After fours years as a member of Guns N' Roses, during which time the band canceled more shows than it played and released no original material, guitarist Buckethead has had enough.
The eccentric musician, who wears a fried-chicken bucket on his noggin and talks only through a hand puppet, has walked out before but has always returned to the fold. This time, however, it looks permanent. At the end of last year, Buckethead became fed up with Guns' inability to complete an album or tour and stopped working with them, his manager said.
Buckethead appeared on the green carpet at the Grammy Awards last month and was introduced by Parliament/Funkadelic bassist Bootsy Collins as a member of Guns N' Roses, but by that time Buckethead had already told Guns frontman Axl Rose he no longer wanted to be in the band, the manager said.
Guns N' Roses are scheduled to headline the Rock in Rio festival in Lisbon, Portugal, on May 30. It is unclear whether the band will have a new guitarist by then. Guns N' Roses' label would not comment on Buckethead's departure.
The guitarist will now focus on numerous projects, including two solo albums — Population Overdrive and Cuckoo Clocks of Hell — which are due this summer. In addition, a group called Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, which features Buckethead, Primus bassist Les Claypool, Guns N' Roses drummer Brain (ex-Primus) and legendary funk keyboardist Bernie Worrell, will release a debut studio album this summer (see "Buckethead's Brains On Hold During GN'R Tour, Claypool Says").
The record was mostly recorded last year in Northern California at Claypool's home studio, Rancho Relaxo, and includes the songs "Buckethead," "Tyranny of the Hunt," "The Big Eyeball in the Sky" and "Hip Shot From the Stab."
"There are slices of all of our worlds," Claypool said. "We're talking about four pretty strong personalities, so you can hear Primus with Buckethead flailing over the top and Bernie Worrell's monster tidbits over the top of what we're doing. It's unbelievable."
Half of the Col. Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains album will be instrumental. The band has played various live improvisational shows, but this will be the first time audiences will hear the band performing structured material.
"It's not as chaotic as you would think," Claypool said. "You'd think, 'OK, here come these four guys and they're just gonna start flailing,' but Brain is a very structured player, so everything tends to be very groove-oriented."
Also on Buckethead's plate are shows and recordings with his recently reunited high school band, Deli Creeps, which features a singer named Maximum Bob, drummer Pinchface and bassist Tony.
And Buckethead will likely join bassist Bill Laswell, Brain and others for a show as Material at this year's Bonnaroo festival, which is scheduled for June 11-13 in Manchester, Tennessee, according to the guitarist's manager. The festival may also feature a reunion of Praxis — a band featuring Laswell, Buckethead, Collins, Worrell, Brain and DJ Flip — who haven't played together in five years.
Buckethead will start a solo tour Wednesday (March 17), opening for Particle in Austin, Texas. Dates run through April 15 in Atlanta.