meta-script2019 ACM Awards Add Brandi Carlile, Dan + Shay, More To Lineup | GRAMMY.com
Brandi Carlile

Brandi Carlile

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2019 ACM Awards Add Brandi Carlile, Dan + Shay, More To Lineup

Other new performers added to the April 7 lineup include Eric Church, Kelly Clarkson, Ashley McBryde, and more

GRAMMYs/Mar 20, 2019 - 12:59 am

The ACM Awards announced a second batch of performers today, including 61st GRAMMY Awards winners Brandi Carlile and Dan + Shay.

Artists with nominations at the 61st include previous three-time GRAMMY winner Kelly Clarkson as well as Luke Combs, Florida Georgia Line and Ashley McBryde. They'll be joined by previous GRAMMY winners Brooks & Dunn and nominated artists Dierks Bentley and Eric Church.

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The above batch will join these previously announced 2019 ACM performers: three-time GRAMMY winner Reba McEntire as well as Brothers Osborne, Kane Brown, Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town, Maren Morris, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton, and George Strait. Also performing is Jason Aldean, who will be presented with the ACM Dick Clark Artist of the Decade Award. Additional artist announcements are anticipated.

The 54th Academy of Country Music Awards will be broadcast from the MGM Grand at Las Vegas on April 7, 2019 on CBS. Tickets are still available at AXS.

In addition to the ACM Awards main event, many exciting Party For A Cause concerts are also planned for that weekend in Vegas, including the ACM Stories, Songs & Stars panel with its focus on country songwriters, the ACM Decades concert and the ACM Lifting Lives Topgolf Tee-Off, raising funds and awareness for ACM Lifting Lives' charitable activities.

Maren Morris & Brandi Carlile Talk Empowering Women In Music & Collaborating Together

Luke Combs
Luke Combs

Photo: Zack Massey

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Tracing Luke Combs' Journey To 'Fathers & Sons' In 10 Songs, From "Be Careful What You Wish For" To "The Man He Sees In Me"

Country phenom Luke Combs' new album, 'Fathers & Sons,' is a touching tribute to his two boys, and a reflection of his journey as a new father. Here are 10 songs that trace his process of growin' up, gettin' old, and now, watching his sons grow up.

GRAMMYs/Jun 13, 2024 - 07:38 pm

As a country artist of remarkable detail and relatability, Luke Combs has the songwriting muscle to deliver a gut-wrenching punch — and his latest set might be the biggest heart-tugger yet.

On June 14, the country star will release his fifth album, Fathers & Sons, which sees Combs stake his claim on songs about family, devotion and belonging. While those are all themes he's explored throughout his five-album discography, he's never honed them quite like this.

Combs is now a proud papa of two; he and his wife, Nicole, welcomed their first son in 2022 and their second in 2023. Fathers & Sons is a 12-song reflection on his experiences as a dad thus far, as well as the unique bond between parents and children.

The new album's highlights, like the mortality-addressing "In Case I Ain't Around"; the dewy, contemplative "Whoever You Turn Out to Be"; and the meditation on memory "Remember Him That Way," are sure to resonate throughout Combs' sizable fan base and beyond.

It's a natural progression for Combs, who has charted the prizes and pitfalls of growing up since his 2017 debut, This One's for You, whether in hits like his Eric Church collaboration "Does To Me" or deep cuts like "Memories Are Made Of." (He even named Father & Sons' 2022 and 2023 predecessors Growin' Up and Gettin' Old.)

His preternatural knack for a heartfelt story song extends to songs he didn't write, too, as his cover of Tracy Chapman's "Fast Car" became his biggest hit to date in 2023 and scored him two GRAMMY nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

The familial sentiments of Fathers & Sons have often appeared in Combs' music as well, making his album full of "dad songs" all the more fitting — and continuing his beloved reputation as one of country music's most relatable superstars.

If you're unfamiliar with Combs' back catalog — or just want a refresher — use these 10 songs to trace his evolution from longing for the carefree days of teenhood to fully embracing fatherhood.

