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Bumblefoot: Don't Hold Your Breath For New Guns N' Roses Material

Nov 11, 2010 - "We've yet to write as a band"

This might be his defining moment.

Think about it. What gets talked about more than this little nugget he dropped on us?

Ron was like having an undercover man on the inside.

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Axl could replace every member for every show and it wouldn't diminish my enjoyment one bit. Bye Ron. Shame your years of service didn't add up to more... No songwriting credits and no gas for your solo tour van.

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Didn't he power through a tour with debilitating cancer pain? That's got to count for some props at least.


I also love that he had the balls to sing Glad to Be Here right in front of Axl every night for a while.

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a new Guns N' Roses interview with Bumbletooth:

Plucked from obscurity to play with one of the biggest bands in history, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Blumenthal lived the dream – rocking stadiums around the globe and getting to jam with childhood heroes Kiss. But as tensions mounted on the Chinese Democracy tour, Bumblefoot – never one to back down from a fight – became another in the long line of musicians to exit the GNR set-up. He talks to Jason O’Toole about life in the rock ‘n’ roll fast lane.


It should’ve been the ultimate dream gig – being handpicked from hundreds of wannabes to replace Slash. But for Ron Bumblefoot – originally christened Ronald Jay “Ron” Blumenthal – signing up to play lead guitar in one of the biggest bands on the planet turned out to be both a blessing and a curse – in disguise!

Before joining Guns N’ Roses, Bumblefoot was a respected solo artist who’d released a clutch of moderately successful albums, whilst never really setting the charts on fire.

Urban legend has it that during this final solo tour, Bumblefoot had pulled in a pittance, with something like $700 left in his back pocket after paying off the tour’s bills. He’s certainly having the proverbial last laugh now, considering his net worth is estimated at a cool €10 million.

With Slash leaving the band, a red hot replacement was needed. And it was actually Joe Satriani who tipped off Gun N’ Roses’ keyboardist Chris Pitman, back in 2004, about Bumblefoot, who he reckoned could easily fill Slash’s shoes (and hat).


Bumblefoot was flabbergasted when the call came through.

“I could make a lot of jokes about that,” he reflects, “and say, well, they needed somebody with a name that sounded like Buckethead, and Bumblefoot, you know? Two syllables starting with a B, and then a body part. But no – from what I’m told, Axl wanted me.”

It took two years of on/off negotiations before it finally came to fruition.

“It’s just a case of that’s the way they operate,” he shrugs philosophically.


Was it a daunting experience the first time he went into the rehearsal room to jam with Axl Rose and co?

“Chris gave me a very warm welcome,” he recalls. “He gave me a big hug and was like, ‘Bumbles! How you doing!’ The other guys seemed to be a bit more all business. That’s alright – we did our thing. But also, I didn’t know their backgrounds. Even at that moment, they had spent months rehearsing. So, I’m sure they weren’t that excited to audition another person, with the tour only weeks away. It’s like, ‘Come on, you know?’ But we pulled it off! We did. We made it happen. They were ready to go – it was just getting me up to speed. We did it.”


Bumblefoot once remarked that in order to get his new cohorts’ respect, he had to get a little violent. What exactly did he mean?

“You know what? I’m not even going to go into that – really what it boils down to is: you know how bands get into band fights? We’ll just call it that. Here’s what I’m gonna say: I was upset – and I blew up. And that’s on me. There were situations that I probably should have addressed sooner before it reached a point where I was so upset. That’s all.”


Axl said at the time that Bumblefoot had balls made of brass because of his tough stance in the negotiations.

“Um, there were a few reasons he said that at the time,” he says cryptically, laughing.


Did joining one of the world’s biggest rock groups change his personality?

“It didn’t change the core of who I was,” he responds. “But I definitely, on the exterior, went through a lot of phases as far as how I was reacting to new situations and scenarios. When you first join a big band and you’re not an original member and stuff, with that comes a lot of things that you’ve never had before.”


Such as?

“Well, I’ve never had a 16-year-old girl sending me death threats, because I’m not an original member! Things like that took getting used to,” he says, shaking his head in dismay. “There were a lot of things, and there’s no rulebook.


“You have to learn,” he adds, “from making mistakes, and from making your own mistakes. There was a lot of that. I was definitely a lot more stressed out and on edge, and just trying to find my way through this unfamiliar new territory.”


The fame game was, Bumblefoot says, never for him. He mostly got a buzz out of chatting with the fans post-gig. One that he met and became friends with was Dubliner Stephen Browne, who supplied photos for an album sleeve of his.


“I’m too old to fall for the bullshit,” shrugs Bumblefoot of his easygoing approach. “Maybe if things had come together 20 years sooner I’d have believed the bullshit but – you know what? – we’re just human beings and I love making music. I never cared about the other stuff. It’s not about ego; there are people for whom it is all about ego.


