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Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.


2008.10.26 - The Observer - Reclusive Rocker Breaks His Silence

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2008.10.26 - The Observer - Reclusive Rocker Breaks His Silence Empty 2008.10.26 - The Observer - Reclusive Rocker Breaks His Silence

Post by Blackstar Sat Dec 01, 2018 10:38 pm

The Observer profile
Guns N' Roses

Luke Bainbridge
Sun 26 Oct 2008

Reclusive rocker breaks his silence

Next month, Guns N'Roses are set to release their first album of new material for 17 years. But with their troubled singer promising 'something different', can the most expensive record ever made live up to the hype?

It used to be called the 'most expensive album never made' and many of reclusive Axl Rose's fans had long given up hope of it ever seeing the light of day, but the title track of Guns N'Roses' new album, Chinese Democracy, was finally released to radio last week. The album will be released on 24 November, after a wait of 17 years.

Chinese Democracy will be Guns N'Roses' sixth studio album and their first album of original material since the simultaneous release of Use Your Illusion I and II in September 1991. When Use Your Illusion was released, Mikhail Gorbachev was still presiding over the last days of the Soviet Union, Manchester United hadn't won the league for 24 years and Barack Obama had just graduated with a Juris Doctor magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. The album may be released under the name Guns N'Roses, but frontman Rose is now the only remaining original member of the group and this is very much his project.

William Bruce Rose Jr had a troubled childhood growing up in Lafayette, Indiana. After his real father, William Rose Sr, left when he was still a toddler, his mother Sharon married Stephen Bailey, changing young William's surname at the same time, and he grew up thinking Stephen Bailey was his biological father.

When he discovered the truth at 17, he reverted to his father's surname of Rose, but shortened William to W. He later, after regression therapy, claimed he was sexually abused as a two-year-old by his biological father. He also said he was physically abused by his stepfather, as were his two younger half-siblings.

The teenage Rose was regularly in trouble with the authorities and left for Los Angeles when he was 17. He played in several bands with schoolfriend Jeffrey Isbell, aka Izzy Stradlin, over the next few years until they settled on the classic Guns N'Roses line-up of Rose (vocals), Saul Hudson, aka Slash, (lead guitar), Stradlin (rhythm guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and Steven Adler (drums).

The band signed to Geffen in 1986 and released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, on 21 July 1987. The success of third single 'Sweet Child O' Mine' and fourth single 'Paradise City' sent the band to the top of the charts and made them megastars. The album went on to sell more than 25 million copies worldwide and remains the 11th-biggest-selling album of all time in the US.

Born out of the big-haired Sunset Strip scene of the mid-Eighties, the hard-drinking, hard-living bad boys went on to outsell their peers and transcend rock music. Even then, although he had a tattoo of the skeleton faces of the band, the young Rose stood slightly apart from them. 'I would say he seemed separate from everyone, bandmates included,' says Paul Elliott, a rock journalist who interviewed the band several times in their early years. 'He chose his words very carefully and was clearly thinking about what he was saying and doing, whereas everybody else was running around trying to get as loaded as possible.'

The band's second album, G N'R Lies, was released in 1988, but all was not well. In 1990, Adler was sacked for drug abuse during recording sessions for the follow-up, Use Your Illusion, and Stradlin left the following year, tired of Rose's habit of keeping the audience waiting for two hours before shows.

Following the success of Use Your Illusion (the two albums debuted at numbers 1 and 2 in the US), and a stop-gap covers compilation, The Spaghetti Incident?, Slash wanted to make a 'simple, kick-ass hard-rock record', but Rose was determined to experiment with new sounds. Slash was distraught after Rose rejected his new songs and then in 1994 recruited another guitarist - Paul Huge from Rose's hometown Lafayette - without telling him. 'I was suicidal,' said Slash. 'If I had a gun with me at the time I probably would have done myself in.' Slash left late in 1996, and original bassist McKagan left in 1998, meaning Rose has been the only original member for a decade now.

After the death of his mother from cancer in 1996, Rose became increasingly reclusive. He was rarely spotted outside of his Malibu home, as rumours circulated about the rising cost of his endless nocturnal rehearsing and recording stints. British producer Youth, who has worked with everyone from U2 to Primal Scream, is one of the few people involved in Chinese Democracy who has spoken about the experience, after several stints working with Rose in 1998 and 1999. 'I went to his house and we started writing songs, strumming guitars in the kitchen. That was a major breakthrough because it got him singing again, which he hadn't done for a long time.'

