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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.



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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:21 pm



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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:22 pm


According to Zutaut, Beta Lebeis [see previous chapter for more information], had gradually obtained more and more control over Axl and by the 2000s acted as Axl's gatekeeper in his self-imposed exile:

Beta – who started as his housekeeper – is now the gatekeeper. Everything has to go through Beta. You can’t talk to him without calling her and she has him call back from a blocked phone and she’s the one that gets everyone on the GN’R payroll paid – everything is running through Beta. Even Doug Goldstein, who’s the manager, doesn’t have access to his artist anymore – he has to go through Beta. She’s like the president of Axl Rose Incorporated.

Beta would refer to this as ridiculous and deny it, pointing out that it is normal for assistant to take calls:

Do you think if you wanted to phone Madonna you get put right through to her? Of course I take the calls. But if Axl wants to talk to someone, he talks to them. Merck [Mercuriadis, former manager] called him all the time – he talks to the band all the time. You know, before this I worked for a manager at Quaker as a PA. I took his calls too – there’s nothing sinister in that.

In 2016, Axl would also probably joke about these rumours when he described life with the Lebeis':

I've been enslaved for several years now by a Brazilian family. They torture me and they make me go sing and stuff. [...] Yeah, they whip me.

In late 2017, Marc Canter would also refer to people who "run Axl's life" and how they "kind of kept him sequestered a little bit":

[...] actually I spent 9 years of my life doing what I call an ‘Axl intervention’ in the public. [...] I basically, when I was doing interviews, it was almost like I was talking to Axl. The problem is I think, that people that run Axl’s life didn’t want him to see that, and they basically somehow, I don’t know how, they managed to get him not to read or look or whatever, so they kind of kept him sequestered a little bit.

Brain would later talk about having had a good relationship with Beta and the management:

Oh yeah I mean they're always good to me. I felt like my relationship with them was a little aloof, you know, I always was kind of one foot in one foot out, that's why I think I just got in and then got out. You know, did my and then got out. Oh yeah, maybe that's why they never really asked me to come back because I feel like, you know, they never really felt like....

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:23 pm

APRIL 2001

In April 2001 is was reported that UK-based Sanctuary Group, an entertainment company involved in among other offering management services to artists, would be strengthening their position in the USA [Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2001]. Rumors would have it that Doug Goldstein would be named as the co-president of the company's US management division [Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2001] and this would then be confirmed [Billboard, May 5, 2001]. According to later sources, it seems Big FD Management was acquired by Sanctuary.

Sanctuary’s U.S. chief executive, Merck Mercuriadis (Merck), said:

America is a place where there’s tremendous opportunities for management. I don’t think the demand for quality management by superstars has ever been bigger.

Mercuriadis and Goldstein would be co-presidents of the new entity [Billboard, May 5, 2001].

Talking about his management style:

I listen to my artists. I don’t work with anyone that doesn’t float my boat musically - my job is to make people believe, but I can only do that if I genuinely believe. Once I believe, I’m a crusader and I’m out there making everyone else believe. The conclusion that I came to a long time ago, being a kid from a small town of 2,000 people in Canada - who went from kissing a girl at age 11 or 12 for the first time to an Elton John song, to then managing Elton John - is that success isn’t difficult. What is difficult is the success that you want to have, because that requires discipline; that requires knowing when to say yes and when to say no, and being true to what it is that you want. Once you get in this mix, you will get all kinds of things thrown at you and before you know it you’ve ruined your chance because you’ve said yes to becoming one thing when you really wanted to become another. My job is to help keep them focused on what they want. Sometimes that’s unpopular, because people live in fear - they’re scared that the opportunity might disappear and they start to compromise. I’m the manager that won’t let you compromise.

Later, in mid-2002, it would be confirmed that Goldstein and Merck were co-managers of Guns N' Roses [Tour itineraries for 2002 World Tour, 2002].

Around the same time, Sharon Osbourne, wife and manager of Ozzy Osbourne, would claim she had denied a request to offer Guns N' Roses career advice [The Guardian, May 25, 2001].

In 2009, Goldstein, who was now estranged from Axl, would send a letter to Axl where he would discuss the sale of Big FD Management to Sanctuary:

The sale of Big FD to Sanctuary......

Ax, I swear on my kids lives, when I was first propositioned by Merck, I immeadiately called Sharon. She told me to fly to England and meet with Rod Smallwood, Merck, and Andy Taylor. Furthermore, and most importantly, she definitavely "ORDERED" me NOT to tlk to you about it. She wanted me to ascertain the strength of the company, which at the time was magnanimous.

