5 minutes alone: Richard Fortus

The Guns N' Roses and Dead Daisies man talks smashed Les Pauls, advice from Lemmy and what the hell's going on with Jeff Beck…

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEriI95XjmI

At the start of a very big year for Guns N' Roses, and as his other band Dead Daisies continues to prosper, we caught up with Richard Fortus to talk early Electras, Axl Rose's laid-back approach to timekeeping, dream mentors and more.

Got my first real six string...

"My first guitar was an Electra. It was $300. My father was one of the owners of the company so I worked all summer in his warehouse to be able to buy this guitar. It was a one-of-a-kind prototype. My cousin has that guitar now, so I know where it is. My second guitar was an Electra as well but that one was stolen from me, someone took it from my apartment in New York."

"I'm sure we were really late going on, but when everyone else is freaking out Axl just lays back"

Dream on...

"I've always wanted a '58 Burst, but I haven't managed to get one yet. I'm a big collector. I always keep my collection at around 100 guitars. I have a ton of amps too, all vintage. I have a studio at my house and I do most of my sessions there so I get to use my amps. I have my favourites that see steady action and then there's the speciality items. I wish I used more than I do but I get lazy and they are expensive to maintain."

White riot, I wanna riot...

"When Guns played at Download [in 2006] and people were throwing bottles at the stage, I remember Axl told me something Lemmy said to him when Guns was starting out. He said that you have a responsibility to every band that will walk on the stage after you, if somebody throws something, stop the show and issue a warning. Otherwise they will keep doing it. Axl does that, he says, 'I wanna have a good time, you might miss me and hit one of these fine gentlemen.' He always issues a warning, if someone throws something else we leave the stage. That can cause a lot of trouble, like in Dublin when we left the stage and there was a riot. Luckily we don't go on late any more."

Just a castaway, an island lost at sea...

"If I were stranded on a desert island I would take a guitar that has been with me for the last 25 years, it's a Les Paul Signature, which they made for two years, mine is a '73, a Goldtop. It looks like a combination of a 335 and a Les Paul. I've got two, but one of those would be my pick. When I was doing a lot of session work that was the guitar I'd bring. Tonally, it covers so much ground. Amp-wise, this changes, but I have a Kelly amp. Kelly was the chief designer at Selmer, who designed the Zodiac, and he left to start his own company. That amp is so musical. It's between that and a '73 Jose-modded Marshall that I bought from Mick Mars."

Live and dangerous...

"That Download gig with GN'R was one of my worst. That was a rough night and it wasn't Axl – it was our bass player Tommy. We were playing with Robin Finck at that time. That band lives on the edge of chaos and it was mayhem, it was insane. Tommy was angry because people were throwing stuff on stage. I'm sure we were probably really late on, but when everyone else is freaking out Axl just lays back. I remember Robin trying to pull over his guitar trunk and he broke five Les Pauls that night. It was one of those nights where things could get really bad. On stage it was like, 'Oh my god, are we going to get through this?'"

I want you to show me the way...

"I'd love to take a lesson with Roy Buchanan, Danny Gatton or Jimi Hendrix. Those guys are just phenomenal players. I still listen to them and think, 'What the hell were they thinking? How did they approach it like that?' Jeff Beck is another one. I saw him two weeks ago, every time I see him he gets better and better. He's still breaking new ground. If I'm a guitar player I don't know what the hell he is. He's one of my all-time favourite musicians."

The Dead Daisies' album, Revolución, is available now.

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