“You find that there’s two types: there are the people who are in it for the attention, and those who are in it for a deep love of music. Most musicians I know want respect, and not even for them – for the music. They want to put out music that’s gonna outlive them, that people will love and respect for the quality of what it is.”


Starting in 2008, Bumblefoot spent eight years on various GNR tours, including the Up Close And Personal and Appetite For Democracy treks. “I did 325 shows with them,” he recalls. “Those tours didn’t just run for a few months – some of them were a span getting into years. I remember a lot of the people that I met. A lot of times I remember the food. That’s a big one, and I might remember if some unusual event happened as part of that show or something, but I have a hard time remembering the names of the venues.


“We had some great shows in Ireland; some volatile ones too,” he says referring to Axl Rose’s refusal to go on stage at the O2 gig back in 2010. “We were very late, people threw things. So the show was held off for a while, but then we went back on and finished it. I thank everybody for their patience for sticking around for the whole show and seeing it through with us. That was very cool.”


Bumblefoot reckons Guns N’ Roses are a band at the peak of their powers when it comes to playing live, and thinks the Slane Castle gig will be their best ever Irish show. “That’ll be a great gig,” he enthuses. The guitarist never got to play Slane himself, which he says is a big regret. But one of his personal highlights was getting to jam with his childhood heroes, Kiss, at the very first venue he’d seen them: Madison Square Garden.


“Yeah, I got to play with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss together. We did some songs that they hadn’t played in 30 years. It was cool. That was one of the few times that, as you’re playing, you’re thinking, ‘Never thought this was going to happen!’ Listening to Kiss as a child, you don’t think that you’re going to be meeting, let alone jamming with any of the guys. Life is interesting. You don’t know what to expect and that’s what makes it life.”


As someone married to the same woman for almost 30 years, how did Bumblefoot resist groupies throwing themselves at him?


“I don’t know any musicians who are in it to get laid! I really don’t,” he insists. “They have all truly devoted their life to music. Just because someone offers you sex doesn’t mean you have to say ‘yes’. Just because someone offers you anything doesn’t mean you have to say ‘yes’. And it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna go in the amazing way you that you think it might in your head – or their head. You might suck in bed – haha!


“But it’s not about that,” he continues, warming to the theme. “Honestly, that kind of stuff is the last thing that you’re thinking about when you’re on the road. You know what you want? You want a good night’s sleep, and some peace and quiet to just recharge your batteries. So, you don’t think about that other crap. I love and appreciate and adore my wife, so that stuff isn’t even a thought.”


Guns N’ Roses in seeking peace and quiet shock! In a further dent to their hellraising reputation, Bumblefoot has never taken drugs and rarely drinks.


“For me it was sex, sex and rock and roll,” he laughs. “I have to admit, if I’m at a certain place, with a traditional drink, I might take a taste. If I’m in Ireland, I will inhale some Guinness for sure. It’s almost an out-of-respect thing. And it’s just a damn good beer! But that only happens a few times a year and it won’t go beyond a mouthful, usually. Otherwise, I don’t smoke cigarettes and I’ve never done drugs!”


Bumbleboot soon fell out of love with being in one of the world’s biggest bands. The cracks began to show when the guitarist became frustrated with the fact that G N’R weren’t recording any new material.


“I was hoping that we would write together at some point, and we did write together,” he rues. “And I did write my own guitar parts for Chinese Democracy. I was part of the creative element in that, and anything that they chose for that record was something I came up with myself.”

Bumblefoot – who once jumped up on stage with a Gun N’ Roses cover band for fun – admits that he started to feel like someone going through the motions of playing material that wasn’t his own.


“I didn’t become a musician to play – I’m not gonna say covers – but I needed to do something that was creative for me,” he says. “If I wasn’t being creative, I wasn’t fulfilling my calling of why I became a musician. I didn’t do it just to play shows, and to play what I hate calling covers, ‘cause it diminishes what it is. I’d given up so much of what I loved, and the things that made me feel alive. I could be replaced in Guns N’ Roses and ultimately I was. And the guy who replaced me – God bless him – was Slash.”

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Urban legend has it that during this final solo tour, Bumblefoot had pulled in a pittance, with something like $700 left in his back pocket after paying off the tour’s bills. He’s certainly having the proverbial last laugh now, considering his net worth is estimated at a cool €10 million. 

He should be as thankful as Dizzy 


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2 hours ago, Donald Trump said:

Never a fan of his guitar playing but I am sad to hear a member of the GNR family has passed away.


RIP Bumble



RIP Bumblefoot.

 Never Forget

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