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It's So Easy: And Other Lies

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A founding member of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver shares the story of his rise to the pinnacle of fame and fortune, his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction, his personal crash and burn, and his phoenix-like transformation via a unique path to sobriety.

In 1984, at the age of twenty, Duff McKagan left his native Seattle—partly to pursue music but mainly to get away from a host of heroin overdoses then decimating his closest group of friends in the local punk scene. In L.A. only a few weeks and still living in his car, he answered a want ad for a bass player placed by someone who identified himself only as “Slash.” Soon after, the most dangerous band in the world was born. Guns N’ Roses went on to sell more than 100 million albums worldwide.

In It's So Easy, Duff recounts GN’R’s unlikely trajectory to a string of multiplatinum albums, sold-out stadium concerts, and global acclaim. But that kind of glory can take its toll, and it did—ultimately—on Duff, as well as on the band itself. As GN’R began to splinter, Duff felt that he himself was done, too. But his near death as a direct result of alcoholism proved to be his watershed, the turning point that led to his unique path to sobriety and the unexpected choices he has made for himself since. In a voice that is as honest as it is indelibly his own, Duff—one of rock’s smartest and most articulate personalities—takes readers on his harrowing journey through the dark heart of one of the most notorious bands in rock-and-roll history and out the other side.

366 pages, Hardcover

First published October 4, 2011

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About the author

Duff McKagan

24 books338 followers
In 1984, at the age of twenty, Duff left his native Seattle—partly to pursue music but mainly to get away from a host of heroin overdoses then decimating his closest group of friends in the local punk scene. In L.A. only a few weeks and still living in his car, he answered a want ad for a bass player placed by someone who identified himself only as “Slash.” Soon after, the most dangerous band in the world was born. Guns N’ Roses went on to sell more than 100 million albums worldwide.

In It's So Easy, Duff recounts GN’R’s unlikely trajectory to a string of multiplatinum albums, sold-out stadium concerts, and global acclaim. But that kind of glory can take its toll, and it did—ultimately—on Duff, as well as on the band itself. As GN’R began to splinter, Duff felt that he himself was done, too. But his near death as a direct result of alcoholism proved to be his watershed, the turning point that led to his unique path to sobriety and the unexpected choices he has made for himself since. In a voice that is as honest as it is indelibly his own, Duff—one of rock’s smartest and most articulate personalities—takes readers on his harrowing journey through the dark heart of one of the most notorious bands in rock-and-roll history and out the other side.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 839 reviews
Profile Image for Allison Renner.
Author 3 books30 followers
November 18, 2011
This book is why I love reading rock autobiographies. Duff comes across as intelligent and self-aware, but he doesn't act like he's always been that way. He admits to past mistakes and stupidity while he was living it up with Guns N Roses. He shares embarrassing stories about drugs and drinking, including throwing up, then consuming the vomit because there was alcohol in it. Instead of glorifying his former rock lifestyle, he focuses on how he overcame things. He fell in love, married, and now has two daughters; he enrolled in community college so he could go on to get a college degree; he took up exercising and bicycling to stay sober. He never comes off as holier-than-thou, but I love that the book focuses more on what he's doing now than idolizing how he used to be. While the stream-of-consciousness chapters from his drug induced times are incredibly gripping, it's even more impressive how he writes the rest of the narrative. Though he gives credit to a ghost writer, I believe the reader is actually hearing Duff's true voice, because he's an intelligent man (as demonstrated by his 4.0 GPA in college), and he's been writing his own columns for several years now. Highly recommended, regardless of how you feel about GNR.
Profile Image for Anthony.
189 reviews12 followers
March 18, 2017
Interesting book. I've read Slash's book. I've read Adler's book. Both gave unique accounts of their lives and what they went through in GnR. Their books were a bit more salacious than Duff's. Probably because they used professional writers to help them and the publishers wanted to sell books. Since Duff wrote his own book he probably doesn't feel his daughters need to hear the exact details. I respect that. However, I wish this book was a little more detailed in other areas. I would have liked to have found out more about the lawsuits in the 2000s. I would have liked to have learned more about Axl's assistant Beta (was she the Yoko of the group?) or at least Duff's take on her. What is the real feud between Slash and Axl? Even in Slash's book I still have no idea why Axl, called Slash a cancer and supposedly wrote a song (Sorry) about Slash, hates him so much. *Now Slash and Axl are on tour together so I guess they patched things up. I know Duff said this is about me and my journey but giving the reader more insight between Slash and Axl might have been interesting. The feud between Axl and Nirvana? There was never any mention of this as I recall. Since Duff is a Seattle guy and wishes he could have done more for Kurt Cobain I would have thought this would have been a perfect thing to talk about. What were Duff's thoughts on the over the top videos? Did he like them? Hate them? What were his favorites?
Duff getting sober and kicking ass was inspirational. It definitely inspired me. I think Duff might turn some lives around. He trained at The House of Champions in the San Fernando Valley. They taught some lessons at a Special Ed school that I worked at and did an incredible job. It was interesting to read Duff hailing the HOC and knowing they really did a great job with the Special Ed students. I am hoping someday I can go mountain biking with Duff in the Santa Monica Mountains. ;) Then I will get the real lowdown! ;)
February 9, 2013
I'm not going to do a full review for this since it's pretty obvious what it's about. I will say that it was non-stop interesting and a very smooth read. However, 'It's NOT Easy' to read especially about things like the vomit...ugh!!

