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March, 2004
Gilby Clarke Moonlightin' With Sinatra
Guitar One March 2004 Issue

the 411 on 46 MISSING Guitar Heroes

When we unveiled the first installment of Where Are They Now? In our March 2001 issue, we had little inkling of just how popular it would be. Now, three years later - just enough time for another bunch of guitar heroes to turn up missing - we're pleased to bring you a fresh batch of conspicuously absent players. But are they MIA exactly, or just off your radar screen?


You need a checklist - and a lot of energy - to keep up with Gilby Clarke's projects. But the guitarist, whose integrity and energy are as welcome and first-rate as his playing, juggles many them with aplomb and humor.

For starters, his fifth solo outing, Swag, came out a year ago, on Spitfire, and the label purchased and released Clarke's solo catalog, with the exception of his 1994 debut, Pawn Shop Guitars (Virgin). He has a Japanese deal with JVC, and, in 2001, he did a one-off record, with the band Col. Parker, featuring friend and former Stray Cat Slim Jim Phantom. In 2003, Clarke toured with Heart; he recently finished his guitar work for their next record. He also moonlights with Nancy Sinatra; produces records, such as The Bronx, in his top-flight home studio, RedRum Recording; and plays solo gigs.

The Cleveland, Ohio, native says he never goes a month without playing a show. "I still love to play," Clarke enthuses. "I just don't like singing. I had a great experience with Heart - I really needed to do a tour. I had been in the studio doing the Col. Parker thing and my solo record for a couple years; I sang and played on both." Clarke owns close to 50 guitars, and plays Gibsons 80 percent of the time, but he's most proud of his rare Zemaitis silver-top deluxe, custom-made by the late Tony Zemaitis.

Says the guitarist observes of his 2003 solo shows in Mexico, with drummer Eric Singer, "It's always 'Gilby from Guns N' Roses.' I'll do 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door,' and Eric will do 'Rock and Roll All Night,' to keep everyone happy," he laughs. "The first night, we played for 1,500 people. I still have a big following in South America. So whenever we really need for people to clap, we go down there." He'll pass on a full-fledged solo club tour for now, calling those gigs "unfulfilling."

Still, 2004, should be fulfilling, as he has two major-label production gigs slated, plus tours with both Nancy Sinatra and Heart. He dug the 2003 Heart tour with bassist pal Mike Inez and is looking forward to the June outing. "I think having me and Mike in the band made the [Wilson] sisters a rock band again," says Clarke. "We had a fantastic summer. It was first class all the way - and I just had to play guitar all night long!"

But wait, there's more: You might even spot Clarke modeling. His wife, Daniella, is founder of the multi-million dollar venture Frankie B. Jeans. "Daniella has made, in, like, one year, five times more money than I've made in my entire musical career," laughs Clarke. "She's the owner and designer. I mean, neither of us graduated high school, and she's running a $15 million company."

Clarke, whose recording career began in the mid-'80s with the power-pop band Candy (he later went to MCA act Kill For Thrills) has no misgivings about any of his work. "Everything I've done, I've done with my heart," he says, "so how can you regret that? Circumstances were uncontrollable at times," he says, referring his stint with Guns N' Roses, "but I was never really out of control. And every time I plugged in, I played with my heart."

That heart was felt, from 1991 to 1993, in Guns. He's still tight with many of the former members, who now call themselves Velvet Revolver. He's as candid as always in his assessment of that "all-star" lineup: "Number one, I'm really happy for the guys, because we're in the same position; we'll always be overshadowed by the GN'R thing, which is good and bad. It's great to have been a part of it, but you'll never do anything as big as that, so it's like chasing the dragon," he observes astutely. "I'm happy for them, because they have a great singer, and what music I've heard is by far the best any of them have done besides Guns N' Roses. If they do really well, it's like they're doing great for the team. It can only help everybody; it's 'one for rock'n'roll."

Thanks Gypsy


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