Although GUNS N' ROSES never officially split up, guitarist Slash left in 1996, drummer Matt Sorum was fired in 1997 and bassist Duff McKagan quit later that year. Asked in a new interview with SPIN what misconceptions about the band he wanted to clear up in his autobiography, "Double Talkin' Jive: True Rock 'N' Roll Stories From The Drummer Of Guns N' Roses, The Cult, And Velvet Revolver", Sorum said: "It's nobody's fault, really. The band was way too big at the time. There's a lot of people with their paws in the pie, a lot of distractions, too much money, and too many drugs and alcohol. Young guys don't make clear decisions. I look back and go, 'If that was me now, I'd make a phone call and have a conversation,' but it just didn't seem that easy in those days to do that. To be able to explain things between each other, to help mediate a problem instead of being egotistical about it or being arrogant. It could have gone a different way if there was more communication. Once you're out of a situation like that, you realize that, 'Good God, that was a great fucking band, and I wish we could have kept it together.'"
He continued: "If you ask any band that stayed together, they have to go through those struggles, just like any other relationship. You gotta figure it out if you want to keep it together, like, how much is it worth to you? At the same time, when I talk about things that went down, I want to give accolades to people in the group. In the 'Use Your Illusion' era, we were at the height of our game. Axl [Rose, vocals], Slash and Duff — and even Izzy Stradlin [guitar] and Gilby [Clarke, guitar] — personalities that stand on their own, and sometimes those personalities mix and sometimes they don't."
Sorum, who has also played with THE CULT, VELVET REVOLVER and HOLLYWOOD VAMPIRES, is not involved with GN'R's hugely successful reunion, which features singer Axl Rose, Slash and McKagan alongside drummer Frank Ferrer, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, guitarist Richard Fortus and second keyboardist Melissa Reese.
The 61-year-old musician, who replaced Steven Adler in GUNS N' ROSES, recorded the highly successful albums "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" (both 1991) and "The Spaghetti Incident" (1994). He also supported the group on the "Use Your Illusion" tour and can be heard on GUNS N' ROSES' "Live Era: '87-'93" (1999) and "Greatest Hits" (2004).
Matt was among the GUNS N' ROSES members who were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in April 2012. He, Adler, Slash and McKagan attended the ceremony, while Rose and founding guitarist Izzy Stradlin stayed home.
Last October, Sorum told "Dennis Miller +1" about his time with GUNS N' ROSES: "God, you know when you used to watch those VH1 'Behind The Music' [episodes], and [you'd go], 'Oh, God. There it goes again.' Sorry, it happened to me too. [Laughs] It was, like, do as much as you can until you can't do it anymore. Things got crazy, and believe it or not, everybody in GUNS N' ROSES is still alive. And that blows my mind. I got out alive.
"It was probably the greatest period of my life to actually be in a band like that," he added. "I remember playing Madison Square Garden [in New York City]. We did four nights there, sold out. And I remember driving up that ramp. Remember [the LED ZEPPELIN movie] 'The Song Remains The Same' where they go, 'Tour dates tomorrow and tomorrow'? And next thing they're opening with 'Rock And Roll'. I was driving up that same ramp with my bass player, Duff [McKagan]. And I look and I go, 'Oh my God. We're in the movie.' It was beyond anyone's wildest expectations or dreams as a kid wanting to be in a rock and roll band when you have those experiences."
Photo credit: Zack Whitford