Duff McKagan Compares Led Zeppelin To The Clash

Guns N’ Roses‘ Duff McKagan recounted his memories of watching The Clash in a recent interview with Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains, drawing comparisons between them and Led Zeppelin.

The bassist’s life took a significant turn on October 15, 1979, when he saw The Clash perform at the Paramount Theater in his hometown. According to what the then-15-year-old said in the interview, this encounter turned his world upside down and proved to be revolutionary. He stated, drawing parallels between the band and Zeppelin:

“This gig changed my life. These guys… like, so exotic, from England, at the Paramount, and there was 150 people there, and they were just… it was so truthful. I’d seen Led Zeppelin, loved it, at the King Dome [in 1977], but they’re way far away, you know, you can’t touch them, they’re Led Zeppelin. They fly away in a jet plane that says ‘Led Zeppelin’ on it! The Clash pulled up in a station wagon.”

Though he seemed to prefer Led Zeppelin over The Clash, he recalled an incident in which Joe Strummer chastised the security guard for breaking a fan’s nose because they were pogoing:

“A security guy punched a guy who was pogoing, he thought he was being violent. He broke his nose, and it’s one of our friends. So The Clash stopped the show and [bassist] Paul Simonon went back [stage] and got the firefighting axe, and Strummer is like, ‘There’s no difference between us and you, we’ll cut down this this f*cking fence here, we’re in this together.’ You know, ‘We’re in this together!’ What a moment!’”

Led Zeppelin Affected McKagan’s Music Career

One of the bass legends who influenced Duff’s style was John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin, who wanted to be both good and unique on the instrument.

The rock star first heard Led Zeppelin at the age of 12, after learning a few chords from his brother, who was a guitar player. Thinking back to when he first recognized Jones’ extraordinary talent, Duff had stated:

“So, I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, and that’s when I realized how good John Paul Jones is. But I also realized that it was almost unattainable. I didn’t know what he was doing and got it in my early 20s. Not to get too deep about it, but he’ll put a minor note – I don’t know exactly what it’s called because I’m not a musicologist – but he will put a minor note in a major blues scale. He does that shit effortlessly, like not even thinking about it.”

Below, you can view the most recent interview.


Leave a Comment