GILBY CLARKE (GUNS 'N ROSES)
I started shooting for Rockin’On magazine in 1994. Possible the best Japanese contemporary music publication, it covered both Japanese and international music trends. They were doing a story on Guns ’N Roses rhythm guitarist Gilby Clarke, who was in Japan to promote his debut solo LP Pawnshop Guitars. The shoot was scheduled for Sony head office in Tokyo in the early afternoon.
Knowing GNR had a reputation for excess I expected the worst, thinking Gilby to be either recovering from the night before or starting early on tonight's partying. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He was alert, courteous and showed no signs of having partied too hard.
Having played in a bunch of LA bands in the 80s, he joined GNR in 1991 following Izzy Stradlin’s sudden departure. Slash had credited him with saving GNR when he first joined. Gilby had had a three year tenure as rhythm guitarist with GNR, and his solo album featured contributions from all members of the band at the time.
I started the shoot in the spacious ground floor lobby before trying for some environmental shots outside where there was some roadwork going on. He’d been cool so far but I could tell his patience was being tested when I started shooting on the road. It was enough, I had my shots, we called it quits. Back inside I heard his manager ask him how the shoot went “Yeah great, he was an English guy”. Ha, no offence taken Gilby at being mistaken as English.
By the end of the year Gilby found himself on the wrong side of Axl’s wrath and he was out. He played on Slash's Snakepit album the following year and reunited with Guns N' Roses members during the live performance at the band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.