Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It's So Easy: and Other Lies by Duff McKagan

Autobiographies? Really? It seems I'm living in a strange universe where I am not only reading classic French and Russian literature, but also reading rock n' roll autobiographies. I don't understand it myself as of late. I swore to never touch a rock memoir because they were bound to be boring or completely wrong about points in history. Or it would be something like a bloated version of a Behind the Music special that I already had seen. It's nothing new today. Collect another memory. 

I was wrong, though. At least as far as Duff McKagan's book was concerned. All I can say is "wow."

Duff McKagan has always come across to me as the quietest former member of the classic GN'R. Outside of Izzy, that is. I knew very little about him despite owning quite a few of his albums. I suppose it wouldn't be completely reaching if I called Velvet Revolver the band of my childhood and early teenage years. I was a 90's child so GN'R was before my time, but I was born a rock n' roll child. Appetite for Destruction was among the first albums I ever owned and I still have the same CD that is by now over a decade old. I wasn't even a teenager yet when I got it. 

Velvet Revolver was up my alley. 

I was super excited for Slash and Duff to be back at it again. Matt Sorum, too. Then Velvet Revolver came crashing down and Duff sort of fell off of my rock radar again. 

His 2011 book was brought to my attention when it was on sale on Amazon. For all of two bucks. I read some of the reviews, but what got my attention was the five star rating. It's one thing to see a four and a half star book, but a five star book? On Amazon where almost every internet warrior and their mother seems to be ready to spit vitriolic sentiment toward a given subject? 

I was intrigued. So I coughed up two bucks and read it. Best two bucks ever spent, right there. 

Duff impressed me. If he were to one day decide to write fiction I just might try it out. Duff can write. There were times where he was describing his family life that I was literally laughing. I didn't expect that. He seems to be an excellent father, husband, and even someone worthy of asking advice. He's even a pet owner. Basically he has somehow transformed into the main character of Dean Koontz novel. He has what we all refer to as "the life."

I approached this book sure I was going to get "the dirt" on Guns, but I got a lot more. This was his journey from rags to riches to almost knocking on heaven's door to riches again. Before I started this book I always had a dream that maybe Guns N' Roses would reunite. The real Guns. Not what Axl parades today. 

Now that I've read this book I am actually okay with GN'R never getting back together again. I am okay with Axl's GN'R. Because, if Duff can be okay with it, then who the hell am I to argue? 

Duff McKagan is lucky to be alive. Not only that, but he is lucky to have come out of the other end with a beautiful family and a sense of humor. I'm not sure if he would want me to compare him to a fine wine, but Duff has literally gotten better with age. He's smarter, healthier, and even more talented than he was when he decided to light out for LA back in the day. 

I'm rooting for him to keep kicking addiction's ass. 

Some of his stories are horrific. He smartly chose to introduce his pancreatitis early on in the book and it left a huge impression on me and made me want to have to keep on reading. Lesson learned: Don't drink so much alcohol you have to do cocaine just to function. 

This isn't a pretty book. Of course, it wasn't going to be and I knew that, but I still found myself ill-prepared for just some of the things he went through and did. And if he couldn't hang with the guys from Motley Crue in his most debauched prime then I'm not sure if I even want to touch The Dirt. Holy shit. 

Just about all of his bands are touched on. I especially liked that he took the time to mention his Neurotic Outsiders days. I have a soft spot for those tunes. 

Obviously, Duff and the GN'R gang could have and should have done things different than what they did when things started falling apart. Maybe, rather than signing away the band name, they should have banded together and fired Axl. Maybe they should have just started playing their shows with or without Axl. 

Who really knows what might have happened, but most of the time Duff, Matt, and Slash were too fucked up to stand up straight and that's probably why nothing like that did happen. Izzy was probably the smartest guy of the bunch for getting out of there. 

Duff certainly didn't cut any corners with the debauched details, but he definitely gave respect where it was due and managed to restrain some. All of the groupies are thankfully left nameless. The recording sessions for each song aren't gone into such minute detail that it becomes boring. In fact, the buildup to the Appetite record is gone into with some great and glorious detail, but the recording of the albums themselves is largely left undescribed from a technical standpoint. So it doesn't read like an article from Guitar World. People who aren't musicians themselves can enjoy this book without worrying about musical jargon. 

Perhaps I should reconsider my opinion of rock memoirs now, but I am still convinced that most of them should be avoided like the plague. 

This one is different. It's not just an inspirational story, but a compulsively readable one at that. Way to go, Duff. Can't wait for that next book. 


  1. Sly Stone was one of the great Soul/Funk artists of the late 60s-early 70s and I always wondered what happened to him. With this book, I found out that he was smoking crack in Duff's bathroom.

    What sets this book apart from the others of it's kind is how Duff avoids the blame game with other band members. He is a "they are what they are, I am what I am and it is what it is" kind of guy. No matter what happened, he still likes them and blames himself as much as anyone else if things didn't go the way he wanted them too. That's a rare quality for this type of book.

    1. While I was on YouTube I checked out a clip of Duff on Dr. Phil. In that clip there was a video of what Sly Stone was up to as of 2011. Time has definitely not been kind to him. It's really sad.

      I found myself actually glad that he and Axl managed to sort of meet up and bury the hatchet at the end. Although part of me did want him to just snap and blow up at Axl. Duff is a stronger dude than I.

  2. BTW - I like this font you are using. (Either you changed it recently or my vision got better - XD)

    1. I changed the format up a bit. I liked the previous format, but it wouldn't let me post certain functions so I figured when I changed up the format I would also make the words bigger, bolder, and easier to see. My vision isn't getting better so it helps me, too. :)