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1991.09.18 - Los Angeles Times - Marketing Triumph for Guns N' Roses

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1991.09.18 - Los Angeles Times - Marketing Triumph for Guns N' Roses Empty 1991.09.18 - Los Angeles Times - Marketing Triumph for Guns N' Roses

Post by Blackstar on Wed Dec 19, 2018 3:25 am

Marketing Triumph for Guns N' Roses: Pop music: Fans' eagerness to get the group's two new albums translates into huge midnight sales. The take--an estimated $5 million.

September 18, 1991|STEVE HOCHMAN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

As midnight approached on Monday, a group of about 400 Gun N' Roses fans (as in fanatics) counted down the seconds before a clerk at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip unlocked the store's door.

At the head of the line, a 21-year-old Hollywood woman who had been there for four hours rushed in and grabbed cassettes of the group's two new albums: "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II." Within seconds, she had paid for her treasure, emerged from the store to greet a phalanx of cameras and reporters, popped "Illusion I" in her player and became one of the first of hundreds of thousands of GNR loyalists at about 1,000 record stores around the country to hear the albums.

It was no surprise that she was at the front of the line. Her devotion to the Los Angeles-based hard-rock group was so complete that she says she has even taken the name Leathur Rose in honor of Axl Rose, the lead singer of the controversial band.

"Gun N' Roses is the best in the world," she said. "I love them more than anything."

From Leathur Rose's neck hung a shiny metal cross to which was attached a picture button of the singer; on her ankle a Guns N' Roses tattoo, which she gladly showed off to all the television news camera crews covering the scene.

Her eagerness, and that of others in this and the lines around the country, translated into just what Geffen Records had hoped: big sales. On Tuesday morning, Geffen head of sales Gil Reath said initial reports put figures at an average of more than 500 total copies of the two albums per store. That projects to more than 500,000 sales for the two albums combined in the one two-hour period, for a total take of more than $5 million.

Tower Sunset was responsible for more than 800 of those, having accommodated about 400 wee-hour customers. The store got a trial run recently when it did midnight sales of Metallica's new album, though that night in Southern California only this store and the Tower in Anaheim opened at midnight. Tower Sunset sold about 600 copies of "Metallica" to about 400 customers.

Needless to say, anticipation was high for this release: Guns N' Roses hadn't released an album of all-new material since its 14-million-selling 1986 debut, "Appetite for Destruction." Geffen shipped a combined 4 million copies of the two new albums to stores this week.

For many loyal GNR fans, Tower Sunset was the Mecca of metal, just blocks from such clubs as the Whisky and Gazzarri's, at which the now-huge band got its start. Guitarist Slash even once worked at the store, and singer Axl Rose did a stint in the Tower video outlet across the street.

At about 11, a guy dressed like Axl--long stringy hair, torn jeans, red bandanna under a baseball cap--walked by on the sidewalk. Leathur glared at him, muttering, "Not even close. Not even in your dreams!"

Later, farther back in the line, Victor Wolder, 26, the Axl impersonator said, "I'm starting a band called Pistols N' Daisies."

As midnight approached, a curious collection of Geffen Records executives and staffers arrived--following dinner a few blocks away at Le Dome, where they were joined by GNR members Slash and Duff McKagan. (Slash even came by in a limo later and talked with Geffen publicity director Bryn Bridenthal. He stayed in the safety of the car, though.)

"This is the most exciting thing that's ever happened in the record business," gushed Geffen Records president Eddie Rosenblatt, nervously looking like a campaign manager watching the polls on election night.

Finally, with the line of several hundred fans now reaching up the block to Larrabee, the Tower doors opened. Inside the store, "Use Your Illusion I" boomed over the sound system, as a well-mixed, though generally young, stream of consumers were efficiently rung up. A trio of young men who were visiting from Manchester, England, paid for their music with traveler's checks.

"It's L.A., isn't it," said Alan Williams, 20, on why he was buying the albums here instead of waiting to get home. "It's famous."

Almost out of place was a young family of six, parents Carlos and Annie Vasquez and their four children, aged seven to 13.

Why did the La Mirada-based Vasquez clan make the nocturnal family outing?

"That's what Annie keeps asking me," said Carlos, 33, adding that it was son Rick, 13, who suggested it. "But I told him, 'No days off from school to listen to the albums.' "

As 1 a.m. passed, Leathur Rose remained in the Tower parking lot, headphones blasting. But she seemed a bit weary as the night dragged on.

"I hope it's not another four years until they release another one," she said with a sigh.

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