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Seattle Sounds

Duff McKagan stages Seafair coup

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Seattle's Duff 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 honor him.

>>Listen to my extended interview with Duff McKagan here

McKagan's milking it for all its worth. He's staged a coup of sorts, declaring himself 'Grand Poobah' and is issuing a 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 week-long reign.

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 of 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 to politicians who vote the way they think will benefit their re-election efforts rather than following their moral compass.

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 Safeco 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.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com Reporter
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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