After my fact finding mission, I flew to Arizona to meet with Sharon and Elliot. They concluded that at this point in your career, you needed a powerhouse company with unlimited power and resources to help guide your career. Again, I was given the missive to "surprise " you with this information, as Sharon felt you would be PROUD that I was willing to give up Big FD to further enhance YOUR career. Ax, check with Elliot..if he denies this, he's flat out lying...I swear on my kids lives.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:23 pm

MAY 2001

In May it would be reported that the planned summer tour in Europe, to start in less than a month, had been cancelled [CDNow/Allstar News, May 10, 2001; MTV News, May 10, 2001; NME, May 10, 2010]. According to the press the reason was Buckethead suffering from illness [CDNow/Allstar News, May 10, 2001; MTV News, May 10, 2001; NME, May 10, 2010].

A source close to the band told allstar that Buckethead, a.k.a. Brian Carroll, has been too ill to rehearse with the group and that medical experts have yet to determine the source of some reported internal hemorrhaging. They say that more tests are required.

It's thought that the guitarist is being treated on an outpatient basis at home in Southern California and is not currently hospitalized. According to a note from the guitarist's official Web master, "Buckethead is OK at this point in time. The problem is still being looked into."

The band's agent would issue the following statement:

It is with great regret that I must notify you that the upcoming Guns N’ Roses June tour of the UK and Europe is cancelled.

Lead guitarist Buckethead has undergone extensive medical tests to determine the cause of internal haemorrhaging, a condition that has caused him to recently be absent from band rehearsals. Management are waiting to be informed of his prognosis. Then Merck Mercuriadis from Sanctuary Music Management would state that Buckethead had been diagnosed as having a gastric ailment by one doctor and tuberculosis by another [Billboard, May 31, 2001].

Discussions are currently taking place to determine when the tour will be re-scheduled and I will update you further on this aspect in due course.

The next day media would report that it the tour wasn't cancelled but that the band was awaiting results of Buckethead's medical tests before making a decision about the tour [Billboard, May 11, 2001], or that the tour was postponed [Metal Hammer, May 11, 2001].

Around the same time media would speculate on alternative reasons for the tour being cancelled, including Axl wanting to stay home and finish the record [Metal Hammer, May 11, 2001; CDNow, May 11, 2001] to Buckethead and Robin not getting along [CDNow, May 11, 2001], and that Axl was in a conflict with the label and refused to promote it unless he got time to work more on it [New York Daily News, May 11, 2001].

Later in May the first reports would come that the tour would be rescheduled for later in the year, with new dates for Oslo, Norway and Stockholm, Sweden (December 5 and 7, respectively) [MTV News, May 29, 2001]. The the following new dates were listed [CDNow, May 30, 2001]:

12/2 - Arnhem, The Netherlands; 12/5 - Oslo, Norway; 12/7 - Stockholm, Sweden; 12/13 - London, England; 12/14 - London, England; 12/16 - Glasgow, Scotland; 12/18 - Manchester, England; 12/19 - Birmingham, England.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:24 pm


As in previous years, and which had been his way of doing things since after the Use Your Illusion touring, Axl stayed mostly out of the spotlight in the years from 2001 to 2006, only emerging for some press in connection with touring in 2001 and 2006. With Axl starting to refuse interviews already back in the mid-90s, it meant that for about 20 years Axl had given other people the opportunity to steer the narrative about himself and he had given media the freedom to create their own myths about Axl, often exaggerated upon stories from when he was much younger.

Howard Teman, friend of the band back in the late 80s, would have a chance meeting with Axl around this time outside the Kit Kat Club in Hollywood, but didn't recognize Axl at first:

And Axl I haven't seen... one day I was at a place called... What the hell was it called? It was next door to the Whisky, what was that called? That little club? Phantom? Phantom? The drummer guy used to from the Straight Cats owned... The Kit Kat Club! The Kat Club! And I was sitting there outside and it must have been like a Tuesday night or something like that and this guy comes up to me and he's got all these braids in his hair and everything and I'm talking to him and then I realized, "Hey, is this Axl?" and he was like, "Yeah, Howard." I didn't even recognize him when I was talking to him for like a minute, because he had just braided out all his hair, unrecognizable. So that was the last time I saw him and that must have been... oh my god, that's probably 10 years ago, you know.