When Youth told Rose he wanted to record next time he came over, he was told: 'You're pushing me too fast', so he reluctantly pulled out - 'Sadly, because I think he's one of the last great showmen of rock, incredibly committed and passionate.'

Rose hired two new musicians - Buckethead, a guitarist so called because he, naturally, likes to perform with a KFC bucket on his head, and drummer Bryan 'Brain' Mantia - and not for the first or last time, began to re-record the album.

The picture that emerges is of a Rose with several thorns in his side, from childhood traumas to the vagaries of fame, splitting his time between his Malibu mansion and the studio, chasing his tail and working his way through a procession of musicians, producers and therapists in an endless search for peace of mind and musical direction. 'His world is very insular,' said Doug Goldstein, his manager at the time. 'He doesn't like very many people.'

'So many times, I have come down [to the studio] and I had no idea that I was going to be able to,' Rose revealed to Rolling Stone magazine in 1999. 'If you are working with issues that depressed the crap out of you, how do you know you can express it?'

The monthly tab for the recording was said to be around $250,000. When Rose emerged from his self-imposed absence to play the House of Blues in Las Vegas in 2001, he told the crowd: 'I have traversed a treacherous sea of horrors to be with you here tonight.'

Every so often, there would be rumours of a release date, but in 2004 his record label finally lost patience. 'Having exceeded all budgeted and approved recording costs by millions of dollars,' the label announced in February 2004, 'it is Mr Rose's obligation to fund and complete the album, not Geffen's.'

As with every year, there were rumours earlier this year that 2008 would finally see the release of Chinese Democracy. One school of thought suggested Rose would release it to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. Then, in March, US soft-drink manufacturer Dr Pepper pledged to give a free can to every American - apart from ex-guitarists Slash and Buckethead - if it was released this year. Rose was delighted, posting on the Guns N'Roses website that 'as some of Buckethead's performances are on our album, I'll share my Dr Pepper with him'.

Many bands, having lost their way or momentum three or four albums in, desperately attempt, usually fruitlessly, to recapture the zest and spirit of their early works. How many times have we heard Noel Gallagher describe Oasis's latest effort as their best since Definitely Maybe? Rose, however, has insisted that part of the reason for Chinese Democracy's ridiculously long gestation period is that he was striving for something new. 'It's a very complex record. I'm trying to do something different,' he said in 2006. 'Some of the arrangements are kind of like Queen. Some people are going to say, "It doesn't sound like Guns N'Roses."'

The thing is, apart from the title track, the leaked tracks do sound like Guns N'Roses. Or certainly a lot more like Guns N'Roses than Queen. In 1999, the band contributed a track called 'Oh my God' to the soundtrack of Arnold Schwarzenegger film End of Days, which indicated that the album was heading in a more industrial, Nine Inch Nails direction. As does the eponymous track released this week. But others, such as 'Catcher in the Rye' and 'Madagascar', are more straightforward rockers, not too far removed from material on Use Your Illusion. Which wouldn't displease many of Rose's fans. Could it be that Rose has spent millions on the new Guns N'Roses purely to get them to sound like the cheap garage rock band they were originally?

The musical landscape has changed beyond recognition since the last Guns studio album. But music is a cyclical beast and it could be that Rose has picked a very good time to return. The huge success of Guitar Hero - the video game that allows users to play along with classic guitar tracks such as GNR's 'Sweet Child O'Mine' - and the critical acclaim that has accompanied the return of fellow unreconstructed rockers such as AC/DC and Metallica suggest there's still a huge appetite for Rose's brand of musical destruction.

Rose is now managed by Irving Azoff and Andy Gould, who can be forgiven a little hyperbole, having finally got Rose the autocrat to relinquish his hold on Chinese Democracy. 'When they asked Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, they didn't say, "Can you do it in the fourth quarter?"' said Gould. 'Great art sometimes takes time.'

The Rose lowdown

Born: William Bruce Rose Jr on 6 February 1962 in Lafayette, Indiana. In 1990, he married Erin Everly, daughter of Don Everly and the inspiration for the band's 'Sweet Child O'Mine' single, but the couple split within a month.

Best of times: Guns N'Roses have sold more than 90 million albums worldwide.

Worst of times: Rose claims that he was sexually abused by his biological father as a toddler and later, with his half-brother and half-sister, physically abused by his stepfather.

What he says: 'I'm late to everything. I've always wanted to have it written in my will that when I die, the coffin shows up a half-hour late and says on the side, like in gold, "Sorry I'm late".'

What others say: 'I feel sorry for him sometimes, if only because he's such a tough act to be - he's in such a funny place because no one will really understand him as much as he would probably like to be understood.' Former band mate Slash

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