How Slash Helps Duff McKagan Through His Panic Attacks
Duff McKagan has just released a three-track EP, This Is the Song, in recognition of mental health awareness month. "This Is the Song was written in the middle of a panic attack," the Guns N' Roses bassist said in a press release. "I couldn't breathe and couldn't see straight, and lately, I have thankfully found my acoustic guitar as a refuge. If I just hold on to that guitar, play chords, and hum melodies, I can start to climb my way out of that hole.
"For those of you who have never experienced something like this, count yourselves blessed. To those of you who recognize what I am talking about: You are not alone!"
McKagan has been open about his mental health over the years. In 2020, he spoke to Chris Cornell's daughter, Lily, in her interview series, Mind Wide Open. McKagan described how he'd experienced his first panic attack at 16, followed by years of various coping mechanisms, some healthier than others. He got sober in 1994 and has used meditation and martial arts as outlets for his mental health.
He's also had help from his friends along the way. "Slash has kind of been a safe person for me throughout this," McKagan said. "I met him when I first moved to L.A. I told him I have these panic attacks. He listened. He's like, 'OK, well if it happens, we'll deal with it.' I had plenty around him, and he knows just to talk to me about something – anything but the panic attack. He'll start talking about, 'Hey, that first Led Zeppelin record, did you notice they went into a ... ?'"
As McKagan explained, it took a few decades to reach a point where rock-star life felt enjoyable. "When Guns N' Roses [got] back together and the relationships are wonderful," he said. "We're communicating as grown men, and it's like, 'This is perfect. I'm sober. I get to experience this thing again as a grown man and really appreciate what's going on, appreciate how good Axl [Rose] is, appreciate how good Slash is'"
You can listen to McKagan's new EP on his website.