He looked down and saw his own body — tubes running in and out, his mother sitting nearby — and Duff McKagan tried to reconcile this out-of-body experience with reality.
“I said, ‘This is [expletive] wrong,’ ” McKagan said during a recent phone interview. “This is not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Was it the drugs? The booze? Or was it something more benign — a spirit, perhaps — that triggered this vision? McKagan didn’t know.
Here’s what McKagan did know: His pancreas was on the verge of tapping out. And he wanted to die.
Then he had that vision. Life suddenly took a 180-degree swing for the Guns N’ Roses bassist who grew up believing he would never get within a guitar riff of his 30th birthday.
“And I was actually resigned and cool with that,” McKagan said.
How different things are now, 13 years after that near-death experience, for McKagan and a few of his former band mates. McKagan takes business classes in his spare time. Slash plays Guitar Hero. Together the two former members of Guns N’ Roses –– along with Dave Kushner, former Guns drummer Matt Sorum and former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland — have spent four years and two albums carving a new rock identity in Velvet Revolver.
It is a far cry from his former band’s identity.
“You thought you were missing something if you didn’t go out one night,” McKagan said. “You might miss the greatest party ever. That’s just really kind of a teenage way of looking at things. I actually know people that still kind of think that way. They’re in their 30s and 40s. Poor [expletive] people. My life has become a lot richer since I’ve been sober.
“I’m living a full life. I got an education and I read and I’m fascinated by things. I kick-box. I water-ski. I ride a motorcycle. More importantly than all that other [expletive], I have two little girls and a wife who look to me for everything.”
I think there’s definitely some weird chemistry that Slash and I have tapped into,” McKagan said. “I almost feel like some sort of weird old soul thing. We never talk about music, never have. We never talk about what we want a song to sound like. To me that would just be goofy.”
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