"Be Careful What You Wish For" ('This One's for You,' 2017)

Basically Combs' spin on the Beach Boys' "That's Not Me," "Be Careful What You Wish For" reflects on his adolescence — when he had a fire in his belly to hurtle out of his circumstances into the unknown. The result plants seeds for the realizations he passes to his kin on Fathers & Sons.

In the song, an 18-year-old and newly emancipated Combs says sayonara to his "one-horse" town, before realizing the grass ain't always greener. "Sometimes things ain't what you think they're gonna be," Combs sagely warns in the pre-chorus. "What you want ain't always what you need."

"Memories Are Made Of" ('This One's for You,' 2017)

When you look back on your youth, what stuck in your craw most — generic milestones, or fleeting, stolen moments? Chances are, it's the latter, as Combs memorably argues in another This One's for You cut, another dispatch from his youth that resonates with Fathers & Sons.

Therein, he and his ne'er-do-well friends, fresh out of high school, crack open cold ones under a bright blue sky. "Just a couple buds and a good buzz, that's all it was," he sings in the chorus. "But that's what memories are made of." On Fathers & Sons, he seems to recognize his boys will remember the small moments, too — and those are often the ones worth cherishing most.

"Even Though I'm Leaving" ('What You See is What You Get,' 2019)

Many tracks on Combs' second album, What You See is What You Get, showed his maturation as a man and a songwriter, but one served as his introduction to paternal matters: "Even Though I'm Leaving."

The tear-jerker charts the evolution of a father-son relationship, from Dad evacuating a monster under the bed, to seeing his son off to the military, to eventually saying goodbye before his passing.

As the father assures the son in all of those stages, he'll always be there for his boy, even when he isn't physically there. It marked a poignant foreshadowing to Father & Sons' masterful interrogations of mortality and eternal family bonds.

"Dear Today" ('What You See Is What You Get,' 2019)

As What You See is What You Get winds down, the spectre of time still weighs heavily on Combs. "Dear Today" is just that — a letter to Combs' present self, from his future self. (There's a tint of that on "My Old Man Was Right," the penultimate track on Fathers & Sons.)

"You're the only one with a choice in the matter," tomorrow Luke gently, yet firmly, prods. Call your mom, have a drink with your dad, "put that diamond on her hand." What an effective framing device, to capture the crossroads we all face on the cusp of our thirties — another prelude to Combs' advice to his sons on Fathers & Sons.

"Does to Me (feat. Eric Church)" ('What You See Is What You Get,' 2019)

A few years before welcoming his first son, Combs hinted to Rolling Stone that he was ready to settle down. "I'm almost 30 years old now, and I'm not going to be out at the bar every night," he said in 2019. "I just want to grow up a little bit." "Does to Me" is a terrific inventory of what resources, exactly, he possesses in order to carry out that mission.

He's unflinching about the ways he's an ordinary, average guy. After all, the opening line is "I was a third-string dreamer on a second-place team."

But as "Does to Me" lays down, "achievements" have nothing on qualities that really matter, like being a good brother, or romantic partner. Fertile soil for a real man to grow from — and eventually pass on to his own boys.

"Doin' This" ('Growin' Up,' 2022)

In "Doin' This," Combs cements his life mission — regardless of whether it brings him fame and fortune.

He'd still be Luke Combs even if he wasn't Luke Combs, he explains. Whether at the Grand Ole Opry or some watering hole, picking up a guitar and laying waste to a besotted crowd is why he was put on this planet. "I'd still be doin' this if I weren't doin' this": simple, evocative, masterful.

While "Doin' This" isn't necessarily centered around a theme of family, it makes all the sense in the world that his devotion to his boys is in parallel to his devotion of the craft — proof of which is all over Fathers & Sons.

"Used to Wish I Was" ('Growin' Up,' 2022)

You can only be yourself — that's the central message of this equally great Growin' Up cut, where Combs reflects on all the people he could be, and once ached to be.

