Guns N’ Roses’ Ex
American musician and bassist Duff McKagan is well-recognized for his thirteen-year-tenure in the 1980s hard rock band Guns N’ Roses. He is now playing the bass for the band Velvet Revolver. With Velvet Revolver, the blond-haired bassist has released Contraband (2004), and the group’ second album, Libertad, is scheduled to hit the music store in 2007. McKagan also has performed with numerous groups, including the Fastbacks, The Fartz, Road Crew, Neurotic Outsiders, Loaded and Mad for the Racket. He has released two solo albums, Believe in Me (1993) and Beautiful Disease (1999).
A drug and alcohol addict-turned-sober, McKagan almost died when his pancreas failed due to drug and alcohol abuse on May 10, 1994. The doctors told him that if he did not stop drinking, he would be dead within a month, and so he soon became sober. During 1994 to 1999, McKagan was living between Seattle and Los Angeles because his mother was battling Parkinson’s disease and he felt he had to be with her. His mother passed away in early April 1999, and since then, he resides in Seattle. On a more personal note, McKagan had been married to Amanda Brixx (from 1988 to 1990) and Linda Johnson (from 1992 until 1995) before marrying his current wife, Susan Holmes. They have two daughters, 10-year-old Grace and seven-year-old Mae Marie.
Father of 2
Childhood and Family:
Michael Andrew McKagan, who would later be famous as Duff McKagan, was born on February 5, 1964, in Seattle, Washington. The youngest of eight children to Elmer and Alice Marie McKagan, Duff was raised in a somewhat musical family with each member playing at least one instrument. He had an early exposure to bass cords from his brother, Bruce. Duff also has the talent to play other musical instruments, including drums, guitar and piano. In 2002, he enrolled at the Seattle University, and later completed his accounting degree over the Internet.
A two-time divorcee, Duff married for the first time on May 28, 1988 to Amanda (Mandy) Brixx, a hostess in a Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles, who also was involved in her own all female rap-trio, The Lame Flames. They divorced on April 1, 1990. In September 1992, Duff tried to build a new family by marrying Linda Johnson, but the bond ended in separation three years later. He is now the husband of Susan Holmes, whom he married on August 28, 1999. The couple has two girls, Grace Mckagan (born August 27, 1997) and Mae Marie Mckagan (born July 16, 2000).
Believe in Me
Duff McKagan started his musical career by playing such instruments as bass, guitar and drums for a number of bands, including the legendary Seattle pop-punk group the Fastbacks, where he served as the band’s drummer. Joining the band at age 16, McKagan tried his luck in California three years later, and performed with multiple rock bands around Los Angeles like Ten Minute Warning, and a hardcore punk band, The Fartz. It was with The Fartz that McKagan earned the name “Duff.” A meeting with future Guns N’ Roses bandmates guitar player Slash and drummer Steven Adler, who at that time was in the band Road Crew, at L.A.’s legendary 24 hour deli and rock hangout Canter’s led to a gig as the Road Crew’s bassist. Recalling, he said, “When I met Slash and Steve Adler for the first time, it was weird, ‘cause I’d never met guys like this before - L.A. locals. We went out that night and got drunk, and then we had this ill-fated band. It was Slash’s band, Road Crew.”
McKagan’s career gained real momentum in the mid of 1980s, when he was hired to replace Ole Beich as the bass player for Guns N’ Roses, whose members including Axl Rose (lead singer), Izzy Stradlin (guitarist), Steven Adler (drummer) and Slash (guitarist). The newly shaped band had their first gig as GN’R on a Thursday night at the Troubadour. A big fan of The Clash and Ramones, McKagan brought his punk rock power to the group.
Officially departed Guns N’ Roses in 1997, McKagan also pursued a solo career during his fruitful stint with the band. In 1990, he and Slash co-wrote and played a few tracks on Iggy Pop’s Brick by Brick. He went on to release his solo album in 1993 called “Believe in Me,” but a year later, a tragedy truck. The drug and alcohol addict McKagan was sent to a hospital to undergo emergency surgery after his pancreas exploded because of drug and alcohol abuse. After this, he became sober, and in the years that followed he cleaned up his life, became a father and focused on his solo career.
In 1995, McKagan teamed up with Slash in Slash’s solo project Slash’s Snakepit, in which he co-wrote a song, “Beggars and Hangers-on,” and performed it lively at the Palace during a Snakepit show in May of that year. He also formed an alternative rock super-group, Neurotic Outsiders, along side GN’R drummer Matt Sorum, John Taylor of Duran Duran on bass and Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones. They played the L.A clubs circuit in the late 90s, and toured the U.S. in 1996. 1996 also saw Neurotic Outsiders launch a self-titled album. After that he arranged different bands, such as Duff McKagan’s Black Dog, 10 Minute Warning, and Loaded.
In 1999, McKagan joined forces with drummer Abe Laboriel Jr., Izzy Stradlin and Michael Barragan for his sophomore effort, Beautiful Disease, which was released by Geffen Records. However, the album was never given the American release because of company merger troubles. A year later, McKagan put together another band named “Mad for the Racket” (also known as The Racketeers), and it was discovered playing in London in December that same year. But, he did not play on that show.
McKagan next rejoined Loaded for the club circuit in Seattle in 2001 and stayed with the band for a Japanese tour in August. He also toured Japan with former bandmate Izzy Stradlin to support Izzy’s new album, River. McKagan branched out into producing with the controversial debut EP Get Off by Betty Blowtorch. He also appeared in Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures, a documentary film helmed by Anthony Scarpa.
Currently, McKagan plays bass guitar for the group Velvet Revolver together with ex-Guns N’ Roses’ members, Slash and Matt Sorum, as well as former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner. Formed in April 2002, the band released their debut album, Contraband, in 2004 and became the No. 1 hit at the Billboard 200 chart. Their next album, Libertad, is expected out in 2007.