McKagan recalls Sex Pistol Steve's sober pep talk

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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.”