He could have finished college — or pursued football, hunting or fishing with more chutzpah — but that's not him. This "North Carolina good ol' boy" is what he is — and he's not losing sleep over that pesky fact anymore. By knowing himself, Combs establishes himself as a man of integrity, which is exactly who his sons need as a role model.

"Where the Wild Things Are" ('Gettin' Old,' 2023)

Across his discography, Combs expertly builds out his family dynamics, and that continues on "Where the Wild Things Are." The song concerns a hell-raising brother, who pointed his Indian Scout motorcycle toward Southern California to indulge in earthly pleasures.

After detailing a wild night of brotherly bonding in the Hollywood Hills, the song ends in tragedy, when the "wild as the devil" brother crashes his motorcycle and perishes. "We buried him out in the wind 'neath the West Coast stars," Combs sings, "out where the wild things are."

If any father's lesson is to be taken away from this song: there's a time and a place to enjoy life in all its wildness, without risking calamity. It continues the life lessons Combs touches on again in "Growin' Up and Gettin' Old," and later on Fathers & Sons.

"Growin' Up and Gettin' Old" ('Gettin' Old,' 2023)

Oh, to be in your early thirties — you can't stay out as late, the hangovers hit harder. Overall, your perspective shifts dramatically, and you realize nothing lasts forever.

"I'm still bending rules, but thinkin' 'fore I break 'em/ And I ain't lost a step, I just look before I take 'em," Combs sings on "Growin' Up and Gettin' Old."

As usual, this ever-nimble songwriter nails this pivotal time of life — and takes a hard look in the mirror, taking inventory before undergoing his journey on Fathers & Sons.

"The Man He Sees In Me" ('Fathers & Sons,' 2024)

With Combs still being a very recent father, his sons are at the age where he can do no wrong upon Fathers & Sons' release. Even so, he fears the day that illusion erodes, and lead single "The Man He Sees In Me" details his anxiety over this eventuality.

The song's not fatalistic, though; it's aspirational: "Maybe I'll finally be the man he sees in me" flips into "I hope he's trying to be the man he sees in me."

As Combs wrote in a letter to his boys upon the release of "The Man He Sees In Me," "With this song I want you to know that even though I'm not perfect, I try my hardest every day to be the best version of myself for you both."

He stresses that sentiment throughout Fathers & Sons — an album with a lot of introspective and self-realizing precedent in Combs' increasingly touching discography.

2024 GRAMMYs: Luke Combs & Tracy Chapman Team Up For A Surprise Duet Version Of "Fast Car"

"American Idol" Season 1 Finale - Kelly Clarkson Performance Show
Kelly Clarkson performs on Season 1 of "American Idol."

Photo: Steve Granitz / GettyImages

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On This Day In Music: "American Idol" Premieres On Fox Network

For decades, "American Idol" has been instrumental in discovering some of music’s biggest names and pioneering the reality TV contest genre. As the show enters its 22nd run, here’s a look at how it has become an iconic household staple across the country.

GRAMMYs/Jun 11, 2024 - 04:23 pm

For countless Americans, "American Idol" is intertwined with core memories as a show that had families eagerly glued to their TVs twice a week. It brought generations together, creating moments of both suspense and excitement that are still remembered today, as the show continues to run in its 22nd season.

Created by visionary entrepreneur Simon Fuller, "American Idol" premiered on June 11, 2002, as a fresh spin-off of the British program "Pop Idol." It revolutionized how Americans engaged with reality TV through its interactive, viewer-driven voting system, which encouraged audience participation in the success of their favorite contestants. The show also offered viewers a glimpse into contestants' candid backstories and personal journeys, anchoring emotional investment and skyrocketing the show's popularity.

The show's debut season featured a dynamic trio of judges: singer Paula Abdul, TV personality Simon Cowell, and producer Randy Jackson. Their contrasting personalities brewed a chemistry as captivating as the hopeful performances. Abdul’s warmth, Cowell's blunt wit, and Jackson’s humor added extra layers of entertainment, making the twice a week broadcasts a must-watch.

