“Malcolm Young would shred picks. It's like he would pick them up and they’d turn to dust!”: Richard Fortus breaks down his role as Guns N’ Roses’ rhythm machine – and explains the overlooked details that separate good players from great ones

Richard Fortus
(Image credit: Reed R. Radcliffe)

By his own admission, Richard Fortus is there to support his co-guitarist as best he can and ultimately serve the song. Not that he knows which song will be coming next on any given night, mind, due to the way that singer Axl Rose runs the show…

“Set list, you say!” he laughs, talking to TG from Saratoga Springs, New York, during the band’s ongoing We’re F’N’ Back! Tour. “It varies night to night and there’s no list. Basically, Axl will just call out the songs. Quite often there are groups of songs that we all know go together, but it’s all up in the air. Axl will call it as he feels it!”

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Amit Sharma

Amit has been writing for titles like Total GuitarMusicRadar and Guitar World for over a decade and counts Richie Kotzen, Guthrie Govan and Jeff Beck among his primary influences as a guitar player. He's worked for magazines like Kerrang!Metal HammerClassic RockProgRecord CollectorPlanet RockRhythm and Bass Player, as well as newspapers like Metro and The Independent, interviewing everyone from Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy to Slash and Jimmy Page, and once even traded solos with a member of Slayer on a track released internationally. As a session guitarist, he's played alongside members of Judas Priest and Uriah Heep in London ensemble Metalworks, as well as handled lead guitars for legends like Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols, The Faces) and Stu Hamm (Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, G3).