The Endless Yawn of Axl Rose and the Rock and Roll Hall of FameBy Joe Daly
April 11, 2012
Guns N’ Roses mercurial frontman Axl Rose has pulled the ultimate deke on the music industry–he has decided to take a pass on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Specifically, he has declared that he will not be attending this weekend’s induction ceremony, and via a letter to the RRHOF, he is requesting that he not be inducted in absentia.
Unfortunately, this announcement will be confused as news. People will come at him from all sides, triumphantly pointing out the Orca-sized holes in his arguments and decrying his ongoing megalomaniacal delusions. This is simply pointing out the obvious with a sense of discovery. In fact, such attention will only buttress Axl’s view of himself as a tragically-misunderstood, well-meaning, regular guy, constantly fending off the unprovoked attacks of the media and his former bandmates (the ones who made the music that he sings).
There is no news here.
Anyone paying attention to the last twenty years understands that Axl’s narcissistic unpredictability is as surprising as the tide coming in. Once again, the singer is flaunting his untamed nature like an eight year-old boy sticking his thumb to his nose, saying, “Hah, hah! You can’t make me!”
The ceremony had long been destined to be as anticlimactic as Geraldo Rivera breaking into Al Capone’s secret hideout. There would never be a reunion–that much was clear from an abundance of comments from present and former members of the band. That left only the possibility of an awkward exchange at the podium, with a scattershot of thank yous from the original lineup and perhaps a smattering of paranoid innuendo from the singer. Axl’s absence will have zero impact on the festivities.
Ironically, with Axl now out of the way, maybe we’ll see the original members get together and revisit a classic or two from Appetite for Destruction. Anyone know what Scott Weiland or Corey Taylor are up to on the 14th?
For those of you interested in the letter in which Axl spells out his decision, I have taken the liberty of color-coding the text for expedited review of his comments (see below).
To all members of Guns N’ Roses, past and present, congratulations on this achievement. I thank you for your exhilarating contributions to the soundtrack of my life.
I call him Asshole Hoser.
good one joe
your color-coded deconstruction should be in the MOMA… rock on!
Aw, shucks… Go on…
Pfft. What a baby.
Wow, he’s wordy.
Is that really him in the picture?!
Yeah, he hasn’t missed many meals lately. When he did the interview with Eddie Trunk for That Metal Show he looked like the keyboard player in a .38 Special cover band, on his way to “Shooters” for a plate of hot wings and their weekend gig.
I don’t even know where to start. First, as usual, you’re the man. I love your music world. As a musician and a listener (and your reader) I trust your insight, your street cred! Really. Now, this Axl guy? I don’t know. He just can’t get enough of himself. Really. He’s a misfit. And a fuck up. You know, the best thing I’ve learned in the rooms of therapy and recovery is this: Don’t be yourself. Your way blows large peckers and then some. Your way doesn’t work.
Axl’s way doesn’t work.
I was never a big Guns fan. I like them and owned most of their stuff, but they weren’t a favorite. Still, I found their attitude, their tone (in their day) second to none. Huge presence. Huge delivery. Bad riffs. Big time imagery. Appetite is a fucking masterpiece. As a music dude it’s sad to see such a great influential band not get their act together for a night. One damn night! Do it for yourselves, your legacy, and more importantly: your fans.
Anyhow, you get the idea. OK, I’m gonna crank some Seals and Crofts.
Thanks, brother. Anyone who drops a “Seals & Crofts” on my plate is all aces and eights in my book.
Agree that when they were lean and hungry, their delivery was unrivaled. They did exactly what they wanted, which is what made them so appealing and gave them a punk rock sheen that followed them through their covers record. They were the dark horses because they weren’t playing glam, they weren’t doing rock ballads (not then), and their prodigious drug habits made them volatile often violent.
Three decades later, that shit doesn’t fly. He reached the top of the mountain, so there’s no whining about being an underdog, or misunderstood. We, the music fans, got it. We paid for the albums, went to the concerts, bought the t-shirts and while many of us are scraping to pay the rent these days, he’s showing his appreciation out on the road by showing up two hours late for work (when he shows up at all).
