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SoulMonster

1989.03.DD - Hit Parader - Band of the Year

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1989.03.DD - Hit Parader - Band of the Year

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Apr 11, 2018 6:11 am

Fast-Lane Fivesome Capture Title as America's Favorite Rock Act

1988 will be remembered as a banner for heavy metal. With bands like Bon Jovi, Metallica, and Van Halen re-establishing their stellar credentials and newcomers like White Lion and Kingdom Come emerging from nowhere to capture the public's adoration, never has the form enjoyed more popularity. Despite the incredible success metal has enjoyed during the past 12 months, one band - and one band only - can be named as the year's unquestioned stars. That band was Guns N' Roses, and with their debut LP, Appetite for Destruction, now having passed the quintuple-platinum sales level, vocalist Axl Rose, guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler have shown that a touch of craziness and plenty of hard rockin' talent is enough to take any band to the top.
"This really has been a great year for us," Slash said. "But I don't think it's changed us too much. We haven't had the chance to really sit back and think about what's happened. We're a lot more interested in getting onstage and playing than sitting around and patting each other on the back. Having the album sell is great, but little success won't change us. The fans have reacted to the music, and they've responded to us. It would be a big mistake to change what the people seem to like."
Guns N' Roses' year to remember actually began in July of 1987, when Appetite for Destruction was first unleashed on an unsuspecting world. By then, the band had already created quite a buzz around their hometown of Los Angeles, creating a phenomenon based on their incredible live shows and their razor's-edge lifestyle. To some fans they were the new Motley Crue, taking that band's fast-lane philosophy to new extremes. To others, these were five crafty businessmen who were able to plant just the right stories in the press to cause an underground swell of interest.

Almost immediately it became hard to separate Guns N' Roses' fact from fiction. Hardly a day went by without some story crossing the wires indicating that at least one band member had been arrested or had suffered a drug overdose or had been maimed in a freak car accident. These rumors seemed to come out of thin air, but soon they were on everyone's lips. Of course, the band members didn't help matters by telling tales of police chases in the dead of night and week-long parties complete with every excess a wicked mind might imagine.

"When we first came out, a lot more was written about our offstage activities than what we did musically," Axl Rose said. "I mentioned to one person about some trumped-up rape charges that we had, and that started appearing everywhere. It really wasn't that big a deal - just some old girlfriend trying to get back at us. People seem to want to believe we're really bad guys. Yeah, we've had some run-in's with the cops and we've done some strange things in our lives, but I think people are just making too much out of 'em."
Despite the initial buzz created by the band's hard-living hard-loving lifestyle, their debut album wasn't an immediate success. Spurred by the video for Welcome to the Jungle, the disc began a slow but steady climb up the sales charts. But last February, it seemed that things had reached a peak for the GN'R boys. The clip had become an MTV favorite and even FM radio was grudgingly playing the track, but the album seemed to have run out of steam. Then something happened - one of those things that sometimes occur in the rock biz that no amount of media hype or industry money can create. Word-of-mouth turned Guns N' Roses from a struggling new band into a rock sensation.
Maybe it was the diversity of the album, with tracks like Mr. Brownstone and Paradise City possessing an amazing flexibility and uniqueness - thanks mainly to Rose's vocal dexterity. Maybe it was the band's live show, where fans could see this living, breathing rock and roll machine at work. Or maybe it was just the public's insatiable need for another bunch of rock bad boys who seemed to be running a race not merely to succeed but to survive.
"We've never really cared about all the crazy rumors the press prints about us," Slash said. "I've read where all of us are dying of AIDS and that we're all drug addicts and that Axl died of an overdose. We can laugh at those stories because we figure they just make the fans more interested in us. The kids will read about that stuff and they'll make 'em want to buy the record or check out the live show. Once they do that, we've got 'em hooked."
Actually, it wasn't as easy as it sounds to see Guns N' Roses last year. In fact, the band set what may very well be an all-time record for getting kicked off big national tours. How many groups can lose tours with the likes of David Lee Roth, AC/DC, and Iron Maiden and still end up on top? Maybe only the Guns boys could pull that off.
The reasons for the band's rapid dismissal from those tours are as varied as the band members themselves. According to rumor, they lost the Maiden tour when Axl kicked over a tray of food before going onstage for the band's first show. When members of Maiden's entourage saw his outburst, they informed the Guns gang that they didn't want to suffer two months of such shenanigans. The boys supposedly lost the Roth tour when stories started surfacing that one or more of the band were about to enter a rehab clinic for drug problems. Though Rose had been suffering some personal problems at the time (and had actually been kicked out of the band for about three days), Slash denies the drug related stories.
"We drink a lot, but that's about it," he said. "All the stuff that's been said about us - especially Axl - has mostly been untrue. The press really jumped on the tour stories, but the fact is that each time we lost a tour, we ended up with a better one. I mean, we were able to tour with bands like Motley Crue and Aerosmith, which was a dream come true for us. They gave us a chance, and we'll always remember that."
While Guns N' Roses' tours helped solidify their sound and image in people's minds it was the single and video for Sweet Child O' Mine that was the key ingredient in taking the band over the top. Released during the summer of '88, the clip presented the group in their leather and denim finery and showed that there was much more to this phenomenon than the standard three-chord rock anthems. The single relit the rockets under Appetite for Destruction, reversing the LP's downward path and pushing it up all the way to the Number 1 slot in the charts. Some 47 weeks after their LP was released, Guns N' Roses found themselves sitting on top of the rock world.

"It was really exciting to have the album reach Number 1," Duff McKagan said. "That's usually the thing you think about for Michael Jackson or Van Halen, not a band like ours. That was our first album - who could have imagined it doing so well?"
Obviously, one group of people who were hoping for that kind of success were the folks at the group's record label. They knew as far back as 1986 that the Guns guys were going to be the "next big thing" in hard rock, and they even helped finance the band's first EP, Live Like A Suicide. Thus, when the group's new EP, Guns N' Roses: The Lies, came out, it featured reworked versions of some of the first EP's material. The record has already shot to the top of the charts, whetting the public's appetite even more for these destructive bad guys - who promise there's plenty more action around the corner.

"This EP is just to hold everyone off until we get the next album done," Slash said. "Since this record's done so well, we stayed on tour longer than we expected. That pushed our recording plans back a bit. We want everyone to understand that this EP isn't our second album - it's just to fill the gap until that record's done. We've already gotten a lot of songs written for that one and they're really good. We think it's safe to say that we're gonna be around for a long time to come - no matter what everyone says about us."
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