They say you should never meet your heroes, that is unless your hero is the bassist for one of the greatest rock bands of all time!
In quite possibly our biggest masterclass of the year, we welcomed Guns N’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan to BIMM London ahead of the band’s earth-shattering two nights at the Olympic Stadium in East London. Bold, brash and packed with tales of rock n roll excess, Duff’s masterclass more than lived up to expectations following weeks of anticipation from both tutors and students, many of whom came armed with their Guns N’ Roses t-shirts and band memorabilia.
Walking out to one arguably of the band’s most famous hits ‘Welcome to the Jungle’, Duff received a deafening applause before settling down to talk about his spectacular career with Andrew McKinney (BIMM London’s Head of Bass).
The rocker spoke at length about his formative years, from growing up in a musical household as the youngest of eight children, to moving to LA to live out the rock n roll fantasy. He also touched on his work with Iggy Pop and The Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, sharing stories from a back catalogue of impressive anecdotes.
It was also interesting to hear first-hand how the music industry has changed. Duff said that back then most bands made a living from record sales. He explained that some would even lose money going on tour, but now it’s now the other way around. It means you have to tour to make money. The Paradise City bassist also shared some useful advice on making it as a songwriter:
“Songwriting is something you can get better at the more you do it, keep doing it every day,” he told the audience. “You don’t need drugs and alcohol.”
With that, Duff also briefly touched upon the importance and value of music education and studying at institutes like BIMM:
“Just stick with it and don’t be a dick,” he joked. “I wish I could have gone to one of these schools.”
Duff’s BIMM London masterclass could not have been more timely, and it was a real pinch-yourself moment to have him entertain and inspire our students. His songs are iconic, and the band still sound as tight as ever.
So, what did our audience think? Daniela Hurtado, a BA3 Creative Musicianship Vocals student, spoke of Guns N’ Roses being one of the “biggest influences” in her decision to chase her dream of a music career in rock.
“This masterclass was absolutely brilliant. I never even dreamed about having the opportunity to be right in front of one of the members of such an iconic band and receiving insights straight from the source,” she told BIMM.
We’re still talking about Duff’s appearance a week after his visit. We’ve had some fantastic guests over the years, and this is certainly up there with the biggest. Insightful and full of surprises, this is one masterclass our students will never forget.
Interested in a #lifeinmusic? Find out more about our courses here www.bimm.ac.uk/study/courses