Duff McKagan Breaks Down Bon Jovi’s ‘Seen a Million Faces and Rocked Them All’ Boast
By now, most people are familiar with the Bon Jovi classic 'Wanted Dead or Alive' and could sing it word for word if put on the spot, but Duff McKagan has a question that's long been debated amongst his musician friends that pertains to the lyric "I've seen a million faces and I've rocked them all." The bassist ponders if this was truly a fact or just taking poetic license for a great lyric.
In his latest Seattle Weekly article, the musician breaks down the argument he's had with several musicians over the years. But before you think McKagan's lost his mind, he does admit, "A musician has plenty of time to ponder things -- both big and small -- when they're on the road. You have to hope for a good sense of shared humor when traveling and living together in cramped confines, something I call the tour bubble. If you can't make light of some of the asinine situations you meet on the road, you are gonna be toast." One of those "situations" was the ongoing Bon Jovi debate, where McKagan states that being on the road does expose you to a lot of people, but do you technically "rock" them all? McKagan says no.
The bassist states, "I have no doubt that Bon Jovi had played to a million people by the time 'Dead or Alive' was released on 'Slippery When Wet' in 1986. But did they rock them all? Couldn't it be that some dudes brought their girlfriends to the show and weren't necessarily into the music of Bon Jovi? What about some parents? Or, maybe some people just didn't get rocked? Hey, it's happened to me. I've gone to gigs properly prepared to get rocked and it just didn't happen for me."
He goes on to add, "How could they even be sure? They had played a bunch of festivals, and you KNOW that not everyone there was attending to come see their band. They had probably converted some of these people into new fans, but rocking them all would be a huge overstatement."
McKagan himself, who has enjoyed a lengthy career with Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver and Loaded, among other projects, says, "In my whole career, I have certainly played to a ton of faces (I'll let you do the math), but, hell, I was hammered for a couple of those years, and probably wasn't concentrating on faces at all. Besides, how can you see all of the faces that you play to, hammered or not?! Lights are in your eyes! It's dark! You have shades on! When you headline a smaller venue, with say 850 people, you can actually see all of the faces. But even if all of those people are there to see your band, and have spent their hard-earned money to come and spend the evening with you, isn't it possible a few of those people were disappointed? I guess, 'I've seen 48,000 faces, and I rocked close to 41,000 of them' (a good damn percentage, by the way), is not so poetic."
To read more of McKagan's weekly columns, check out his Seattle Weekly archive here.