The first season of "American Idol" also unforgettably introduced the country to Kelly Clarkson. Since her debut — with a heart-tugging backstory about being the average girl-next-door with big dreams — Clarkson has gone on to tour the world, host her own TV talk show, and secured her spot as one of music’s most beloved talents. 

"I had dreams since I was a little girl that I wanted to be on the GRAMMYs, or some award show and sing on there," Clarkson mentioned in her pre-audition interview. Flash forward 22 years, the pop singer has accumulated 17 GRAMMY nominations and three wins, propelled by a powerful vocal gift.

Other artists who launched their careers from the show's platform include Jordin Sparks, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and Jennifer Hudson, who each serve as testament to the show’s impact in music.

"American Idol" has not only opened our eyes to some of our favorite musicians, but it also has given us some of our favorite pop culture moments.

A video that frequently resurfaces on social media captures a memorable moment between Katy Perry and contestant Noah Davis, where they bond over the slang term 'wig'

"No, it’s not your language. It’s just for us," Perry joked to her fellow judges, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, when they questioned the term’s meaning.

After two decades on air, "American Idol" has etched a lasting legacy in pop culture. It has paved the way for other reality TV music shows and created lasting memories for music fans along the way.

“The show transcends age, gender, ethnicity, everything,” Underwood told Billboard in 2005. 

How Many "American Idol" Winners Have Won GRAMMYs? A Rundown Of Wins And Nominations For Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood & More

Jungkook
Jungkook performing in New York City in 2023

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for TSX Entertainment

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs & Albums From Jungkook, Meghan Trainor, Peggy Gou, & More

Bask in the pre-summer magic with fresh musical offerings from acts as diverse as Ski Mask the Slump God, Kaytranada, Thomas Rhett, and more.

GRAMMYs/Jun 7, 2024 - 03:42 pm

We're still a couple of weeks away from the summer solstice, but the smell of cookouts and chlorine is already in the air. As parts of the country experience summer weather, there's plenty of musical delights ready to soundtrack the start of summer.

From pop to alt-country to rap, this New Music Friday sprouted sounds for listeners of all persuasions. Here's a cross-section of today's songs and albums to check out, from
Peggy Gou's debut album to the latest single from Jungkook.

Meghan Trainor — 'Timeless'

Just a few weeks before Meghan Trainor's breakthrough smash, "All About That Bass," turns 10, the GRAMMY winner rings in the anniversary in major fashion: a brand new album.

Trainor's sixth LP, Timeless, an irresistible split difference between bubblegum pop and woo-wop. Back in March, she released the lead single "Been Like This" with T-Pain; the "Buy U a Drank" star also appears on "Love on Hold."

"I cannot believe it has been 10 years since this all started. I have never been more grateful for this life that my incredible Megatronz have gifted me with," Trainor said in a statement — "Megatronz" referring to her rabid fanbase. "This new album and tour are all for them and my beautiful family."

Peggy Gou — 'I Hear You'

I Hear You might be South Korean DJ and singer Peggy Gou's debut album, but she declares it to be much more than that.

"It embodies countless hours of dedication in my journey to create something timeless, and is a testament to the power of listening, to ourselves and to each other," Gou said in a statement

And of the video to "1+1=11," in all of its shadowplay: "By bringing together dance — embodied exploration of space — with colorful shadows, lights, and mirrors, I was able to bring some of the key interests that have long shaped my art into an entirely new context."

If all this resonates with you, I Hear You is — well, a must-hear.

Listen: Leap Into AAPI Month 2024 With A Playlist Featuring Laufey, Diljit Dosanjh, & Peggy Gou

Orville Peck, Diplo & Kylie Minogue — "Midnight Ride"

As Pride Month kicked off, Kylie Minogue brought out two very special guests at Outloud Fest at West Hollywood Pride: her newest collaborators, Orville Peck and Diplo. The trio debuted the slinky, sparkling "Midnight Ride," a winning trifecta of their diverse talent pools.

