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- Posted on Mar 14th 2011 3:30PM by Steve Baltin
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"When I joined Guns he was actually the first person to call me and say, 'Hey, this is a really, really good thing to do,'" Ashba tells Spinner. "He's almost kind of been a father figure to me, which is really cool. He bought me a ukulele and signed it when I joined Guns as, like, a gift. He's just been beyond amazing; I'm thankful he's a part of my life."
Ashba got to say thank you to Diamond recently, too, when he serenaded the icon at his 70th birthday bash.
"It was just such a fabulous party," he says. "I showed up to play the national anthem for him, and went into, from that, a little version of 'Sweet Caroline' to 'Happy Birthday' on the guitar for him -- we brought out a full guitar rig, and it's loud as s---; we're laughing, we were kind of almost hoping the cops would show up because it would make a funny story."
It appears the guitarist was also a tad starstruck.
"When I was at his house, there are planes that are writing, 'Happy birthday, Neil Diamond' in the sky, and I looked over and he had the biggest, proudest smile on his face, and all his family was there. It was like, 'Holy s---, I'm at Neil Diamond's house.'"
While Ashba would have jumped on the Guns N' Roses gig even without Diamond's encouragement, he admits that he wasn't really sure what lay ahead when he joined the infamous rockers -- especially when it came to his new bandmates.
"I didn't know what to expect, really," says Ashba of Rose, in particular.
"All I heard was different things from different people, and I met him like 10 years ago when Sharon Osbourne introduced me to him. They were in doing 'Chinese [Democracy]' and I was doing the Beautiful Creatures album right next door. He was the nicest guy. [But] you hear all the rumors, you see what you see."
And Ashba insists that what he's personally seen of Rose isn't at all in line with the drama depicted in the media.
"I was shocked mostly because he is quite the opposite of what you hear. He is one of the best friends I've ever had, we talk every single day. And he is the funniest guy; the guy is funny as s--- and always cracking jokes. He's quite the opposite of what people I think want him to be, that ass----."