Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan gained colossal recognition as the band’s member after replacing the former bassist Ole Beich in late 1980. He initially appeared on the group’s debut album ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ which included notable songs like ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ and ‘Paradise City’ released in 1987. By contributing to this album, McKagan became a part of the band’s massive commercial success. He was on the bass in the second worldwide successful record, ‘G N’ R Lies,’ which sold more than five million copies.
However, in his successful career, he faced trouble keeping up with his personal life from time to time due to the band’s busy schedule. In the past, there came a moment he had to choose between GN’R and his family. It wasn’t easy to select between the group, which was a turning point in his career, and his family, who were always there for him. At the end of this challenging determination process, McKagan decided he should have been with his family.
Duff McKagan Chose His Family Over Guns N’ Roses
In the mid-’90s, disagreements arose within the group, and a tense atmosphere persisted among the members. Also, the unstable arrangements of the schedules affected the musicians. McKagan stayed distant from the band and began to focus on his solo works. On the other side, the bassist’s then-girlfriend and current spouse, Susan Holmes, was pregnant, and these irregularities started to affect his personal life. Eventually, he ended up leaving the band in 1997.
In a past interview, McKagan detailed his decision to leave the band and stay with his family. The bassist said that Axl Rose was wrong about the irregular schedules and the following album. As the rocker explained, the group had become extremely repressive during the period when he and his then-girlfriend Susan were expecting their baby. According to McKagan, Rose wanted everything to be done in his way without thinking of other members.
Duff McKagan explained why Rose was wrong and how he decided to quit:
“About schedules and the way Axl was late for the next album. Susan, my girlfriend, was pregnant. We were going to have a baby, but this band was becoming a dictatorship, everything had to get done in Axl’s way, or it wouldn’t get done at all. It wasn’t like that when we started out.”
The band was once offered a tremendous amount of money for a show in Germany. However, as he mentioned, McKagan decided not to be part of it, considering he was already in a good place financially. At a dinner with Rose, the bassist said he was overwhelmed by the pressure he put on and did not want to continue working under these circumstances. McKagan revealed that he told Rose to find someone else to replace him.
Duff McKagan continued:
“At one point, we were offered a huge sum of money to play a concert in Germany. I thought, ‘I never played for money, and I’m not gonna start now!’ I’ve got a house; I’m secure financially. Post-Neurotic was the worst moment of my career in Guns. I went out for dinner with Axl and told him, ‘Enough is enough. This band is a dictatorship, and I don’t see myself playing in those conditions. Find someone else.’”
After parting with the band, McKagan focused on his solo works while contributing to other musicians’ works and releasing his solo records. In 2016, the bassist announced that he reunified with GN’R to headline Coachella. Later in the same year, he hit the road for Not in This Lifetime… Tour with the group.