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1991.10.20 - Indianapolis Star - Rebel Rocker Axl Rose Wasn't Always The Rage

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1991.10.20 - Indianapolis Star - Rebel Rocker Axl Rose Wasn't Always The Rage Empty 1991.10.20 - Indianapolis Star - Rebel Rocker Axl Rose Wasn't Always The Rage

Post by Soulmonster on Sat 14 Apr 2018 - 17:01

1991.10.20 - Indianapolis Star - Rebel Rocker Axl Rose Wasn't Always The Rage 1991_126
1991.10.20 - Indianapolis Star - Rebel Rocker Axl Rose Wasn't Always The Rage 1991_127

Rebel rocker Axl Rose wasn't always the rage

His Lafayette life shows some sides that nobody knows


Lafayette, Ind. - Across America, Axl Rose - the lead singer of the controversial, hugely successful rock band Guns N'Roses - has proclaimed his home state of Indiana to be a modern day concentration camp.

But looking at the first 19 years of his life, which were spent here, you get a different picture. Left behind in Rose's "Auschwitz" is the record of an average student,a kid who took piano lessons, sang in the choir, ran cross country and helped his grandmother around the house.

There are also hints of Rose's now famous rebelliousness. When he hitchhiked out of Lafayette 10 years ago, about a year after dropping out of Jefferson High School, he had a police record for minor offenses.

An alcohol counselor who evaluated Rose in 1980 described him as "an insecure, immature young man. Trying to change from loud mouth. Trying too hard to impress others."

But many people here will tell you that William B. Bailey-Rose's given name-was a talented, intelligent, restless, somewhat misunderstood youth.

Phil Hurt, his eighth grade cross-country coach, said Rose talked constantly, often proclaiming that someday he would be a success. In response, his teammates once taped his mouth shut and, another time, stuffed him in a locker.

"All of us sat back and laughed about (his boasts) and said, 'Sure,Bill, we've heard this before,' "Hurt said. "He said, 'No,you watch. I'm gonna make it.'"

And he has in a big way. Guns N'Roses' first two releases sold roughly 20 million copies. Its two new discs, Use Your Illusions I and II, rocketed to the top of Billboard magazine's top 200 albums in their first week of release. Over the past 5 years, Rose has become among the best known and most contentious personalities in rock. And Guns N'Roses is now one of America's two or three most popular groups.

The band's success is based, probably in equal parts, on its fiery hard rock and Rose's raw nerve personality.

Rose, now 29, may have always been rebellious. But as his popularity increased, he has become combative with the media, fans - even his hometown.

Bill Bailey wasn't nearly that rambunctious. His maternal grandmother, with whom he lived during high school in the late 1970s, recalls him practicing a "hammering" style of piano, helping around the house and generally being enjoyable company.

The decorations in her modest home include a close up black and white picture of her famous grandson singing. Wedged between the photo and the wall is a rose. She doesn't remember him singing much in the house, although he was a member of the Jefferson High School sophomore ensemble. "I'm proud of him," Anna Lintner said of the grandson she calls Axl at his request. "I love him. I always have and I always will - just as I do all of my grandchildren."

The early years

William B. Bailey was born in Lafayette on Feb. 6, 1962. He has a younger brother and sister, both of whom now live on the West Coast. His mother and stepfather still live in Lafayette. Sometime during his youth, he discovered that L. Stephen Bailey, the man he believed was his father, actually was his stepfather. (His parents could not be reached for comment.) His biological father's name was William Rose. Bill Bailey would take the stage W. Axl Rose.

Billy Johnson, Rose's fifth grade teacher at Oakland Elementary School, remembered him as "very intelligent, very personable, always had a smile. He was always a step or two ahead of you in class. If you weren't careful,he'd take the class away from you."

High school and beyond

For several years, Rose's family shared a home in Lafayette with his grandmother. Around the time of high school, the Baileys moved. Rose went with his parents for a short time, but then returned to live with his grandmother. "I enjoyed the years he spent with me," she said. "I have just good thoughts. I suppose we had arguments, but a person forgets those after a while."

