The 5 Shows That Changed Duff McKagan’s Life
From Guns N’ Roses to Velvet Revolver and beyond, Duff McKagan has played his fair share of monumental live shows. But which ones have really stuck with the bona fide rock’n’roll legend? We sit down with the man himself to chat through the five gigs that made him who he is today.
The Clash at Paramount Theater, Seattle (1979)
“There were about 150 people there and we were pogoing, which was a new thing. The security thought we were fighting, so they punched a fan in the face. Joe Strummer stopped the show and Paul Simonon came out with an axe and threatened to chop down the barrier at the front of the stage. It was pretty cool! And it was formative for me. From that point on I’ve hated the term ‘rock star’. That’s fighting talk to me.”
The Vains at Washington Hall, Seattle (1980)
“This was my band in middle school, and we opened for Black Flag. One of our songs was called School Jerk. That Black Flag line-up had Ron Reyes singing, who was two singers before Henry Rollins and the one after [original vocalist] Keith Morris. The whole experience was super fucking intense. I had no idea how to play a live show. I think I even kicked someone in the head because I thought that that’s what you were supposed to do!”
Guns N' Roses at Hammersmith Odeon, London (1987)
“We played Hammersmith six months after the first time we came to London and played the Marquee, but then we sold out Hammersmith. To me, that was crazy. I thought, ‘This is it, we’ve made it!’ Credit to the Marquee because those were great shows and they were important for us, but the club is tiny. Hammersmith seemed huge. People forget that Guns N’ Roses broke first in the UK.”
Velvet Revolver at Hammersmith Apollo, London (2005)
“Again, I’ve got to say Hammersmith. It’s such a lovely room, and probably my favourite place to play. We played a few nights there, kind of like a residency in London. Of course it reminded me of playing there with Guns, nearly 20 years before, but also in the crowd were Jimmy Page and Brian May, which was obviously cool. Brian May came out onstage with us, actually, and that was, like, ‘Holy fuck!’”
Duff McKagan's Loaded at The Academy, Dublin (2009)
“This was a great show. We played the song Wasted Heart and everyone started singing along, to the point where we stopped playing and just listened to the crowd singing the song. It was the first time that Loaded had sort of had a hit, at least in one city, and because of that I remember feeling a real sense of community from that one show.”
Duff McKagan’s new solo album Tenderness is out May 31 via UME. He’s playing the UK this August and September – get your tickets now.
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