Ace of bass

Ace of bass

I bought a bass.

It is a satin-black Yamaha TRBX504, and after spending just two days with it, I am already in love.

Is this a mid-life crisis thing?

Yes, probably.

Do I care?

No, not really. It all began when I read Duff McKagan's new autobiography It's So Easy And Other Lies (right).

McKagan is, of course, the original bass player for Guns N' Roses and he is a hero of mine.

The prototypical bassist, he was always super-chill (because he was always super drunk) and also the best-looking member of the band.

Tall, thin and blond with a beautiful face and a flamboyant dress sense, he looks like an elven king reborn as a rock god.

He plays his bass with a pick, which is rather unique, and his growly, relentless basslines were instrumental in elevating Guns N' Roses' tunes from average rock tracks into mad sonic pleasure domes.

Paradise City sounds as if it originated from the very forehead of English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and McKagan's gargantuan bass forms its indestructible foundation.

In his unrelenting, stabby work on You Could Be Mine - the theme song for Terminator 2: Judgement Day - McKagan captures the very essence of robot murder mayhem.

At the other end of the spectrum, he could also play sensitively and melodically, as we see in the classic opening of Sweet Child O' Mine.

McKagan's book is filled with anecdotes chronicling his debauchery as the band rose to fame and imploded.

It was a mad ride that might have killed him, but he survived. This is another reason I admire him.

In some ways, I wish I could have a life like McKagan's, but the funny thing is that he has kind of ended up in the same place as me.


We are both family men, married with kids - he has two girls while I have two boys.

We both overcame rather tumultuous childhoods to find peace and comfort in middle age.

We are both writers - in addition to his book, McKagen has also written columns for newspapers and magazines.

We are both, uh, tall.

McKagan has had the sorts of adventures I can only dream about - the fame, the money, the road, the shows, the girls - but at least I can aspire to play the bass like him.

Once you become a boring middle-aged dude, you realise it was always mostly about the music anyway.

At least that is what I tell myself.

Our resident DJ-journo is on a quest to spirit-merge with Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, yo!)

This article was published on April 2 in The New Paper.

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