Duff McKagan was at one time the most underrated member of Guns N’ Roses, but he has proven himself as a musician and writer over time and is now getting the recognition he deserves. In addition to GNR, McKagan released a solo album Tenderness last year and has been a member of Neurotic Outsiders, 10 Minute Warning, Velvet Revolver, and Loaded, and has performed with Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction, and Hollywood Vampires. He had dropped out of high school in the 1980s but has since completed his education and founded a wealth management business. Duff is also the author of It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) and How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions). He rejoined Guns N’ Roses in 2016.
I didn’t know until just now that yesterday was actually Duff’s birthday…56 years young! Happy belated birthday Mr. McKagan!
Axl Rose and Slash, on stage together, playing music. Who would have thought such a thing would ever happen again? Last night at the Troubadour club in Los Angeles, the two feuding men buried their respective hatchets for a few hours and entertained fans along with original bassist Duff McKagan. Izzy Stradlin was replaced by Richard Fortus, and Steven Adler by Frank Ferrer, but there can be no denying the magic that was created by 3/5 of the original band last night.
I wish I had been there.
The fortunate rock fans who saw Guns N’ Roses last night did so for only $10. A limited number of tickets were made available to fans on a cash-only basis yesterday at noon. Cameras (including those that are sometimes used as cell phones) were not allowed in the venue, and there were reports of audience members being escorted out because they tried to snap a few shots or take video. A handful of photographs were posted on Twitter (like the one above, and I have no idea who originally posted it), and there are some twelve-second videos floating around Instagram.
Several questions were answered at last night’s show. First, as already mentioned, Adler and Izzy are not taking part in this reunion tour. It was already confirmed that Izzy would be a no-show, but rumors persisted that Adler would at least sit in for a few songs. That never materialized.
Second, songs from Chinese Democracy were a part of the setlist. The title track and “Better” were both performed by the band last night, and I would assume they will be a part of the set this summer since Slash and Duff took the time to learn them.
Third, Axl smiled. You can see it in the photo posted above. Whatever bad blood existed may still be there, but it is not boiling as hotly as before.
Will this lead to new music from Axl and Slash? I certainly hope so. While I plan to go to a show this summer, what I really want is new studio music from the bad boys of rock and roll. I love new music, and I can’t wait to hear what 3/5 of the original Guns N’ Roses has to offer fans after a 23-year hiatus.
How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions)
by Duff McKagan
Da Capo Press, 2015
In 2011, Duff McKagan’s first autobiography, It’s So Easy (And Other Lies) hit the bookshelves. In it, the bass player recounts the highs and lows (because of being high) with Guns N’ Roses, and his journey to recovery from drug addiction. On Friday, McKagan’s story continues in How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions), touring with a new band (Walking Papers), playing shows with Axl Rose in South America, being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, sitting in with Slash for one song when the guitarist opened for Aerosmith, and raising two teenage daughters.
In between tales of his life, McKagan throws in nuggets that he thinks every man should know, such as one hundred essential albums and more than forty books you should read. He explains the rules of sharing a hotel room (or other small space) with another person. He gives tips on international travel. And he explains the importance of loyalty, using the example of his BlackBerry.
McKagan is an entertaining character, and his second memoir made me chuckle several times as I read it. While he has sobered up, he has not cleaned up his language, so the book is not recommended for younger readers. McKagan briefly reminisces about his time in Guns N’ Roses while discussing the South America gigs with Axl, but the majority of this volume deals with 2012 to the present. Fans of McKagan’s columns on ESPN.com and SeattleWeekly.com will enjoy the witty banter of How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions).
It’s So Easy (And Other Lies)
by Duff McKagan
Touchstone Books, 2011
Over the past few years, rock fans have been treated to the life stories of some of the biggest names from the 1980s Hollywood scene. Last year Duff McKagan, original bass player for the legendary Guns N’ Roses, decided to join the fray with his own autobiography. If you have read Slash’s book, many of the GNR stories will sound familiar, but McKagan’s Seattle backstory shows a different dimension to the punk influences that shaped the band’s sound. Duff recounts his move to Los Angeles, the formation of one of the greatest hard rock groups ever, and the parts of the tours that he can remember. McKagan was so lost in a haze of illicit drugs that he didn’t realize he had been to the Czech Republic until he saw the stamp on his passport. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the only member of the band in that condition, and Axl Rose took advantage of the situation to secure rights to the Guns N’ Roses name.
McKagan briefly talks about his solo records, his time with Neurotic Outsiders, Loaded, and Velvet Revolver, and his health struggles, much of which stemmed from his drug and alcohol use. He writes about getting sober, getting healthy, going back to school, and starting a family. His story is one of rags to riches, financially, physically, and emotionally.
With Chinese Democracy set to hit the store shelves on Sunday, we’ll be celebrating with a special two-hour GNR-themed show this Saturday on Hard Rock Nights! Be sure to tune in to catch some of the best Gunner tracks ever recorded, as well as some of the bad boys’ side project material and other related songs and artists. It’s Saturday night, November 22, 9-11 pm eastern on classxradio.com!