"He called Chad Smith 'drummer'. Like, 'Drummer, can you hit that on the up beat?' And this is Chad Smith!" Duff McKagan on what it’s like being in a band with punk rock don, Iggy Pop

Iggy Pop and Duff McKagan, 2023
(Image credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Duff McKagan has never been shy in lending his bass skills to other artists’ projects. The Guns N’ Roses man has rocked up with his four-string on albums by Jerry Cantrell, Mark Lanegan, Manic Street Preachers, Ozzy Osbourne and more, but you imagine one of his collaborators particularly stands out. McKagan, a dyed in the wool punk rocker, has played on two Iggy Pop albums – 1990’s Brick By Brick and this year’s Every Loser – and the former Stooges frontman returns the favour on McKagan’s new solo album Lighthouse, making a spoken-word cameo appearance. In an interview with Dave Everley in the new issue of Classic Rock, McKagan was asked what Iggy Pop was really like given everyone thinks of him as a “wild man who is always getting dick out”. That's not so far from the truth, McKagan replies.

“Well, he’s still the wild guy getting his dick out [laughs],” says the G N’R man. “It’s hard for me to have a regular relationship with him, cos he’s been Iggy Pop to me since I discovered The Stooges when I was twelve or thirteen years old. I’ve been lucky enough to play on two of his records. He’s such a hard worker; he’s kind of like James Brown in how he runs a band. The last time, it was me, Chad Smith, Jamie from The Kills. And he called Chad 'drummer'. Like: 'Drummer – can you hit that on the up beat?' And this is Chad Smith!"

When Classic Rock enquires if Duff was referred to as “bassist”, he says not yet. “I was waiting for it to happen. He did ask one of the guys in the band if he smoked: “Maybe you should have a cigarette on that song.” I was like: “I really hope I don’t get asked to smoke a cigarette.” But he’s very appreciative of musicians, and he’s a lovely, lovely man.”

For the full interview, including Duff talking about his new solo record, getting Slash to do a solo on it, the plan for him and Jerry Cantrell to make an album together and more, pick up a copy of the new issue of Classic Rock here.

The cover of Classic Rock 321

(Image credit: Future)
Niall Doherty

Niall Doherty is a writer and editor whose work can be found in Classic Rock, The Guardian, Music Week, FourFourTwo, on Apple Music and more. Formerly the Deputy Editor of Q magazine, he co-runs the music Substack letter The New Cue with fellow former Q colleagues Ted Kessler and Chris Catchpole. He is also Reviews Editor at Record Collector. Over the years, he's interviewed some of the world's biggest stars, including Elton John, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Robert Plant and more. Radiohead was only for eight minutes but he still counts it.