Rock Zone UK

Matt Sorum’s November Pain

Former Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy got a reply from the horse’s mouth when he criticised the performance of Matt Sorum on Guns n’Roses’ 1991 hit track November Rain.

The prog-metal musician wanted to know why the same fill appears nearly two dozen times in the nine-minute piece.

But Sorum – who admits it’s a point most drummers raise with him – explained how he and GnR frontman Axl Rose decided on the arrangement. He insisted drumming isn’t just about elaborate patterns, and cited the Rolling Stones’ Charlie Watts, the Beatles’ Ringo Starr and AC/DC’s Phil Rudd as examples.

Portnoy said via Twitter: “November Rain is an all-time classic song… but why on earth did Matt Sorum play the same exact fill every four bars? 23 times, to be exact!”

Later, Sorum responded: “That fill was Axl’s idea as a musical phrase that carried on through the trilogy, Don’t Cry and Estranged. Those albums, Use Your Illusion I and II, have sold 20 million combined.

“Remember, kids, drumming isn’t all about fancy fills and splash cymbals. Ask Charlie Watts, Ringo and Phil Rudd.”

Portnoy then said: “Agree! Ringo is one of my greatest heroes. No disrespect meant, bro, just making an observation of that song. Peace!”

Sorum has previously admitted the single is “the track I get the most amount of grief for”. He’s explained the drum fill was inspired by Nigel Olsson’s work on the Elton John song Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me, after a late-night discussion with Rose.

November Rain was voted best rock song by readers of Kerrang magazine. Slash’s guitar solo polled number six in a Guitar World vote, and the video won a gong for cinematography at the MTV Video Awards.

-Classic Rock Magazine

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