"We figured, if we make this record some of our heroes can get some royalties": Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan on the making of "The Spaghetti Incident?"

Axl Rose in 1992
(Image credit: Michael Putland/Getty Images)

Later this month, Guns N’ Roses’ fifth album “The Spaghetti Incident?” turns 30 and to celebrate the anniversary, there’s a bumper feature in the new issue of Classic Rock delving into the songs that make up Axl & co.’s only covers album. The record brought a load of mostly obscure and mostly punk-rock tracks to a wider audience and Duff McKagan tells Classic Rock’s Dave Everley that it was good way to boost the coffers of the bands GN’ R loved who hadn’t necessarily made a huge amount of money from their music. 

“These were all songs we played in soundcheck or live over the years,” McKagan explains. “There was no plan to start with. We recorded a few songs, and then it was like, let’s just make a record… We figured, if we make this record and it sells, then if nothing else some of our heroes can get some royalties.”

The Damned’s 1976 single New Rose is one such track. The song is widely regarded as the first punk rock single but writer and guitarist Brian James explains in the feature that the claim meant nothing to them. “None of us gave a fuck about having the first punk single,” says James. “It was only the managers who cared about all that.”

What did matter, though, was that GN’ R chose to cover the song on “The Spaghetti Incident?”, a recording that James only found out about whilst reading an article in Rolling Stone. “They asked Slash what he’d been recording lately, and he said they’d done a Wings song and New Rose,” James says. “I thought: ‘Fucking hell! I might make some money from it for the first time in my life!’”

To read the full feature, guiding you through every track on “The Spaghetti Incident?” and the tales behind them, pick up a copy of the new issue of Classic Rock here.

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.