Gilby Clarke "never had more lawyers" than when he was in Guns N' Roses

Publish Date
Friday, 2 July 2021, 10:56AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

It's not easy being a rock star in a titanic act like Guns N' Roses, as the band's history of lineup turnover suggests.

Former guitarist Gilby Clarke says he took the GNR gig in 1991, expecting to be a "hired gun," following the departure of Izzy Stradlin. But Axl Rose and company wanted Gilby to be a full member just like them, with a say in the band's music and business deals.

In a conversation with Aftershocks TV, Clarke noted that the role was a double-edged sword and an immense responsibility.

"You get the successes, but you get the failures," he said. "You get the other decisions of the business we don't talk about — the lawyers, the agents, all that stuff that comes with it."

The lawyers were the part of the deal that was the most frustrating. GNR had its share of friction with the law in its early days and as such Clarke was armed to the teeth with attorneys during his three-year tenure.

"I have never had more lawyers, ever, than when I was in that band," Clarke recalled. "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."

The experience informed Clarke's deals in future gigs, where he opted to be a hired gun with a steady paycheck and no headache.

Clarke's solo album, The Gospel Truth, arrived this spring. He pointed out that as a solo act, he doesn't have the "luxury" of passing on decisions. It's part of the reason he hasn't done a solo record in over a decade.

Check out the full conversation via the player below.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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