Michael Andrew "Duff" Rose McKagan is an American bassist, singer, guitarist, and drummer, born 5 February 1964 in Seattle, Washington.
Early Seattle bands (197x-1984)
In the late seventies and early eighties, he played a multitude of instruments in various Seattle punk bands, including (but possibly not limited to): Avantgarde, Cannibal, Cleavage, On the Rocks, Our Gang, The DT's, The Fags, The Zipads, Wandering Bandaleros, Vains (formed as Thankless Dogs; reportedly his first band), The Living (3), Fastbacks, The Fartz, Silly Killers, 10 Minute Warning, Hobo Skank, and Crisis Party; only a few of these bands would materialize, with The Fastbacks, The Living and 10 Minute Warning being the most successful.
Road Crew, Guns N' Roses, jam bands (1984-1997)
In 1983, Duff headed to Los Angeles in search of broader horizons. In 1984, he saw an ad in The Recycler along the lines of "Guitar player looking for bass player: Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Dolls, Led Zeppelin and Fear. Call Slash", Duff answered the ad and met up with future Guns N' Roses members Slash (3) and Steven Adler at Canter's Diner in Los Angeles to join their newly-reformed band Road Crew. Road Crew worked on what would eventually become the Guns N' Roses song "Rocket Queen". The group was eventually disbanded by Slash due to them failing to find a singer.
In March 1985, just a few weeks after Guns N' Roses was formed, Izzy Stradlin asked Duff to join due to their bassist Ole Beich not showing up to rehearsal. Duff and Izzy were neighbors and had met each other previously. Izzy taught Duff most of the material at home and then the band rehearsed in preparation for Guns N' Roses' first-ever live show at the Troubadour, March 26, 1985, with Axl Rose (lead vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Tracii Guns (lead guitar), Rob Gardner (6) (drums), and Duff McKagan (bass guitar). On June 06, Guns N' Roses as the Appetite For Destruction lineup debuted at The Troubadour, with Axl Rose (lead vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Slash (lead guitar), Steven Adler (drums), and Duff McKagan (bass guitar). Duff would go on to achieve worldwide success in Guns N' Roses with Appetite For Destruction being considered one of the best debut albums of all time.
From 1987-1989, and 1993, he was part of a jam band called Drunkfux (or The Drunk Fux). Drunkfux would play gigs sparsely during their active years with the lineup changing all the time, with Guns N' Roses members being core members. In 1988 he formed a side project with his then-fiancée, Mandy Brixx of The Lame Flames, called Dr. Love and Love Connection – another jam band that would play local venues such as The Cathouse and Coconut Teaszer.
Neurotic Outsiders (1995-1997; 1999; 2006)
On January 30, 1995, Duff played a benefit show at the Club Shelter in Pasadena, California with Billy Idol, Steve Stevens, and Matt Sorum, with Mötley Crüe being the headliner the show was billed as "Mötley Crüe and friends". On March 10, that same year, he played The Joint with Eric Mesmerize (guitars), Steve Stevens (guitars), Matt Sorum (drums), and a variety of people joining on vocals throughout the night. The band was known as "Wayne Neutron". In June, Matt Sorum was approached to help with a benefit show at Johnny Depp's L.A. club, the Viper Room, in aid of a cancer sufferer. He contacts a number of his celebrity friends, and the "Neurotic Boy Outsiders" are formed, initially for the one show: Steve Jones (2) (guitar and vocals), Duff McKagan (guitar and vocals), John Taylor (bass and vocals), and Matt Sorum (drums). Due to the success of the show, the group decided to continue and regularly played the Viper Room. Reportedly, the name "Kings of Chaos" is said to have been used for some early live shows (not to be confused with Kings Of Chaos (2)). Eventually, the band would go by Neurotic Outsiders; they recorded and released an album and a Japanese-only EP, released in 1996 and 1997 respectively. They briefly toured Europe and North America in 1996 and disbanded thereafter.
The band would reunite for three shows at the Viper Room in 1999, and again in 2006 for a final show at the Viper Room.
10 Minute Warning reformation, The Gentlemen, Loaded (1997-2000)
After leaving Guns N' Roses in 1997, Duff moved back to Seattle and took on a number of projects – he reformed 10 Minute Warning and recorded and released an album in 1998; he recorded another solo album (Beautiful Disease) to be released in 1999, however, due to label mergers he lost the rights to the album, leaving it unreleased. To support the tour he had started a band called The Uptights, which would quickly change its name to The Gentlemen. This band featured Michael Barragan and Dez Cadena on guitars, with Patrick "Taz" Bentley on drums, and Duff on bass and vocals. The band was originally meant to tour the record, and even though the record was shelved, the band still toured. They eventually adopted the name "Loaded", and released Episode 1999:Live (which featured songs from Beautiful Disease); shortly after, they disbanded. In 2000 he formed another incarnation of The Gentlemen with Dave Dederer and, initially, Jason Finn (both then former of The Presidents Of The United States Of America). The lineup would soon only consist of McKagan, on electric guitar, and Dederer, on acoustic guitar, with the duo performing live shows in suits. That same year, The Presidents of the United States of America reunited, resulting in Dave Dederer leaving and Duff keeping himself busy with a new project which would become the second incarnation of Loaded, now under the name Duff McKagan's Loaded.
