Why GNR’s Duff McKagan’s Pancreas Exploded

Why GNR’s Duff McKagan’s Pancreas Exploded | I Love Classic Rock Videos

via Fender / Youtube

In the year 1994, Duff McKagan came very close to death. Since he had used large amounts of alcohol and a wide variety of substances for the better part of his life, the bassist for Guns N’ Roses was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis at the early age of 30.

The man who drank so much that he gained the nickname “king of beers” ultimately received his wake-up call when his pancreas exploded. His drinking habits had progressed from hard-core hedonism in the 1980s to nihilistic addiction in the 1990s. At that point in time, McKagan confesses that he was “at sub-zero… and didn’t even care if I was alive.”

The release of GNR’s Appetite for Destruction catapulted them to stardom, making it impossible for the group not to be sucked into the black hole of rockstar life. “When Guns N’ Roses began to break into the public consciousness, I was known as a big drinker,” McKagan wrote in his memoir, It’s So Easy and Other Lies. “Every day I made sure I had a vodka bottle sitting next to my bed when I woke up. I tried to quit drinking in 1992, but started again with a vengeance after only a few weeks.”

In 1994, Duff struck rock bottom when he awoke with stomach pain “so intense that he couldn’t even make it to the edge of the bed to contact 911.” This was the moment when he realized he needed help. It came out that McKagan’s pancreas, which had been swollen to the size of a football from all the drinking, had ruptured. He pleaded with the emergency room doctors to put an end to his life, and Duff’s primary care physician worried that he only had a few months left to live. Duff’s life was almost lost, but thankfully, the medics were able to rescue him. As a result, the entire event served as a powerful wake-up call for him.

Now that he’s been given a second chance at life, he’s putting all his past experiences to good use and making the most of his second opportunity.