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1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff)

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1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) Empty 1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff)

Post by Blackstar on Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:13 am

1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_103
1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_105
1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_104
1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_106
1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_107
1988.06.DD - RIP Magazine - Guns N' Roses On The Stairway To Rock Heaven (Axl, Slash, Izzy, Duff) 1988_108


on the Stairway to

By Screaming Lord Duff

They sing “It’s So Easy,” but the hard-rock darlings of the moment, the lauded Guns N’ Roses, face as many difficult times ahead as they do strolls down easy street. In three years the band has gone from, to coin Mingus, beneath the un­derdog to top of the hill. At this writing, they are top thirty and gold, with tours opening for the likes of Motley Crue and the Cult un­der their belts. They are already beginning to hog up as many pages of the rock press as some of their forefathers, such as Mot­ley, Aerosmith and all the rest; yet with this quintet, the shenanigans described in the music mags make other bands’ antics seem tame. These guys have created more good ink for the rock scribes than any band since, dare I say, the holy Sex Pistols. Thing is, whereas many of the competition’s activities appear contrived (as in, the product of a publicist’s imagination), Guns N’ Roses’ seem to be for real. If it’s all an act, give these dudes some Oscars!
Guns N’ Roses are enjoying the upside of newfound fame and fortune, but they are also learning there are negatives too. Among the larger obstacles they constantly battle is a rumor mill that is cranked to overkill. The band’s reputation for hard living and wreck­less abandon has made them less than desirable to some members of the rock com­munity that could otherwise help them.
For example, two days after the three in­terviews that comprise this article were completed, it was learned that the last gig of an eight-date West Coast, small-hall, headlining jaunt was missed by the band. At first glance, this may seem like no big deal, but by the time the rumor monster was done chewin’ on this one, it was al­leged that Axl had OD’d and missed the show; that as a result he might be fired from the band; that the whole GNR project was on hold from Geffen; and, at one point, that the phone even rang to announce that Axl, or maybe Slash, or maybe both, were dead. Okay, this might be funny at first, but when you’re on deadline, you check on this stuff. The truth seems to be that Axl was indeed sick and had to be hospitalized. Other than that, the stories seemed ludi­crous, and all the wild rumors were denied by Geffen. However, during this three-day period, there was a new development: The band was suddenly off the upcoming David Lee Roth tour they had been so ex­cited about. This was a tour that they felt would push them the rest of the way up the charts, and no reason was given for their dismissal, although it did occur the night following their missed Phoenix date. The Roth letdown had not yet happened at the time the four spoke to RIP.
"We’ve been refused tours because of all the rumors. They don’t want our band in­fluencing other bands,” laughs Duff McKagan, GNR bassist, who, with drummer Steven Adler (not interviewed), comprises the group’s rhythm section. “It turns out, bands we’ve gone on tour with, as far as drugs and shit are concerned, are worse than us. There’s not really any drugs involved.”
Lead guitarist Slash concurs. “The junkie thing, the drug thing, all that shit is sort of like an easy thing for people to stab at. But the fact is, the band’s been pretty much clean for a really long time, whether you want to believe that or not.” The rumor mill doesn’t just stop with drugs, though. GNR gets ac­cused of plenty more, as Slash points out; “That we abuse women, and that we are the total f?!kin’ dogs and stuff—like we have a chip on our shoulder, which isn’t true. I hate that shit. We never put across an image like that, I don’t think. I guess it’s very stereotyp­ical rock-and-roll-band-type stuff... that we drink a lot, we do this, we do that. Obvious­ly we f!?k girls all the time. We destroy hotel rooms. And some of it is true, but there’s no particular forte.”
Like most of the best fiction, rumors are usually founded in some fact. Says guitarist Izzy Stradlin, “[People] hear about shit on the street. They would come to us about it. We’d deny most of it. It’s like half and half—half’s true and half's bullshit.”
How far out of hand can rumors go, and when do they become out-and-out lies? “There was some stuff in Hit Parader about us touring with Stryper. We never toured with Stryper. Slash never said we toured with Stryper,” says Axl Rose, vocalist and centerpiece of the band.
Duff elaborates: “We never played a gig with Stryper. It says in Hit Parader, ques­tion: ‘So how was the tour with Stryper?’ Slash, answer: ‘Oh, it was great. If they knew what we were doing while they were up playing onstage, they would have a shitfit—stealing all their booze.’ It was just a false answer, like, ‘What would he say, I wonder.’ I guess you come to expect this kind of stuff.”
While the band, in general, has the hu­mor to look past this sort of thing, occasion­ally the joke wears thin. Slash notes a case in point. “There was this thing roaming around that Axl killed dogs. It started in Eu­rope, and somehow it made its way over here, which [was] a really sick, f!?king joke. I don’t appreciate that at all.”
Where do these stories originate? Axl, who has died a few times at the hands of these tale weavers, theorizes. ‘‘Different people like to start different shit and feel they're in a position to get away with it, and if you don’t like it, well, then you’re not in their magazine. We’re really not in too big a position to bitch about it. I don’t know... wannabes... people who are jealous you’re in a band and they’re not. Or, you know what I’ve noticed? People in almost every field have to feel that they have one up on everybody around them. I’m not necessarily saying it about the press. People working with us as managers, tour managers, have to feel like they have one up on you. It’s like, ‘No, you’re working for me. I hired you because of your expertise in this field. It doesn't mean that it’s your show. It’s our show. We’re the band. We’re calling the shots, and we’ll work with you, but not like you’re the coolest motherf!?ker on the entire planet and I’m a peon!’ ”