**On a side note...for all my romance reader friends, I do have to say I don't think we will ever read one of our books about a musician having sex with a girl in a cockroach infested apartment and the girl being okay with it!!

and it's definitely interesting to know that you can cure the clap by eating fish food....who knew?

**Not that you'll ever see this, but WTG Duff. I'm glad you pulled yourself out and have the life & family you always wanted. Stay Strong! ♥
Profile Image for Silvia.
99 reviews
September 15, 2012
After finishing Slash's biography, I fell into a catatonic state. You know, I'm a huge fan of Guns n' Roses. Like, HUGE. And, well, the break-up part wasn't that easy to read. Probably because I always hoped for a reunion, and finishing Slash's book destroyed all my hopes D:

Duff's biography, though, left me in a catatonic-ly positive state.
He's such sweetheart. He's honest, funny, and..Well, he's kinda hot.

The part that moved me the most, I guess, was the Axl-and-Duff-London-thing. They hugged, and I was like: LET ME LOVE YOU FOREVAAAAAAH!
(Oh, to all those of you who think Axl is an asshole/jerk/douche-bag/idiot..Screw you. As Duff wrote: he can be the most tender person in this world.)

Anyway. Duff McKagan took his wife (I love you, Susan!) and their two daughters to see Taylor Swift. LMAO. I love Taylor, but the fact that Duff McKagan went to see a Taylor Swift concert is just too hilarious.

Owh, the prologue. One of my favorite parts. I don't know why.
"Grace has already told me and her mom to stay completely invisibile. Her exact words: 'You're not invited.' Ah, they joys of parenthood." LOL.

Five stars for Duff McKagan! Woohoo!

Profile Image for Book Riot Community.
953 reviews126k followers
August 16, 2016
I saw Guns N’ Roses for the first time in my life this month, so naturally I had to beef up on my GN’R factoids. This book isn’t really that, though. Duff McKagan writes about his alcohol addiction and his dances with death. He writes about how he overcame it all and has to tell himself every day that he’s an addict. Did you ever think a memoir could be a page-turner? This one is. One hundred percent. Its structure is perfect — it starts with his daughter’s 13th birthday party, then goes to his childhood, then begins the tale of Guns N’ Roses and beyond. His stories are gnarly, but he’s eloquent in telling them. He’s wise. He’s funny. He made me cry a little. It’s all I talked about while I read it, and I’ll probably continue talking about it for a while.

