I don’t need your civil war: GN’R’s Duff McKagan talks “brotherhood” with grunge scene

Disney/Randy Holmes

While the U.K. had Oasis vs. Blur, the big music rivalry in the U.S. during the ’90s was Nirvana vs. Guns N’ Roses. However, as GN’R bassist Duff McKagan tells ABC Audio, that so-called “rivalry” was overblown.

“When that thing … hit its height, that sort of us-and-them sort of thing, it was never from us,” McKagan says. “And it was never from them.”

McKagan does allow that “there may have been an incident,” perhaps referring to the infamous Nirvana/GN’R dustup at the 1992 MTV VMAs, but puts the blame on media outlets such as MTV for “stirring the pot.”

“I didn’t watch TV, I was always on the road, but people called, like, ‘Oh man! On MTV they said this and that,'” McKagan shares. “I have no idea, I’m in Düsseldorf. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Now decades later, Guns N’ Roses has shared the live stage with Nirvana drummer-turned-Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl on multiple occasions. They’ve also recently performed live with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and toured with Alice in Chains, while McKagan, who’s originally from Seattle, also long-held connections to the grunge scene.

“It was always a brotherhood,” McKagan explains. “I’ve known Mike McCready since we were 14 years old. And [Pearl Jam’s] Stone [Gossard] and [Soundgarden‘s] Ben Shepherd and Kim [Thayil] and Chris [Cornell].”

“So, there was no battle,” he adds. “I think [there was] no bigger fan of Soundgarden than Axl [Rose]. And Nirvana.” 

McKagan recently released a new solo album, Lighthouse. It includes a collaboration with Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell.

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