MIKE PORTNOY Says He Wasn't Trying To Insult MATT SORUM When He Tweeted Out His 'Observation' About 'November Rain'

January 10, 2023

Mike Portnoy says that he regrets publicly voicing his "observation" about the drumming in the GUNS N' ROSES classic "November Rain", explaining that he wasn't "trying to insult another drummer."

Back in August 2012, Portnoy, who normally doesn't shy away from his two cents on any music-related discussion, took to his Twitter account to pose the question: "'November Rain' is an all-time classic song... but why on Earth did Matt Sorum play the SAME EXACT fill every 4 bars? (23 times, to be exact!)"

Two days later, Sorum finally replied to Portnoy, writing on Twitter, "That fill was Axl's [Rose, GUNS N' ROSES singer] idea as a musical phrase that carried on through the trilogy, 'Don't Cry' and 'Estranged'. Those albums, 'Use Your Illusion' [parts] 1 and 2 have sold 20 million combined."

He added, "Remember, kids, drumming isn't all about fancy drum fills and splash cymbals. Ask Charlie Watts, Ringo [Starr] and Phil Rudd."

Portnoy then replied, "Agree 1000%!! Ringo is one of my greatest heroes!! No disrespect meant, bro... Just making an observation of that song. Peace! : )"

Mike discussed his decade-old exchange with Matt during an appearance on the latest episode of the GUNS N' ROSES-centric "Appetite For Distortion" podcast. Speaking about how the supposed "feud" unfolded, Portnoy said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "It was a misunderstanding. It was one of those Twitter wars that kept blowing up out of nowhere.

"'November Rain' came on wherever, and I heard the fill, and it dawned on me, 'Oh my God. It's literally happening every four bars or every eight bars.' And I counted them, and it was something like 37 times, the same fill.

"Look, I have nothing but respect for GUNS N' ROSESandMatt Sorum," Portnoy explained. "Matt's a great, great drummer and he's done amazing stuff both inside and outside of GUNS N' ROSES. So I never am trying to insult another drummer. I could find something impressive or inspiring from any musician out there, and I never wanna come down or insult any of 'em. But I just kind of randomly posted that random thought, like, 'Why is this same fill happening 37 times?' or whatever it was. And I regret that I did that 'cause it probably came off as an insult to Matt, and I did not mean for it to be. But he responded something to the effect of, 'Oh, at least I don't need a hundred-piece drum kit to play.' And then I was, like, 'Well, hey, you're talking to the biggest Ringo [Starr] and BEATLES fan of all time. Don't pull that card with me.' And we ended up privately e-mailing each other and I apologized and I said, 'Look, I really meant no disrespect whatsoever.' So I do regret that tweet and have learned to kind of be a little more careful about the observations I make online."

In a 2009 interview with Music Radar, Sorum spoke in more detail about his drumming approach on "November Rain", explaining, "The track I get the most amount of grief for, from drummers, is 'November Rain'. The reason I did that tom fill so many times is I felt it was a musical part. A lot of drummers were like, 'Why'd you play the same fill so much?!'

"Me and Axl were sitting in the studio late one night, having a couple of drinks and listening to Elton John, a song called 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me'.

"Axl goes, 'Do you hear that?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I love Nigel Olson, man'. He says, 'Do that on the song we're going to record tomorrow!' We'd rehearsed it but I didn't have all the fills and stuff, it was just a groove. In the end of 'November Rain', I get into that whole marching band trip."

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