Robert Plant’s not running around saying that no one gets him. He’s recording with other artists, doing what he wants, and when given the opportunity, showing grace and appreciation for his legacy. I might not dig the music Plant is making these days, but I sure as fuck dig his groove.
“Robert Plant’s not running around saying that no one gets him. He’s recording with other artists, doing what he wants, and when given the opportunity, showing grace and appreciation for his legacy. I might not dig the music Plant is making these days, but I sure as fuck dig his groove.”
This is such an excellent point. And I can’t help but think of all those stories, back in the day, about Axl causing these insane delays to GNR show start times because he wasn’t “ready yet” to go onstage.
Thank you for this, Joe.
Thanks, Rich. It’s such a slight to the fans–the ones shelling out heroic financial disbursements to him–to show up late as regularly as he does. A troubling view into his psyche was when Eddie Trunk asked him about his chronic tardiness and he tried to pass it off as the symptom of his abiding concern for his road crew–that gosh darn it, those guys work so hard that by coming on a couple hours late, he provides them with much-needed rest. These comments were imparted with a straight face. Amazing.
Wow. Bogus “concern” for the road crew’s need to rest. Talk about inventiveness.
He put a finger to his mouth knowing I recognized him. Up till then the most famous people I’d met we’re Pam Shriver- tennis- and King Missile. He had on a golf shirt, and some corduroys. Definitely not what you’d imagine. I nodded to the shush finger. But I launched not conversation. He was buying corn starch and a melon. Rockers. Always ready for anything. This was long after the original band had disbanded. Bucket head was the guitar hero du jour. The corn rows era, though this day the strawberry tresses flowed freely, and he shamelessly wore a Yosemite Sam mustache. He finished paying, and I gave him the metal salute. And he was off. At least I think it was Axl, but then again he was wearing insane clown posse makeup, and with the melon and the corn starch was a big bottle of Faygo, so maybe it was one of those guys. Anyway, rock n roll!
Fear and Loathing in Los Angeles.
This is nothing short of majestic.
I liked when Johnny Rotten
scrawled the Hall a note
something to the effect of:
Slag off, we’re not coming.
Don’t you pay attention?
Selling us a load of old famous….
Johnny Rotten did it right.
He didn’t care about the RRHOF
So he didn’t go.
Axl’s not going
because they’re not
letting him control it.
And if there’s one thing
we learned from Chinese Democracy
it’s that Axl is a control freak.
Despite the trademark Axl petulance and low-grade paranoia, I respect his decision. Ostensibly, it’s about ignoring something he did twenty years ago in favor of what he’s doing now. That’s what artists do, and I take his word for it that’s the case.
Art, that’s a good point about wanting to put the focus on his current stuff instead of his old stuff, and if that were the case, I’d respect his decision, but he says that his prob with the RRHOF is essentially that they nominated who gets inducted. He never says he doesn’t want to be inducted, he just wants to go in on his terms.
As a fan, I feel it’s a terrible disservice to the guys who wrote the music that his band now plays. Without those guys, there’s not an exec in the world that would give him fifteen years and a seven-figure budget to release something like Chinese Democracy. I personally don’t agree with the RRHOF’s practices on a couple different levels, but for the bands that do get in, the induction gives them a chance to do something special for their fans. It’s like Duff said in my interview with him here, because the fans care about it, it matters to them.
It would be one thing if Axl said the RRHOF were a joke and he wasn’t interested, but he spends so much time whining about what the other guys are doing and saying, that it’s clear that it’s a lack of control that is scaring him away.
I may be missing some backstory here. Your comment about control issues makes a lot of sense.
Wait, (italics) why (end italics) is he opting out? Was it in that note? I tried to stay with it, I couldn’t. Too much meandering. If it’s what Art said, then I guess that’s something. But 1) he’s not doing anything now (is he?) and 2) What’s wrong with being acknowledged for past work, especially since that’s what the R&RHOF is about. You can’t be inducted until about 20 years after you hit the scene, right? Anyway, the thing is, what I really mean (to quote Bernie/Elton)… he’s sadly not of sound (pun?) mind, so, you know, any decisions he makes aren’t going to be very understandable.
