Duff McKagan Details His Long Battle With “Punk Rock Guilt” Following Success of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”

Most music fans know Duff McKagan as the bassist for Guns N’ Roses. However, he had many other projects both before and after being in the legendary rock band. After GNR, he formed Velvet Revolver with Slash, Scott Wieland, and GNR drummer Matt Sorum. He also had a successful solo project. Before joining Guns, though, McKagan was part of the punk scene in Seattle, Washington in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s before grunge took over the city’s scene.

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Guns N’ Roses released their debut album Appetite for Destruction in 1987. The next year, they released “Sweet Child o’ Mine” as a single. After MTV picked up the video and ran with it, the song became their first No. 1 single. It skyrocketed the Los Angeles-based band to fame. McKagan, hailing from the punk scene, didn’t know how to deal with his newfound fame.

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Recently, McKagan sat down with Stereogum to discuss his career and many side projects. During the conversation, he reflected on his first taste of fame.

The Success of Guns N’ Roses Blew Duff McKagan’s Mind

“It wasn’t easy,” Duff McKagan recalled about dealing with the fame after Guns N’ Roses blew up. “It was kind of mind f—ing blowing. You go through life, nobody recognizes you in a grocery store. Why would they? And then suddenly, people are looking at you in the grocery store because you’re on the cover of Rolling Stone, where they have the magazines right by the checkout stands,” he added. “That kind of being recognized, it was mind-blowing.”

Then, he revealed that he felt guilty about the success. “I had punk rock guilt, that’s an actual thing,” he explained. “Then, I realized nobody gave any of this s— to me. I worked my ass off for this thing. I don’t know how to deal with it. And it took me years to learn how to ‘deal with it.’ The popularity and all that stuff. I understand it now, I really do, because I have people like that,” he added.

Featured Image by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

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