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Michael Andrew "Duff" McKagan (born February 5 1964) is an Americanmarker musician , who is best known for his thirteen-year tenure in the hard rock band Guns N' Roses. He is currently the bassist for the hard rock band Velvet Revolver, lead vocalist and guitarist for his own solo punk rock project Duff McKagan's Loaded, and a weekly columnist for also writes a weekly financial column for called Duffonomics.


Early years (1964-1985)

Michael Andrew McKagan was born in Seattle, Washingtonmarker, the youngest of eight children born to Elmer (Mac) and Alice (Marie) McKagan. They were a musical family with every member playing at least one instrument. It was his brother Bruce who taught him his first bass lines, though he developed his own skills playing along to 1999 by Prince and Black Flag's Damaged.

While growing up, McKagan was a fan of such acts as James Gang, Sly Stone, Led Zeppelin, Vanilla Fudge, Jimi Hendrix, and New York Dolls. His idol at the time was Johnny Thunders.

Although best known as a bass player, Duff also played drums in several bands, including a stint with Seattlemarker pop-punk band the Fastbacks (which he joined at the age of 14 in 1979) and The Vains with Chris Utting. Between 1979 and 1982 he lead and played guitar in punk band The Living who opened shows for Husker Du and DOA and had a devoted following. Initially the band included Chris Utting (The Vains) and Duff and Chris would switch on drums and guitar to play songs penned by John Conte, Chris and Duff. By 1980, Chris was out of the band so Duff could focus on guitar and newcomer Greg Gilmore was brought in as full time drummer at which point the band became considerably more powerful and focused. The band played numerous shows and recorded as yet unreleased demos. The Living were notable for the presence of future Mother Love Bone drummer Greg Gilmore (as well as Todd Fleischman and charismatic frontman John Conte). It could be argued that the seed of "grunge" began with the Living as they combined Clash/Bad Brains style punk with more classic rock, midtempo songs and glam covers and were easily the most notorious band in Seattle at the time (besides The Fartz). After the demise of The Living Duff played in The Fartz before both Duff and Greg Gilmore joined up with The Fartz to form 10 Minute Warning, which also included future Skinyard bassist Daniel House. 10 Minute Warning soon replaced Fartz singer Blaine with Steve Verewolf. At the time, Greg Gilmore also played in the heavy psychedelic band Chubby Children before moving on to Mother Love Bone. Besides drums and bass, McKagan also has the ability to play other musical instruments: he plays guitar and even played piano on the song "Misery" from the Loaded album Dark Days.

Answering an ad for a bass player in a local magazine, McKagan headed to California, at age nineteen. In California, he met guitar player Slash and drummer Steven Adler of the band Road Crew at L.A.'s legendary 24-hour deli and rock hangout, Canter'smarker. Duff expected some punk with a penchant for '70s rock, but found two long-haired guys instead.

He describes his home city as "a rowdy rock 'n' roll town with a hip underground."

Guns N' Roses (1985-1998)

From the wreckage of the bands L.A. Guns and Hollywood Rose, Axl Rose and Izzy Stradlin joined Tracii Guns, Ole Beich, and Rob Gardner to form Guns N' Roses. Initially formed to meet booked gigs for the disbanded acts, the new line-up was finalized on June 6, 1985. Duff became the band's bassist, replacing Ole Beich, and after two days of rehearsal, the newly formed group played their debut gig as GN'R on a Thursday night at the Troubadourmarker. As with ex-rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, McKagan also had his crack at handling lead vocals on GN'R songs such as Use Your Illusion II's "So Fine" and a handful of songs off of the cover album The Spaghetti Incident?, including live favorite "Attitude", originally by The Misfits.

He brought his punk rock influences to the group, being a huge fan of Sex Pistols, Ramones, and The Clash; even citing Paul Simonon of the Clash as his favorite bassist. He is also a huge fan of Sid Vicious.

Adler and Izzy departed the band in 1990 and 1991, respectively. Meanwhile, in 1990, Duff and Slash co-wrote and played a few songs on Iggy Pop's "Brick by Brick."

Solo years (1993-2002)

After a half-hearted attempt at drug rehabilitation, he kick-started a solo career with 1993's Believe in Me. In 1994, McKagan's pancreas had swelled to football sized dimensions (due to acute alcohol-induced pancreatitis) and he underwent emergency surgery at Northwest Hospital and Medical Center in Seattle, WA. The doctors told him that if he did not quit drinking, he would be dead within a month, so McKagan quickly became sober.

In 1995 he collaborated with Slash in his solo project "Slash's Snakepit", co-writing a song called "Beggars and Hangers-On", which he played live at the Palace during a Snakepit show in May of that year. He would go on to form Neurotic Outsiders, an alternative rock super-group consisting of GN'R drummer Matt Sorum, "Sex Pistols" guitarist Steve Jones, and John Taylor of Duran Duran on bass. They played the L.A clubs circuit in the late 90s, and toured the U.S.marker in 1996. A self-titled album was released in September 1996. After that, he put back together 10 Minute Warning, the band he played in before joining Guns N' Roses. They recorded some of their songs to release an album with the Seattlemarker-based label Sub Pop, published May 5, 1998.

In the years that followed, McKagan became a father and concentrated on his solo career. He recruited Abe Laboriel Jr., Michael Barragan, and Izzy Stradlin to help him record Beautiful Disease, with a 1999 release on Geffen Records. However, this album was never released due to a merger between Geffen and Interscope, which caused McKagan to be dropped from the label. Despite this, he went on tour recruiting former Black Flag's Dez Cadena, ex Twisted Roots' Paul Roessler, and former Morning Glories' Michael Barragan.