In 2002, at a show at Fargodome in Fargo, USA, Axl possibly would explain his silence by saying that he can't change people's misconceptions about him:

If you say things, people say you mean something else. You can't even tell them what you mean, because they already know what you think inside of you. I wasn't aware that that many people on the planet were psychic.

Later in 2002, anyone interviewing Axl would be asked to not talk about Vancouver, Slash or other former members, other bands or music in general, and timeliness; but were encouraged to talk about the current band, current tour, the new album and Axl's time in China [The Province, December 6, 2002]. Clearly, Axl wanted to focus on the current band and not on history.

In 2009, Axl would explain his self-imposed silence as a "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation:

I didn't talk forever. If I talk I need to 'shut the f-- up.' If I don't talk, it's much worse.

This absence from the public eye resulted in a short movie called "Have You Seen Axl Rose" that was produced and shown at the Flicker Film Festival in Los Angeles in May 2001 and then later on other festivals:

[...]Other films include the likes of “Have You Seen Axl Rose?” by Los Angeles filmmaker Lowell Northrop, which treats the reclusive former Guns N’ Roses lead singer as if he were as hard to spot as Bigfoot [...].
Spokesman Review, October 9, 2003

Northrop would describe the movie on Vimeo:

In the year 2001, there were 236 confirmed Bigfoot sightings in the U.S. Yet, there were only 12 confirmed Axl Rose sightings. For the past ten years, one of rock's most recognizable figures has been in hiding. Only a few people have ever seen him in public. What does Axl Rose look like now? How does he dress? Where does he eat? Is he more afraid of us than we are of him? This short film is a collection of actual eyewitness accounts from those who have spotted this reclusive creature in recent years.
Introduction to video on Vimeo

For a VH1 Documentary that was aired in July 2004, Axl declined to participate despite Slash contributing, which would have allowed Axl to tell his side of the story. Initially, Slash had decided to not participate, but apparently changed his mind:

VH1 hasn't approached me about [a Guns N' Roses 'Behind The Music'], but I'm sure they have enough information that it will come around at some point. But I'm not gonna be one to stand behind it and say, "Yeah - go ahead. Do the Guns story." Please, I don't want to hear it.

Marc Canter would be asked by Axl's camp to not get involved, even though Canter would be partial to Axl and probably help present a more even-sided story:

Axl does not like any press that has anything to do with the old band. To say the least he was upset with a lot of the people they interview so there is no way he was going to be happy with [the VH1 documentary]. I was going to be interviewed for it and got a call from Del [James] at the last minute telling me not to do it. I said there is nothing that I could say that would be bad. I think that Axl didn't want anybody creditable speaking. I think he didn't want to help them in anyway. So in the end it ended up being a one sided story. I would have been the one that would have defended AXl if needed.


I was not upset with Axl I don't even know if he knew that my name was on the list to be interviewed. It could have been Del and Beta [Lebeis] doing what they thought was the right thing to do. Axl may have been upset that I helped them. A lot of times this kind of stuff gets intercepted before Axl even sees it. I would have liked to say some things about the band. I may have been the only one who would tell the story the right way. Everyone else was angry at each other and had a one side story to tell that only blames Axl. I would have gave both sides.
mygnrforum, Sept. 11, 2012

Tracii would also be interviewed for the documentary but ended up being cut out of the program and would refer to it as a "promo for VR":

Recently in 2005 I was interviewed for the GnR behind the music,, before i did the interview I called [Slash] and left a message to see if he was doing the interview. He called me back and said Tracii? I said "Yes" he said " Oh I have the wrong number" and hung up on me,,, What a fucking dick ,,, hahahahahahahahaha... I then reluctantly did the interview(Which cut into my only day off in NYC) becasue my manager insisted that I do it,,, Then they ended up not using even one second of my interview so, VH1 has about 2-3 hours of me talking about GnR and nu GnR and all things GnR, that no one will probably ever see probably because I had some really good things to say about AXL and if you saw it, it ended seeming like a promo for VR,,,,, GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Metal Sludge, November 2008

Duff would decline to participate in the documentary [Blabbermouth, May 4, 2004].

It is possible that Axl was reluctant to give any attention to older version of Guns N' Roses, preferring instead to focus on the new version of the band, but in doing so he missed another opportunity to present his side of the story.

