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Bret Michaels, Sebastian Bach + Duff McKagan Recall Sex, Drugs and Rock n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip

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Michael Buckner / Ethan Miller / Paul Butterfield, Getty Images

By now, you’ve probably heard about ‘Rock of Ages,’ the upcoming movie that spoofs the 1980s Sunset Strip rock scene. But what was being part of the era really like?

To find out, you might wanna ask three people who would certainly know: Poison singer Bret Michaels, Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach, and former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

“Imagine it being one big insane frat party, like an over the top ‘Animal House’ toga party, but it happened all the time, almost nightly,” Michaels told the New York Times. “Everything crazy that you could do, every crazy thing that could be done was done.”

McKagan adds, “[In 1987] AIDS was still thought of as a homosexual disease — needles were shared, sex was unprotected, there were a lot of drugs. I remember housewives from Beverly Hills and Bel-Air coming down and slumming it and getting strung out. The dark underbelly, I resided there. That’s the stuff I saw — people OD’ing. It was kind of gnarly then.”

Bach remembers his own first experience with one particular drug — quaaludes — and a rather amusing story involving McKagan and Metallica‘s Lars Ulrich:

“I always heard of quaaludes … but I’d never encountered [them]. One night me and [Duff and Lars] were at the Rainbow, and someone had a whole bag … [so] me and Duff … decided to [take] some.

All of a sudden we’re standing up, and we lose control of the muscles in our face, our lips start drooping, and we start drooling on each other. We were like, ‘We better sit down.’ So we go to the booth, getting spit on each other’s leather jackets, and Lars comes up with the brilliant idea of charging fans $5 to get a picture taken with us.

He’s like: ‘Here’s your heroes! Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row! Get a picture.’ Snap. We’re going [slurred slow-motion voice], ‘Hey, man, Lars, that’s not cool.’ Click.”

Debauchery aside, why does the music that was born on the Strip continue to have such a devoted group of fans so many years later?

“When you listen to the musicians who played then — Slash, Zakk Wylde, the songs that we wrote — we really spent time learning our craft,” Michaels said. “Something stood the test of time.”

Bach concurs and adds, “People get it wrong that metal was based on image more than music, because a lot of this music has passed the test of time really well. What is music for? It’s to make you feel good. I think this music definitely succeeds in doing that.”

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