Guns N' Roses groove came from funk jam sessions

Duff McKagan has recalled how jamming to classic funk records helped form the Guns N’ Roses rhythm section’s groove-fuelled style.

The bass player and drummer Steven Adler jammed along to Cameo and Sly And The Family Stone albums as they were honing the band’s early sound. And without that experience, McKagan says, they might never have developed the edge that made them the biggest rock band of their time.

McKagan tells Bass Frontiers: “Steven and I would play to Cameo, for Steven to get that groove. And that influenced the back groove on Appetite For Destruction. That’s all from playing to Cameo, Sly And The Family Stone. Just kind of playing along to some cassette.

“And then we played ourselves, and we developed grooves. And he really became probably the best small-kit groove drummer there ever was. No rack toms. Just a floor tom and a snare and a kick drum, hi-hat, cowbell. But all you got at that point is groove. Your groove’s gotta be deep, or go home. And he had a great groove.”

McKagan also talks about seeing Axl Rose in action with LA Guns in Hollywood before he joined GNR. He says: “It was at The Troubadour. I got there late and saw a couple of songs. And it was just like a bull loose in the ring.

“It was, like, ‘What the hell?’ And he was different. He wasn’t metal, and he wasn’t punk – he was like his own thing. And I identified with that.”

Rumours of a reunion of the classic GNR lineup have been doing the rounds since founding guitarist Slash said he and Rose were talking again.

Stef wrote close to 5,000 stories during his time as assistant online news editor and later as online news editor between 2014-2016. An accomplished reporter and journalist, Stef has written extensively for a number of UK newspapers and also played bass with UK rock favourites Logan. His favourite bands are Pixies and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Stef left the world of rock'n'roll news behind when he moved to his beloved Canada in 2016, but he started on his next 5000 stories in 2022.