Suiting up and showing up is often easier said than done. For a long time, Duff McKagan, co-founder of Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver and Walking Papers, didn’t have it together enough to even present the illusion of a life that was on track. There were a lot of drugs, a lot of booze and a heavy dose of chaos. His talent never wavered, but the focus wasn’t there.
Flash forward, thirty years later, and McKagan is a force to be reckoned with- rock n’ roll and so much more. McKagan is a New York Times bestselling author, has penned hundreds of Seattle Weekly columns and helps coach musicians on effective financial planning. His first book, It’s So Easy (and other lies) recounted the grit of the early days in Guns N’ Roses with surprising transparency. With his second book, How to Be a Man, the approach is quite different. Yes, there are juicy rock n’ roll details, but McKagan is a different guy these days- and he’s got a lot of wisdom to share.
I recently had an opportunity to hear McKagan speak at The Grammy Museum in Downtown L.A., a stop on his How to Be a Man book tour. He shared some favorite highlights from the book, mused about T.S.A frustrations and gave out advice to budding musicians (singers need to carry band equipment too). I was struck by McKagan’s thoughtfulness and impressed by his graceful way of dodging invitations to gossip during the audience Q&A. The whole McKagan nucleus was present and, time and time again, Duff referred to his family with extraordinary reverence and respect. After all it’s family that matters most, and today, exactly what McKagan is focused on.
How to Be a Man is truly a great read with 279 pages of wit and wisdom from McKagan, a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. Here are my 10 favorite sage snippets from the book:
- Don’t climb up onto a speaker cabinet unless you are really going to jump.
- Killing Joke’s self titled EP is sinister and completely mesmerizing (agreed).
- Skip the strip club, hit the bookstore (this is actually the name of Chapter 13).
- Hair conditioner makes for good shaving cream, so no need to bring both when traveling.
- In finding the right person, you’ve got to have that initial gut feeling.
- Be on time.
- Set a good example. Even if you’ve got to fake it.
- Get sober.
- Be smart with your money (and your talents).
- Innovate and modernize. Then get up and do it again.
Pick up a copy of Duff McKagan’s How to Be a Man right here, you won’t be sorry.