— Ashley Holstrom

from The Best Books We Read In July 2016: http://bookriot.com/2016/08/01/riot-r...
101 reviews5 followers
October 26, 2011
I am NOT a hardcore GNR fan, not even a GNR fan at all, but I really loved this book. I used every spare moment to read it and finished in two days. Sex, drugs, rock n' roll, and an inspirational story! Mostly, I think I was really into it because the writing was surprisingly good. I had heard Duff speak on the radio and could tell that he was intelligent and very articulate, making it likely that he actually wrote his own story.

I highly recommend this book to just about anyone who wants a dramatic tale of the rock n roll scene in LA and Seattle in the 80s and 90s.
Profile Image for Sadie.
750 reviews168 followers
February 24, 2019
This book must've been a lot longer and then edited, for I can't think of any significant reason why this one particular episode somewhen in 1992, when Duff met me and gave me a hug and an autograph, was left out of this account. This was super important for me back then, surely it must've left an impact on him as well? Oh well, one possibility might be that Duff was simply too strung out, too high and/or drunk to remember and/or care.

All joking aside: This is a candid, entertaining and interesting read. Duff tells it all, the good, the bad and the ugly, and he isn't shy about anything. From ten bottles of wine per day to going to see Taylor Swift with his daughters - the times, they are a' changing, but Duff never looses his cool. Reading this is like listening to a good buddy telling you about his rollercoaster life.

Being a huge Guns 'n Roses fan back in my teenage years, all stories and tidbits connected to the band were the passages I was most interested it, and Duff delivered. Since this book is a few years old, it ends well before the latest reunification of the band, but it still offers closure.

All the other stuff was a nice read as well, parts were quite inspirational even. A good, solid music bio.
Profile Image for Sarah.
134 reviews
October 18, 2011
Disclaimer - I may be abit biased as Duff has been my not-so-secret rocker crush for 20 years.

Quite simply, if you're looking for a tell-all and airing of dirty Guns N Roses laundry, you need to look elsewhere. This is the tale of one mans journey that happened to include the greatest rock band of it's time. It's hard to read - I knew Duff was a drinker but had no idea just how deep into a pit he fell - but it felt really inspirational to me. This is a guy that was a member of this HUGE band, lived through it's implosion by drinking and doing cocaine, survived a burst pancreas and has come out the other side.

The book made me tear up twice - first when he recounts his reunion with Axl Rose after 13 years and again in the acknowledgments at the end to his daughters. This is a man that I've spent about 2/3's of my life following and it's wonderful to finally read HIS story, in his own words, knowing that he's in the best place he's ever been.

Profile Image for Scott Axsom.
47 reviews141 followers
January 2, 2020
It’s So Easy (and Other Lies) is the most compelling book I’ve picked up in a while. Duff McKagan is an excellent writer with a highly accessible style and his story is nothing if not riveting. Indeed, McKagan himself comes across as wonderfully affable and deeply grounded in his art. All of which makes this a very, very enjoyable, if disturbing, read. But as the book progressed, particularly as it described his recovery, I found myself more and more removed from his story, and it took me a while to discover why that was.

I’m no rock and roll junky - I had never heard of Duff McKagan prior to reading his book – but I found many, many things in his story with which I strongly identified. I think it’s safe to assume that anyone in recovery from, or in the throes of, any addiction will see a lot that they recognize in McKagan, regardless of how deep the insanity reached in his particular case. As with so many addicts, he is a super-achiever; he suffered profound childhood trauma; he’s seen more than his fair share of death. All of these things are exceedingly common among addicts. I also personally related to his love of the outdoors (especially mountain biking) and his dedication to his art. He is an admirable and humble man by any conventional measure, and he's somebody most among us would probably be glad to call a friend.

