Duff McKagan Recalls Seeing ‘Famous Actor’ Prior to Overdose Death; Shares New Song
Duff McKagan's dalliances with substance abuse during his Guns N' Roses days and his path to sobriety have been well documented. Having been through that experience, McKagan has come across others dealing with the struggles of sobriety and he reveals in his new book, How to Be a Man, that he actually crossed paths with "a famous actor" the night the actor died of a drug overdose.
Though not mentioning the actor by name out of respect, the timeline and experiences discussed suggest that it's the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. A portion of McKagan's How to Be a Man memoir has been posted in the Village Voice and in the text is the discussion of how he came to cross paths with the actor. The rocker was in New York for the Super Bowl, hanging out with Jerry Cantrell and a friend named Ed, all of whom had past woes with substance abuse.
He recalls, "We were going to see the Foo Fighters later that night and maybe get some Super Bowl t-shirts for friends and family back home. Exiting the apartment, we ran smack-dab into a very famous actor. Being as this was an almost private street, we simply nodded to him and kept on our way, not wanting to intrude on his private life. Ed commented that the actor had been clean for something like 23 years, but he'd heard that he'd recently started using again. Should we turn around and offer to take the guy for a coffee? As I said, keeping sober is a group effort. We trudged through the cold, discussing the matter."
He adds, "Later that afternoon, when we came back, we saw the actor in the street again and could tell that he was waiting to score. Should we offer our friendship and a safe place? This is sometimes the dilemma for sober guys -- as we all know, you can't force a guy to get sober. He has to come around to it himself. We went back into the apartment."
A third time, McKagan and his friends ran into the actor, this time at 1:30 in the morning, on the street and waiting. "We thought that maybe he was on a last run before getting clean," says McKagan. "Surely if we saw him again in the morning, we'd have to say something. Bro, c'mon. We've been there. Come on out of the cold. We understand. We've been there. Really. We've been there."
He concludes, "The next morning, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, the morning of the Super Bowl, I heard a ruckus outside our front door. I went out to take a look. There was an ambulance and police and a whole crowd of press people and fans. The actor had OD'd and died sometime after we saw him at 1:30AM the night before. The three of us gathered in the kitchen of the apartment. We were stunned. We've been through this before with friends, and friends of friends, but I'll never get used to it. Sure, none of us knew the actor personally, but he was one of us. The three of us understood that we could, at any time, be just one small and easy step from being the guy out there on the street waiting for the dealer to show. When guys like us witness something like this go down, it makes you take stock of where you are at in your sobriety."
McKagan will release How to Be a Man on May 12 and is also planning a three-song EP in coordination with the release. Cantrell, Izzy Stradlin, Roy Mayorga and Taz Bentley are among the guests on the disc. McKagan has just premiered the title track from the How to Be a Man EP at Rolling Stone. Take a listen here. Stradlin, Cantrell and Mayorga fill out the lineup on the song around McKagan.
As for the book, it will arrive via Da Capo Press and can currently be pre-ordered here.
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