In the early ’90s, the music scene was ablaze with the sounds of Pearl Jam, and one man played a crucial role in their rise to stardom – drummer Dave Abbruzzese. Hailing from Texas, Abbruzzese made a significant journey to Seattle in the early ’90s to fill the vacant drum position left by Pearl Jam’s classic album “Ten” in 1991, ultimately landing the gig and propelling the band to new heights.
Abbruzzese’s rhythmic prowess contributed to the success of blockbuster albums like “Vs.” (1993) and “Vitalogy” (1994). Despite the outward success, behind the scenes, tensions brewed, leading to his departure from the band in August ’94.
As reported by Ultimate Guitar – Post-Pearl Jam, Abbruzzese found himself on the brink of joining another iconic band – Guns N’ Roses. In a tumultuous period marked by member changes and a hiatus from new music and tours, Abbruzzese almost became GN’R’s drummer. Recounting the experience in a recent interview with Songfacts, he revealed the challenges he faced.
“The Guns thing was tough,” Abbruzzese explained. His initial reluctance stemmed from the aftermath of his departure from Pearl Jam, leaving him wary of entering the music industry’s big machine again. Nightly phone calls with Axl Rose preceded their musical collaboration.
As discussions progressed, Abbruzzese voiced concerns about the direction of GN’R’s new music, suggesting it might be better suited for an Axl solo album rather than a Guns N’ Roses album. The revelation that the management and label planned to let the album be a catalyst for Axl’s reunion with Slash became a turning point.
Faced with a dilemma, Abbruzzese chose to sacrifice his potential role in GN’R for the sake of Axl’s creative freedom. He refrained from informing Axl about the management’s plan, opting to preserve Axl’s faith in the music-making process.
He said: “Doug Smith [David probably means Doug Goldstein], the Guns’ manager at the time, told me that the management and the label had a plan of letting the album we were making be the catalyst for getting Axl to reunite with Slash. The plan was to let him fail, and the hope was that this failure would inspire him to reunite with Slash and get the big train back on the tracks.”
“When I heard this, I was forced to choose between informing Axl about it or just bowing out. I felt that if I told him of their plan, it would destroy what little faith he had in the machine.”
The dream of a Guns N’ Roses/Pearl Jam merger faded away as Abbruzzese stepped back, stating, “I opted to take one on the chin and sacrifice my new friendship for the sake of Axl’s ability to continue to be a creative force.”
In the aftermath, Abbruzzese explored diverse musical collaborations, maintaining an active presence on social media. In the same interview, he expressed optimism about rekindling his music career, hinting at a future return to live performances.
The journey of Dave Abbruzzese, marked by highs and lows, showcases the intricate dynamics within the music industry and the tough choices artists sometimes face in pursuit of their artistic vision.