“This Kid’s a Star, but the Songs Suck”: Guns N’ Roses A&R Exec Recalls Johnny Depp Being the Worst Guitarist He’d Ever Seen

Before he received universal acclaim for roles like Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” Johnny Depp had musical aspirations. The famed actor started playing in bands when he was 12 years old and later joined the band The Kids and Rock City Angels. Throughout his career, Depp has collaborated with musical artists such as Patti Smith and Iggy Pop. However, the man who signed two of history’s biggest heavy metal acts was not at all impressed with the actor’s audition.

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Top Music Executive Calls Johnny Depp “The Worst Guitarist I’ve Ever Seen”

Tom Zutaut knows a thing or two about what makes a good musician. The former Geffen Records executive gave us both Guns N’ Roses and Motley Crue. He played a pivotal role in the former’s Appetite for Destruction, and we all know how that played out.

However, when he watched an audition from a band Depp was part of in the late ’80s, Zutaut knew the eventual Oscar nominee just didn’t have “it.”

The record producer recently recounted the story on the X5 Podcast. “I go to a rehearsal, the manager’s a friend of mine, and he goes, ‘I got this band from Jacksonville, they’re great,’” Zutaut said. “I go see ’em, and they were terrible. Johnny Depp was the worst guitarist I’d ever seen — but his charisma was insane, you know?”

Ouch. Still, Zutaut acknowledged that he did see something in a young Johnny Depp. He recalled telling Depp’s manager that while he wouldn’t make it as a musician, he shouldn’t stop chasing the spotlight.

“‘This kid’s a star,'” Zutaut said. “‘But the songs suck, and musicianship is terrible.’”

Several months later, Depp had landed a role on 21 Jump Street. Playing Officer Tom Hanson, Jr. would catapult the “Cry-Baby” star to teen idol status. (And we all know the rest.)

Depp didn’t give up on his guitarist dreams, however. In 2012, the 60-year-old Kentucky native formed the rock supergroup Hollywood Vampires with Alice Cooper and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. To date, the rockers have dropped two studio albums.

[RELATED: Johnny Depp Postpones Hollywood Vampires Tour after Ankle Fracture]

And for what it’s worth, the “School’s Out” singer praised his bandmate’s guitar skills in 2023. When he’s with us he’s not a movie star – he’s a guitar player,” Cooper told Guitar magazine. “And he’s a great guitar player. You don’t go out with Jeff Beck unless you can play guitar, and he really is a player.”

Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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