So what is it that began to turn me off about his story? I guess there were a couple of things: First was, though he emphasized his common-man roots and he has indeed held true to his upbringing despite the temptations of his station, he seems to place an undue emphasis on the stature of those friends with whom he surrounds himself in his recovery. Though McKagan is certainly one of the best at what he does and it makes sense that he would surround himself with people of similar ambition and achievement, his emphasis on this fact made his recovery seem considerably less grounded to me.

Secondly, his story begins to make clear that his initial recovery was actually the replacement of one addiction with another but he writes this section with what seems to be a complete absence of awareness to this fact. Now I may be an idiot for not recognizing the literary device he’s using here (e.g., perhaps this seeming dearth of awareness is really meant to emphasize it), but it really seems that he never acknowledges this rather salient fact. He does briefly mention seeking help after his relapse but it is the briefest of mentions. As such, I never really know whether he finally began to discover the roots of his addiction. As someone in recovery, that would’ve been nice to know.

All-in-all, I enjoyed McKagan’s book on a deep, almost visceral, level - as a writer, his skills are stellar – but I think I hoped for a better story of recovery and redemption. I inferred that his, ultimately, is just such a story but this book doesn’t quite tell that part of the tale. Otherwise, I’d have given it five stars, as it’s really a very good book and he seems like a good, good man – someone from whom we could all learn a lot.
Profile Image for nathan timmel.
Author 14 books18 followers
December 28, 2012
What I'm about to do is unfair, because I am going to compare art, to art. The reason I hope to get away with it is because when it happened to my book, I enjoyed it. "This book is what the movie `Funny People' should have been!" a reviewer exclaimed, meaning he finally found in my words what he had been searching for in another medium. That out of the way, my proclamation is: This book is what "Mustaine: A Heavy Metal Memoir" should have been.

The differences between the two books, and therefore the two authors, is vast, as stark a contrast as day to night. Where Dave Mustaine is a finger-pointing child, always blaming others for his lot in life and ultimately taking the easiest of paths to justify all his previous behaviors (by finding religion), Duff is a man. He takes responsibility for every single one of his actions. He never blames others, he never makes excuses, Duff always squares his shoulders and does his best to discover and explain why he thinks he acted in any manner he may have. Though a book involving Guns & Roses could contain a vitriolic chapter railing against Axl Rose and his ego, Duff instead exposes his own shortcomings as a band member. Instead of blaming Axl for the downfall of Guns, Duff does what few people are willing to when reflecting upon the past: he examines his own actions at the time. And as he examines, he does so with the clarity of thought that you cannot change the past, you can only improve upon your character and move forward. There is no "I should have..." in this work, there is only "This is what I learned."

Duff employs a simple, yet catchy technique to provide flow to the narrative arc of this book: shifting space and time. Like many memoirs before him--Andy Summers in "One Train Later," Juliana Hatfield in "When I Grow Up"--Duff takes us from past to present occasionally, giving the reader a moment to see where he's at in life while writing his reflections of yesteryear. Duff seems to wrangle the timeline switch a little better than those two books, however, and every time we bounce from the past to the present it is a nice respite from the story at hand. Instead of any bit of the book becoming a drag, the narrative constantly refreshes itself, making you anticipate a return to the interrupted tale.

"It's So Easy" is a book about soul-searching, but it is not done in a whiny or sappy manner. This book is about being thoughtful, and demands focused attention from the reader. Personally, I devoured it in less than two days. Where Dave Mustaine ends his novel still a child, Duff emerges a father, husband, son, and brother... a man willing to continually examine the world around him and interact with it in a way befitting the whole of his friends and family, not just the ego in him.