His junior high and high school accomplishments include running cross country in eighth grade (1976) and singing in the sophomore ensemble (1978). Jefferson High School art teacher Sue Ristau recalls Rose making a ring that was displayed in an art show. "I would say he was active," she said. "I remember he had the class after lunch. I remember him bouncing into class. He liked art and was good in it. He could miss a lot of school and come back and still pick up and do better than the kids who had been there all the time."

He had two jobs,one at an MCL Cafeteria on the westside of Lafayette, the other at a neighborhood grocery store that's no longer there.

"He was one of those kids that, as they say, has ants in his pants," said Bill Lane, his ninth grade science teacher. "He was constantly up-down-up-down around the room, like a little ant." Dennis Blind, principal at Jefferson High School, doesn't remember him at all. He said Rose must have been an average student - not too bad, or too good.

And no one is sure why Rose is so fiercely anti-Indiana. None can say precisely why he called this the home of "a bunch of scared old people," or why he told the audience: "I got a lot of fucking cool prisoners here in Auschwitz" when he performed in May at Deer Creek Music Center.

"He is very loyal to those people who liked him and were loyal to him," suggested Johnson. "The people that criticized him and found fault with him and were always looking for the bad things that he did, those are the people that he's angry with."

His police record

To Rose, Indiana must look far worse in the rear-view mirror than the record indicates. He did have problems with the Lafayette police, including five arrests from June 1980 to March 1981. Rose has complained in interviews that he was harassed by police.

"That's probably what's bugging him," speculated his grandmother, with whom he lived during high school. "Any of the accusations against him were all very minor. I've always had a feeling that it would dwindle down (his anger at Indiana). But...they did pick on him."

A check of records at the Tippecanoe County Courthouse shows that charges brought against Rose were all misdemeanors, the most serious being a charge of battery for slapping a neighborhood woman he knew. That charge was eventually dismissed.

He was also charged with:

- Criminal trespass, for hopping a fence and swimming in the closed pool at a park near his home. He agreed to 20 hours of community service.

- Criminal mischief, for jumping on a 10 year old neighborhood boy's bicycle and breaking the reflector. A jury found him innocent.

- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor, for going driving with a female friend who had taken her mother's car. He pleaded guilty and served six days of a 60-day sentence in the Tippecanoe County Jail.

- Public consumption of alcohol. He pleaded guilty and paid $59 in fines and court costs. A 30-day jail sentence was suspended.

A counselor with the New Directions Court Referral Center, who saw Bailey after his arrest for public consumption of alcohol, described him as "having trouble growing up. Trying real macho image - anything to be liked and accepted."

But Bill Bailey may have felt constricted by a community that looked down on a skinny, long-haired teenager with a penchant for getting into scrapes with the law. His record company, Geffen Records, said Rose was unavailable for an interview.

In a section of the New Directions report labeled "problem areas," the counselor wrote: "Estranged from family. Confusion regarding career direction."

"I wonder," his grandmother said, "had he stayed in this town what he would be doing. He wasn't the kind to have an eight-hour job."

Uncertain about his future and apparently fed up with Lafayette, Rose decided to hitchhike to California. He returned several times but eventually settled out West, as did many of his high school friends. Among them was Jeff D. Isbell, now known as Guns N' Roses guitarist Izzy Sradllin.

With Guns N' Roses

Rose's grandmother said she hears from her famous grandson occasionally. Often when she's at the grocery store, she'll buy magazines featuring stories about Guns N'Roses to see what is being written about him. She knows a great deal about Guns N'Roses, even to the point of being able to defend the lyrics from the song One in a Million, which rails against "immigrants" and "niggers". "I don't think he means to hurt anybody's feelings by that One in a Million song," she said, pointing out that Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash has a parent who's black.

She also says she likes the band's music: "There's something in it, regardless of how old you are, that gets inside you and peps you up." Showing off a picture of a teenage Rose playing the piano at home, she guessed that some of her grandson's anger may be caused by the stress of stardom. Asked how she feels about being the grandmother of one of rock's most famous personalities, she said: "It's exciting at times,and then again you wish that his life wasn't so strenuous.It can't be an easy life."
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