GUNS N' ROSES' Richard Fortus has confirmed that the legendary John Sykes (THIN LIZZY, WHITESNAKE) auditioned for the then-vacant guitarist slot in GN'R more than a decade ago. "That was when D.J. [Ashba] came in [back in 2009]," Fortus told Tone-Talk in a new interview (see video below). "We auditioned a bunch of people, and John Sykes was incredible.
"I remember Tommy Stinson [then-GUNS N' ROSES bassist] came in, and we walked into rehearsals, and we see John there," Richard recalled. "Tommy turns around to the tour manager, and he goes, 'Man, send him home. Why are we doing this? Axl's [Rose, GN'R singer] not gonna go for this.' And [the tour manager] is, like, 'It's John Sykes, man. He learned the songs. The least you can do is listen to him.' So Tommy was, like, 'All right. Fine.' So we go in the room, and within two minutes, Tommy is looking over at me, like, 'Oh my God!' I mean, it was incredible — incredible. And he just plugged straight into the amp, and just killed it. His tone was incredible. Our jaws were on the ground, for sure."
As for why Sykes ended up not getting the gig, Fortus said: "John's reputation does precede him. But I personally got along great with him, and I kept in contact with him. Actually, I kept in contact with him pretty regularly until I got the THIN LIZZY gig [as a touring guitarist in 2011], and then he didn't call me anymore. [Laughs] But I thought he was great."
John's best-known work was when he joined WHITESNAKE and co-wrote the band's self-titled seventh studio album, released in 1987. It produced a major power ballad hit, "Is This Love", along with the No. 1 hit "Here I Go Again". The album was a major crossover hit, eventually selling over eight million copies in the U.S. alone.
Sykes announced his departure from THIN LIZZY in July 2009, explaining that "I feel it's time to get back to playing my own music."
On January 1, Sykes released the official music video for a new song called "Dawning Of A Brand New Day". The track, which was recorded at least four years ago, is expected to appear on Sykes's long-awaited new solo album, "Sy-Ops", tentatively due later this year.