In 2012, Axl would comment on having stayed out of the public eye and mention he had spent a lot of time in Las Vegas in this period:

I just didn't go places where media was. I wasn't interested at the time. If the place to go was some restaurant in Hollywood, I went to the Valley. There was so much negativity, I didn't see any way to go public. I felt I was going to be slammed. The rock entertainment world just wanted to sell magazines.

I spent a lot of time in Vegas and didn't get bothered. I wasn't gambling or partying at the time. I'd go walking at night, just watching people. I was out more than people thought.

Explaining his low-key life:

The only time people ever write about me is when I go out to a strip club, because I don't chase the paparazzi down.

Despite Axl deliberately keeping out of the spotlight, the public interest in him and Guns N' Roses did not subside, prompting the following comment from Jon Bon Jovi in 2006:

You know what pisses me off? That motherfucker hasn't made a record in 13 years and gets all that attention, You know what I’ve done in 13 years? A lot. But they write about the freak show. Because he’s a recluse, that makes him interesting.

In May 2006, as Guns N' Roses would do warm-up shows in New York City in preparation for their summer tour, Axl would become much more public and even do a few interviews. Explaining why he had been away from the public eye for a long time and why he was now doing some press:

Well, it just kind of depends on – you know, different people have different agendas. It’s like, the last 12 years it’s just been more like a negative spin kind of thing, so I tried to avoid that.

And in 2016 he would again talk about having avoided places where he would he accosted by papparazis:

Well, actually, I just didn't go anywhere where there was like paparazzi or anybody, you know, who cared or really recognized me. I went everywhere else. I just didn’t go…[...] If I went by a place with paparazzi I just ducked. And in L.A,. if you go to the Valley, no one in Hollywood cares.

And when asked if he disguised himself or wore something different:

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:24 pm

JUNE 2001

As discussed in previous chapters, Merck Mercuriadis had seemingly been taking over management duties for Big FD Entertainment and Doug Goldstein.

In June 2001, the press would report that although Axl had not fired Goldstein, they were "taking a break from each other" [CDNow, June 30, 2001]. A source would claim that Axl knew Goldstein was the only person who would put up with him [CDNow, June 30, 2001]. The month thereafter it would be rumoured that Axl and Goldstein were not talking to each other [CDNow, July 26, 2001].

The reasons for this conflict could at least partly be due to Goldstein having booked the 2001 tour without Axl's authorization, as discussed in a later chapter.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:25 pm



In June 2001, Goldstein would confirm that Tom Zutaut had been brought in to make sure the record gets done [CDNow, June 30, 2001]. Zutaut had been fired from Geffen in 1999 [Classic Rock, March 2008]. Axl had reportedly brought Zutaut back into the fold to act as a go-between Axl and Interscope/Jimmy Iovine [CDNow/Allstar, February 11, 2002]. According to Zutaut, he had been contacted in February 2001 by Iovine who wanted him back to get the record out [Classic Rock, March 2008].

Zutaut claims to have been very reluctant to involve himself with the band again, citing having had a fall-out with Axl and not wanting to move from New York to Los Angeles [Classic Rock, March 2008]. The next day Doug Goldstein called Zutaut and practically begged him to come and help them get the record out [Classic Rock, March 2008]. They next had a conference call where they agreed Zutaut would start with a meeting with Axl [Classic Rock, March 2008].

According to The New York Times, Zutaut was offered a roughly 30% bonus if he could finish the project by the end of 2001 [The New York Times, March 6, 2005].


According to Zutaut, the first thing Axl said to him at the meeting was that before they could continue Axl needed to know the truth about Erin Everly [Classic Rock, March 2008]. According to Everly, Zutaut had made a pass on Erin back in the early 90s when she was either Axl's wife or girlfriend, and this had caused a lingering distrust between the two men [Classic Rock, March 2008; and see earlier chapter]. Beta Lebeis would confirm the allegation:

[Zutaut] did [make a pass at her].

At the meeting, Zutaut told Axl that this wasn't true, and that Erin had lied about him having made a pass on her as revenge for him putting part of the blame for Erin and Axl's fights on Erin [Classic Rock, March 2008]. Zutaut also claims he had suggested to Erin that she sought therapy [Classic Rock, March 2008].

She got really mad at me. So her response was to go back to Axl and claim that I hit on her.


