets pissed at an audience member who’s throwing shit at him & then proceeds to shred.
Mick treated the concert guitar solo like a spectacle so you basically just get a lot of wanking but the man is to be remembered & celebrated for his ensemble playing with the Motleys & the amazing riffs & memorable solos he played on the Crue tunes.
I have too many favourite Mars solos to present here but here’s one tune I’ve always liked & even has Mick playing rather restrained & tastefully. Mick’s playing is all about the dynamic between fast & slow, high & low & I love how he comes out of this slide solo with a high screaming note (something he often did). The solo begins around the 2:30 mark but there’s nice slide stuff all through the tune.
There are bootlegs of Mick in some of the bands he played in before the Crue & you hear solos that were later transplanted almost note-for-note into Motley Crue tunes. He obviously had some written pieces he really liked & recycled some of his better ideas.
The Crue playing ‘Slice of Your Pie’ in 1989 & into Mick’s solo. Although we love the Man from Mars it should be admitted that his playing isn’t always astronomical . . . he can be sloppy at times & certainly holding down all the guitar duties for Motley live is not the easiest job in the world.
Although the guitar sound on Theatre of Pain is dated there is still some great work on that album. Crue were moving into cock-rock territory here but there are still elements of metal & Mick plays some melodic & titanic solos. ‘Use It Or Lose It’ is a tour-de-force all around with Tommy’s double-bass attack & the main guitar riff a rhythmic monster (great lyrics too). Mick’s solo is explosive & has some of that metal sound that Crue were just about to shrug off by Girls, Girls, Girls.
Here’s a very old Mick article from, I think, a Hit Parader in 1985-86. The oldest member of Motley reflects on Vince’s car accident from 1984 & how well the band is getting along despite all the turmoil. Do things ever change for these guys?! Here they are 26 years later, doing it again for their 2011 tour. Mick talks about how they came to cover ‘Smokin’ In the Boys Room’ & it has been announced this song will be resurrected (with a new arrangement) for this year’s tour.
We’ll leave with this rare video of Mick sitting in with a hip-hop band (featuring Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello on bass) doing ‘Dr. Feelgood.’ Look how cool that old fucker is!
Happy Birthday Mick Mars!