Gilby Clarke said he had to have three lawyers on retainer while he was in Guns N’ Roses, noting that these days he prefers to avoid the “responsibility” of being a band member.
The guitarist replaced Izzy Stradlin in 1991 and spent three years as part of Axl Rose’s group. In a new interview with Aftershocks TV, he reflected on the backstage challenges associated with the experience.
“I kind of thought I was just stepping in and being a hired gun,” Clarke said. “But it was important to the band that I was a band member.” Saying he’d have been “happy” with either position, he added that “the thing about being the 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.”
You can watch the interview below.
He said of his time with GNR: “I have never had more lawyers, ever, than when I was in that band. I used to say, ‘Why do I have three lawyers on retainer to play guitar in a rock ’n’ roll band? I just play guitar. I don’t even open my mouth!’ … [A] lot of responsibility comes with that if you are the band guy. Some guys get to a point where they go, ‘Just pay me. The ship is running straight. You don’t need me. I’ll do my job, but you don’t need my opinion about the other stuff.’”
Clarke explained that he took the less-responsible option. “You have the luxury to say, ‘I just wanna be the side guy. Just pay me. This is what I want.’ … And I have done that, because sometimes you respect the artist and you want to do that. … ‘Their ship is running straight. Let them do their thing. I’ll just play guitar and contribute.” Still, he reflected, “But sometimes you do want to be part of that success – what you brought to the table is important.”
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