Absolutely recommended for anyone who enjoys reading, not just those who were fans of the original Guns & Roses.
Profile Image for Tammy Hahs.
32 reviews5 followers
February 27, 2012
I rarely give books five stars, even books I thoroughly enjoy. I like to reserve five stars for the best of the best. (i.e. how can I give Good In Bed the same score as The Diary of Anne Frank?) It's So Easy and Other Lies may just be my favorite book of all time. Maybe it's because I was a HUGE Guns n' Roses fan growing up. Maybe it's because I wanted to marry Duff McKagan from about age 14-17 (obsessed may have been the right word). All of that aside, this book was well written, funny, and crazy! I thought I knew what the life of a "rock star" might be like, but I really had no idea. The story of Guns n' Roses was just part of this book, but there was so much more. I think anyone who has any interest at all in rock music should read this. I also rarely reread books, but I am keeping this one. I will most likely read it again in the future.
Profile Image for 11811 (Eleven).
662 reviews139 followers
June 29, 2016
If you were into the whole punk-metal scene in the 80's, this has plenty of treasures to offer.
Profile Image for Carol Storm.
Author 28 books182 followers
February 25, 2017
Duff McKagan seems like a nice man, and you can't help but admire his honesty about the way drugs and alcohol almost ended his life. But if you're a Guns and Roses fan who wants behind the scenes stories, all blood and guts and swagger, or if you're looking for insight into why this was the last great rock and roll band, forget it. I mean, forget it.

For an eyewitness to history, Duff McKagan does an amazingly poor job of making history come alive. You can put on "Rocket Queen" or "Dust and Bones" and immediately sense the menace and charisma of Axl Rose, but in this book, he's little more than a shadow. No dirty stories, no anecdotes, no intimate details of the early days. You'd think Duff was an eighth grader who researched Axl Rose on Wikipedia. And that goes for the rest of the Gunners too.

At least fifty seven times, Duff calls the other guys his "brothers" and insists that Guns and Roses were "a band, a gang, a family." Yet you don't get a single direct quote from Axl. Or Slash. Or Izzy. It's so bizarre! I couldn't tell whether Duff was terrified of lawsuits, or whether Axl Rose still has some sort of Hitler-In-the-Bunker hypnotic powers that keep his terrified generals from spilling his secrets (or questioning his orders) even when Russian tanks are parked right down the block.

I bring up Hitler deliberately, of course, because the band's greatest notoriety came from Axl Rose's shocking use of the n-word and the f-word in songs like "One In A Million." Probably the lamest cop out in this book is Duff mumbling that he thought Axl only used those bad words "because he wanted to criticize the Reagan years." Just . . . so . . . freaking . . . lame! All of a sudden tough rock and roller Duff sounds just like sleazy, sophisticated Claude Rains in Casablanca:

"I am shocked -- shocked! To find that there is racism in this song."

"Your groupies, Inspector Duff."

"Oh! Have them shown to my dressing room at once."

I'm willing to admit that a punk rock kid from Seattle might genuinely be less racist and homophobic than a half-crazed runaway from Indiana raised by fanatical backwoods Born Again Christians. But surely Duff heard Axl use the n-word long before they were recording "One In A Million." I'm betting he used it, oh, every twenty minutes or so, from about the first time they met on the streets of L.A. And the same with the f-word too. So I have to wonder, how did they get in a band together? What did Duff see in Axl? And what was he determined not to see? And how did that shape the way the band evolved? And what really happens when a punk rock kid becomes an arena rock god by embracing the crude ignorance of his red-neck alter ego from Indiana?

These are the questions this book does not answer. On the other hand, there's some great stuff about mountain bikes. Apparently they're a lot of fun!
Profile Image for Tamelyn Feinstein.
60 reviews11 followers
January 31, 2012
I have a soft spot for rock and roll memoirs, and I've read quite a few. I've found that, overall, they tend to be quite self-indulgent, salacious, and entertaining; I've also found they tend to NOT be well-written, thoughtful, or deep.

I've never been a big G'n'R fan, although I appreciate their unique contribution to the late 80s - early 90s rock scene. However, when I recently came across an interview with Duff McKagan on an afternoon TV talk show, I was struck by his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and sense of personal responsibility (three things one doesn't generally expect to see in a world class hard-ass rock star). So I decided to read his memoir.

