It's So Easy: and other lies
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A founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver—and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee—shares the story of his rise to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, his personal crash and burn, and his phoenix-like transformation.
In 1984, at the age of twenty, Duff McKagan left his native Seattle—partly to pursue music but mainly to get away from a host of heroin overdoses then decimating his closest group of friends in the local punk scene. In L.A. only a few weeks and still living in his car, he answered a want ad for a bass player placed by someone who identified himself only as “Slash.” Soon after, the most dangerous band in the world was born. Guns N’ Roses went on to sell more than 100 million albums worldwide.
In It’s So Easy, Duff recounts Guns’ unlikely trajectory to a string of multiplatinum albums, sold-out stadium concerts, and global acclaim. But that kind of glory can take its toll, and it did—ultimately—on Duff, as well as on the band itself. As Guns began to splinter, Duff felt that he himself was done, too. But his near death as a direct result of alcoholism proved to be his watershed, the turning point that sent him on a unique path to sobriety and the unexpected choices he has made for himself since.
In a voice that is as honest as it is indelibly his own, Duff—one of rock’s smartest and most articulate personalities—takes readers on a harrowing journey through the dark heart of one of the most notorious bands in rock-and-roll history and out the other side.
anything, but in my mind I was going, Hmm, a snake, sweet? Still, he was cool. If nothing else, I thought, he’s a genius guitar player—and I like him. And perhaps most important, I now knew where Slash lived and I knew how to get there. Given the fact that I didn’t know anyone else in town, this was key to our remaining friends. I met a lot of people in those first few weeks, but many I never ran into a second time. Now I could find Slash whenever I wanted. As an added bonus I also liked
we had no interest, no friends—and no singer. We were fucking pissed off. I started to drink harder. One night I was so fucked up that somebody pulled me aside and said, “Here, do a little coke and you’ll sober right up.” And there you go, that was the secret potion. I had been looking at coke the wrong way. I never wanted to be that guy—the asshole coke guy. But now I realized coke wasn’t an end in itself, or didn’t have to be; it was a means to an end, a tool. I didn’t have to become a coke
trouble. Work kept me engaged. Sure, I might start drinking toward the end of rehearsal, but I always showed up and always remained coherent. Steven, on the other hand, was beginning to get erratic. His participation in rehearsals and writing and recording sessions became less frequent, and his ability to perform suffered big-time. Izzy had gotten sober for good by this stage, and he kept his distance from us. During the songwriting process, he would send us homemade cassette tapes of his songs
the fallout of my dissolute lifestyle. Sometimes I’d head off in the morning to keep partying someplace else and leave any half-dressed, passed-out girls in the house for Matt to drive home. At the time I didn’t even realize somebody was driving these girls home. I just knew they were gone when I came home. Yeah, I wasn’t exactly the world’s most thoughtful roommate at this stage. There was always a core group of friends around, but the people on the periphery changed all the time. There were
hills below my house. Soon Adam joined Cully and the gang as well. What was amazing for me to see with these pro bikers was just how hard they trained. It took genuine suffering to get good at this type of sport. It also struck me that self-discipline wasn’t the only byproduct of all that painful work: humility seemed to accompany it. There was always someone better, and always something you yourself could do better. The other eye-opener for me was the way they viewed food first and foremost as