Duff McKagan Compares Led Zeppelin To The Clash

Duff McKagan

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

On October 15, 1979, the bassist witnessed The Clash perform at the Paramount Theater in his hometown. It marked an important turning point in his life. This experience proved transformative, turning the then-15-year-old’s world upside down, as he said during the interview.

While comparing the band to Zeppelin, he stated, “This gig changed my life. At the Paramount, 150 people were treated to a unique and authentic performance by these exotic English performers. I’d seen Led Zeppelin and loved it at the King Dome [in 1977]. But they’re so far away, you can’t touch them; they’re Led Zeppelin. They fly away in a jet plane with the words ‘Led Zeppelin’ on it! The Clash showed up in a station wagon.”

While he appeared to prefer Led Zeppelin over The Clash, he recalled when Joe Strummer chastised a security guard for breaking a fan’s nose while pogoing. “A security guard punched a guy who was pogoing because he believed he was being violent. He broke his nose, and it happened to be one of our friends. So The Clash paused the show, and [bassist] Paul Simonon returned to the stage with the firefighting axe, and Strummer says, ‘There’s no difference between us and you. we’ll cut down this f*cking fence here, we’re in this together.’ ‘We’re in this together!’ “What a moment!”

Led Zeppelin Affected The Music Career of Duff McKagan

Duff wanted to be both good and different on bass. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin was one of the bass icons who helped shape his sound.

The rocker learned to play guitar from his brother at 12. He learned a few chords before hearing Led Zeppelin for the first time. Reflecting on how he realized the extent of Jones’ genius, Duff previously stated, “So, I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, which is when I realized how talented John Paul Jones is. However, I realized that it was almost unattainable. I had no idea what he was doing and received it in my early twenties. Not to get too technical, but he’ll insert a minor note – I’m not sure what it’s called because I’m not a musicologist – in a major blues scale. He does that shit so effortlessly as if he isn’t thinking about it.”

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