GILBY CLARKE Looks Back On His Time With GUNS N' ROSES: 'I Can Honestly Say I Was Living The Dream'
May 26, 2021
In a new interview with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink Radio, former GUNS N' ROSES guitarist Gilby Clarke was asked what it was like being part of one of the most exciting times in music, the '80s and early '90s. He responded: "I think what I remember the most was it was fun. It was a fun job, you know? I mean, we all have our jobs, and we don't always go to work with a smile on our face. I went to work every day with a smile on my face. I really feel — I can honestly say I was living the dream. It was such a great time, because anyone you ran into, and they go, 'Oh, what band are you in?' 'GUNS N' ROSES.' 'Oh, I know who they are.' It was easier. It was just kind of a magical time. I mean, everybody kind of liked the same kind of music. Rock was big. It was important, too; that kind of music was important. It employed a lot of people; it made a lot of money for a lot of people. So, it was important. Obviously, landscapes change. Music changes. It would be boring if it stayed the same forever. I'm happy to have those memories. To be honest. I don't need to relive 'em. I remember some of it; not all of it. [Laughs]"
Clarke also spoke about how the rise of grunge in the early 1990s forced most hard rock bands off the radio and MTV, with album and tour sales plummeting. Asked if the sea change in the way that major labels looked at signing new artists happened "overnight," Gilby said: "Well, no, it wasn't overnight. I mean, I have a couple of opinions about it. Number one, before I got the GUNS N' ROSES gig as a guitar player, I was a Virgin Records songwriter. So, I knew a lot about what new projects were coming up. So, I heard the NIRVANA record before it came out, and I go, 'Oh, my God. It's a really good record.' But I didn't think of it as grunge. I mean, you could obviously tell it wasn't a hard rock record. I just kind of thought it was almost like what GREEN DAY was; it was kind of like pop-punk rock is kind of what I thought it was when I heard it. So, when grunge first came in, first of all, I was in GUNS at the time, and it didn't affect us. We were playing stadiums — sold-out stadiums. So, it affected us later. I'd say it affected us later, like when I did my first solo record, and when Slash did SLASH'S SNAKEPIT, the environment had changed a little bit. It was a little harder dealing with radio. And I remember when I put out my first record, 'Pawnshop Guitars', my song 'Cure Me Or Kill Me' was doing incredibly well at radio, but I couldn't break over that song 'Black Hole Sun' [by SOUNDGARDEN]. It was always 'Black Hole Sun' No. 1, and 'Cure Me Or Kill Me' No. 2. And that's when I started really noticing the climate change."
Clarke replaced Izzy Stradlin in the GUNS lineup in 1991, during the "Use Your Illusion" tour, and stayed with the band for three years. After exiting GUNS N' ROSES, Clarke continued as a producer and solo artist, while also playing in SLASH'S SNAKEPIT, ROCK STAR SUPERNOVA, HEART and other acts.
Clarke's new solo album, "The Gospel Truth", was released in April via Golden Robot Records.