Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal Recalls the Guns N’ Roses Gig That Combined ‘Star Wars’ With His Real-Life ‘Spinal Tap’ Moment
Thal relived his worst moment on stage with GNR during an interview with Louder Noise, revealing how a car wreck, a Star Wars stormtrooper helmet and a torrential downpour combined to leave him flailing during the worst possible moment. "That was my first show back on the road after a car accident," he explains in the clip above. "I wasn't ready to tour. I was doing as much as I could as far as physical therapy, and that was supposed to be helping, but I had a 35-pound double-necked guitar I was supposed to put on a broken neck for three hours, running around the stage while drugging myself up with whatever doctors were giving me to try and get through it all."
Admitting that his methods for coping with the pain included handfuls of pills and plenty of Jägermeister, Thal insists he still would have been fine if the weather hadn't taken a turn. As he remembers it, the band's set took place during a torrential downpour that left inches of water on the stage — and then he made the mistake of taking a stormtrooper's helmet from a woman near the stage and putting it on his head. Soaking wet, he found himself unable to remove the helmet, and when he swore in frustration, he fogged up the visor just as the band got to the guitar solo in "Welcome to the Jungle."
"So I'm trying to play the solo, which I've played a thousand times, and I've played it right every time ... I just had to stop in the middle, I was such a mess. I couldn't see anything, I had this thing on my head, and I finally had to stop in the middle of the solo and take this helmet off and continue the solo," he continues. "I'm just thinking, 'This is so Spinal Tap. This is my life Spinal Tap moment. This is it. By the next morning, hundreds of angry emails from Brazilians — I'd destroyed their lives, I'd destroyed the show, I need to be killed. To this day, every once in a while, I get one."
Fortunately, even with those perpetual reminders of his mistake, Thal's found a way to forgive himself. "It's just a song," he shrugs. "It's just one 10-second flub in the middle of a show, in the middle of a tour, in the middle of a lifespan of being with the band," says Thal. "And I can laugh about it, honestly. I don't feel bad about it at all. Sorry, I don't."
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