Just a few days later, the studio version has arrived. In its full-fledged wonder, the track is just as much of a ride on record as it was on stage.

The single is the latest offering from Peck's forthcoming duets album, Stampede; though the full album's release date has yet to be announced, the alt-country star teased the exciting collabs to come with the seven-song Stampede, Vol. 1 on May 10, which featured Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Nathaniel Rateliff and more.

Glass Animals — "A Tear in Space (Airlock)"

On July 19, English indie favorites Glass Animals will declare I Love You So F***ing Much with their fourth album. They previously released the advance single "Creatures in Heaven." "A Tear in Space (Airlock)" arrives from smack in the middle of the forthcoming album.

A celestial, pulsing track replete with delicious production details, "A Tear in Space (Airlock)" marks another evolutionary step for the Oxford-rooted group. Their smash "Heat Waves" might be in the rearview, but they still know how to craft a song for just that.

Read More: Meet The First-Time GRAMMY Nominee: Glass Animals' Dave Bayley On The Group's Slow Burn To Massive Success With "Heat Waves" — And How It Almost Never Happened

Jungkook — "Never Let Go"

Where would BTS be without its ARMY? It's an unthinkable prospect — and the boy band giants' beloved Jungkook has penned a worthy tribute to the fanbase that made them.

Released for BTS' annual debut anniversary celebration, Festa, "Never Let Go" opens its heart completely. "Without your love, I'm nothing/ You mean more than you know/ And words escape me whenever you're close," he croons. "I tried to put it into words but it don't measure up/ My pen and paper could never do quite enough."

Believe us: the radiant "Never Let Go" is more than enough. "It's the truth, it's the truth," Jungkook concludes. "We got something rеal nothing could break."

Learn more: Breaking Down Every Solo Act From BTS: Singles, Debut Albums & What's Next For The Septet

KAYTRANADA — 'TIMELESS'

The Haitian-Canadian producer, rapper, singer, and DJ born Louis Celestin has produced everyone from Anderson .Paak to Alicia Keys to Victoria Monét, but he's just as compelling when it's his name on the record sleeve.

The two-time GRAMMY winner proves just that with his third album,
TIMELESS. Of course, the producer recruited several collaborators for the project, and the list is a panoply of associates from across his career — not only .Paak, but Childish Gambino, Don Toliver, and more.

Maluma & Blessd — '1 of 1'

"A full production between two Colombian artists had never been done before," rapper and singer Maluma brassily proclaimed in a recent press statement. "If it's the first, it can't be done twice."

He's referring to the (aptly titled) 1 of 1, his new EP with fellow Colombian great Blessd. Co-produced by MadMuscik and the RudeBoyz, this six-pack is a reflection of the clear admiration and respect between the two reggaetón practitioners.

This pre-summer weekend, grab a bestie, hit the road, crank up tunes like "Call Me" and "Goyard/GTA," and let that feeling flow through you, too.

Ski Mask the Slump God — '11th Dimension'

Five years after his last LP, Floridan rap phenom Ski Mask the Slump God returns by taking listeners to the 11th Dimension.

If 11th Dimension's advance singles — the jovial "Ooga Booga!", the propulsive "Headrush" — whetted your thirst, get ready for the other 19 tracks, like head-spinning highlights "By Myself," "KillStreak" and "Him Jung Un."

And while Ski Mask the Slump God takes most of those tracks himself, the album's five features are equally as thrilling: Future and ATL Jacob, Skillibeng, Corbin, and two posthumous duets with late rap stars XXXTentacion and Juice Wrld.

Generally, when an artist has a blast making music, it seeps through the grooves — and Thomas Rhett had an absolute ball making his new album, About A Woman, out Aug. 23.

"I did this with a new batch of producers, a lot of different songwriters. This is the funnest album that I've made, I think," he told Backstage Country. "This is a very, very 'me' album. If you liked Tangled Up and Life Changes, Center Point Road, this album is sort of that on steroids."