Imagine my surprise to find that his book is just as intelligent, thoughtful, and personally responsible as he appeared to be on camera. His story is occasionally harrowing, yet he casts no stones at his bandmates and friends, only mourning the ones who didn't survive. Now a husband and father of two girls,he is discreet on some aspects of his past (I.e. sexual), and he glosses over some of the intraband conflicts, but he is unsparing as to his own personal failings with alcohol and drugs. After these things nearly killed him, he managed to find a way back through exercise, martial arts, education, and the support and love of his family and friends. The paragraphs where he described his redemption through his newfound joy of literature were incredibly moving to me.

There is still debauchery and fun and the joy of raw musical expression to be found here, and his descriptions of the early Seattle punk scene made me feel like I was there. This was damn near a five star book for me. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Mitchell Caplan.
6 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2011
After reading Clapton's book (terrific) and then Keith Richards book (even better) I didn't know what to expect from McKagen. Clapton clearly didn't write his book himself, and Richards read as if he was talking to you. I expected McKagen's book to be a big tell all about the debauchery that was GnR, but instead I found a very well written, well thought out story about his personal journey. I really enjoyed this story, but frankly, would have loved to hear more detail about GnR's amazing run. And I especially would have liked to have heard more about his relationship with Slash and Axl.

And why I really enjoyed this book, it feels like McKagen held back on some of the more sordid details because he has daughters. Everybody is his friend...no one is a prick...and it all sort of works out in the end. While I wound up feeling good for Duff that his life turned out ok, I do wish he had taken the gloves off a bit more.

Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,574 reviews270 followers
December 18, 2019
“When it comes to your values and personality, you are what you do in adverse situations.”
― Duff McKagan, It's So Easy: And Other Lies

I was a huge G-N-R fan. (Estranged was my favorite song). So when my brother presented me with this Bio for Christmas one year I was thrilled.

With books written by Musicians you never know what you are going to get. My verdict after reading this? One of the best, if not THE best ones I've ever read.

I mean it. Duff writes so fluidly I cannot believe writing was not his chosen career. This does not feel like a first book.

I liked reading about the band but he also tells the story of his own growth as a human being and his struggle for sobriety. I found the whole thing stirring. I cannot say how many times I thanked my brother!

I have read other books by other members of the band that I do not feel this way to and I very rarely give five stars to a book in this Genre anyway. I do not want to sound overly gushy (although I probably do). But he is a great person to use as inspiration. I know, for myself, I have my own torments though they may not be substance abuse. Everyone has something or more then one thing. It is great to read about another person's success. That is inspiring.

I also enjoyed reading about his going back to school. I never much liked school myself and always had a difficult time concentrating so I could relate to that aspect very much.

Don't get me wrong. He does talk quite a bit about the band but it never delves into..well..gossip. It stays very much professional.

So Yes I myself would recommend this book. In fact I'd say it is a must read. Very enjoyable and five stars.
Profile Image for Charles.
Author 40 books252 followers
September 29, 2016
I'd say 3 and a half stars. I enjoyed it. It kept me reading. A few things of interest. McKagan essentially wrote his own book rather than telling his story to someone else. McKagan is a pretty decent writer but still learning so that explains why some of the work, especially early on, jumps around quite a lot. By that, I mean jumping around in time, from past to present to future. Later in the work, this smooths out.

One difference in this work than other rock musician biographies that I've read is that there is more focus on the recovery aspects, and, particularly, on McKagan returning to college to complete and further his education. I was really glad to see that. I also like the self-deprecating quality of the work when McKagan talks about his family, particularly his two daughters.

The work actually protects the identity of a few people who are mentioned but not named in the story. That's also different from most such books. I respected that. I probably didn't start out with a very high opinion of Duff McKagan. I've always felt that Guns N Roses was overrated. However, I came away from this work with much more respect for GNR's bassist.

