“My jokes were funnier – I was suddenly better looking”: Duff McKagan recalls how sudden Guns N’ Roses fame felt “lonely”

McKagan assures that to this day, fame hasn’t changed him.

Duff McKagan with his bass guitar on stage at Glastonbury.

Image: Harry Durrant / Getty

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Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan says the band’s sudden rise to fame felt “kind of lonely” to him, as he began noticing that people were responding to him differently.

Being a famous artist is a complex ordeal – while most people dream of such a life, there’s no denying that being in the public eye on such a huge scale has its challenges. Back in the band’s Appetite For Destruction era, McKagan remembers how “crazy” it was to “break through”.

Appearing on the Broken Record Podcast, he says (via Ultimate Guitar): “When we started to break through, it was so crazy. You start to break through, and then really break through. It was so crazy. People ask, ‘How has this changed you?’ Around ‘89, I remember getting asked questions I’d never been asked before. ‘How has this changed you?’; everybody asked me the same question. And I thought about it. I realised it didn’t change me; it changed how people responded to me.

“I noticed I had a lot more friends suddenly, and my jokes were funnier. I was suddenly better looking because I was getting hit on [by people] out of my league. [I realised], ‘Oh, it’s because I’m this band, we’re on MTV and all that stuff.’ It’s kind of lonely. When you realise that, you’re like, ‘Oh shit.’”

Despite the craziness of meteoric fame, McKagan assures that he still does not let it get to his head: “Not my style, to this day,” he says. “I went back to my best friends who I grew up with, and they’re still my best friends. When we have our text group. We’ve been through it.”

Check out the full podcast below:

You can stream Duff McKagan’s solo album, Lighthouse, now. Find out more over at his website.

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