He's already revealed the first single, "Beautiful as You"; its follow-up, "Gone Country," is a rough-hewn statement of down-home purpose. Every line and lick is true to his dictum that he "got back to the root of why I love to make music and put smiles on faces." 

Let that smile cross your face as you prepare for your summer adventures — and we'll see you on next week's New Music Friday!

On This Day In Music: 2 Live Crew's 'As Nasty As They Wanna Be' Becomes First Album Declared Legally Obscene, Anticipates First Amendment Cases

Slash
Slash

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Slash's New Blues Ball: How His Collaborations Album 'Orgy Of The Damned' Came Together

On his new album, 'Orgy Of The Damned,' Slash recruits several friends — from Aerosmith's Steven Tyler to Demi Lovato — to jam on blues classics. The rock legend details how the project was "an accumulation of stuff I've learned over the years."

GRAMMYs/May 17, 2024 - 06:56 pm

In the pantheon of rock guitar gods, Slash ranks high on the list of legends. Many fans have passionately discussed his work — but if you ask him how he views his evolution over the last four decades, he doesn't offer a detailed analysis.

"As a person, I live very much in the moment, not too far in the past and not very far in the future either," Slash asserts. "So it's hard for me to really look at everything I'm doing in the bigger scheme of things."

While his latest endeavor — his new studio album, Orgy Of The Damned — may seem different to many who know him as the shredding guitarist in Guns N' Roses, Slash's Snakepit, Velvet Revolver, and his four albums with Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, it's a prime example of his living-in-the-moment ethos. And, perhaps most importantly to Slash, it goes back to what has always been at the heart of his playing: the blues.

Orgy Of The Damned strips back much of the heavier side of his playing for a 12-track homage to the songs and artists that have long inspired him. And he recruited several of his rock cohorts — the likes of AC/DC's Brian Johnson, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, Gary Clark Jr., Iggy Pop, Beth Hart, and Dorothy, among others — to jam on vintage blues tunes with him, from "Hoochie Coochie Man" to "Born Under A Bad Sign."

But don't be skeptical of his current venture — there's plenty of fire in these interpretations; they just have a different energy than his harder rocking material. The album also includes one new Slash original, the majestic instrumental "Metal Chestnut," a nice showcase for his tastefully melodic and expressive playing.

The initial seed for the project was planted with the guitarist's late '90s group Slash's Blues Ball, which jammed on genre classics. Those live, spontaneous collaborations appealed to him, so when he had a small open window to get something done recently, he jumped at the chance to finally make a full-on blues album.

Released May 17, Orgy Of The Damned serves as an authentic bridge from his musical roots to his many hard rock endeavors. It also sees a full-circle moment: two Blues Ball bandmates, bassist Johnny Griparic and keyboardist Teddy Andreadis, helped lay down the basic tracks. Further seizing on his blues exploration, Slash will be headlining his own touring blues festival called S.E.R.P.E.N.T. in July and August, with support acts including the Warren Haynes Band, Keb' Mo', ZZ Ward, and Eric Gales.

Part of what has kept Slash's career so intriguing is the diversity he embraces. While many heavy rockers stay in their lane, Slash has always traveled down other roads. And though most of his Orgy Of The Damned guests are more in his world, he's collaborated with the likes of Michael Jackson, Carole King and Ray Charles — further proof that he's one of rock's genre-bending greats.

Below, Slash discusses some of the most memorable collabs from Orgy Of The Damned, as well as from his wide-spanning career.

I was just listening to "Living For The City," which is my favorite track on the album.

Wow, that's awesome. That was the track that I knew was going to be the most left of center for the average person, but that was my favorite song when [Stevie Wonder's 1973 album] Innervisions came out when I was, like, 9 years old. I loved that song. This record's origins go back to a blues band that I put together back in the '90s.

Slash's Blues Ball.

