Posts Tagged ‘appetite for destruction’

Duff Vs. Slash – Conflicting Versions of the Same Stories

May 9, 2012 1 comment

I’ve been a serious fan ever since I caught an eight-second glimpse of Welcome to the Jungle on MTV late one summer night. Who was that band? When I found out, I got on my bicycle, went to the mall, and got the Appetite cassette. I had never heard anything like it – with the dueling guitars and edgy sincerity of it all.

Oddly enough, I didn’t really like Appetite for Destruction when I first put it in. But I still listened to the entire album because there was something interesting about this sound and there was something interesting about the players. The rough overlapping guitars were leading me along a virtual maze. The guitar riffs were so angry and ruthless but precise – like a bull prancing through a china shop or a ballerina carefully beating the hell out of a heavyweight boxer.

But to most everyone who was even aware of Guns N Roses, they were just another bunch of thug dropouts with long hair that got lucky – the flavor of the month. I knew it would be futile to try to share my enthusiasm. Maybe the results of time could do it…..

Out of pure infatuation, I wanted to learn everything there was to know about GnR. I had put together my own chronology – a story and set of characters as accurately as rumors, lyrics, and news clips would allow. That’s my nature – to scrutinize anything I deem to be a phenomenon.

Duff & Slash as Authors
After GnR did indeed become a cultural phenomenon, Slash wrote a book about his Guns N Roses experience. I guess it was sometime in 2009 when I caught wind of it. Half of his stories were familiar and the other half were not surprising, being the #1 Guns N Roses fan in the world. But all of it was interesting and a fun read.

If you’re not very familiar with him, Slash is the coolest dude to walk the planet and the best guitarist ever. Certainly nobody would disagree that he’s the coolest dude to ever play the guitar. Slash’s writing style is a very stark contrast to Duff’s. I would describe it as similar to a bad ass high school kid jotting letters about the crazy things he got away with the night before. He tells you what happened in a very matter-of-fact way with a stylized speak.

Duff read Slash’s book while they were on tour together in Velvet Revolver. His book came out a few years later. Duff has a simple and emotionally open writing style that never wanders off the path of his story; the story of his life’s journey. He begins with a message to his former band mates, “I have found that all stories have many sides” and “This is my truth”. This is his way of respecting their recollections and staving off any potential offense. Both Duff and Slash very much dislike confrontation.

Not Getting Paid for Their First GnR Gig
Slash writes that after his first GnR gig, he and his band mates used prolonged physical intimidation to finally compel the club owner to pay-up. Duff’s version is that the owner never paid in spite of indirect and then direct threats made. Duff goes on to say that he and a couple other band members then tried feebly and unsuccessfully to burn down the building (because they didn’t get paid).

When I read Slash’s story, I thought …..Well, if this is what he says, then fine, that’s what happened. Why would he lie? But something seems out of place to me. Slash is not violent and has a very non-confrontational personality. Would Slash really walk into a guy’s office and go gangster on him? I also thought this version was a little too convenient.

Duff’s open writing style lends credibility to his version. He humbly portrays himself as an overzealous kid that stupidly gets himself into problem situations then finds a way to crawl out. He is not intending to write a tell-all book about rock and roll debauchery. Also in Duff’s book, he bumps into Axl some twenty-five years later in London. During that meet-up, Axl brought up that old story and specifically mentioned Duff trying to burn down the building.

Slash apparently forgot some details. I don’t believe he would intentionally misrepresent what happened.

The Birth of Paradise City
In Slash’s book, the band was messing around on their way home after a gig in the back of a rental van, and he proceeded to write the entire song right there on his acoustic guitar while fellow band members came up with lyrics, vocal harmonies, and beats. Slash claims credit for the “jangly intro” and the chord changes. He “expanded upon the structure of the song”, and “slammed into the riff” that anchors the song. And let there be no ambiguity about Slash’s version. He caps off his story with “as happy and gay as this all sounds for GnR, it definitely went down that way; and it was sort of that kind of experience”.

Duff has a very different story. He says the song started to gel during the bands first rehearsals before they even had their first gig. And the song was based on some lyrics that Duff had written in a notebook that he brought with him when he moved from Seattle. Duff never even mentions a gay band camp episode in a rental van.

Let me outline the differences here just to make sure we get all this:
Lyrics – Duff claims he wrote the lyrics before he moved to LA but Slash says everybody improvised the lyrics.
Duration – Duff claims the song took several rehearsal sessions to write. Slash says the song was born in one goof-off session.
Location – Duff claims the song came together in their rehearsal space but Slash claims the song was born in the back of a van.
Time Period – Duff claims the song was written a few days after the band first got together, even before their imfamous Seattle trip. Slash says the song was written after the band had been together and been doing gigs already.

When both guys are honest people and the stories are so different, you have to go with the less sensational version. You have to remember as well that Duff read Slash’s book before he wrote his. Duff could never have written something so different unless he knew his version was more accurate. And again, Slash’s story is a little convenient for a tell-all kind of book. He needed a gay band camp kind of story in there to balance out all the debauchery right?

In Slash’s defense, I think there was a band camp moment for the band in which Paradise City became more solidified. I think Slash remembered that moment in the van more prominently because that was when the song really came together in his mind.