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1993.05.13 - Foreword to "Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" (Axl)

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1993.05.13 - Foreword to "Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" (Axl) Empty 1993.05.13 - Foreword to "Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" (Axl)

Post by Blackstar on Tue May 21, 2019 4:20 am

1993.05.13 - Foreword to "Guns N' Roses: The Photographic History" (Axl) Guns-n10



Right now, at this particular point in my life, I'm a person who doesn’t particularly like to have his fuckin’ photograph taken. I grew tired of looking like I was competing to be the king of rock ’n’ roll pinups. When I do a photo shoot, I get very ready for the photo shoot and I don’t really want to do that anymore. I want to get to a place mentally where I can say, “Hey, this is me, capture it," and I'm not there yet. I’m trying to get myself healthy. I’d like to be captured on film when I’ve achieved that goal and not in between. Unless I’m onstage or doing something for a video, I’m not really into photos. I used to be and maybe that’ll change. . ..

I think I met Robert John at the Troubadour. Izzy wanted him to shoot pictures of us in Rose, a band we had before Guns N’ Roses. Robert was working with WASP at the time and Izzy was going out with the girl that WASP tied to the rack as part of their stage show. She eventually became Robert’s girlfriend. Robert was just starting out, and when WASP got famous they didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They dumped everybody they worked with. Izzy brought Robert around when we were putting Guns N’ Roses together and we just hit it off right away. I took Robert’s work real seriously because I saw his dedication towards it. Somehow, he and I hit it off and we’ve been friends ever since.

Robert used us to develop his skills, and that was cool because I wanted to see someone coming from the same place we were coming from developing our talents and growing together. Hollywood used to be like a smaller version of the big time, and club bands, ourselves included, would act like they were the world’s biggest stars. Crazier decadence used to go on back then, and Robert was around for all of that. He grew with us through that period and always kept his head pretty together. He never got into ego battles with us and he never fucked us over. A lot of people did. We always wore what we wanted to wear or did what we wanted to do at the photo shoots, and Robert captured who we were rather than telling us to do something else.

My favorite photos of GN’R were the ones that no magazine would run. It was the dark, abstract, moody ones. I like the darker aspects of GN’R, but magazines want pinup shots. That’s a drag, but that’s why this book exists. When we do shots together we carefully plan them out. I like that creative process. Other photographers have tried to capture that “GN’R Attitude” when they know absolutely nothing about what the GN’R attitude is. Robert’s constantly been involved with Guns N’ Roses since the beginning. He’s really like the only photographer I trust. There might be other people who are technically better and more experienced, but no one shoots us better. Some people might think that anyone can shoot rock photography, but that’s bullshit and prejudiced. No one’s been more honest with us. Robert cares about us. I like and trust him as much as anyone in our organization. When we got signed to Geffen Records we were told we’d have to work with certain photographers. I said I wasn’t going to sign the contract. Robert John comes with us and comes with us all the way. I’ll say I’m going to shoot with someone else just to get everybody off my back, but I won’t even show up. Why should we shoot with some magazine’s photographer who we don’t know or trust, who could be some hack mercenary out for himself, who doesn’t care whether the shot is good or bad — and sometimes it appears that they prefer bad over good photos — when we know Robert will deliver? I hate parasitic photographers who don’t care about the job they do, only about the money GN’R shots can bring in. A lot of photographers act like we’re going to die tomorrow so they better get what they can now. They lose sight of the big picture. Robert has lost money in the past waiting for us to approve shots while other photographers made bucks spreading our photos around any- and everywhere they could.

We always, since the beginning, pressured Robert, especially when doing group shots. “All right, c’mon, let’s get it over with." The group shot that we used in Use Your Illusions was a ten-minute session. That’s the last group shot we’ve done. I haven’t wanted to do a group shot in a very long time, and I haven’t wanted to do any wild photos, like covering myself in blue paint or something, for a while now. When I do decide to do some shots Robert is the first person I’m gonna call.

Robert sticks by us and that’s part of the reason we’re loyal to him. Our relationship with Robert John has been one of our biggest problems with the press. We told magazines we wanted to use Robert. They said no, so we said, “All right then, we don’t want to be in your magazine." We grew tired of being fucked around, so we stopped dealing with certain magazines. These magazines started running bootleg photographs, fake and made-up interviews, and then turned it around so we’re the ones with the attitude problem. We don’t allow cameras into our concerts, so if you pick up a magazine with a blurry live shot taken from the audience, that photographer and that magazine have no respect towards us and our wishes. And you’re getting ripped by inferior product. We don’t want the press and magazines to kiss our asses or anything, but we’re helping them make money and our logic is, the better the photo, the more appealing the product. And Robert’s photos of us are the best. Period.

Personally, when I see shots of hard rock artists that are phony, you know, in some macho pose that the camera conveniently captured, I feel let down. I’m never let down when I see intense live shots of Jane’s Addiction, Sebastian Bach, or the Chili Peppers, because those bands are for real. When I perform I try to throw myself into the songs as hard as I can, and those are the shots you’ll find in this book. Robert has a knack for knowing what’s going on inside my head, and he knows when to shoot. How? I don’t know, probably because he’s been with us for so long that it’s second nature to him. It looks more like action stills from a movie than a concert. We want the most intense moments, the most intense looks to be captured, and he does this better than anyone who’s ever shot the band. He plans his shots that way instead of taking credit for a cool accident that happened, which is what a lot of photographers do when they shoot us. I like the way we’re captured, and I’m glad that it’s one of my closest friends doing that work.

Robert John is one of my best friends, he’s a true friend in every aspect of the word. He’s someone I can call at any time about anything and I can trust him with anything. He’s always going to bat for me. When someone tries to get information about Guns N’ Roses or me out of him, he’s like, “No, sorry. That’s personal.” He’s not an asshole about it. He’s just trustworthy the way friends should be. And he doesn’t take shit from anyone in the band, and that’s cool too. He’ll tell you exactly how he feels instead of brooding. I see Robert as a successful photographer taking pictures of what he wants to and enjoying it. I'm glad that one of the things he’s chosen to take photos of is Guns N’ Roses.

In actuality, Robert John is like a member of the band. Slash plays guitar and handles a lot of the business, Matt’s job is being the drummer, Duffs is being the bassist. My job is frontman and being the pain in the ass that I am. Robert’s like a member of the band whose job is photography. He’s one of the fuckin’ coolest people that I know, and whenever my back’s been against the wall, Robert John is one of the first people here, and I really appreciate that. I know I can count on him and he knows he can count on me. And that’s more important than the photos, Guns N’ Roses, or whatever. If he needs help I’m gonna be there for him, and if I need help Robert is gonna be there for me. He’s been there when I’ve been too pissed off about something and needed help cooling down. If anyone still doesn’t know why we shoot with Robert John, the answer is character, that’s why!

Since the early days, Robert and I talked about there being a Guns N’ Roses photo book and people thought we were crazy. There are some photos in here that people are going to dig, and there are some photos of us that people are going to hate. The important thing is you are getting the entire Guns N’ Roses photographic history as it went down. I hope people like it. Robert’s been planning this book for quite a long time, and I’m very happy and proud to see him achieve his goal. Or at least one of them.



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