Matt Sorum Recalls His Under-Rehearsed First Guns N’ Roses Show
Former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum recalled playing his first show with the band to 140,000 people after no rehearsal time with Axl Rose.
Sorum took over from Steven Adler in 1991, and his first live performance was as the headline act for Rock in Rio that year. The band was scheduled to play two nights in front of massive audiences while also being seen on TV.
“Judas Priest was opening for us, Megadeth one night,” he told Rival Sons drummer Michal Miley in a new episode of Gretsch Generations. “The bill was crazy, but we were headliners. … Two nights sold out for Guns N’ Roses. And I get there, and I’ve never rehearsed with Axl – I’ve never rehearsed with the guy. … I’m freaking out before the show.”
Sorum noted: "I was, like, ‘Hey, does anybody know what the set list is?’… Slash goes, ‘We don’t use a set list.’ And I’m like, ‘What?’ So I got no information about what’s gonna go down!”
A solution came from Rose’s assistant, who told Sorum which song was starting the he show. "That whole Use Your Illusion tour, there was never a set list," the drummer explained. "We figured out how to give each other eye signals, or someone took a riff, but we figured it out.”
You can listen to the interview below.
That first night at Rock in Rio, the opening song was the recently recorded “Pretty Tied Up.” “It started with the hi-hat, and I just remember looking out, and the crowd was already bouncing," Sorum recalled. "I was like, ‘I’m only playing the hi-hat!’ … It was intense, and I was like, ‘Fasten your seatbelt, man. This shit’s gonna get crazy.’ And it did. But that was probably one of the highlights – just the beginning of it.”