Velvet Revolver (2002-2008; 2012)
Following their departures from Guns N' Roses, Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum worked on separate projects with Slash forming Slash's Blues Ball, Slash's Snakepit, and Matt Sorum rejoining his old band, The Cult, as well as working with Duff on other projects. By 2001, Slash's Snakepit had disbanded for the second time. Slash began working with The Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman and an unnamed bassist on a new project: writing the music for what would become Velvet Revolver's "Fall to Pieces". When musician Randy Castillo died from cancer in 2002, Slash, McKagan, and Sorum performed at a benefit concert to raise money and commemorate Castillo, with Josh Todd and Keith Nelson (2). Recognizing that their musical relationship was still intact, the trio began rehearsing with Todd and Nelson, working on material that would become Velvet Revolver's "Dirty Little Thing", but eventually decided against forming a group with them. Eventually an old junior high and high school friend of Slash's, Dave Kushner was invited to jam with the group. Duff has previously played with Kushner in Loaded and re-introduced him to Slash at a Loaded show. Their former Guns N' Roses bandmate Izzy Stradlin also joined them for two weeks, eventually suggesting that "Duff and [Stradlin] will sing and [they] will just do a club tour in a van." Slash states in his autobiography that it was hard to tell if Stradlin was serious or kidding. After auditioning Kelly Shaefer, Stradlin left the group.
The four of them kept looking for a singer, going under the name "The Project". A number of lead singers were auditioned for the group, including Stephen Shareaux, Steve Ludwin, Todd Kerns (Slash's current bassist), Sebastian Bach, Shawn Albro, and Travis Meeks. Matt Sorum also invited Myles Kennedy to audition, but he declined, Ian Astbury and Mike Patton also declined invitations to audition. Eventually, in 2003, then Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland joined Velvet Revolver after Stone Temple Pilots disbanded. Scott as lead singer in Velvet Revolver wasn't carved in stone; he was unsure whether he wanted to join or not, but the band recorded "Set Me Free" and "Money" for the soundtracks for the movies Hulk and The Italian Job, respectively. Weiland solidified his position shortly after. Slash suggested the band called themselves "Revolver", with Scott suggesting "Black Velvet Revolver", they eventually agreed on "Velvet Revolver", with Scott liking the idea of "something intimate like velvet juxtaposed with something deadly like a gun", much like Guns N' Roses. The band would go on to release Contraband in 2004, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, and Velvet Revolver toured extensively for nineteen months, touring both the United States and Europe twice while also performing in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They performed at Live 8 and various festivals including Download Festival and Ozzfest.
The band would go on to release the EP Melody And The Tyranny to keep fans busy while they work on their follow-up to Contraband. In 2007, Libertad was released, peaking at number five on Billboard 200.
In support of Libertad, Velvet Revolver toured North America with Alice In Chains from August 2007 to October. They also performed at the Virgin Festival, Gods of Metal, and Download in 2007. A November tour of Japan was canceled after they were denied visas, and in 2008, a tour of Australia was postponed, due to health issues, and later canceled following Weiland's decision to voluntarily enter a rehab facility. On November 21, 2007, Weiland was arrested after crashing his car while driving on an L.A. highway. He was charged with driving under the influence of drugs with a prior conviction and later released on $40,000 bail. Velvet Revolver then toured both the US and the UK, as well as some European shows, on the "Rock n' Roll as It Should Be" tour from January 24 to April 1, 2008. They also played at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival on March 8 the same year. It was during the tour that Weiland "got back into his old ways", which started to take their toll on the rest of the band with the cancellation of the Australian tour seen as the "final blow". Scott left the band on April 01, 2008. The band began looking for a new lead singer, they spent time looking for a singer, then went to solo projects before trying to find a singer again, and eventually abandoned the project.
Velvet Revolver reunited with Scott for a one-off benefit gig for the late John O'Brien on January 12, 2012.
post-Velvet Revolver, pre-Guns N' Roses reunion (2010-2016)
In 2010, Duff joined Jane's Addiction as their bass player. Immediately the band began working on new studio material. They made their debut performing at singer Perry Farrell's 51st birthday celebration, at Les Deux in Los Angeles, California on March 30.
In April 2010, the group announced two European dates, scheduled for June, taking place at the GelreDome, in Arnhem, Netherlands, and an appearance at the Rock in Madrid II, Spain. Preceding these shows in Europe was a one-off "secret" Cinco de Mayo concert that took place at the Bardot in Hollywood, California on Wednesday, May 5, 2010. Duff played a total of five shows (including a Guitar Center Sessions appearance) with Jane's Addiction before leaving in September the same year.