According to Zutaut, Axl was frustrated with the recording process:

Here was the Axl that I met in 1985 again. A guy that had a vision and wanted to make the best record that had ever been made. And we talked and he said, ‘I go to the studio I tell ’em what I want and they tell me that they’ve got what I want and then when I listen to it I’m bummed out’. He goes, ‘Nobody seems to understand my language.’

According to Zutaut, one of the issues was the drum sound which Axl wanted to sound like Dave Grohl in Nirvana [Classic Rock, March 2008]. After having talked to Axl, Zutaut claims he proceeded to buy a copy of Nevermind which he gave to the studio engineers and voila the issue was sorted out to Axl's delight [Classic Rock, March 2008]. According to Zutaut, Axl now stated that he wished he had called on Zutaut earlier and asked him to continue working with the band, something Zutaut did after negotiating with Interscope on salary [Classic Rock, March 2008].

At one point in 2001, Axl insisted they visited the psychic Maynard [see previous chapter]:

Axl felt it would be a good idea if we went to Sedona so Sharon could check on our physic energy health and cleanse us of any impurities that might be lingering on. Axl was picking up negative energy and thought it might be attaching itself to us. This was actually quite perceptive on his part as the studio crew was making fun of him behind his back when he wasn’t there.


In 2018, Zutaut would admit that he tried to convince Axl that it would be a better way forward to release Chinese Democracy as a solo album and not under the Guns N' Roses name, so as to not alienate conservative GN'R fans [Billboard, December 22, 2018].

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:27 pm


It has been fun like a ride never been ridden. Every turn is new, it will be interesting to see where this ride goes.

Buckethead was an absolutely emotionless person. The only thing that allowed him feel emotion was having things cut up and bleeding around him, so he'd cut the heads off rubber chickens and hang them around the studio.


As described previously, Buckethead was a unusual band members with an outright eccentric behaviour that included wearing masks at all rehearsals and speaking through a puppet:

Yeah, [Buckethead communicated through the puppet] with everyone. Every rehearsal, he had the mask on. No one ever saw him without it.

Oh yeah, with Guns he would check in with the whole outfit on, you know, or different outfits. Pretty much he'd just be wearing other masks and stuff. But no, I mean, you know, we'd be in sessions. I remember doing some sessions where he actually said yes to doing a couple commercials that I got him involved in and you know with all the clients there you know there we are like some studio in Los Angeles and you know he's showing up you know and he shows up in the fucking, the whole of the trench coat with the mask and the bucket and he's there for eight hours, you know, playing and never talks and just, you know, does the session and all these people are taking pictures and you know thinking it's the coolest thing and I'm looking at the bottom of his like, you know, pants and I can see drips of sweat coming out and going, "Man!"

As for how Axl responded to this:

Yeah [Axl loved it]. [...]  I mean, how could you not love it? I mean, it was awesome. It was just the greatest. Every time it was like, "What mask is he gonna walk in this time?" You know, and he would have a different one on and, you know, whatever. I got a picture of him just, you know, being swamped at Rock In Rio coming off the bus and he's just got, like, you know, a Freddy Krueger mask on and he's just signing, you know, no one ever saw him. You know, that was his thing. Yeah. It's pretty good.

Axl were on the other side [to Ozzy who couldn't accept Buckethead's mask and bucket], Axl was into it, you know. Axl wanted him to wear that thing and wanted it to be around the band.

In July 2001 it would be rumoured that Buckethead had left the band [CDNow, July 26, 2001] but in August it would be claimed that he was negotiating with Axl over his Guns N' Roses future [CDNow, August 2, 2001]. According to Zutaut, one of the first things he did after being hired to help get the record out, was to placate Buckethead who was indeed considering to leave the band [Classic Rock, March 2008]. It is unclear exactly when this happened, but the rumours about Buckethead being out was in July, so likely in the summer of 2001.


Zutaut would have a meeting with Buckethead where he stated that he had problems with Roy Thomas Baker and the sluggish progress of making the record, and especially Axl's absence from the recording studio [Classic Rock, March 2008]. The tension between Buckethead and RTB would be confirmed by Zutaut:

There was a bit of creative tension with Roy Thomas Baker. Not because Roy is doing anything wrong or isn’t a great producer or anything like that – but you know some people have friction. It’s like oil and water. It might have been cultural differences.

According to Zutaut, at the meeting with Buckethead he proceeded to call Buckethead a genius, vital to the record, and that Zutaut would be in the recording studio every day to help him get what he needs [Classic Rock, March 2008]. Zutaut also claim he then came up with the idea to build a chicken coop in the studio where Buckethead could record his parts [Classic Rock, March 2008]. The existence of the chicken coop would be reported in the press in 2002 [Spin, May 2002].