Such hubbub indicates that there is indeed intense interest in this relatively new, young band. Casual checking with the punkers, rockheads and fans in general betrays a reason for this interest—it is felt in many quart­ers, both in and out of “the business,” that GNR are a band that can go the long haul; that, like some of their main inspirations—Stones, AC/DC, Aerosmith—GNR has the goods to deliver a large body of solid rock ’n’ roll over a long period of time. Future legends? Rock dreams or rock dreamers?
“That’s always been a philosophy of the band, that we’d be around for a long time, not just a flash in the pan— here’s our record; see ya,” Duff feels. “And,” he jokes, “if Steven dies, we’ll just get [Cinderella drummer] Fred Coury.”
“I don’t think there’s that many time­less bands,” offers Slash. “I’d hope that until we either break up or die, we can still maintain a decent level of popularity just [based] on the band and the music. With all the other bands, not to name names or anything, but a lot of them are really just passing things. For one, there’s no perseverance at all as far as the music’s concerned. Everybody plays guitar just to fill that spot. No one’s doing anything from the heart.”
Duff feels it is the group’s natural chemistry that provides these qualities that future legends are made of (although he’s too modest to put it quite like that). “When this band got together, everybody felt, ‘This is the right place.’ You know how this goes. You’re in a band, and there’s always a loose link in the end. Al­ways. Every band I’d ever been in before, there’d always be one person, or two, that wasn’t cutting it. This band, it was finally like, ‘Okay, this is it.’ You could feel it at the first rehearsal. It just felt right.”
Now that the group is finally getting a taste of the big time, they are also seeing some of the more negative prices of fame. “You know, it’s getting hectic,” admits Axl. “You try to shake hands, and they’re trying to rip your bracelets off, pull you into the crowd [from the stage], rip your pants off and everything else. And it’s like, you’re try­ing to be nice, but at the same time, it’s really weird.”
Of course, part of that “upside” that we mentioned earlier, with a band that’s got a gold record under its studded belt, is money. Or is it? “Well, actually, I checked that out,” informs Izzy. “Looks like another year or two [before we see money]. There’s a lot of expenses. It takes a long time to recoup. We spent a lot of money on our record.”
“Tours—we don’t make anything off tours. We lose,” chimes in Duff. “Maybe now we’re starting to make a little money, since we’re getting MTV airplay. Kids are starting to buy T-shirts. But that’s f!?king nothing. On the tours we just get paid enough to get the hotel rooms, keep the bus running, pay us 25 bucks a day—everyone in the crew and us. We only have a three-guy crew. We just get enough to keep the ball rolling. Yeah, one would figure going gold would mean cash in the bank.”
Money, obviously, is on its way for GNR. Financial plans are basic, though. Duff and Izzy want to buy homes, as does Slash, along with “a decent car.” Slash also has some debts to clear up, but he’s optimistic. Perhaps more hopeful is Axl, who is already checking into investments. Just as they will un­doubtedly do different things with their cash, Slash and Axl also come from very different backgrounds.
‘‘My mom and dad were both in the music business very major,” tells Slash. ‘‘We used to be, like, really rich, as far as that goes, when I was real young. My dad used to do album covers. I knew David Geffen when it was Geffen and Roberts Management. They were good friends with my par­ents, cuz my dad used to do Joni Mitchell and Neil Young album covers. My mom used to do clothes for David Bowie. I’ve been around this for a while. I’ve been around drugs for a long time. I’ve been around just a lot of eccentric, f!?king egotistical, rock-star-type bullshit.”
Axl Rose’s childhood is another story. ‘‘I was brought up in this ful­ly religious, very strict, holy-roller Pentecostal country church,” recalls Axl. Did he follow these reli­gious teachings? ‘‘Yeah, I believed ev­ery word of it, and I tried, but nothing ever happened to me. I watched my father speak in tongues and people in­terpret it. I watched him sing in perfect Japanese—and my dad doesn’t know Japanese—and sing every note right on key with his eyes closed, driving 100 miles an hour down the freeway and not hitting a car. I don’t know how that happened. I’ve seen people healed, and these were not people who were paid $5 to [get healed]. I’ve seen people with no eyes read. It was very strange, but nothing ever happened [to me]. I always won all the Bible con­tests. I taught Sunday school. I played piano. I knew more gospel songs than anybody I knew.” Axl, though par­ticipating in church activities, never seemed to get any spiritual dividends. “I always thought I was cursed or something. Now I just feel pissed off. If there’s somebody up there, I don't know. I just don’t have a clue about it.”
Obviously, five somewhat complex people add up to the group personali­ty that is Guns N’ Roses. The future of rock ’n’ roll, the end of a long lineage of classic rock bands, or simply the only exciting thing happening in blues- based hard rock at the moment, GNR is nothing if not five dudes with more than their share of cultural wallop and public profile. By the time you read this, they will have probably mounted another U.S. tour, gone to Japan, re-released their original live EP with a new acoustic flip side and seen bassist Duff tie the knot with L.A.-based rock personality Mandy (of the Lame Flames). Anything beyond that is up to the stars, and certainly out of my con­trol or prediction capacity. Whatever you hear, figure it’s got about a 50% possibility of being true. It’s basically a crapshoot with Guns N’ Roses.

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