Gilby Clarke Regrets Learning Guns N’ Roses Set the Hard Way
Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke recalled the needlessly difficult week he spent learning the band’s set before his first show with them.
Replacing Izzy Stradlin in 1991, Clarke had seven days to prepare before his stage debut during the Use Your Illusion tour.
“They told me on a Monday that ‘you have the gig,’” Clarke told the SDR Show in the video below. “And the next week we were flying to Boston for our first show. I literally had a week – and remember, this is before YouTube. I was glued to their records with the headphones on, trying to learn the catalog.”
He worked hard but encountered a challenge over the track “Estranged,” which he described as a “really long ballad piece.” He continued, “[I]f you listen to it, it's kind of one-dimensional guitar-wise; it really just features Slash. So I was listening to it, and I really couldn't figure out what I should do in that song.”
He decided to ask keyboardist Dizzy Reed for help. “I go, ‘Hey, man, can you sit down with me, and let's work on ‘Estranged’? I just wanna kind of figure it out," he recalled.' "And he goes, ‘Oh, well, here's the music book.’ And he handed me the music book. And I went, ‘There's a music book? I just spent a week learning every note by ear when I could have just grabbed the freakin' music book!’ I mean, I read charts. It would have taken me an hour.”
He noted, “I was a little pissed off that I didn’t ask. [...] They could have offered it to me.”
Clarke was asked about his absence from Guns N’ Roses’ reunion tour, confirming that he’d only ever been asked to make a single guest appearance in 2016. “And it just happened to be the day that I was in Chicago with my daughter,” he explained. “Her band was playing Lollapalooza, and I'm actually her roadie. […] [I]t was just bad timing. I just said, ‘Look, I think it’s a great idea. I’m up for it. I just can’t do it today.’ […] And I never heard back from them after I said that.”
Gilby Clarke Interview