Duff McKagan Compares Led Zeppelin To The Clash

In a new interview with Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell, Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan shared his memories of seeing The Clash, and compared them to Led Zeppelin.

The bassist’s life had seen its turning point when he attended The Clash performance at the Paramount Theater in his hometown on October 15, 1979. This experience proved to be transformative, flipping the world of the then-15-year-old upside down, as he worded during the interview. While comparing the band to Zeppelin, he said:

“This gig changed my life. These guys… like, so exotic, from England, at the Paramount, and there was 150 people there, and they were just… it was so truthful. I’d seen Led Zeppelin, loved it, at the King Dome [in 1977], but they’re way far away, you know, you can’t touch them, they’re Led Zeppelin. They fly away in a jet plane that says ‘Led Zeppelin’ on it! The Clash pulled up in a station wagon.”

While he appeared to favor Led Zeppelin over The Clash, he reminisced about a time when Joe Strummer reprimanded the security member for breaking a fan’s nose for pogoing:

“A security guy punched a guy who was pogoing, he thought he was being violent. He broke his nose, and it’s one of our friends. So The Clash stopped the show and [bassist] Paul Simonon went back [stage] and got the firefighting axe, and Strummer is like, ‘There’s no difference between us and you, we’ll cut down this this f*cking fence here, we’re in this together.’ You know, ‘We’re in this together!’ What a moment!'”

Led Zeppelin Affected McKagan’s Music Career

Wanting to be both good and different on bass, one of the bass icons that helped shape Duff’s sound was the Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones is one of them.

Learning to play guitar at the age of 12 from his brother, the rocker learned a few chords, later followed by hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time. Reflecting on how he realized the extent of Jones’ genius, Duff said earlier:

“So, I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and that’s when I realized how good John Paul Jones is. But I also realized that it was almost unattainable. I didn’t know what he was doing and got it in my early 20s. Not to get too deep about it, but he’ll put a minor note – I don’t know exactly what it’s called because I’m not a musicologist – but he will put a minor note in a major blues scale. He does that shit effortlessly, like not even thinking about it.”

You can watch the latest interview below.