Duff McKagan Explains The Financial Purpose Behind The ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ Album

On November 23, Guns N’ Roses’ fifth album, ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ will celebrate its 30th anniversary. Duff McKagan gave an interview to Classic Rock’s Dave Everley about the nearly 30-year-old cover album.

The album brought the mostly dark, punk-rock songs to a wider audience, Duff told. He also mentioned that it was good way to boost the coffers of the bands Guns N’ Roses loved who hadn’t necessarily made a huge amount of money from their music.

When he was asked about the songs, McKagan explained:

“These were all songs we played in soundcheck or live over the years. There was no plan to start with. We recorded a few songs, and then it was like, let’s just make a record… We figured, if we make this record and it sells, then if nothing else some of our heroes can get some royalties.”

The Story Of ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ Album

In the past, Guns N’ Roses said that the title of their 1993 covers album ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’ was a reference to a food fight between lead singer Axl Rose and drummer Steven Adler. But the truth is that the album’s title was related to the drummer’s drug habit and the lawsuit that resulted in his dismissal from the band. In the early 2000’s, Axl Rose, who was the only remaining founding member of the group at the time, told writer Writer Gavin Edwards that:

“The album title is a reference to an incident involving former drummer Steven Adler‘s drug addiction, which got him fired from the band in 1990.”

According to McKagan the band’s stay in Chicago in the summer of 1989, the band’s most of the diet contained of Italian takeout. He said:

“And Steven was doing a lot of crack cocaine at this point, and he’d keep his blow in the refrigerator. So his code word for his stash was’spaghetti’.”

Addressing the poor condition of the band’s drummer Steven Adler at the time, McKagan added:

Steven spiraled out of control. We said, Steven, we’re fucked up individuals and we’re telling you that you gotta shape up, so you must be really fucked up.”

Steven Adler’s Lawsuit Against Guns N’ Roses

In July 1991, about a year after Adler was fired from Guns N’ Roses, the drummer filed a lawsuit against his former bandmates. Adler claimed that before he was fired, the band made him sign contracts that stripped him of his copyrights, and that they removed him from the band because of his poor performance in the studio, which was a result of the opiate blockers he was taking to recover from his addiction.  In an interview with the magazine Classic Rock in 2005, Adler recalled the period by saying:

“I was told that every time I did heroin, the band would fine me $2,000. There was a whole stack of papers, with colored paper clips everywhere for my signatures. What these contracts actually said was that the band were paying me $2,000 to leave. They were taking my royalties, all my writing credits. They didn’t like me anymore and just wanted me gone. That’s why I filed the lawsuit — to get all those things back,”

Duff McGagan’s Comments On ‘The Spaghetti Incident?’

In the 1991 lawsuit we mentioned, McKagan was called to testify. He describes what happened in his testimony as follows:

“So then I’m in court, with a jury and the whole thing, And this fuckin’ lawyer gets up, and with a straight face says, ‘Mr. McKagan, tell us about the spaghetti incident.’ And I started laughing.”

The rest is history. The album debuted at number 4 on the Billboard 200 and the royalties benefited the original artists who wrote and recorded the tracks on the album.