RON 'BUMBLEFOOT' THAL Says He Got 'Death Threats' Over Botched Guitar Solo During GUNS N' ROSES Concert
December 4, 2023
In a new interview with Rockin' Metal Revival, former GUNS N' ROSES and current ART OF ANARCHY guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal was asked to name one "Spinal Tap" moment from his decades of touring and performing live. He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "My biggest 'Spinal Tap' moment was definitely [playing with GUNS N' ROSES at the] Rock In Rio [festival] in Brazil in 2011. And it was pouring rain. And the rain was like a few inches high on the stage; they were sweeping it up. It was almost as high as the top of the pedal boards. I remember pyro was misfiring. It was that wet that it was just crazy. And I remember trying to play on the fretless guitar, and my fingers were so pruned up, my skin was so… And I couldn't… It was like trying to play on a wet balloon — trying to push through it all; everything's soaked."
He continued: "There was this lovely girl in the front row that had a 'Star Wars' stormtrooper helmet that she was holding. And I said, 'Yeah, give me the helmet,' and I figured I would put it on and play with it on for a bit. So, I got the helmet, and I put it on my head, and as soon as it touched my cheeks, it's like it fused to it, 'cause my skin, everything was so wet. And I remember just saying, 'Oh, shit.' And as soon as I said the 'S' curse, everything just fogged up and now it's, like, 'All right, I have this helmet that is gonna take a little bit of effort to remove.' And that's not good when you're trying to play guitar in a song. And I can't see anything; it's completely fogged up. And the iconic solo [to 'Welcome To The Jungle'] that I had to play was about to come up and it was, like, the opening of the show and everything, and it's, like, 'Oh god. This is not gonna work out well.' So if I remember right, I managed to get the helmet up at least like over my eyes and keep it there. And then I think I nodded, like, 'Ah, good.' And it flopped right back down. So, it got to one point, like halfway through the solo, where I just had to stop playing and pull this helmet back so I could see what I was doing. And those few seconds that I stopped playing, he next day I got hundreds — hundreds — of furious e-mails from Brazilians, saying how I like destroyed their life and death threats and all this stuff. And to this day, 12 years later, every once in a while someone will send me an e-mail with a screenshot of me wearing that helmet, saying, 'Ha ha ha.'"
Thal added: "So that is absolutely a 'Spinal Tap' moment."
Bumblefoot recently completed work on his first solo instrumental album in nearly three decades. A 2024 release is expected.
Thal joined GUNS N' ROSES in 2006 and appeared on 2008's "Chinese Democracy", an effort which contained music that had been written before he came into the group. The disc took 13 years to make and was only a modest seller, moving just around half a million copies.
Thal never officially announced his departure from the GN'R, but a source confirmed to Detroit music writer Gary Graff back in 2015 that the guitarist had been out since the end of the band's second Las Vegas residency in 2014.
Thal later revealed that he was focusing on his solo career and other projects after spending eight years playing in GUNS.
Thal spent a few years recording and touring with SONS OF APOLLO, which also featured drummer Mike Portnoy, keyboardist Derek Sherinian and bassist Billy Sheehan. SONS OF APOLLO released its second studio album, "MMXX" (pronounced: 20/20),in January 2020 via InsideOut Music/Sony.
This past September, ART OF ANARCHY released a new single, "Vilified". The song is taken from the band's third studio album, "Let There Be Anarchy", which will be released on February 16, 2024 via Pavement Music.
Joining founding ART OF ANARCHY members Jon Votta (guitar),Vince Votta (drums) and Thal in the band's new lineup are vocalist Jeff Scott Soto (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, JOURNEY, SONS OF APOLLO) and bassist Tony Dickinson (SOTO, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA).
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