Overall, the work kept me reading and involved.
Profile Image for Monica.
164 reviews1 follower
January 2, 2012
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I finished it in under two hours, it is that good. What a talented writer Duff is. His story is captivating and I am so glad he is in such a good space now. A very humble, intelligent man. Perfect book to start the new year with, so inspirational. I hope Duff writes another book on anything, just so I can read his writing again. Will have to check out his columns. I confess to tearing up a couple of times whilst reading but it's all good. A MUST READ if you are a fan of great writing. Thank you for this book Duff.

Profile Image for Sebastian Bach.
Author 3 books668 followers
January 12, 2012
What an incredible book. So well-written and so classy and so cool, and Duff never throws no one under the bus. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Claudia Șerbănescu.
448 reviews79 followers
November 22, 2020
O carte greu de lăsat din mână, absolut năucitoare și fascinantă. Pe mine m-a amuțit acest destin care a urcat cele mai înalte culmi ale faimei și apoi s-a prăbușit glorios în cele mai negre abisuri ale degradării fizice și morale și ale auto-distrugerii prin adicția de alcool și cocaină, pentru a renaște printr-un uluitor efort de redresare, echilibrare și auto-cizelare. Am descoperit în Duff McKagan o personalitate complexă, un tip inteligent, ambițios, sensibil, plin de umor și auto-ironie și cel mai mult m-a impresionat lupta tenace pentru a se salva de sine-însuși.
Profile Image for Arlene.
380 reviews2 followers
January 23, 2018
This is a great read. The stories of rock n roll excess are what you'd expect, but his life after he got sober is far more interesting. A fascinating life, very entertainingly told with honesty and a brutal sense of humour.
Profile Image for emma callender.
14 reviews
October 18, 2022
so amazing and i loved it, but i need to STOP reading musician memoirs it’s affecting my brain 😳
Profile Image for Georgette.
1,546 reviews6 followers
October 12, 2011
I've always loved this man. I jest not! Reading this was like taking a trip back to the late 80's and 90's when they still had such things as midnight record sales, records, and a metal music scene. There was also this little old rock and roll band called Guns N'Roses, and they did set out to and did rule the music scene for a number of years. In this, Duff, the bassist for the band for the entirety of its run, tells the story of his rise from a kid living in Seattle, playing for punk bands, and finding out, after a number of jobs(pastry chef!), that music was his calling. You read about his pretty happy and uneventful chidhood, up to his tough introduction to the music scene, the meteroic rise of GNR, the drug abuse, the enigma known as W. Axl Rose, the girls, the alcoholism that almost killed him(his pancreas exploded in 1994, putting him very close to death), the deaths of very good friends to drugs, the search for the perfect mate, his long road to sobriety, his discovery of fitness as a substitute to drugs and alcohol. All in all, a great book. I would give Slash's book a star higher, based on the fact that he's got a wickedly funny sense of humor, and it gives his book a whole different tone. Duff takes the high road, even relating a story in the last chapter of meeting up with Axl for the first time afer not speaking in 13 years, and having a great dinner and conversation with Axl and his new wife. Most of the questions you had about the band, as well as his other projects(Nuerotic Outsiders, Loaded, Velvet Revolver, etc), are answered in a forthright nature. Duff's serious as all hell about anything he puts his energy into- and that comes through in the writing style. You are just so happy by the end of the book, that you got to see how things evolved, through his eyes. Even more telling, you are happy and smiling when you set the book down. It's a positive book overall, and you feel that way about it after you've finished it. A most enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Vickipedia.
71 reviews
March 1, 2016
When I picked up "It's So Easy" I hadn't the slightest clue who Duff McKagen was let alone know that he was the bassist for Guns N' Roses. The book was recommended to me by a friend who knew I liked to read, so I finally picked it up.

Whew! She should have told me to put on a seat belt!

I read some reviews here and there saying they wished McKagen went into a little more detail about his life with the band, the women he bedded, and all the fun and lascivious details that gossip rags are known to publish. I'm actually glad he kept things short and simple (as much as he could) since I was more interested in McKagen's growth as a person and his days as a musician in one of the world's hottest rock bands in the late 80's to his journey toward sobriety.