Duff also tried an acting career in 1997. He had a part in the TV serial Sliders, which aired in May of that year, as a dead rocker vampire.

On August 27, 1997, he had his first child, Grace, with model/swimsuit designer Susan Holmes. They married on August 28, 1999. On July 16, 2000, they had their second child, another girl, Mae Marie.

In 1999, he recruited drummer Geoff Reading (New American Shame), guitarist Dave Dederer (The Presidents of the United States of America), and keyboardist Martin Feveyear to form Loaded. They recorded the album Episode 1999: Live, which was sold only through their web site.

Then, he participated to the album Humanary Stew: A Tribute to Alice Cooper, and helped his former GN'R bandmate Izzy Stradlin with the album Ride On.

In 2000, he put together another band called Mad for the Racket, also known as The Racketeers, with MC5's Wayne Kramer and Damned's Brian James. For a drummer, they recruited several guest stars, such as Stewart Copeland (Police), Clem Burke (Blondie), and Brock Avery. In 2001, he reunited with Loaded for the club circuit in Seattle. He also ran a marathon in 2001 with bib number "11468."

In August 2001, a new version of Loaded, with Michael James Squires on guitars and Jeff Rouse on bass, toured Japanmarker during his spring breaks while getting his Bachelor's Degree and released the album Dark Days, a mix of new material and re-recorded tracks from the unreleased album Beautiful Disease. Duff also toured Japan with Izzy Stradlin to support Izzy's new album River. Duff also appeared with J, ex-Luna Sea bassist, in a number of magazines and venues during his tour in Japan that J opened for.

Duff produced the controversial debut EP Get Off by Betty Blowtorch and also appeared in the documentary film Betty Blowtorch And Her Amazing True Life Adventures, directed by Anthony Scarpa.

Velvet Revolver (2002-Present)

Since April 2002, Duff has played bass guitar for the group Velvet Revolver together with ex-Guns N' Roses' members, Slash and Matt Sorum, as well as guitarist Dave Kushner and former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland. Their debut album Contraband was released in 2004 and peaked at the top of the Billboard 200 chart. The group's second album, entitled Libertad, was released on July 3, 2007. McKagan toured with the band, until Singer Scott Weiland left the band on April 1, 2008, to reunite with Stone Temple Pilots.

Other appearances

Duff has more recently been seen playing bass with The Presidents of the United States of America.

On March 6, 2006, Duff made an appearance along with Pantera and Down vocalist Phil Anselmo, playing guitar for Alice in Chains for VH1 Decades of Rock Live show.He also played some songs on Zilch's album Skyjin, a tribute to hide.

In 2001 Duff appeared on Mark Lanegans fifth solo album Field Songs and in 2004 Duff also appeared on the Mark Lanegan Band album Bubblegum along with Izzy Stradlin.

In 2009 Duff appeared at his daughters school, The Buckley School's benefit charity concert and Loaded members Mike Squires and Jeff Rouse, where they covered Knockin' on Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan.

Duff has started doing an occasional hour-long radio show on KISW 99.9FM in Seattle called 'Duff McKagan's Radio-Loaded.'


Bass guitars

McKagan's longtime main bass was a white mid-'80s Fender Jazz Bass Special, which had been pieced together with an ash body, a maple neck and a rosewood fretboard. Currently McKagan only uses it during recordings. The bass has also been replicated and released as a Duff McKagan signature P Bass model in October 2007 by Fender, several copies of this bass were also built by the Fender Custom Shop in the original and various other finishes to be used during tours. McKagan has also become a fan of the new Fender Aerodyne bass as well as the more expensive Duesenberg Star basses. In the past, he used Kramer basses, most notably in the Sweet Child O' Mine video and a Gibson Les Paul standard bass. He exclusivley uses Seymour Duncan Pickups and Rotosound swingbass strings. In addition to bass McKagan also plays an acoustic Guild guitar on various acoustic songs such as Patience.


McKagan has been using Gallien-Krueger amplifiers throughout his entire career, his first being a GK400RB model. He used up to four Gallien-Krueger 800RB heads with GK 4x10 and 1x15 cabinets with Guns N' Roses. His current set up includes a Gallien-Krueger solid state 2001RB head, however a second head is brought along as a backup. His signal is then fed to four GK 4x10RBH which gives him sixteen speakers being run by one head putting out 1080 watts. For effects he usually only uses a chorus effect most often a Yamaha SPX-90 or occasionally a Boss pedal. Other effect he's been known to use are the Z-vex Wooley Mammoth fuzz and an MXR M-80.

Personal life

On August 27, 1997, he had his first child, Grace, with model/swimsuit designer Susan Holmes. They married on August 28, 1999. On July 16, 2000, they had their second child, another girl, Mae Marie.


With Burden Brothers

With Fastbacks

With The Living

  • 7 song demo (1982) (as yet unreleased)

With The Fartz

With Iggy Pop

With Guns N' Roses


With Teddy Andreadis

With Neurotic Outsiders

With The Outpatience

With Izzy Stradlin

With 10 Minute Warning

With Loaded

With The Racketeers

With Zilch

  • Sky Jin (Tracks 4, 6, 7, 10) (2001)

With Mark Lanegan

With Velvet Revolver

With Slash

External links



  1. #Davis 2008 pgs. 46-47, "His older siblings were hippies, so Duff grew up listening to Sly Stone, Hendrix, the James Gang, Vanilla Fudge, Led Zeppelin...he wanted to play like his hero Johnny Thunders, late of the New York Dolls."
  2. My Life Story
  4. Dunlop TV - McBob, bass tech for Duff McKagan

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