A new chapter for Guns 'N Roses bassist Duff McKagan

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Sandy Kenyon has the story. (WABC)

If you were old enough to party in the 1980s, then chances are the music on "Guns 'N Roses' was part of the soundtrack. Often called 'the world's most dangerous band', it's easy to understand why, given the group's legendary excesses.

Bass player Duffn McKagan barely survived, but in the end he learned 'How to be a Man' - lessons the musician is sharing in a new book.

"We were a tough band, a bunch of tough guys, and we would make fun of other bands, like we're never gonna fall into that thing or fall into that. What a joke. We fell into every single trapping, and we just didn't see it coming," says McKagan.

The band broke big and fast in the 1980s, and McKagan was along for the wild ride.

"I drank a lot of vodka, a lot of alcohol," he says.

McKagan used a lot of drugs, becoming by his own admission, a 'junkie'.

"Friends of mine started to pass away, OD or whatever, so it almost became normal," he adds.

McKagan assumed he would also die young, until he landed in a hospital with a burst pancreas.

"I just wanted to die, I wanted them to put me out of my misery," he says, "I was like pleading with them, 'just kill me'."

The musician told Eyewitness News he was scared and confused.

"So close to not being alive, I actually saw myself above the bed, and my mom in the wheelchair next to me, and just that vision still sticks with me," McKagan says.

The near-death experience at the age of 30 changed his life, helped him get sober, stay clean for more than two decades, and heal old wounds.

The reconciliation with lead singer Axl Rose came last spring.

"I'm glad I did it - we talked, and all that kind of stuff that sits somewhere in the middle of your chest is just gone," McKagan adds.

The benefits of his recovery are obvious - he says he is now searching to try and be a stand-up man for his daughters and for his wife. He has even written a book - a kind of 'how-to' manual explaining how to be a man from his very unique perspective.

"I know how bad it can get, and I know how good it can be," he says.

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