McKagan recalls Sex Pistol Steve's sober pep talk

Duff McKagan recalls how his “hero” Steve Jones helped him through the trauma of playing sober for the first time.

The Sex Pistols icon was a member of McKagan’s supergroup Neurotic Outsiders in the 1990s, along with Matt Sorum and Duran Duran’s John Taylor. But after getting sober following a near fatal bout of alcohol-induced pancreatitis in 1994, former GNR bassist McKagan was terrified by the prospect of playing live without alcohol.

He tells Esquire: “I spent about eight months thinking, ‘Well, I’m going to live, and I’m going to be sober.’ I just didn’t think I was going to be able to play live when I got sober, I just couldn’t equate that.

“Steve Jones and Matt and John Taylor and I started hanging out – Steve more, as he was sober at the time. He’s my hero, and we started mountain bike riding. Then I guess it was Shannon Hoon’s death – that first concert Neurotic Outsiders did was a benefit show for Shannon’s wife.”

He continues: “I was terrified to play live, and Steve Jones was like, ‘You got this, mate.’ And that was really a breakthrough for me, playing that show. At that point, I’d been sober for just over a year and I lost a lot of weight, much of it booze weight.

“I remember walking into that place and people staring at me. The rumour was that I had a facelift, and I was like, ‘No, I’m sober.’ We went, ‘Fuck it, ok,’ and for me it was figuring out how to play sober. I really didn’t leave Jones’ side.”

Meanwhile, Blabbermouth reports that McKagan – who has written a number of books, including his latest effort How To Be A Man (And Other Illusions), and also had a regular column with the Seattle Weekly – could write the official Alice In Chains biography.

McKagan says he spoke with AIC’s Sean Kinney about the idea recently. He adds: “I’m a proponent of that band, I think it’s just a victorious story.”

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.