McKagan will reign over Seafair as Grand Marshall
(although he prefers ‘Poobah.’) (AP Photo)
As a teenage punk rocker tearing up the streets of
Seattle, you wouldn’t catch Duff McKagan anywhere near the
Seafair Torchlight Parade. Fast forward a few decades,
and now he’ll be leading the annual summer celebration.
“It was hilarious. I thought someone was pulling my leg,”
McKagan says about the email he got several months ago
asking him to serve as Grand Marshall.
It was no joke. Seafair officials figured as long as he
was getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
this year with Guns N’ Roses, it was a perfect time to
McKagan’s milking it for all its worth. He’s staged a coup
of sorts, declaring himself ‘Grand Poobah’ and is issuing
series of edicts.
“I’m going to bring back the Sonics and I think I’m going
to knight Chris Hansen,” he laughs as he surveys his
kingdom on a beautiful Seattle summer day ahead of his
While he’s at it, he’s demanding a carriage with some
horses and henchman (the Seafair Pirates have been
enlisted), he’ll make local rockers the Chasers the new
state band, and Alaska Airlines will have to put a picture
J.P. Patches on the tails of its planes.
McKagan also figures he might as well put a gallows out
in front of city hall to punish everyone from bad drivers
politicians who vote the way they think will benefit their
re-election efforts rather than following their moral
And then there’s the issue of his ‘parade wave.’
“I had this parade wave, but they said I had the wrong
finger up so I guess I won’t use that,” McKagan jokes.
It’s all good fun for the Seattle native who now fronts
the band Loaded. In a moment of semi-seriousness, he
admits the real reason he agreed was because of his
daughters, admitting he’s already dealing with all the
times they don’t want anything to do with their dad.
“There’s some fun stuff in here the girls will do with me
and it’s fun for them to make fun of me for this. So
there’s levity in here for this whole thing and I’m just
having fun,” McKagan says.
The Seafair festivities are just one of a number of high
marks in a special year for McKagan. His autobiography
‘It’s So Easy’ remains a bestseller, he’s still getting
plenty of attention for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
induction, and Friday night he’ll appear on 710 ESPN’s
second Rock Meets Jock special at
Field alongside former Mariners great Randy Johnson.
Although many look up to him as a hero, he remains in awe
of all that’s happening.
“I’m just like anybody else, I don’t know him. That’s
Randy Johnson for crying out loud, and we’re going to have
a conversation live on the radio,” he gushes like the
excited fan he is.
McKagan’s gearing up to climb Mount Rainier as part
of a benefit effort to help wounded soldiers reach the
summit. He’ll also be hosting a special fundraiser at the
Showbox at the Market August 17th with his band Loaded for
the Treehouse Foundation to benefit foster children.
It’s all pretty heady stuff for a Seattle punk. For the
next week though, he’s focusing on his reign as Grand
Poobah and hoping at least one of his edicts is
followed: The one that mandates his daughters’ start
listening to him.