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2002.11.17 - Journal and Courier - Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette

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2002.11.17 - Journal and Courier - Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette Empty 2002.11.17 - Journal and Courier - Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette

Post by Blackstar on Fri May 22, 2020 11:20 pm

2002.11.17 - Journal and Courier - Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette 2002_100
2002.11.17 - Journal and Courier - Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette 2002_101


Memories of Axl Rose linger in Lafayette

By Tim Brouk
Journal and Courier

Greater Lafayette has national recognition for a few things — Purdue University, the Tippecanoe Battlefield and Fort Ouiatenon.

And Lafayette is significant to rock ’n’ roll fans as the birthplace of W. Axl Rose, lead singer for Guns N’ Roses and one of the most famous rock stars in history.

People who pass through or move to town often wonder if any remnants of Rose, who was known as Bill Bailey during most of his Lafayette years, still linger in Lafayette. Rose moved from Lafayette to Los Angeles seeking a change in 1982. “Some friends and I would joke 'Where’s the big, gold Axl statue at?’ when we would come to Lafayette,” said John Wekluk, a senior English major at Purdue who is originally from Portage.

Wekluk has tickets to see Rose live at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Allstate Arena in Chicago. The current tour is Guns N’ Roses’ first in about 10 years.

While Guns N’ Roses hasn’t performed in Indiana since a July 1992 concert in Indianapolis, Rose, 40, has made almost annual sneak visits to Lafayette to visit family and Arni’s on Elmwood Avenue. Arni’s owner Brad Cohen said Rose’s last visit was a little over a year ago to pick up some pizzas to go. Cohen said he more often ships pizzas out to Rose’s home in Malibu, Calif. Sometimes it’s a couple pies while other times Arni’s has catered parties hosted by Axl.

“I tease people that I’m one of the few that has access to Axl’s credit card number,” Cohen said.

Just after Guns N’ Roses performed at the 1992 Indianapolis concert, Rose took a table in the Toys in the Attic Room at Arni’s with an entourage of bodyguards. A crowd of about 30 fans formed as Rose was leaving in a limousine. Rose smiled and waved at the crowd before he departed. The excitement from the strawberry-blond, headband-sporting singer’s sighting did not die down for a while.

“Weeks after his visit, we had cute little college girls come in and want to sit in the actual booth Axl sat in,” Cohen said. “They wanted to be close to his blood and sweat so to speak.”

Cohen, who owns Guns N’ Roses’ first two releases Appetite for Destruction and Lies, added that no one could remember which table he sat in and would point to any open table in the room and tell customers "That’s the one.”

“My dad (the late Arni Cohen) wasn’t a big listener of Guns N’ Roses, but we had fun with the celebrity status Arni’s got by his visits,” Cohen said. “I appreciate the fact that he’s an Arni’s fan. I respect his choice in pizza.”

Encounters with Rose

Amused Clothing manager Jay Buck recalled one memorable night in 1988 when Rose was eating dinner with family at Arni’s. Buck was only 15 working at his first job at Arni’s, but he was picked to serve Rose’s table.

"I wasn’t a big fan of Axl Rose. That’s why they sent me out there,” Buck remembered. “Everyone else would have been ‘Hey, can I have your autograph?'”

The night was even more memorable as Buck tripped over a purse, which belonged to Rose’s mother, that was sitting in the aisle. Buck was carrying a large tray full of sodas that landed all over Rose and his family. Buck said the sticky and drenched rock star wasn’t mad as he saw the guilty purse was in the way, but most of Buck’s co-workers thought he did it on purpose.

Buck attended Jefferson High School when Appetite for Destruction hit the scene, and its singles "Welcome to the Jungle,” “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine” were all over the airwaves. Rose also went to Jefferson and would have been in the class of 1980 if he had not dropped out.

“A lot of teachers said he didn’t do well so don’t look up to him,” Buck said.

Fifteen years later, Buck still isn’t a big fan of Rose’s.

“I’ll listen to it when someone is singing at karaoke,” Buck said.

