Duff McKagan says Guns N' Roses had to "play their way out" of the Los Angeles club scene.
The legendary rockers' former bassist remembers a time in the early 80s when the group were poor but determined to learn their instruments properly in order to stop living in poverty.
Speaking at an impromptu show he staged for wounded soldiers in London for charity Help for Heroes, Duff told BANG Showbiz: "When I met [Guns N' Roses guitarist] Slash when I was 19, that guy was like an old bluesman on the guitar, people could really play, you had to, you had to play your way out of whatever it was."
Duff - who is set to host the Classic Rock Magazine Roll of Honour awards at London's Roundhouse venue on November 13 - isn't sure things are the same these days, with people able to easily make music at home and popular genres changing with the rise of dance music and hip-hop.
He added: "And maybe now things are programmable this, and you can edit things on the computer, I don't know if we're just going through a phase, or what, but it seems... Different. But there is still great rock 'n' roll out there."
Duff, 48, also paid tribute to the wounded veterans he had met on the day ,where he read extracts from his book and sang songs backed by his group, following the previous night's concert where his current band, Loaded, played with Alice Cooper.
He said: "These guys are incredible. I'm scared performing for such a small crowd. I played Wembley last night but this is much scarier."