The Duff McKagan Book, It's So Easy and other lies boasts quite the appetite for destruction, showing Guns N' Roses in exactly the same light you see them in.
Drugs. Ten bottles of wine. A burst pancreas. Axl's lateness. Multiple marriages. Slash sneaking in booze to some noodle joint. A red pimp coat. Seattle. Duff surviving. Lake Arrowhead. Martial Arts. Mountain Biking.
It tells the story of Guns that you want to hear, one that feels authentic. To be fair though, even Duff himself disclaims that this is his version of the G'N'R truth.
Would I be reading this if it was about Duff McKagan, member of a million bands (the Fastbacks, Loaded, and Velvet Revolver)? Maybe. But, probably not.
Chapters / Sections #
- Knockin' On Heaven's Door
- Just An Urchin Living Under The Street
- I'd Look Right Up At Night And All I'd See Was Darkness
- A Good Day To Die
- You Shined A Light Where It Was Dark On My Wasted Heart
- Fall To Pieces
- You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory
It's So Easy begins by showing Duff at his daughter's 13th birthday party, showing years of maturation and parental worry by searching for all of the trouble (booze, drugs, sex) that his daughter and their friends could be into, and finding none. As opposed to his own childhood experiences.
"I took my first drink in the fifth grade and tasted LSD for the first time in sixth grade when I was offered blotter acid by an eight grader on my way to Eckstein Middle School in Seattle."
"I first snorted coke in seventh grade, too. I also tried codeine, quaaludes, and Valium in middle school."
Part One: Knockin' On Heaven's Door #
Duff "the King of Beers" McKagan starts Part One strong. Dude opens right up with his drug and booze habit, hanging out with his coke dealer and his pregnant wife, and his solo album on Geffen, not to mention GN'R.
"Hell's Angels packed the show at Webster Hall in New york, and brawls broke out. I shouted at the crowd to settle down, thinking I could somehow make a difference." When I read this, I thought it was the same brawl that resulted in Sebastian Bach getting his nose broken and rearranged, but that was a Motley Crue show. My bad.
May 10th, 1994, Duff wakes up with unimaginable pain. Surprise, your pancreas burst, man!
It's hard to feel for the guy, but c'mon, this is rock & roll. So, you feel for the guy. Luckily his buddy Andy was there to take him to his childhood doctor.
"Please, kill me. Just kill me. Kill me. Please."
Rewind. Now we learn about the McKagan family. Quite the departure from imminent death. Big family, parents eventually separate, I suppose a common tale for the time.
Waterskiing with brother, rope cuts into him, thinks he is going to die. Mother takes him to UW for a study. The book, Closer to the Light: Learning from the Near-Death Experiences of Children features his tale.
"After glimpsing the other side, that seemed just fine."
Meets Slash and Adler at Canter's.
Had musical siblings, the older McKagans helped Duff learn how to play.
Travel back in time to Seattle ... boosts VW buses to hop from Ballard to Fremont to Capitol Hill. Joins the Fastbacks. Lived in car in LA before cockroach infested apartment off of the Sunset Strip. Back to Seattle, gets heart broken, watches friends dive into substance abuse.
Runs into Izzy Stradlin in early 1985. Izzy invites him to join Guns N' Roses after the original bass player is moved on from. Tracii Guns is still in the band. Izzy and Axl have already written a few songs, including Don't Cry. Duff resists continuing on due to interest, Axl talks him back, then they decide to test the resolve of everyone by committing to a tour. Rob and Tracii back out, henceforth becoming LA Guns.
Enter Slash and Steven Adler.
Back in Seattle, everyone is strung out. Duff meets Andy Wood (Mother Love Bone) at The Grey Door. Andy's death would spur roommate Chris Cornell to pen the Temple of the Dog self-titled album.