When Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987 and blew my world away, I never thought within the next few years I would get to interview not one, not two, but three members of Guns N' Roses.
Last week I had the privilege of inter- viewing Gilby Clark (pictured), who is kinda hot like that.
The occasion was after the press con- ference for Kings of Chaos at the very un-rock ’n’ roll radio station, Jacaranda.
“You’ll have to speak up, I’m kinda very deaf,” said the soft-spoken guitarist. He put his ear close to my face. This caused me to panic as I was suffering from satanic flu and I thought, wow, if I give this flu to him he won’t be able to perform at Sun City with Kings of Chaos at the weekend.
“Oh, I don’t think you’ll make me sick. I am healthy and strong. I gym a lot.”
Clark held out his tattooed forearm. “Feel.” Gasp, splutter. I am touching Gilby Clark’s forearm, the arm he uses to play that famous guitar. Groupie moment, indeed.
“I think its so necessary to gym, particularly at my age and particularly because of what I do for a living. I have an exercise routine which I broke because I am having so much fun in South Africa.”
“Coming to South Africa has been eye-opening. The kindness here is remarkable. I kinda had an inkling of what to expect because my wife went to school in Port Elizabeth for junior high.”
Random. So you knew what to expect.
“I expected monkeys. But everyone is so soft-spoken and kind. Americans are so loud,” he says.
“Cape Town is so shiny and new. I went on safari and saw the big five and that was humbling. I also learnt about the problem of poaching. I didn’t realise it was such a problem.”
Did you ever think that you would still be playing rock music in your fifties?
“Well, no, because no one was at that stage. When I started playing, the Rolling Stones were the oldest and they were in their early thirties. Kiss, Led Zeppelin were all in their late twenties. I thought I would just do it while I was young. In fact, I used to joke that it was a young man’s game.”
What is it like touring with Kings of Chaos? “Well Joe Elliot from Def Leppard is the funniest. We’ve known each other for a long time. But now how do I put this gently? I am a guitarist and guitarists have been tolerating singers for years. Having said that, it’s amazing how the singers in this crew have so much respect for each other.
“There is not a lot of footage of Kings of Chaos on YouTube or Twitter, so many people didn’t know what to expect.
“When I leave here, I go back to the US and then go to Australia with the Gilby Clark Band. I live in the moment but my gigs are booked till October.”
Then the time was up. Kings of Chaos were leaving in an hour for Sun City. They were set to meet Slash there, who had gone up earlier with his family for safari.
I leave Gilby feeling humbled. This guy is so ego free, so professional, so light and easy going. But that Saturday night I saw him perform at Sun City, he was a superstar of rock ’n’ roll.