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Guns N' Roses—and Money

Duff McKagan
Duff McKagan

There are second acts in American life—and when former Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan's pancreas exploded from years of drug and alcohol abuse in the mid-nineties it seemed like a good time to find one

And so began an unlikely transition for McKagan: From rock and roll hell raiser to his latest role —wealth management professional.

Yes, seriously.

Here's how it happened: When McKagan was recovering from the pancreas incident, he had some spare time on his hands. So he started going through Guns N' Roses financial statements.

"I couldn't make sense of it," McKagan is quoted as saying in Fortune. "I didn't know how much we had made or lost on the tour."

So McKagan took a basic finance class at a community college. It turned out he had a knack for the material—and he enrolled in business school.

Word got out among rock and rollers that McKagan was good with the numbers—and he began informally advising musicians on their finances.

After a few years, McKagan teamed up with a former banker named Andrew Bottomley. The two formed a firm called Meridian Rock, which specializes in managing money for musicians.

But the firm also has another goal: Educating rockers about business and their wealth.

Speaking of his past experience, McKagan says, "As a 30 year-old millionaire, how do I admit to somebody that I don't know what the f**k I'm doing?

"If they're anything like me when I was thirty, they're too embarrassed to ask," he says.

Which may make you wonder: If a few key fund managers had the nerve to ask themselves similar questions, during the great CDO binge of the mid 2000's, how many billions of dollars in toxic derivates might big pension funds have avoided on their balance sheets?

I guess we'll never know.

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