There's a lot of name dropping--like a LOT of name dropping in the book, but not for the intent of bragging. Musicians and punks happen to run in the same circle a lot of of the time and my inner teenager was excited whenever I came across names like Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, and hell, even Slash...Slash and all that ****in' hair. Hey, he said it! It was also nice to come across locations in the book that I was already familiar with, like Canter's Deli (if you're in town, you should try their sandwiches, cheese blintzes, and potato knish), the Whiskey, and other LA landmarks and intersections.

I don't know if this counts as a spoiler, but since there's a follow-up book, I'm gonna say it anyway. Yes, the book ends on a happy note, and yes I intend to pick up his next book, "How To Be A Man (and Other Illusions). That one sounds a bit more tongue in cheek and apparently is the name of a column he wrote for the Seattle Weekly.

Profile Image for Stacey.
305 reviews9 followers
March 14, 2013
First off, I'm not a huge GNR fan. I like them of course, but what I mainly wanted to read about was Duff's pre-GNR experience in the Seattle punk scene of the late '70s/early '80s.

That said, I did find all of the GNR bits rather fascinating. Duff is a great writer; every time I picked up the book I was immediately drawn in. The frustrating thing about the book was that each chapter would end and leave me slightly unsatisfied. I wanted to know more. I felt like he held back and left a lot of details out. In the end though, I think that was why I enjoyed it so much. He doesn't embellish, he doesn't exaggerate... he's just Duff. I appreciated that.

The way he kicked his addictions & turned his life around is incredibly inspiring, it's my favorite part of the book actually. Can't help but wish him all the best in future endeavors, which I hope includes writing another book someday.

4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Jason McNamara.
17 reviews16 followers
April 8, 2012
Less sensational than Slash's autobiography, Duff's is ultimately more relatable. McKagan's book is a personal journey of a man finding himself. You won't find ANY details about the recording of Appetite (one of rocks greatest achievements in my opinion) or the songwriting process. It's almost entirely about him getting fucked up and finally getting healthy. It's a great story and that I watched it unfold during my MTV watching teen years makes it historically appealing to my generation. Ultimately the difference between this and Slash's book comes down to the drugs they did. Apparently heroin improved Slash's detail orientation while booze made Duff remember the broad emotional strokes of a life under water.
Profile Image for William Lawrence.
283 reviews
August 13, 2016
How does a punk rocking bass player end up a suburban dad hosting a birthday party? In one of the best written autobiographies by a rock musician, Duff McKagan tells his rocky story of survival. This book is a fun read, even if you're not familiar with his work. The description is detailed throughout and the voice is distinct. McKagan also comes across very likable and down to earth. One of the best parts is when he's finally come down from the high of fame (and drugs) and walks into a market to buy something for the first time and barely knows how to function. He brings us right to those panicked emotions of feeling like an alien in a strange place. Out of all of the books about or by former members of GNR, McKagan's book is the best written and the one to go with.
Profile Image for James.
113 reviews2 followers
February 9, 2012
Well, assuming that Izzy and Axl aren't going to be hunching down at their word processors anytime soon, I'm finished with the original-GNR-lineup memoirs. And I'm glad I got to Duff's last; it didn't have the fascinating trainwreck appeal of Steven Adler's or the absurdist black comedy of Slash's, but it's definitely the best-written of the three. Duff's hella likeable (he comes across, in almost every detail, as fiercely loyal, with a quiet, intellectual streak and a good sense of humor) and he seems to have weathered his time as a rock star better than the others.
346 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2013
june book club. quite a change of pace from north korean escapees and mormon polygamy. OR IS IT.

ETA - so good! loved it. i think people expecting a sleazy tell-all would be disappointed, but i loved reading about not only his time with gn'r, but his life and recovery since then. DUFF MCKAGAN GOES TO TAYLOR SWIFT CONCERTS.
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