"There is no other choice. It has to be him. Who is this short, long-haired, Cousin It waiting to plug in?" This is how former Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee described his first meeting with Mick Mars, guitarist for the seminal '80s glam rock band Mötley Crüe. Unbeknownst to Lee, Mars was a seasoned guitar player who was quite a bit older and had played in numerous bands (White Horse, Vendetta) prior to that fortuitous day. Born Bob Alan Deal on April 4, 1955, in Terre Haute, IN, the Deal family eventually settled in Huntington, IN, where he attended his first concert. This event would inspire him to pick up the guitar (he actually began on bass guitar) and join his first band, a Beatles cover group called the Jades. He was 14 years old. By then, he and his family had relocated to Garden Grove, a small community in Southern California. Citing influences ranging from Jeff Beck to the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Mars would eventually land the lead guitar slot in what would become one of the biggest rock bands of the '80s.
After playing for years in various bands around the Los Angeles area, Mars placed an ad in a local paper to which Mötley Crüe founder/bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee responded. Mars was hired on the spot. The band went on to add vocalist Vince Neil and proceeded to gig around Hollywood creating a buzz with their outrageous stage show. A show which included Mars' spitting blood à la Gene Simmons-style and Sixx lighting himself on fire. The band eventually landed a record deal with Elektra Records and Mars began what would become a very tempestuous but rewarding songwriting collaboration experience with Sixx — one that would propel the band into super stardom. Mars was often perceived as the overly reclusive and quiet member of the band; however, this perception was created by a degenerative bone condition called ankylosing spondylitis. This disease caused the guitarist to appear hunched over on- and off-stage, resulting in his image as the shy and mysterious member. The disease also spawned a serious alcohol addiction that landed him in rehab years later. After signing their record deal, Elektra went on to reissue the band's self-produced first album, Too Fast for Love, in 1982.
The follow-up album, 1983's Shout at the Devil, put these Hollywood bad boys on the metal map as Mars and the band dominated '80s metal. They released three multi-platinum albums in a row; 1985's Theatre of Pain, 1987's Girls, Girls, Girls, and their most commercially successful album to date, 1989's Dr. Feelgood, the end result of Mars' catchy rock riffs (while frequently intoxicated) and Sixx's rebellious and sexually driven lyrics.
As the '90s loomed on the horizon, Mötley Crüe was at a crossroads. Neil left the band and alternative/grunge rock became mainstream. John Corabi soon replaced Neil, who in addition to singing was also an accomplished guitar player. Corabi proceeded to play some guitar parts on the band's 1994 self-titled album. This infuriated Mars. He didn't have to worry for too long, as Corabi was subsequently fired when the album did not sell. Neil was rehired, and the original lineup was once again intact. The reunion album, Generation Swine, was released in 1997 and New Tattoo followed in 1999. ~ Eric Linden