Right. We used to play "Superstition," that Stevie Wonder song. I did not want to record that [for Orgy Of The Damned], but I still wanted to do a Stevie Wonder song. So it gave me the opportunity to do "Living For The City," which is probably the most complicated of all the songs to learn. I thought we did a pretty good job, and Tash [Neal] sang it great. I'm glad you dig it because you're probably the first person that's actually singled that song out.

With the Blues Ball, you performed Hoyt Axton's "The Pusher" and Robert Johnson's "Crossroads," and they surface here. Isn't it amazing it took this long to record a collection like this?

[Blues Ball] was a fun thrown-together thing that we did when I [was in, I] guess you call it, a transitional period. I'd left Guns N' Roses [in 1996], and it was right before I put together a second incarnation of Snakepit.

I'd been doing a lot of jamming with a lot of blues guys. I'd known Teddy [Andreadis] for a while and been jamming with him at The Baked Potato for years prior to this. So during this period, I got together with Ted and Johnny [Griparic], and we started with this Blues Ball thing. We started touring around the country with it, and then even made it to Europe. It was just fun.

Then Snakepit happened, and then Velvet Revolver. These were more or less serious bands that I was involved in. Blues Ball was really just for the fun of it, so it didn't really take precedence. But all these years later, I was on tour with Guns N' Roses, and we had a three-week break or whatever it was. I thought, I want to make that f—ing record now.

It had been stewing in the back of my mind subconsciously. So I called Teddy and Johnny, and I said, Hey, let's go in the studio and just put together a set and go and record it. We got an old set list from 1998, picked some songs from an app, picked some other songs that I've always wanted to do that I haven't gotten a chance to do.

Then I had the idea of getting Tash Neal involved, because this guy is just an amazing singer/guitar player that I had worked with in a blues thing a couple years prior to that. So we had the nucleus of this band.

Then I thought, Let's bring in a bunch of guest singers to do this. I don't want to try to do a traditional blues record, because I think that's going to just sound corny. So I definitely wanted this to be more eclectic than that, and more of, like, Slash's take on these certain songs, as opposed to it being, like, "blues." It was very off-the-cuff and very loose.

It's refreshing to hear Brian Johnson singing in his lower register on "Killing Floor" like he did in the '70s with Geordie, before he got into AC/DC. Were you expecting him to sound like that?

You know, I didn't know what he was gonna sing it like. He was so enthusiastic about doing a Howlin' Wolf cover.

I think he was one of the first calls that I made, and it was really encouraging the way that he reacted to the idea of the song. So I went to a studio in Florida. We'd already recorded all the music, and he just fell into it in that register.

I think he was more or less trying to keep it in the same feel and in the same sort of tone as the original, which was great. I always say this — because it happened for like two seconds, he sang a bit in the upper register — but it definitely sounded like AC/DC doing a cover of Howlin' Wolf. We're not AC/DC, but he felt more comfortable doing it in the register that Howlin' Wolf did. I just thought it sounded really great.

You chose to have Demi Lovato sing "Papa Was A Rolling Stone." Why did you pick her?

We used to do "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" back in Snakepit, actually, and Johnny played bass. We had this guy named Rod Jackson, who was the singer, and he was incredible. He did a great f—ing interpretation of the Temptations singing it.

When it came to doing it for this record, I wanted to have something different, and the idea of having a young girl's voice telling the story of talking to her mom to find out about her infamous late father, just made sense to me. And Demi was the first person that I thought of. She's got such a great, soulful voice, but it's also got a certain kind of youth to it.

When I told her about it, she reacted like Brian did: "Wow, I would love to do that." There's some deeper meaning about the song to her and her personal life or her experience. We went to the studio, and she just belted it out. It was a lot of fun to do it with her, with that kind of zeal.

You collaborate with Chris Stapleton on Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" by Peter Green. I'm assuming the original version of that song inspired "Double Talkin' Jive" by GN'R?

It did not, but now that you mention it, because of the classical interlude thing at the end... Is that what you're talking about? I never thought about it.