Describing the chicken coop:

It’s like an apartment within the studio that’s a chicken coop. He’s got his chair to record and a little mini sofa in there, and there’s, like, a rubber chicken with its head cut off hanging from the ceiling and body parts. It’s totally Buckethead’s world. It’s like Halloween in the chicken coop: part chicken coop, part horror movie. We built the coop and then he brought in all his props and toys and put straw on the floor! You could almost smell the chickens.

No one was allowed to go in there apart from the assistant engineers to adjust mics – you could not destroy the spirit and karmic vibe of the coop, his personal retreat. But – it’s chicken wire. You could stand outside and talk, looking through, but nobody was allowed in there with his hacked up dolls and rubber chickens and heads…

Beta would also comment on the coop:

In every band, people have their own ways of being creative – their own things that are personal to them, and Buckethead loved chicken coops. And he loved cemeteries – he just loved that shit. So it was just a fun thing to do…

It’s like Dizzy Reed – he loves drinking that drink, Jagermeister. So somebody made his this huge guitar and you open it up and there’s Jagermeister inside – just a fun thing. And [the coop] didn’t cost money or anything – think about it, it’s just wire. You buy wire and you do it yourself. People say ‘Oh my gosh, that’s part of the money we spent on the album.’ It has nothing to do with that. It’s something you do in three or four hours. Just for fun, to play a joke on somebody.

And Brain would talk about it:

They ran cords up there [to the "Temple" room at the Village Recordes] and eventually [then Guns guitarist] Bucket[head] set his chicken coop up there and that’s where he recorded. Bucket and I would look at each other and he’d been in the chicken coop with the wire and he brought in hay. We were up there for three years recording.

Also Gary Sunshine would get to see the coop:

I did, however, go into the Buckethead chicken coop thing that they built. I think when I went to do the... I was trying to remember it the other day. It was either when we did the session or when I met with him, but I was brought in there to see, "Hey, check this out." He wasn't in there, of course. It was pretty interesting. [...] I remember it was decorated and it was interesting. But it was a full, like a little, almost like a little studio, New York studio apartment, that was a chicken coop inside of a recording studio. And I remember that was one of the first things that they showed me when I went to look at the studio. And I wonder if that was... Rumble, I don't know.

In late 2000, Buckethead would talk about his general approach to decorating recording studios to create a special physical environment:

Bring a box of stuff, lay it around. Couple dummies, some chicken feed if it's away. At the coop it is, there is tons of stuff. The video goggles have changed everything now. Anywhere anytime with the goggles.

Gary Sunshine would describe seeing the coop in the studio:

When I went to the studio to say hello and discuss the lesson thing at first, I was shown Buckethead’s recording “cage”,funny but cool.
Per5sonnel communication, September 27, 2020

And so would James Black, guitarist in the band Finger Eleven:

[...] we were in a studio called 'The Village' where Axl has been for the past ten months recording. There's this big theatre room that used to belong to the Maharishi. The Beatles used to go and pray in there and stuff. Now it's this big rehearsal space where Guns 'N Roses rehearses and there's this big man-sized chicken coop where their guitar player Bucket Head goes when they're jamming. And there's this big grand piano where Axl plays and so we just kinda snuck in there and mic'ed it up and started hammering away on the piano, figuring we could steal some of Axl's 'mojo.'
Much Music, July 5, 2003


For inspiration, Buckethead would watch hardcore porn in his coop:

So Bucket comes and says he needs a TV so he can sit in his chicken coop and watch porn. And that seemed to really inspire him to record some great stuff. He comes armed with whatever DVDs he needs and he is doing really great stuff…

According to Zutaut, Axl reacted to Buckethead watching and being inspired by porn in the studio:

Axl sees that Bucket is running this porn – and it is pretty hard core stuff, it’s not soft porn by any stretch of the imagination – and Axl is really disturbed by it [...] [Axl] said music is about energy and we are transferring a creative spirit and vibe within the music. He said, ‘I really can’t have the vibe of dirty depraved porn being a part of my record – it is really not what this record is about, you know?’

Axl is a firm believer that the energy or soul of everyone involved in the process comes through in the final artistic piece – so he works really hard to make sure what comes in and goes out is pure and right for his vision. Which is why Axl was always very disturbed about the former Gunners’ heroin use and what effect it had on their creativity.

