GUNS N’ ROSES bassist Duff McKagan says that he and Slash worked “hard” on trying to get Izzy Stradlin involved with the band’s reunion tour.
While GUNS N’ ROSES‘ “Not In This Lifetime” trek features the “classic era” lineup of McKagan, Slash and singer Axl Rose — with the occasional guest appearance by drummer Steven Adler — Stradlin has not taken part in any shows on the tour, with unconfirmed reports claiming that he turned down a five-figure fee to play with GUNS N’ ROSES at the April 2016 reunion shows.
Now, in a new interview in the “Rolling Stone Music Now” podcast, McKagan has offered more information on the circumstances that led to Izzy‘s absence from the trek.
According to Duff, Izzy‘s decision to sit out the tour “wasn’t from us not trying, for sure. I don’t know if have a take beyond that,” he said. “I know what we tried to do and how hard we worked at that.
“Touring in a big rock band is not for everybody,” he continued. “That’s my take on that. It’s a thing — this is a thing.”
Asked about Stradlin‘s claim that he stepped away from the reunion because the band didn’t want to “split the loot equally,” McKagan said: “I don’t even know. At the end of the day, we just couldn’t figure it out.”
Duff went on to address Izzy‘s history of “coming and going” from various projects, including a brief stint with Duff and Slash‘s post GN’R band VELVET REVOLVER.
“There’s a lot of coming and going, so this was one more chapter of that coming and going,” Duff said in reference to Izzy pulling out of “Not In This Lifetime”.
“I don’t wanna say anything that’s untoward, because I love the guy,” the bassist continued. “Slash and I are sober guys, and we went at it with a solution-based [attitude], like, ‘Let’s make this work.’ But it just didn’t. And who knows? Maybe some other time.”
Asked whether he thinks the GUNS N’ ROSES reunion is finite, Duff said: “I don’t have that feeling at all, [that] it’s a finite thing.
“Because we’ve done no press yet, nobody knows,” he continued. “And I kind of dig it, to be honest with you. I’m not trying to keep you in the dark. I don’t dig the feeling of keeping you in the dark, but it’s kind of nice. It’s a thing where nobody needs to know our business. I think that’s… We got into trouble a long time ago, where people knew all of our business… So we talk about things to each other now — something that maybe we never did before.”
Last year, Izzy blamed his non-involvement with the GUNS N’ ROSES reunion tour on the fact that he and the other guys in the band were unable “to reach a happy middle ground through the negotiation process.”
Rose told Brazil’s Globo TV in a 2016 interview that wasn’t optimistic about Stradlin rejoining his former bandmates. “I don’t really know what to say about Izzy,” Axl said. “It’s like you could have a conversation and think it’s one way and the next day it’s another way. And I’m not trying to take any shots at Izzy. It’s just his thing is kind of his thing, whatever that is.”
Stradlin, whose real name is Jeffrey Isbell, was born and grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, where he was high school friends and bandmates with singer William Bailey — later known as Axl Rose.
His first and only post-GUNS band, IZZY STRADLIN & THE JU JU HOUNDS, broke up in 1993 after recording one LP. He has since released 10 more solo albums between 1998 and 2010.