I mean the overall vibe of the song.

"Oh Well" was a song that I didn't hear until I was about 12 years old. It was on KMET, a local radio station in LA. I didn't even know there was a Fleetwood Mac before Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham. I always loved that song, and I think it probably had a big influence on me without me even really realizing it. So no, it didn't have a direct influence on "Double Talkin' Jive," but I get it now that you bring it up.

Was there something new that you learned in making this album? Were your collaborators surprised by their own performances?

I think Gary Clark is just this really f—ing wonderful guitar player. When I got "Crossroads," the idea originally was "Crossroads Blues," which is the original Robert Johnson version. And I called Gary and said, "Would you want to play with me on this thing?"

He and I only just met, so I didn't know what his response was going to be. But apparently, he was a big Guns N' Roses fan — I get the idea, anyway. We changed it to the Cream version just because I needed to have something that was a little bit more upbeat. So when we got together and played, we solo-ed it off each other.

When I listen back to it, his playing is just so f—ing smooth, natural, and tasty. There was a lot of that going on throughout the making of the whole record — acclimating to the song and to the feel of it, just in the moment.

I think that's all an accumulation of stuff that I've learned over the years. The record probably would be way different if I did it 20 years ago, so I don't know what that evolution is. But it does exist. The growth thing — God help us if you don't have it.

You've collaborated with a lot of people over the years — Michael Jackson, Carole King, Lemmy, B.B. King, Fergie. Were there any particular moments that were daunting or really challenging? And was there any collaboration that produced something you didn't expect?

All those are a great example of the growth thing, because that's how you really grow as a musician. Learning how to adapt to playing with other people, and playing with people who are better than you — that really helps you blossom as a player.

Playing with Carole King [in 1993] was a really educational experience because she taught me a lot about something that I thought that I did naturally, but she helped me to fine tune it, which was soloing within the context of the song. [It was] really just a couple of words that she said to me during this take that stuck with me. I can't remember exactly what they were, but it was something having to do with making room for the vocal. It was really in passing, but it was important knowledge.

The session that really was the hardest one that I ever did was [when] I was working with Ray Charles before he passed away. I played on his "God Bless America [Again]" record [on 2002's Ray Charles Sings for America], just doing my thing. It was no big deal. But he asked me to play some standards for the biopic on him [2004's Ray], and he thought that I could just sit in with his band playing all these Ray Charles standards.

That was something that they gave me the chord charts for, and it was over my head. It was all these chord changes. I wasn't familiar with the music, and most of it was either a jazz or bebop kind of a thing, and it wasn't my natural feel.

I remember taking the chord charts home, those kinds you get in a f—ing songbook. They're all kinds of versions of chords that wouldn't be the version that you would play.

That was one of those really tough sessions that I really learned when I got in over my head with something. But a lot of the other ones I fall into more naturally because I have a feel for it.

That's how those marriages happen in the first place — you have this common interest of a song, so you just feel comfortable doing it because it's in your wheelhouse, even though it's a different kind of music than what everybody's familiar with you doing. You find that you can play and be yourself in a lot of different styles. Some are a little bit challenging, but it's fun.

Are there any people you'd like to collaborate with? Or any styles of music you'd like to explore?

When you say styles, I don't really have a wish list for that. Things just happen. I was just working with this composer, Bear McCreary. We did a song on this epic record that's basically a soundtrack for this whole graphic novel thing, and the compositions are very intense. He's very particular about feel, and about the way each one of these parts has to be played, and so on. That was a little bit challenging. We're going to go do it live at some point coming up.

There's people that I would love to play with, but it's really not like that. It's just whatever opportunities present themselves. It's not like there's a lot of forethought as to who you get to play with, or seeking people out. Except for when you're doing a record where you have people come in and sing on your record, and you have to call them up and beg and plead — "Will you come and do this?"

But I always say Stevie Wonder. I think everybody would like to play with Stevie Wonder at some point.

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