Ex-GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Gilby Clarke says that "the only reason" he performed with his former bandmates at their Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction was because Duff McKagan asked him to appear at the event.
Clarke joined GUNS N' ROSES in November 1991, replacing Izzy Stradlin, who quit the group in the middle of a 28-month world tour. Gilby has also played with ROCKSTAR SUPERNOVA, HEART, NANCY SINATRA, Kathy Valentine (of THE GO-GO'S) and the reformed MC5 on their 2005 European tour.
Clarke, along with fellow GUNS N' ROSES members Slash, McKagan, Steven Adler and Matt Sorum, played three "Appetite For Destruction" songs with Myles Kennedy at the band's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony in April 2012 in Cleveland, Ohio, although Gilby himself was not inducted as part of the group. Kennedy, who handles lead vocals in Slash's solo band and ALTER BRIDGE, sang "Mr. Brownstone", "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Paradise City", with "Use Your Illusion"-era member Sorum sitting behind the drum kit on "Brownstone" and the man he replaced in GN'R, Adler, pounding the skins for the other two songs.
Clarke discussed GN'R's Rock Hall induction while he was a guest on a recent episode of the "Hangin' & Bangin': Artists On Lockdown" online show, where he was joined by Vinny Appice (BLACK SABBATH, DIO), Carmine Appice (OZZY OSBOURNE, VANILLA FUDGE), John Payne (ASIA) and host Ron Onesti. Reflecting on the experience, Gilby said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, to be honest, I don't really follow that stuff, so I didn't even know that GN'R had been nominated, let alone [that they] accepted or all that; I really wasn't paying attention. And then I got a call from Matt, and Matt told me what was happening. And I go, 'Woah. That's kind of weird.' 'Cause, actually, I didn't get inducted as part of the band; Matt and Dizzy [Reed, keyboards] did, along with the original five guys. And I thought it was a little odd. But by the time I found out, it was past what was going down.
"I didn't think anybody was gonna play or anything," he continued. "Two days before the show, Duff calls me and says, 'Hey, we're gonna play.' And I go, 'Oh, well, have a good time.' [Laughs] And I go, 'Who's gonna play?' I go, 'I thought Axl [Rose, vocals] is not going and Izzy's not going.' And he goes, 'Well, they're not, but we wanna do something.' He goes, 'Will you come out?' So, my wife and I flew out and we did the show. We literally rehearsed for it at three o'clock in the morning the night before. And that may sound weird, but Duff had a show in Cleveland the night before — he was doing something with his own band — and so we literally rehearsed after his show at three o'clock in the morning. I played with Steven, Slash and Duff, and then Myles Kennedy sang."
According to Gilby, he eventually resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to be inducted into the Rock Hall. "I didn't think it was so strange, because the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS were getting inducted at the same time, and they did the same thing; they picked and chose [the musicians that were being inducted]," he reasoned. "Dave Navarro, who had been on two milti-million-selling records, wasn't inducted with the CHILI PEPPERS, but a guitar player that played on the first album was. So, when I started hearing about all this stuff, I go, 'Are we getting paid for it? No. Who cares?' Whether you care or don't care, I don't really know if it affects anything. I always say it's one more line in your bio that no one's paying attention to anyway."
After Onesti praised Clarke for being "a stand-up guy" and performing at the Rock Hall even though he wasn't being inducted himself, Gilby said: "To be honest, the only reason why I did it was 'cause Duff asked me. And Duff's my friend; Slash is my friend. And I did it plainly for that. I honestly didn't even think about all that other stuff.
"We had no roadies, no techs — nothing," he continued. "I'm not kidding. 'Cause it wasn't planned. We decided to do it, like I said, a day or so before. I literally walked on and plugged into an amp I'd never seen before."
Last year, Clarke told the "Appetite For Distortion" podcast that no one should care about which musicians get inducted into the Rock Hall. "Seriously, there's no validity," he said. "And I'm not just saying that, because… You can honestly say — did I get burned? Yeah, I got burned. But it didn't matter to me at that time.
"When it went down, the whole GN'R [Rock Hall induction], I didn't even know about it until it was a done deal," Clarke revealed. "Matt had inside information, so he kind of got in there and got himself included, which, obviously, included Dizzy too. By the time it got to me, it was a done deal. And I didn't really care.
"Slash and I had a conversation about it. I said, 'Look, when you think of GUNS N' ROSES, you think of the five guys,' and so do I.' That's what it should be. But if you're gonna induct Dizzy and Matt, now I feel left out. I mean, yes, Matt and Dizzy made the '[Use Your] Illusion' records, and I would never take credit where credit wasn't due. But who fucking cares who gets in? It's not like anybody gets a dollar for it or whatever.
"My honest take on it is if you're inducting GUNS N' ROSES as GUNS N' ROSES, put all the guys that were in the band at that time — Bumblefoot and Richard [Fortus]; everybody," he added. "Who cares? It's not like we're getting money for it. But if you're gonna have a ceremony, yeah, maybe have Slash, Duff and a couple of the guys speak. But who cares?
"The thing is they've pretty much proven that they've gotten it wrong every time. I felt bad in the beginning when I found out Matt and Dizzy got inducted and I didn't. I was, like, 'Oh, man, it sucks to be left out.' But then I heard the CHILI PEPPERS got inducted, but they didn't induct Dave Navarro. Dave Navarro played on some million-selling records. And then they inducted the GRATEFUL DEAD and inducted, like, a hundred people. And when those things happen, then it puts it in perspective. And I don't really give a flying fuck. It's not like I get anything for being in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. It's not like suddenly a hundred more people are gonna come to the show. It literally is a line somebody will say when I go do a TV show: 'Gilby Clarke, Rock And Roll Hall…' I don't think there's any real validity in it. I think some people hold it in high regard, but it literally is a select group of people making these decisions. And I don't know how qualified they are. I don't know if any of them have ever been in a van, if any of them have ever gotten paid to play a musical note.
"So, like I said, it's not a big deal to me, and it shouldn't be to everybody else."
Gilby will release his first solo album in two decades, "The Gospel Truth", on April 23 via Golden Robot Records.