One day a film should be made about the story of Guns N’ Roses, perhaps the last and greatest hard-rock stars of the last century. The LA band built a reputation for their anthemic songs (and their relentless debauchery). You can get the gory details from the autobiography (opens in new tab) of bassist Michael ‘Duff’ McKagan, but for our purposes it suffices to say that much of GN’R’s drive and success can be attributed to the bass-playing ex-punk from Seattle who moved to Hollywood in the mid 80s, joined the band and became a huge star.
Committed GN’R-heads will recall Duff’s proudest bass guitar moment, a slinky four-bar bass solo executed in the upper register over the intro to their best-known song, ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’. (How did he come up with the solo? “It just happened,” says Duff. “Really, it’s all a product of what you listen to and what influenced you, and then what you hear and what you think is right for the part – and it’s either gonna happen for you or it’s not.”)
But, back in the early 90s, no-one would have expected him to play the song with Nirvana's Krist Novoselic.
Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana raged a bitter feud in their early days, when GN'R were global megastars and Nirvana's game-changing grunge rock threatened to make Axl and co look a little bit dated. Nirvana had called GN'R "corporate rock" and things escalated at the 1992 MTV awards (opens in new tab).
In the 21st century, however, tempers have cooled and there has been a series of collaborations between the two camps, with Dave Grohl appearing as a special guest during GN'R's 2021 world tour and famously lending Axl Rose his iconic light-up throne back in 2016 after the singer had broken his foot at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.
A year earlier, on May 17th at The Neptune Theatre in Seattle, Duff McKagan hosted a release party for his second book How To Be A Man (and other illusions) where he was joined onstage by Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic; the pair talked about Duff's book, and also treated the audience to an instrumental rendition of ‘Sweet Child O' Mine’ with McKagan on bass and Novoselic on accordion. Watch the fan-made video footage below.
In addition to the book, McKagan also released a companion EP (opens in new tab) featuring Izzy Stradlin on guitar, Alice in Chains frontman Jerry Cantrell and Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga.