Tuesday night, Duff McKagan’s performance/spoken word show, “It's So Easy & Other Lies, A Punk’s Revue” returned to Seattle for one mega special night. What was different about this one? It was the fifth time Duff & friends have played this intimate format and as part of the film, they shot the show for an upcoming movie documentary based on his best-selling autobiography "It's So Easy and Other Lies."
The night featured an amazing multi-media exploration through Duff ‘s life and career told through excerpts from the book, musical accompaniments, performances and imagery. Seattle area musicians and long time friends of Duff accompanied him through this spoken word journey. His usual Loaded band mates Jeff Rouse, Mike Squires and Burke Thomas, local pedal slide guitar wiz Paul Hutzler, guitarist Jeff Fielder and the string quartet consisting of Danah Olivetree, Seth May-Patterson, Andrew D.B. Joslyn and Alina To. Special guest Mike McCready from Pearl Jam also appeared at the end of the show.
Duff's book "It's So Easy (And Other Lies)", which came out October 4, 2011, has sold over 200,000 copies. California film company Rainstorm Entertainment is handling this documentary based on the life of this former Guns N’ Roses bassist which (along with this performance) include interviews with all of his closest friends and colleagues including world renowned musicians such as Mick Jagger, Slash, Elton John and film-makers such as James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger to name a few. Christopher Duddy (“Cougar Club”) will direct and produce along with Steven G. Kaplan for Rainstorm and McKagan.
Duff shares his story of excess, angst, struggle and triumph detailing his rise to the outer limits of fame and fortune to his struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction. He details his personal crash and burn, his immaculate turnaround to sobriety and to his success as business man and most importantly loving husband and father. Imagine sitting in front of a huge audience of fans, wife, kids, family and friends in attendance and there you are opening up about your whole life of incredible highs, near death lows and everything in between. As you could imagine, Duff's emotions were all over the place during the performance. From the photos I took documenting the show, you don't even have to have subtitles to explain the emotions you'll feel just viewing them. (see show photos here)
It takes big balls to do what Duff did. Such a big production, such courage to open up about his life. But it makes sense for McKagan to do his self-therapy this way. The show was one fantastic, smooth and moving event. From the ambiance, the amazing music arrangements, the perfect visuals on screen all coordinating with Duff's words. As an audience member, you went through his whole roller coaster of emotions along with him. For myself, I actually came crashing down with joy when towards the end of the production my Duff crowd surfing photo came onto the screen and stayed displayed for the last 10+ minutes of the show. The moment became very powerful when I saw Duff look up where I was and gave a salute. Just a very powerful moment for me and I have to proudly admit, some tears of joy.
As a photographer, you always try to capture emotion and powerful moments without the need of explanation. That night (12/16/11), in the sold-out Seattle Key Arena, Duff and his band Loaded did something unthinkable to some people and actually opened for his former band Guns N' Roses. I knew it was gonna be a special moment and from all the press photographers on hand (from in and out of town) they did too. What was explained to all the photographers before the show was 3-songs and out, except for me. I knew this moment was huge and I had to deliver but how? This was Duff's night! This was Duff conquering all the demons from his past and into all the goodness that keeps him straight in his life with his true loves - his wife Susan Holmes and their daughters Grace and Mae Marie. This show was a full circle in his life and career and to be allowed to be the only photographer per Duff to shoot the whole show, I was waiting for something that would go down in his documented history and boy did it come! Like a baptism with the hometown fans, Duff left the stage and with guitar in hand went to the fans and crowd surfed while playing. Lucky I always shoot with two camera bodies and one had my 16mm fisheye on it. The moment came and within a blink of an eye Duff's conquering moment captured!
Who knew a little over a year later the shot would still have a powerful impact on him. Especially something so close and personal in his life, this show event at the Moore Theatre. As the show ended with the whole cast of stage members giving thanks and that photo still in the background is something I will never forget and always be thankful to one of the greatest, inspirational and luckiest living rock stars we know here in Seattle with Michael "Duff" McKagan. Thanks for showing us anything in life is achievable, even at the bottom of the barrel! I walked out of the Moore with even more respect for a man that has given us a lifetime worth of rock music and still going strong with his band Loaded.
A day after the Moore event, Duff sent out a Twitter message that I'll never forget. I can't express the appreciation and validation, especially since I recently quit my day job to do music photo documentation full-time.
Iron Mike Savoia
To buy Duff's “It's So Easy & Other Lies, A Punk’s Revue” book click here at Amazon
To stay up-to-date on the movie's progress visit: https://www.facebook.com/ItsSoEasyAndOtherLies
To stay up-to-date on Duff McKagan's Loaded: https://www.facebook.com/DuffLoaded
To view (and vote for) my Duff crowd surfing shot in the 2013 Rocktographer contest at the Triple Door in Seattle, join us for the opening night party in the Musicquarium from 5-7pm (21+) April 4th! The contest voting lasts for a month. Metallic prints are available to order. I hope to see ya there and remember to vote for me/Duff! More event info HERE.