“I see young people at Guns N’ Roses shows and think, ‘There should be a band that‘s 21 or 22 that you’re losing your mind to’”: GN’R bassist Duff McKagan on whether rock’n’roll has a future

Duff McKagan in the studio
(Image credit: Charles Peterson)

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan is a man who knows a thing or two about rock’n’roll. His band’s debut album, Appetite For Destruction, defined an era and went on to sell more than 30 million copies worldwide. Duff himself has played with everyone from Iggy Pop to Jane’s Addiction, and recently released his acclaimed third solo album, Lighthouse.

In a new interview with Classic Rock, the bassist addresses the subject of rock’n’roll’s future. Asked if a guitar band coming out now could have the same impact as Guns N’ Roses, he says that he’s hopeful that guitar music still has life in it.

“Man, I hope so,” he says. “I see these young people coming out to Guns show, and I’m, like, ‘Man, it’s cool you’re coming to see us, but there should be a band that’s 21 or 22 that you’re fucking losing your shit to.’ I don’t know if it’ll be the same, but I fucking hope so.”

In the same interview, he opens up about his long musical relationship with Iggy Pop. McKagan first worked the former Stooges singer in his 1990 album Brick By Brick and again on this year’s Ever Loser album. Iggy repaid the favour by making a guest appearance on Lighthouse.

“To me, there’s Prince and there’s Lemmy and there’s Iggy,” says Duff. “And Iggy is a deity to me - it’s hard for me to have a regular relationship with him, because he’s been a hero of mine since I was 12 or 13 years old and I discovered The Stooges.

“Back when I played on a record with him in the early 1990s, I was drinking. I was a little bit more, ‘Yeah, man, fuck yeah!’ But doing that last record with him now, and playing those shows with him [in April 2023], he’s such a hard worker. He’s kind of like James Brown in how he runs a band. 

“He had a band, which was me and [Red Hot Chili peppers drummer] Chad Smith and Jamie [Hince, guitarist] from The Kills and [guitarist/producer] Andrew Watt. We’re professionals, y’know. But he’ll call Chad “drummer”. He has notes on every song and he’ll go, ‘OK guys, gather round. Drummer! Can you hit that on the upbeat?’

“He did ask one of the other guys if he smoked. ‘Maybe you should have a cigarette on that song.’ I was thinking, ‘I really hope I don’t get asked to smoke a cigarette on that song.

“But he really is very good at running a band, and he’s very appreciative of musicians. And my two daughters both fucking love him. They came to one of the shows, and I see him over in the corner enraptured in a conversation with them, just going for it. He’s an all-round nice guy.”

Duff’s new album, Lighthouse, is out now on


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