Duff McKagan Details First Meeting With Slash, Early Seattle Punk Scene
Though Guns N' Roses are known for their years running the Sunset Strip in L.A., bassist Duff McKagan is from Seattle, and had actually played in a few punk bands in the early music scene there. On an episode of Rock This With Allison Hagendorf, he detailed his first time meeting Slash, and how the Seattle scene greatly differed from Los Angeles.
"[Seattle] was a small scene, we all knew each other," McKagan recalled. "We did what we wanted to do, we didn't care what anybody said. People would think Seattle people were fucking weird, but we had each others' backs. We went to each others' gigs. When somebody like Green River would try something new, it's like 'Fucking great. We're in.'"
His move from Seattle to L.A. was quite a wake up call, though, because the music scenes were entirely different.
"I met Slash like the first week I was there through an ad in a paper, and he kinda introduced me into the scene. Took me to some shows," he remembered. "I noticed the bands were like hijacking each others' gigs, taking each others' fliers off the telephone poles. I'm like, 'What the fuck is this? No bands are helping each other out?'"
"I felt naive at that point," he added.
McKagan even described his first time meeting Slash as a "culture shock." Though they would go on to be bandmates in one of the biggest rock groups in the world, when they first met, they appeared very different from each other.
After finding the wanted ad, the bassist met Slash and Steven Adler at a deli owned by Slash's friend Marc Canter. Immediately, McKagan felt like a foreigner because of the connections this group of people had with each other through growing up in L.A.
"We talked on the payphone and I thought he'd be some like, punker guy like me, because it was '84," he explained, noting their similar influences. "I had blue hair — short, blue hair. I walked into Canter's, and he 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, 'Whoa.' Kind of culture shock, and I think I was a bit of culture shock to them."
"We sat down and started talking, we talked about music. And that's the thing that's a universal thing."
Afterward, the musicians went back to Slash's house, and McKagan soon learned the kind of guitarist that this guy was. The rest was history.
Listen to the full episode, which also features Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard, below.