Guns N' Roses: Drummer Matt Sorum on Rock Hall, surviving the band
Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum has spoken out about his role in Saturday’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in Cleveland, issuing a statement he said is intended to “bring closure to the night’s events” and to “alleviate numerous press statements and interviews about the subject.”
Chief among them was fan and media debate over which members of GNR’s ever-shifting lineup ought to be inducted and who attended and who didn’t on Saturday after singer Axl Rose’s high-profile decision to boycott the event, which Sorum said "should be respected."
Sorum also said it was his suggestion that the inducted band members — including himself, guitarist Slash, drummer Steven Adler and bassist Duff McKagan — invite guitarist Gilby Clarke to join them and guest singer Myles Kennedy during their performance. The songs followed an induction speech delivered by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong.
Plus Sorum elaborated on his joke from the stage about how Adler had been dismissed from the band because of his drug use, suggesting that feat warranted an award in and of itself. Sorum said original guitarist Izzy Stradlin, like Rose, declined the Hall’s invitation to attend the ceremony but didn’t indicate why keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who joined the band in 1990 and also was selected for Hall of Fame induction, didn't attend.
Here’s the body of Sorum’s statement:
“In these last few months since getting notice about being inducted into the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame, many emotions and feelings have gone through my head and heart, as well as the original five members of GN'R: Axl, Slash, Duff, Izzy and Steven. I was also chosen to be inducted, along with Dizzy Reed.
“It was slightly awkward for me in some ways knowing some fans have the original five in their hearts for a reunion. I chose to say to Slash and Duff, ‘Please have Steven play, and let me know what you would like me to do.’
“Two days before the event. Axl made his statement known. And it was apparent he wouldn't be attending. In respect to him, that is his decision and should be honored. Also, Izzy declined. So I suggested Slash call Gilby [Clarke], who was left out of the proceedings. Gilby was a member of the band and contributing to the ‘Use Your Illusions’ World Tour, which took us around the globe for three years, as well as playing guitar on ‘Spaghetti Incident’ and ‘The Live Era’ albums. It felt like the right thing to do.
“In fairness to the rest of the original line-up and myself, we decided to go ahead and attend. This is an honor that is once in a lifetime and couldn't be missed, especially for fans of the band. To us, it was honoring them as well.
“Regarding playing live, we agreed that we would share the stage together, joined by Myles Kennedy as guest singer, who did a fine job filling big shoes. Steven graciously offered ‘Brownstone’ and played two other ‘Appetite’ tracks, and I sang and joined him near the kit on ‘Paradise City.’
“It felt perfect for all involved.
“In my speech, I made references to drugs and Steven being dismissed from the band, in which I referred to, 'How could someone be fired from Guns N’ Roses for doing too many drugs??'"
“It was meant to be light-hearted. But knowing the struggles Steven has endured all these years. I felt I needed to clarify that Steven was onstage, healthy, and ready to rock.
“It is well known that the rest of the band has endured addiction and alcoholism and at this point in our lives, we are all healthy and sober. Not to make light of drugs and alcohol…we were all full-blown addicts when the band split. What started out as a party and what we believed was part of the makeup of the band turned on all of us in the end.
“Many years of soul searching and reconnecting with our inner selves have brought glorious gifts: Velvet Revolver with millions of records sold and a Grammy, Steven with his new band, and more. We are now all playing music and making records on our own that is truly what we love, before any of the business of music came into play. The music has always been the passion, before anything else,
“Steven’s passion for GN’R is something that no one can explain but him: it’s a true love gone, but never forgotten. How many people have felt that in their lifetime?
“I told Steven and the rest of the guys the night of the Induction that night was for them and what they created on the streets of Hollywood, and it can never be taken away. The music will live on. And that's what counts. Not about who was there at the Induction. That the music will always be theirs and no can ever take that away.
“Also, I have much respect for my former band, The Cult. And all the musicians I have played with over the years. They have all taught me so much.
“I also need to thank my dearest and closest confidante, Ace Harper, who is my fiancée' and has made me a better man. She has walked beside in times of darkness, and has been there for me when all the stage lights and backstage parties were over.
“This is where life is for all of us now survivors of a Rock & Roll era you will never see the likes of again: Married men Slash with two wonderful boys, Duff with two beautiful girls, Steven happy with a beautiful wife.
“Life is good, my friends…we are alive! God Bless the fans of GN'R.
“Long Live Rock N Roll,
Matt Sorum (GN’R: “Use Your Illusion 1 and 2,” “The Spaghetti Incident,” “The Live Era”)
— Randy Lewis
Photo of former Guns N' Roses members at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony: Gilby Clarke, left, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan, Slash and Steven Adler. Credit: Michael Loccsiano / Getty Images.