Duff: An all-star tour of South America

Duff McKagan is touring with some huge names, such as Gene Simmons, in South America. Ollie Millington/Getty Images

Musician Duff McKagan's column runs every Wednesday on Playbook Sounds.

To start off: You will read that I am far away and on the move, and it is tough for me to keep up on American sports, or really anything else for that matter. But I did see that elbow that Metta World Peace threw on James Harden. Dude should be thrown out of the league. If that elbow made contact with Harden’s temple, he very well could have been a dead man. There is just no room, nor should there be temperance for this. Period.

And yes … I saw that the Mariners had a perfect game thrown against them. Here we go, Seattle baseball fans. Dig in. Ugh.

On to the current road trip:

About three months ago, I received a call from [Guns N' Roses/Velvet Revolver] drummer Matt Sorum, about me possibly doing some gigs with him and some "other dudes" down in South America in the spring. Matt seems to always have a few balls in the air, and I sort of chalked it up as something that only might happen.

Spring is here, and I am indeed in South America with Matt and those "other dudes."

In Los Angeles, there is a rock band called Camp Freddy. It is actually more of a collective, if you will, with a core band of Matt Sorum, Dave Navarro, Chris Chaney and Billy Morrison. Camp Freddy specializes in getting big-name guest singers -- from Ozzy to Lemmy to Elton John, Iggy Pop and Steven Tyler. It’s always fun to see one of your rock heroes just kind of get up and jam with Camp Freddy. It's raw and refreshing, and some of you reading this have most likely been to a CF show somewhere or another.

Sorum had the idea to kind of take this collective idea and make it a huge touring beast. But how? Everyone is always on their own tours, and it would be tough to find guys who were all off of a tour at the same time. But he did it, and I am now down in South America with:

    Billy Duffy (The Cult)

    Ed Roland (Collective Soul)

    Steve Stevens (Billy Idol)

    Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)

    Sebastian Bach (Skid Row)

    Joe Elliott (Def Leppard)

    Mike Inez (Alice In Chains)

    Matt Sorum (Guns N' Roses)

    Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses)

    AND … Gene "God of Thunder" Simmons (KISS)

I thought I was going to have some really good and snark-filled material from this tour, as some fodder for my columns. But something happened on the way to South America. You know what? This thing actually REALLY kicks some ass. You kind of forget how good it is to see really good players do their thing. And the set list is pretty unstoppable. It goes something like this:

    "Welcome To The Jungle" (Guns N' Roses)

    "It’s So Easy" (Guns N' Roses)

    "Youth Gone Wild" (Skid Row)

    "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin)

    "Wildflower" (The Cult)

    "Highway Star" (Deep Purple)

    "Burn" (Deep Purple)

    "Firewoman " (The Cult)

    "Tie Your Mother Down" (Queen)

    "Animal" (Def Leppard)

    "Pour Some Sugar On Me" (Def Leppard)

    "All The Young Dudes" (Mott The Hoople)

    "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan)

    "Paradise City" (Guns N' Roses)

    "Love It Loud" (KISS)

    "Deuce" (KISS)

    "Rock And Roll All Night" (KISS)

There are a few more songs in the set, but you get the general idea. It’s a mixture of songs by the actual artists who are here, and a couple of tunes that someone or other just simply wanted to play … and it is an absolute barn-burner of a set.

It’s a great experience to go out and play music with guys in other bands. It’s like an NFL All-Star weekend, but on tour (well, to be fair, it’s like being the old guy at NFL All-Star weekend). But none of these guys play like old guys, and this music seems fresher and somehow relevant to what is going on right now. I’m sure it is probably just the excitement of playing a KISS song, or a Deep Purple song that makes everyone else play better and a bit harder. And down here, the classic music is huge with the younger set.

Of the 20,000 people who showed up at the first gig in Paraguay, you would’ve been hard-pressed to find anyone over the age of 25.


The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame happened a couple of weekends ago, and it was cool to see some old-school, longtime-together bands get their props.

On a personal note, I had a really great time. We weren’t really quite sure if we were going to play, until about 24 hours before the actual show. It was really great to play with drummer Steven Adler again after some 20-odd years. Sorum crushed it too, and Slash just gets better day after day. Gilby honored us with his presence and he has a "feel" that fits, and once again saved GNR’s ass. Myles Kennedy came in to sing, and the dude has class and a ton of respect and humility. I like those qualities in a guy. Humbleness can let real inner strength breathe.

It was really fun to watch the old footage of blues legend Freddie King. Those guys who have that much dang raw talent, are from some other world -- musically speaking.

Musician Duff McKagan -- who writes for Seattle Weekly, has written for Playboy.com and has published an autobiography, "It's So Easy: And Other Lies" -- writes a weekly sports column for Playbook. To send him a note, click here and fill out the form.