for quite a few years now i have numbered amongst the many that were always ready to excuse the interesting behaviour and erratic ways of a certain Axl Rose. a number of us have fallen by the wayside as the years have gone by, and it's not hard to understand why.
my view was always that Axl Rose was one of those people who the world needed in it more than perhaps they required the world. an erratic, egotistical and unpredictable megalomaniac he most certainly always was and always will be, but also extraordinarily gifted and talented with it too. i was fortunate enough to see Guns N Roses back in 1992 and i can testify that he has an incredible presence, that great gift of being able to hold an audience in the palm of his hand, something that only maybe 5 or 6 other singers in the world could claim to do the same.
why is it that so many felt it no longer worth the effort to defend or excuse him, then? many, many incidents over the last 15 years or so, really. every now and then he does something that just manages to drive away another batch of fans. a lot of the problem with Axl is that when one thinks of him they imagine him like this :
rather than, for instance, when he first resurfaced after the disintegration of the "classic" Guns N Roses line up, looking like a poor man's Ali G tribute act.
or even as he has looked for the last or two, which is to say some sort of overweight Van Morrison impersonator.
and yet a large number of us, granted probably the male fans, could not care how he looked. it was great to have Axl back after all this time, and with a great album too - Chinese Democracy, after a 13 or so year wait, might not have been better than Appetite For Destruction, but it was one of the best things to have been released since the dawn of the 21st Century, with There Was A Time in particular being one of the greatest ever songs to feature the name Guns N Roses.
but then that return with actual music drove further fans away. for some reason many were insistent that Guns N Roses were not Guns N Roses without original members such as Duff, Steve, Izzy and, of course, Slash. these protests were rather vocal on the internet, but apparently small in legion - neither Izzy nor Slash's solo efforts, after all, had particularly sold huge amounts by these defenders, and if i recall correctly Chinese Democracy recorded sales figures of one half of one million copies on the first day of release - not bad in this day and age of "downloads". i am not disputing the importance of the former members of the band, in particular with reference to the Appetite For Destruction era, but in the modern era, Axl is the voice of the band, Axl owns the name of the band and thus Guns N Roses are whoever Axl Rose says is Guns N Roses. clearly a large number of people accepted this and bought accordingly.
and then there was the live return. more theatrics, more fans driven away. stories emerged of Axl "sounding like Mickey Mouse", of him forgetting the words to songs and, of course, forgetting to turn up on time for the concerts. actually, forgetting to turn up at any point close to the right time for concerts. most recently he pitched for a concert in England some three hours late, starting it some 30 minutes after it was scheduled to end.
yet some of us still sought to excuse him. "it's Rock and Roll, man" was the increasingly weak sounding excuse. Axl was the last rock legend standing - if you want punctual, go see Bono or Coldplay. if you bought a ticket for a Guns N Roses show then you should know not to count on a specific time for it to end.
but then, alas, came what shall be known as the James Revell incident.
James Revell is, or perhaps was, a Guns N Roses fan. he was delighted to be able to get the chance to see Guns N Roses, in particular as his younger brother was going along with him. he got tickets and made arrangements to get to the venue and back.
when he arrived, though, James Revell was very nearly denied entry to the gig. why? the answer lies within what he was wearing.
yes, it is that. James Revell and his brother were nearly denied entry to a gig they had paid a lot of money to see because Guns N Roses, or rather Axl Rose, had instructed security to not allow anyone in wearing a Slash t-shirt. to their credit, mind, security did not take a heavy handed approach to this "ban". young James was not allowed to simply turn the shirt inside out, for fear he would put it on the right way around insid, but security did give him the option of simply having the shirt confiscated, allowing him to go in to the venue and watch the gig (when it started) bare-chested. this is what he ended up doing.
and this is where my defence of Axl Rose comes to an end. what a sad, pathetic, petty little creature the once great Axl has become.
within the last few months, Axl issued a statement about his decision to decline an induction to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. it was, surprisingly, a polite, civil and rather valid letter, giving his reasons clearly and expressing no malice. the end part of his open letter of decline certainly seemed to suggest he was proud of what that Guns N Roses did, and didn't hold as much malice towards former members as had been made out to be the case :
There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.
Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.
So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.
But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.
In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.
pretty clear cut - it wasn't that Axl was "denying" a reunion, it was that rather there was no need for one, and people should be wary of those who pushed for one, for their agenda was likely to be to exploit the band and the fans.
or so it has seemed for the last month or so. these fans that Axl seems so eager to be seen to care about, no matter how shabby the treatment they get at his gigs, are the ones hurt by this preposterous ban. by banning people from wearing a Slash shirt at a Guns N Roses gig you are not hurting or having a go at Slash, you are hurting and having a go at the fans. we know Slash is not in the band any more. we also know, from the glare of the stage and your Bonoesque sunglasses, that you, Axl, cannot see what anyone in the crowd is wearing anyway.
if Axl Rose does not want anyone to attend his gigs wearing a Slash t-shirt, what then would he do with someone who turned up with a Slash tattoo? oh hang on, what's that on your arm, Axl?
oh sure, it has faded with time as the above shows, but that is still Axl you still have on display. i suspect people have, in the past, been shot for accusing Axl Rose of having something along the lines of double standards (i am pretty sure he does not mind, from a royalties perspective, you purchasing Guns N Roses albums that have Slash on them, for instance), so i shall make no such accusations. Axl seems to be saying it all himself anyway.
and just what is it, if he ever responded to the complaints and criticism levelled at him, would say in response to this matter and many others like it? no doubt it would be something like this.
right back at you, Axl. it is a sad day that has dawned, but today is that day where one can only say thank you very much for the excellent music and entertaining stories, but with this, just go away, you silly, pathetic little man. the novelty factor has worn off, or was rather banned by your good self.
potential Rock Gods - please note, there is one massive vacancy, hopefully to be filled as soon as possible.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!