Agree–the RRHOF is acknowledging the work that he did twenty-five years ago, not what he’s doing now. It’s short-sighted and naive to think that people are going to forget what made you famous and indulge your current musical direction.
Art’s point is a good one though–loads of artists try to dodge the past to talk about their current project, especially when the current project is such a different direction than what they used to do. But here, I don’t hear Axl trying to escape his past–he’s just trying to rewrite it.
By the way, Joe, you never responded to the call on my Facebook wall from James Irwin and I on your assessment of the band name Patron Saint. We’re waiting.
Oh, wait. Is he doing it just to screw over the other guys? I get it. He’s just been living in a persecution bath all these years? Ugh. Still, you know, not together in the brain.
Good stuff, Joe.
I noticed how (in that Michael Rappaport documentary) Q-Tip’s on camera rant about never doing another show with Fife Dog contained an exception for a possible Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction, even in the heat of the moment…I wondered if Axl had a similar sentiment.
What’s the deal? Does he own the rights to the band’s name, etc? How come he can make his own lineup and the others can’t?
Yep, he owns the “GNR” name now. After they kicked Adler out and Izzy took off, there was a show where their manager approached Duff and Slash before a show and presented them with a contract that gave Axl complete control over GNR. He said that Axl wasn’t going on stage that night unless they signed it. Right or wrong, they did, and the rest is colorful history.
I didn’t know that about the name, but I’d assumed as much. That is a huge power play, and pretty reprehensible. I’d guess that the more I know about the actual history of this band, the less I’d like Axl. Ignorance really is bliss.
Smashing Pumpkins, in their heyday, refused to have rooms on the same floor of a hotel as the other members. Can you believe that? So openly hating your fellow band mates? Further proof that bands stay together when the dissenters stay in it for the money.
This is great, Joe. Letters from troubled celebrity souls should always come color-coded.
If you have a chance, take a look at John Jeremiah Sullivan’s book Pulphead, there’s a perceptive essay on Rose, his hometown and old friends in Indiana, that offers some context to this character. After reading it, I’m not surprised by this display of a bruised-ego of his own making.
Nat, thanks for the tip. That sounds interesting. I’m all over it.
Mick Wall’s Axl biography covers some of the old days as well, when he was sort of a shiftless hood back in Indiana. He really is a fascinating figure. The kind of guy who never really fit in, now or then, yet whom people really want to embrace and beneath all of the mania, he seems to want to be embraced, or at least understood as well.
Well put, Joe. We all knew Axl wouldn’t show. This is the guy who can’t even turn up for his own shows. If you want his real reasons though, just take another look at that picture, the truth is right there for all to see who have eyes.
Too true, Mick. He’d be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with guys making new music. Guys who look lean and composed–guys who have aged gracefully. Well-spoken, gracious guys who have learned their lessons and moved on. And we can’t have that now, can we?
Maybe you should accept in his stead? I’d say that would go over like gangbusters!
Only if they’d let me sing Get In The Ring with them.
It astounds me how much mileage Axl has gotten out of four good songs. Well done, Tiger Beat Daly.
Paradise City, Civil War, Sweet Child, and November Rain?
One of the best G’n’R songs is the one where Axl only sings the chorus, and the lyrics are basically about Axl Rose being an arsehole…
With the insistence on wearing a top hat every day for the last 20 odd years you’d think Slash would be the more irritating of the two. (When in fact Slash tends to come off as a fairly likeable in interviews).
Nobody should really be surprised that the guy in a bandana and denim cut offs turned out to be a delusional waste of talent.
