Ex-GN’R Guitarist Gilby Clarke Says He Was Hired As A Member But Fired As A Replacement

Former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke recently opened up about his relationship with the iconic band during an interview with Aftershocks TV and revealed that although they hired him as a member, they later claimed he was just a replacement because it was more convenient for them.

As you may recall, in 1991 Izzy Stradlin had shocked GN’R fans with his announcement about quitting the band as he didn’t find it healthy to be surrounded by people who abuse alcohol and drugs because he’d gone sober and that he didn’t have the patience to deal with Axl Roses’s personal behavior anymore.

Following that GN’R members and management apparently didn’t think that Izzy would be back and started looking for a new guitarist. Gilby Clarke was hired and he replaced Izzy in the rest of the gigs of the Use Your Illusion Tour, which lasted until 1993. His contract was not renewed though, and he was gone from the band in 1995.

This is the point where the claims vary. Firstly, Slash stated in his memoir that Axl Rose was the one to fire Gilby Clarke without consulting anyone as he claimed that he was just a ‘hired hand.’ Other members and the management also continued the ‘hired hand’ rhetoric, but with his recent interview, Gilby Clarke revealed that this wasn’t the case.

During the interview, Clarke said that he also initially thought that he was ‘just stepping in for Izzy Stradlin,’ this was refuted by the members. He said ‘it was important to the band that I was a band member’ and although they say otherwise now, that was the case back then. Gilby then went on to talk about the heavy responsibilities of being a member and how he ‘was happy to be both.’

Here’s how Gilby Clarke explained his relationship with the band during his recent interview:

“Even when I got the Guns N’ Roses gig, I, in the beginning, kind of thought that I was just stepping in for Izzy Stradlin. I don’t think they really knew if Izzy was gonna be back or whatever. I kind of thought I was just stepping in and being a hired gun. But it was important to the band that I was a band member.

Some of ’em may say differently now because it’s convenient, but at that time, if you look in the tour books, the replacement member doesn’t get pages of pictures and stuff. I was represented as a band member — on the records, on the tour programs, everything. That’s something they made the choice of. I mean, I was happy to be both — it was such a great gig at the time.”

He went on to say:

“The thing about being a band member is it’s a lot of responsibility. You get the successes, but you get the failures. You get the other decisions of the business we don’t all talk about — the lawyers, the agents, all that stuff that comes with it. So sometimes, after you’ve done it a few times, you have the luxury to say, ‘I just wanna be the side guy. Just pay me. This is what I want. If you pay me what I want, I’m gonna shut my mouth and I’m gonna play guitar.’

And I have done that because sometimes you respect the artist and you wanna do that. You go, ‘You know what? Their ship is running straight. Let ’em do their thing. I’ll just play guitar and contribute.’ But sometimes you do wanna be part of that success; what you brought to the table is important.”

You can listen to the whole interview below.