When Gilby Clarke stepped into Izzy Stradlin's snakeskin shoes in 1991, legions of Guns N' Roses fans were ready to throw him to the lions. But once he got onstage, with only a couple of days to prepare, in the middle of the infamous and almost never-ending "Use Your Illusion" tour, all was right in Axl's world. With his winning smile, Stamos-like hair, and solid guitar playing, he saved the band from falling apart.
Clarke was only 29 when he shot GNR up with his special mix of adrenaline and power chords; today he turns 49, and he still seems like the new guy on the team. Actually, his joining GNR was probably the last good thing to happen to the band. Its one LP with Clarke, "The Spaghetti Incident?" (quotation and question marks required), was spotty at best. It was a mess of covers and the sound of Axl fighting to keep control of the band.
Shortly after Spaghetti, everyone but keyboard/flute player Dizzy Reed quit Axl's band. Without Guns N' Roses, Clarke just kept rocking. He's released seven solo records, played with Slash's Snakepit, and jammed with Nancy Sinatra. Let's not forget, he formed a supergroup with Tommy Lee and Metallica's Jason Newsted for a reality game show, Rockstar Supernova.
Let's celebrate one rock 'n' roll's hardest-working, least showboaty, and perfect-haired ax men by watching him rock.
If you like guitars and you like hair, then you will love this clip. Gilby's silky-smooth hair and Telecaster playing duels wildly with Slash's grimy, unruly style -- until Axl and Duff stumble in slurring and singing a random portion of the song's chorus.
"Under the Gun"
Clarke was swag way before... everybody right now. Watch our buddy go wild in Brazil.
"Since I Don't Have You"
Axl's crazy, and the devil is taking him for a ride, but it ain't no match for Gilby's wild marshmallow roast at 1:38.
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This video is out-of-control. Psychotic fits! Hallucinations! Slash playing a solo in a church! Crooked cops! Gilby's hair! Off of Gilby's first solo album, Pawnshop Guitars, which even featured the Pixies' Frank Black on a few jams.
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"Jail Guitar Doors"
A solid Clash cover and another song about jail. Let it be known that Clarke's own criminal record seems pretty clean. The only time the words "Gilby Clarke" and "hit and run" were in the news, Clarke was the victim, and Riki Rachtman was superpissed.
Gilby, we have one birthday wish for you: Don't stop rocking. Wait, we changed our minds; we have two birthday wishes for you: Don't stop rocking, and let us touch your hair. It's real nice-looking.