I think the original line up should just perform a medley without vocals, possibly ending with a song from Chinese Democracy, just to piss off Axl…
I’ve never met Axl, but I’ve had the opportunity to spend a long stretch of one-on-one time with Slash recently, and I can vouch that he’s as down-to-earth as they get. Even discussing the RRHOF thing, he doesn’t get angry or pissy and doesn’t imply that other people are being unreasonable. He might feel that way, but you’d never get that sense from talking to him. He simply reiterates what Duff and Adler have both said–that they’re happy for the fans who have put them in a position to do what they do.
I can only go by radio interviews, but Slash always comes across as pretty normal. Not as normal as most people from Stoke, but normal enough.
And I’ve only heard one track from his new album, but the last record was fucking incredible. I’ve never really liked G’n’R that much, but that album impressed the hell out of me. Particularly the collaboration with Fergie. When I heard about it I assumed it was going to be a car crash, but it was one of the best new rock tracks I’d heard in a while. Possibly my favourite on the album.
1. I liked Slash’s first album alright, but I think the second one is superior.
2. CELTICFC CELTICFC CELTICFC CELTICFC CELTICFC CELTICFC
1. I’ve only heard one or two tracks, neither of which I like as much— but I’m willing to bet the rest of the album is as good as the people who have heard it say it is.
2. I support Hibs. I’m just happy there were enough teams worse than us to keep us from going down…
Lars met him once in the studio where he had been recording…for five years. The same album. I believe that was the same album that got released to little fanfare several years after that.
Clearly, the Guns left the Rose to wallow in his wah-wah, as you aptly describe it. And the Guns took the talent with them.
It’s interesting to see what’s happening with the other guys. Duff has recorded two albums with Velvet Revolver, both of which did reasonably well, and another with his own band, Loaded. He’s toured with Motorhead and Alice in Chains, launched a writing career, went to school and became a financial adviser.
Slash has appeared on shitloads of albums by other people, and is now ready to release his second solo album. Having heard quite a bit of the new album, I can say that it’s as good as anything Guns recorded after Appetite for Destruction. A true, honest rock and roll record.
Adler had his struggles, captured so uncomfortably on reality television, but he’s recording with his own new band now, after spending a decade touring the world with his solo band. I happened to be interviewing him on the day that they got word that they were nominated for the RRHOF and he was over the moon. Thrilled and excited. Like a little kid. Hugs for everybody. It was awesome.
Izzy’s strolled off the radar, presumably to enjoy life on his terms. Nothing but respect for that.
The only one who seems to have a problem with the past is Axl. Maybe that’s because he’s the one with the least interesting present.
I always liked Izzy remaining friends with everyone. Plus his Ju Ju hounds rekkid was solid. I listen to that more than post Appetite GnR. But, Appetite is incredible when you’re rolling down Bourbon street just before they put the barriers up. Especially if you’re in an 80’s Camaro painted primer gray. Paradise City where the girls are pretty indeed! I wonder if Axl will pull a Fan Man thing at the HoF celebration, like that guy did during the Holyfield Bowe fight way back when The Spaghetti Incident was just weeks away from release. That would be fucking excellent.
The color coding is *genius*, JD!
Hah, the REAL reason he’s not going is that he’s to busy getting it on with the glorious Lana Del Ray. Let’s be honest.
Too funny. I just tweeted something about that the other day. One of the rock news tweets said something about that. I believe DJ Ashba offered some statement on the status of Axl and Lana del Ray, further establishing that there is very little going on in the GNR camp these days.
He could’ve saved himself a little time and just wrote, “Like hell I’m going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by fucking Green Day.”
He might have turned into a folk hero if he did that.
Love this. A lot. Except the whole thing should have been blue.
You’ve got a hell of a point there.
Joe this is the most brilliant analysis of the trainwreck letter Axl sent to the HoF I ahve read so far. Bravo mate!
Thanks, man! Couldn’t have done it without Axl.
You will never convince me that the photo above isn’t Chris Farley.
[…] And truth be told, a lot of exciting things have been going down. I’ve been working on some enormously fun features for a couple of the magazines, not to mention my recent pieces at TNB, which have been getting loads of attention across the globe–particularly my interview with Zakk Wylde and my sort of infamous “Color-coded Axl Rose Letter.” […]