Life on the road 2: Another difficult day in Duff’s life – while Ozzy recalls Sabbath’s challenges away from home
Duff McKagan’s high after playing the UK’s Download festival last weekend soon abandoned him as his band endured a difficult trip to their next show.
Loaded appeared at Donington Park last Friday afternoon, then had to run for a flight to Prague; but the plan came close to toppling over.
It’s all part of the job for former Guns n’Roses and Velvet Revolver bassist McKagan – although he admits he’ll never get used to it.
McKagan says in his Seattle Weekly blog: “A band like our has to play every single night, or as close as we can, to make it all work out financially. Often we’ll play a show and do a ‘runner’: bail the stage take straight off to the next city, dripping wet and all.
“I’ve now played Download on five occasions and it has become a second home of sorts. Playing the main stage with Loaded meant a lot to me and the band. And we killed it in front of 40,000 people – but we did have to pull a runner.
“We had to get in a van and rush headlong south to Heathrow Airport, 140 miles away, to catch the flight to Prague. We were running late and it was looking like we wouldn’t make the flight, meaning we wouldn’t play the gig the next day, and that would have killed the tour financially.
“Stressing big-time, and telling the driver to please go over the speed limit, without seeming like assholes, proved to be a challenge.”
McKagan reports the band made it onto the flight after concerns over whether they’d be allowed to board after arriving just 45 minutes ahead of takeoff. But that wasn’t the end of the drama.
He says: “We get on the plane and they shut the doors. Then the pilot announces we’ll be sitting here for an hour – with no power. The heat on the plane is oppressive and I start to get claustrophobic, a plight that’s plagued me for years.
“To add to it there’s a Japanese soccer team in the back of the plane, and they’re all hacking their lungs out. My pores are open and my immune system is run down. Fuck.
“The next day in Prague we played a gig with the Misfits which was pretty all right. But I did get sick from those dudes on the plane. Really sick. There’s nothing you can do but forge on – and the virus finally passed through.”
Meanwhile, Ozzy Osbourne has recalled his difficult times on the road with Black Sabbath towards the end of his tenure with the metal pioneers.
He says the band could barely bring themselves to talk to each other in 1979, following a series of drug-fuelled underperforming albums and lacklustre live shows which led to his sacking.
Ozzy tells the Guardian: “We never knew what was happening from one day to the next. We tried to manage ourselves for a while, but we were always at the bar.
“We were sick of each other – you don’t even want to be around your wife all the time and you married her. And none of us wanted to drag the black magic shit around for ever.”
Things began to turn round after he’d left Sabbath and begun work on what would become his successful solo career. Manager Sharon Arden, who later became his wife, persuaded him to sell the wine bar he owned next to his home in England.
Ozzy says: “My reasoning was, I’m a drinker, I need a a wine bar. I was getting too pissed there, but the thing was I had nothing to lose. Even if I got to make a new record and it was a flop, who would care?”