As the 1990s started, a series of events further propelled Rose as a household name and into the media spotlight. In the summer of 1991, Rose incited a riot at a St. Louis amphitheater when he jumped into the crowd to attack a photographer and then ended the set prematurely. During the 1992 mega tour of Guns N’ Roses, Metallica and Faith No More, Rose started another riot in Montreal when he refused to take the stage. Another Canadian riot erupted at a Guns N' Roses concert on Nov. 7 when the band was a no-show in Vancouver.

Charges were pressed for Rose’s actions in the St. Louis incident. Rick Mummey was a DJ at WKHY 93.5 FM when Rose was being sought by St. Louis authorities, and he offered a $1,000 “bounty” for Rose to be brought to the classic rock station to explain his actions. Rose did not appear, but Mummey, now a DJ for WGLM FM, received a large number of calls when Rose seemed to be making news every day from people claiming to know the singer. Some calls were legit while others came from “brother’s uncle’s mechanic’s third cousins.”

The early ’90s also saw Rose distance himself from the band. Soon after the 1991 release of the Use Your Illusion albums, original rhythm guitarist and fellow Lafayette chum Izzy Stradlin (aka: Jeff lsbell) left Guns N' Roses. Rose also spoke out to the press and in concert about his thoughts on Lafayette and Indiana. A review of the 1992 Guns N’ Roses Indianapolis show in the Journal and Courier included the statement that Rose “blasted Indiana for being the conservative, backwards
state the sent Dan Quayle to the vice presidential office,” and “he referred to Indiana as a state that produces corn and drugs and is overrun by Japanese car factories.”

“I wish he wouldn’t be so down on it (Indiana), but, hey, that’s his right,” Buck said.

Around this time, another Lafayette native was making some noise in the rock world. Shannon Hoon provided backup vocals on the Use Your Illusion hit “Don’t Cry,” and his band Blind Melon was starting to get noticed.

Lafayette guitar virtuoso Michael Kelsey was in a band with Hoon called Styff Kitten in Lafayette, and he said the band covered an early demo version of the song. Kelsey went with Hoon to Los Angeles for a while and met Rose at the Rainbow Room on Sunset Strip. Kelsey said Rose was nice and the two made small talk for a few minutes. Kelsey was a big Axl Rose fan.

“When Appetite for Destruction came out, it raised the bar for rock ’n’ roll,” Kelsey said. “It wasn’t the candy-like stuff that was out before then.”

Starting over

Soon after Guns N’ Roses released The Spaghetti Incident?, a 1993 album of cover songs, Rose fell off the map. Drummer Matt Sorum, original guitarist Slash and original bassist Duff McKagan left the Guns N' Roses camp. Rose, who retained the rights to the name Guns N' Roses via a signed contract from the rest of the band, started work on a new album, and he is still putting final touches on it. The current Guns N’ Roses still features keyboardist Dizzy Reed, who joined for Use Your Illusion, and now includes guitarists Buck-ethead and Nine Inch Nails’ Robin Finck, former Primus drummer Brian Mantia, and former Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson. Musicians who appeared on sessions for the upcoming Guns N' Roses release include Josh Freese, Moby, Dave Navarro, and Brian May. Guns N’ Roses looked close to releasing the album, titled Chinese Democracy, in 1999 when the track “Oh My God” appeared on the End of Days soundtrack.

Guns N’ Roses once again grabbed headlines, this time positive, in late August when the band made a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards. At the end of the program, host Jimmy Fallon jumped like a pogo stick with excitement as he introduced the band. An explosion of confetti engulfed the stage as the band launched into the familiar chords of “Welcome to the Jungle.” Rose looked to have filled out to a normal build instead of his emaciated Appetite days, and he had his hair in hundreds of tiny braids.

“They’re probably not real. His hair was thin before,” Wekluk said.

Rose introduced the slower, new song called “Madagascar” before closing with “Paradise City.” Wekluk thought “his voice was a little goofy just for that performance,” but Wekluk has heard bootleg recordings over the Internet from Guns N' Roses’ European tour and found Rose’s voice to be as good as it was in the ’90s.

Kelsey and Mummey are two of the millions of fans who are anxiously awaiting the new Guns N’ Roses release.

“I’m sure he’s settled down over the years. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with,” Mummey said. “After 10 years, it should be interesting.”

Kelsey added, “I don’t know who could do that in their career—to be on top of the world and then have so much bad stuff go on and then still be popular. A lot of other people’s careers would have died.”

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