Tommy reveals he and Axl didn’t like each other’s bands – and explains how music saved him from criminal lifestyle
Guns n’Roses bassist Tommy Stinson was never a fan of Axl Rose’s band – and the singer had no time for the bassist’s outfit, the Replacements.
And Stinson doesn’t class himself as a rock musician, despite having been a leading member of GnR for twelve years now.
He tells Spin: “What I do in Guns isn’t necessarily who I am. I’m not a heavy rock guy any more than I am a singer-songwriter guy like Paul Westerberg was with the Replacements.
“When I met Axl he told me that he and his tour manager had come to see us in some club – and they were not impressed. He and I both had a chuckle about the facts he wasn’t a Replacements fan and I wasn’t a Guns fan.”
Stinson took up bass at the age of 12 after his late brother persuaded him to develop an interest in music in an attempt to steer him away from a life of crime.
He explains: “The third and last time I got arrested was after I stole a bunch of bikes. I had to go to court, and Mom had to take a day off work. My grandmom came too.
“The judge came out into the hallway and said, ‘Mrs Stinson, I’ve seen this kid too much. I’m inclined to send him away to reform school, otherwise he’s just going to keep showing up here.’
“I’m sitting there watching my mom and my grandmom just bawling their eyes out. I felt like the worst person on the plant – to this day I remember how they looked and how bad I felt. It was horrible.
“So my brother Bobby would bribe be to play bass with Cokes and candy bars. I think it finally clicked for me after our first gig – ‘So, there’s girls involved in this? All right, you don’t have to buy me off with candy bars any more.’”
As GnR’s musical director Stinson has spent a great deal of time working closely with the notoriously hot-headed Rose. But the bassist says: “You figure out after a while what battles are worth fighting for – that’s the big thing. A lot of times people will tell you they want to hear what you have to say, but they really don’t. So you’ve got to walk a fine line.”