Playing by Heart
I will never forget when Guns N’ Roses first appeared on my radar. I was in fourth grade riding the bus home from school and my best friend’s older brother pulled his gramophone (an early predecessor to the iPhone, for the youngsters out there) out of his backpack, turned the volume way up, and “Paradise City” invaded my airspace.
Instantly my fourth grade posse was hooked because: 1. the older (and by default, cooler) kids were into it and 2. there is something inherently freeing about blasting music and singing like a badass. Subsequently, for the rest of the year, “Take me down to the paradise city where the grass is green and the girls are pretty” became our mantra, rallying call, and collective theme song.
It’s funny how music can instantly transport you back to a moment or time in your life. I hear that song, and bam! I’m on the bus feeling like teachers don’t know anything and I might just go on tour myself one of these days.
Turns out, you need more than a sassy attitude and penchant for noisiness to make it as a rock star. That was a disappointing realization.
Recently though, solo artist, producer, hot sauce king, and Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal visited Kuala Lumpur and incredibly our paths crossed. I was able to tag along with other press people on his “Appetite for Durian” tour as he visited an orphanage and performed at Auditorium Balai Seni Visual Negara. I wasn’t sure how it would all go down when I was given the chance to meet him, but Ron Thal was as genuine a person as I’ve ever met. I was able to catch many moments where his humanity, patience, and kindness were front and center, so I will let these images speak of his authentic nature.
The next day he did a private concert at Auditorium Balai Seni Visual Negara. It is here that I should mention his passion for hot sauce. In fact he brought his own brand of spicy concoctions everywhere with him and encouraged fearless souls to give them a try. Malaysians aren’t wimps when it comes to heat, so when I saw the people in front of me start to sweat, I quietly backed away from the line.
If this looks appealing/fun/not like torture to you, then by all means, please visit his site to find out more.
When you meet someone exceedingly talented and also famous who turns out to be kindhearted, open, and grounded, you feel like your admiration was not wasted. I never heard Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal complain, or grow tired of the seemingly endless flow of admirers that approached him. He never put a time limit on how long he would sign autographs for. He went out with local musicians and got to know KL through their eyes. Hopefully Bumblefoot’s appetite for durian remains strong, as fans here would love to welcome back this true Guitar Hero.