Gilby Clarke’s ‘Wow’ Moment at Guns N’ Roses Rock Hall Induction
The award ceremony took place before communications reopened between Axl Rose and Slash. At one point it seemed as if no members of the band would participate, until Rose published an open letter declining to attend. That spurred Slash, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler and Matt Sorum into action; they decided to perform with Myles Kennedy taking the mic.
“I did not even know Guns N' Roses was up for the Hall of Fame … until maybe a couple months before the actual induction ceremony,” Clarke told Misplaced Straws in a new interview. Addressing the fact that he wasn’t included in the list of inductees, he said: “When I found out how it went down and all that stuff, I was like, ‘Wait a minute, I'm feeling a little left out here.’ It did bum me out.”
At the time, he’d been playing with Kings of Chaos alongside McKagan, Sorum and Slash on occasion, and he said a “great relationship” existed between them. “So, Duff called me a couple of days before [and] he said, ‘Hey, we're going to play at the Hall of Fame. We'd love for you to play with us.’ Before I even thought about it, I said yes.”
He noted that his lack of induction was easier to tolerate because of his onstage participation. “The only time it ever really felt weird was there was a moment when the guys went out to make their acceptance speech,” he said, “and they basically herded them to a stage and me and Myles to a tiny little corner. I kind of went, ‘Wow, okay.’ It just did feel bad.”
Regarding the performance, Clarke recalled they didn't decide what to play until a few hours before the ceremony. “There was a lot of weirdness over it at that time,” he explained.
“We didn't have any techs with us … it was a rented backline. … Basically, there were three Marshall heads; Slash grabbed one, and I grabbed one. When we went to play and they introduced Guns N' Roses, literally the song we played, my part came in first. … I heard [something] and my amp – I'm not joking – went up in smoke. Mike, who is Duff's guitar player, was standing next to me, and we looked at each other like this: ‘That was smoke, right?’”
Clarke switched to the third and final amplifier head as fast as he could. “You can hear, I think, Steven starting the song, and you can hear me in the back trying to get a sound," he recalled. "I mean, that was, like, so Guns N’ Roses!”