Duff McKagan On How Sex Pistols Shaped Guns N’ Roses And Nirvana’s Music

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Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan spoke to Stage Right Secrets at the premiere of Sex Pistols’ TV series ‘Pistol’ and shared his ideas about Sex Pistols. According to the musician, the band and whole punk culture contributed to many bands like Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana to create their style.

Punk wasn’t only a musical genre but a way of life, a subculture that significantly influenced 70s youth and every part of their lives. It was against corporations, systems, and rules, and the main focus was being rebels. This perspective toward life shaped the music and artists at that time. Punk music, or punk rock, drew significant attention from the critics with its loud and aggressive sounds and one-of-a-kind lyrics.

Sex Pistols, one of the pioneer bands for popularizing the genre, became an inspiration for the young generation of hard rock and alternative rock musicians. McKagan also agreed with his idea, saying that he learned many things from the band members during his early times in the music industry. After drawing attention to Steve Jones’ attacking guitar and Paul Cook‘s skills as a drummer, the bassist stated that the punk scene changed everything.

McKagan claimed that there wouldn’t be Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, and his band Guns N’ Roses without Sex Pistols’ hit songs and performing unbelievable shows. So they inspired the young people with their unique way of playing and living in general. The GN’R bassist added that punk music and culture focused on individuality and becoming the other or freak in a society where everyone has to be ‘normal.’

McKagan shared his ideas, saying:

“I didn’t learn to play their music, like ‘Bodies’ or anything. Later on, I learned the songs. But it was just kind of the way that Steve Jones attacks the guitar. I just picked up a guitar and started learning all that. I then figured out Johnny Thunders before that, and that’s where he was taking it from. It was like a music school. Paul Cook is the beginning of modern rock and roll drumming — it all goes back to Paul. I’m a bass player, a rhythm section guy, so Paul is the engine that informed rock and roll from ’77 on.

I was in the punk scene coming up. It was a time when it was all about individuals and individuality and being a freak, an outsider, and there was a little scene for you. There was a little gig down the street somewhere or downtown that you could go to, and it was all ages.

The punk scene back then and what The Pistols helped generate was such a truly special thing. There wouldn’t be a Guns N’ Roses; there wouldn’t be Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Nirvana, you can keep going on. Foo Fighters — there wouldn’t have been any of that without it.”

You can watch the video below.