In 2012 he was a core member of the supergroup Rock 'N' Roll All-Stars, who had a short tour in South America in 2012 before changing its name to Kings Of Chaos (2). The band featured the core lineup of Matt Sorum (drums), Duff McKagan (bass guitar), Gilby Clarke (guitars), as well as revolving appearances from members of Def Leppard, Deep Purple, and Aerosmith, among others. The group performed songs from all of these bands and other classic rock covers. The group has discussed recording material, both covers and originals, but to date, they've only recorded and released one song on the Deep Purple tribute release Re-Machined A Tribute To Deep Purple's Machine Head.
In December 2016, Kings of Chaos played their first show without Duff.
In 2012, Duff was asked to join Walking Papers to work on their first album, but was added as an official member instead. In 2013 they released their debut album Walking Papers. The band was inactive for several years, and returned with the album WP2 in 2018, due to commitments with Guns N' Roses, Duff was unable to tour the second album, and was replaced.
In 2015, before the Guns N' Roses reunion, he was part of the supergroup Levee Walkers featuring Mike McCready (guitars), Barrett Martin (drums), and Duff McKagan (bass). The trio released two singles in 2016 featuring Jaz Coleman and Raquel Sofía on vocals, respectively. In 2017 they released another single with Ayron Jones on vocal duties.
In 2015, Duff was part of Hollywood Vampires' debut live show, taking place at The Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, California across September 16 and 17. The three core members: Johnny Depp (guitars), Joe Perry (guitars), Alice Cooper (2) (vocals), were accompanied by Tommy Henriksen (rhythm guitar), Matt Sorum (drums), Duff McKagan (bass guitar), Bruce Witkin (keyboards, additional guitars). The next week, the group performed at Brazil's Rock in Rio festival on September 24, 2015, and was webcast live by AOL. On February 15, 2016, the group performed at the Grammy Award ceremony as a tribute to Lemmy, who had died at the end of 2015. Duff left Hollywood Vampires in favor of the Guns N' Roses reunion.
Guns N' Roses reunion (2015-present)
On December 29, 2015, several days after a Guns N' Roses-related teaser was released to movie theaters, Billboard reported that Slash was set to rejoin the band and a "reunited" lineup will headline Coachella 2016. Rose was set to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live! the following week to talk about the future of the band, but his appearance was canceled due to "unforeseen circumstances". Guns N' Roses was officially announced as the headliner of Coachella on January 4, 2016, with KROQ reporting Slash and Duff were rejoining the band. The Coachella festival confirmed via press release that McKagan and Slash were rejoining.
The band played a secret warmup show at The Troubadour on April 1st, 2016 before kicking off the "Not in This Lifetime... Tour", with Axl Rose (lead vocals), Slash (lead guitar), Duff McKagan (bass guitar), Richard Fortus (rhythm guitar), Frank Ferrer (drums), Dizzy Reed (keyboards, percussion), and Melissa Reese (keyboard, synthesizer). The band would go on to tour up until 2018, with multiple extensions to the "Not in This Lifetime... Tour" taking place since 2019.
Projects since reunion (2015-present)
Aside from the Guns N' Roses reunion, Duff has kept himself busy on other creative outlets and collaborated with numerous artists. In 2015 he played bass on Sonic Evolution. He also played a live show as a one-off with his band Raw Power (6), on August 23, 2015, in Seattle. This show would be officially released in 2016 (KEXP Presents: Raw Power - A Tribute To Iggy & The Stooges Live From the Rooftop of Pike Place Market - August 23rd, 2015). In 2017 he appeared on What In The World, playing both bass and guitar. In 2019 he played bass on one track from Get The Money, that same year he also played bass on Blvds Of Splendor with his former bandmate Matt Sorum and current bandmate Slash. Also in 2019, in conjunction with his wife Susan Holmes McKagan's fictional book, he released a 2-song promotional single under the moniker The Westies, a fictional band from the book (The Westies). He also released his third solo album, Tenderness, which featured acoustic songs inspired by his travels during the Guns N' Roses reunion tour. That same year he did liner notes for the Super Deluxe Edition of 1999. In 2020 he played bass on most of Ordinary Man. Since March 2020 he's the host of his own radio show on Ozzy's Boneyard on SiriusXM titled "Duff McKagan's Three Chords and the Truth", where he plays his favorite songs, with his uncle Dexter Charles as co-host up until March 2021 – when Dexter stepped down and his wife became co-host.
Believe In Me
I Love You
Man In The Meadow
(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief
Could It Be U
Just Not There
Punk Rock Song
Cassette, CD, Vinyl
Geffen Records, MCA Records, Music On Vinyl, Elbo
Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Poland, Turkey, United States of America, Europe, Australasia