Why Gilby Clarke Was Fired, Re-Hired, Then Left Guns N’ Roses
Gilby Clarke said his four-year stint with Guns N’ Roses ended after he was fired then almost immediately reinstated amid a breakdown in relations between Axl Rose and Slash.
He replaced Izzy Stradlin in 1991, then realized his career with the band was over in 1994 when his paychecks stopped – even though he’d been told he was part of Guns N' Roses once again.
“I felt on the tour, as the tour was ending, that the band was over,” Clarke told Riki Rachtman’s Cathouse Hollywood Podcast (via Blabbermouth). “That was my honest, intellectual conclusion. … Duff [McKagan], physically, looked terrible. The alcohol abuse was so bad that he was bloated. I didn't think he had many days left. Axl and Slash were not seeing eye to eye: Axl saw the band one way; Slash saw it another way. I didn't see them meeting. It's not like I was trying to be in the middle or whatever. It was fractured.”
At that point, Clarke started working on his first solo album, after being told by Guns N' Roses that they didn’t want to use any of the songs he’d written. “They said, ‘Absolutely. Keep yourself busy.’ So I did." Clarke remembered. "I was already on tour doing my solo record. During my break, I made the Slash’s Snakepit record with Slash [1995's It's Five O'Clock Somewhere] and was gonna go on tour. I was on the road for five years straight.”
By the time those projects were underway, Clarke had realized he was no longer a member of Guns N' Roses. “Basically, Slash said, ‘Meet me at Casa Vega,’” Clarke said. “He goes, 'Axl doesn't want you in the band anymore. … I don't know what it is – I honestly don’t. Just go with it. I'm not saying this is permanent. I'm just saying this is where it is. He wants to work on some new music. He doesn't see what we're doing as viable.’ And that's also the time when Slash decided to make the Slash’s Snakepit record. … [Axl] didn't like Slash's stuff either, but he wasn't kicking Slash out of the band.”
Clarke continued: “[T]hey didn't fire me, but my paychecks stopped. And then, a week later, Slash had this revelation. He goes, 'What the fuck are we doing? Are we gonna replace Gilby?' And he called me. He goes, 'You know what? Everything's fine. You're in the band, don't worry about it.' But my paychecks never came back, and that was it. So, like I said, I never officially was fired from the band, but it just kind of ended.” Clarke added: “And also, remember, it's not like I was not in the band and the band was doing anything. They didn't do anything [for a long time].”
Clarke emphasized that he wasn’t bitter about the experience. In fact, despite refusing an invitation to take part in the recent reunion featuring Rose, Slash and McKagan, Clarke remained open to future possibilities. “I have nothing against it. It's just that didn't work out for me,” he said.