Duff McKagan recalls meeting future Guns N’ Roses bandmate Slash for the first time: ‘I’m like, Oh wow!’

Duff + Slash
(Image credit: Marc S Canter/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan has spoken about his very first meeting with future bandmate Slash… and his first realisation that the guitarist was someone special. 

Speaking on Spotify’s Rock This With Allison Hagendorf podcast alongside Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, who has just released an album by one of McKagan’s pre GN’R bands, The Living, on his Loosegroove label, McKagan recalls meeting the guitarist, and future GN’R drummer Steven Adler, at Canter’s restaurant in LA shortly after moving to the city in 1983.

 “I had come down [from Seattle] and played punk rock gigs [in L.A.], but I didn’t know anybody in Hollywood, and here I was,” McKagan remembers. “His name was Slash in the ad. We talked on the payphone, and I thought he’d be some, like, punker guy like me. ‘Cause it was ’84.”

“By ’84, people were looking, like, ‘Whatever’s gonna be next is gonna be on our shoulders. Punk’s done.’ The hardcore had come in and kind of ruined a lot of punk scenes. It was these suburban jock guys who shaved their heads and started beating up people and doing ‘Sieg Heils.’ It was, like, ‘This is not punk, guys’.”

“So this guy’s name was Slash,” McKagan continues. “The influences he liked were Fear, Aerosmith, Alice Cooper… I’m, like, okay, but this guy’s going kind of where I’m going. I had blue hair, short blue hair. I walked into Canter’s. And they told me what booth they were gonna be at. So I found the booth, and it’s these two long-haired guys, and I’m, like, ‘Woah.’ It was kind of a culture shock, and I think I was a little bit of a culture shock to them. But we sat down and started talking, and we talked about music. And that’s the thing that – it’s a universal thing.”

“We went back to Slash’s house, his mom’s basement, and he started playing acoustic guitar. [Previously] I had played with these guys Stone mentioned - [10 Minute Warning’s] Paul Solger – he was the guitar player [at the time], he could play leads and he was smooth and slick, and I thought he was the best guy on the West Coast. And I got in this basement with Slash, and I’m, like, Oh…, oh wow!”

“We were in awe of Guns N’ Roses when that record [Appetite For Destruction] came out,” says Stone Gossard. “That album was a game-changer, like Nirvana was a game-changer or Jane’s Addiction.”

Gossard’s Loosegroove label released The Living:1982 on April 16.

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