Axl then had a talk with Buckethead:

Then Axl left and Bucket was pretty despondent. He disappeared for a few days because he was pretty torn up about it. Not because he was angry or because he thought he should be able to watch what he wants. I think it was more because of the emotional implications that Axl brought up to him: that it wasn’t right to be inspired by shit like that.


At one point Axl brought a wolf puppy into the studio that pooped in Bucket's coop.

And because no one is allowed in there, we wait for Bucket to come in so that we can get his permission to clean it up. So Bucket shows up later to work on his parts and he is mic-ed up so he can record and we hear through the speaker, ‘Oh I love the smell of dog poop…’

So we’re like, ‘Okaaaaaay…’ Roy Thomas Baker or one of the engineers says, ‘Well, Bucket we will get it cleaned up’ and Bucket says ‘Don’t take it away. I love the smell of dog poop – leave it right here, don’t let anybody touch it.’ Three days later, the studio stinks to high heaven of dog poop, and finally the studio could not bear it and had it cleaned up. When Bucket came in the next day, he was like ‘Where is my dog poop, man? I told them not to clean it up.’ And was generally bummed out that it had been cleaned up… And in the meantime, the wolf puppy poop had inspired him for a few days to do some great work…

In October, when the fall tour was rumoured to be cancelled, Buckethead's assumed departure would be cited as the main reason [Kerrang!, October 6, 2001]. But when the band hit the stage again on December 29, 2001, Buckethead was still in the lineup, suggesting that any issues there might have been had been sorted out by then.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:29 pm


In October 2001 the rumours started swirling that the 2001 fall tour, which had already been postponed from the summer to the fall, would be cancelled altogether [Metal Hammer, October 3, 2001]. The reason was claimed to be that Buckethead had left the band [Metal Hammer, October 3, 2001; Kerrang! October 6, 2001] and the "global situation" [Metal Hammer, October 3, 2001] which alluded to the war in Afghanistan [The Province, October 9, 2001].

Then in November the band's European agent together with Doug Goldstein would issue a statement cancelling the European tour, in which Goldstein would claim he was at fault:

To ensure Guns N’ Roses fans get the album they deserve, Axl Rose has spent every waking minute of everyday during the past 5 years writing, recording, and producing Guns’ first album of all new material since 1991. Following the euphoria of Rock in Rio, I jumped the gun and arranged a European tour as our plan was to have the new album out this year. Unfortunately, Buckethead’s illness not only stopped the tour but it also slowed down progress on ‘Chinese Democracy’.” As a result, touring right now is logistically impossible. I am very sorry to disappoint our fans but I can assure them that this is not what Axl wanted nor is it ‘Another page from the Howard Hughes of rock’ as some of the media will no doubt portray it. I made a plan and unfortunately it did not work out.

The good news is that everyone is ecstatic with the album and we will be meeting with our label to schedule its release following which we will announce the rescheduled tour dates to coincide. Guns N’ Roses look forward to seeing everybody next year and once again please accept my apologies for the way this has played out.”

Remarkably, at the December 29, 2001 show at the Joint, Axl would state that he hadn't been involved in the planning of the tour at all, and only heard about its cancellation on the Internet:

One day I was sitting at home on the internet and I found out that the tour was cancelled and I had no idea that I had a tour.
NME, January 1, 2002; as retold by an audience member

Axl would later likely reference this from the stage in Pittsburgh on November 22, 2002:

I was in this restaurant bar, and there was this girl and she was like - she seemed to be excited, and they wanted an autograph. Then I finished eating and then they wanted to talk. And then she proceeded to rip me into asshole. So I was like, “Where the fuck did you get this?!” and she was like “I read the internet, I know what’s going on!” (laughs). Yeah, there’s a fuckin’ reliable source there, you know... But then again, I find out what’s happening in my own band on the internet, so… I’m like, “Did you know this?” and then I call someone and I go, “Fuck, I didn’t know that” and the other guy goes, “Oh yeah, I knew that.” Happens all the time. It’s a handy tool, the internet…. This is song called “Patience.”

Axl would later likely hint at Goldstein having booked the tour without Axl's authorization:

But seriously...this is our tour. This is a collection of performances I've agreed to. That I have personally authorized not someone else's good intentions gone awry or a reckless promoter's personal agenda.

But Goldstein would later claim this isn't true and that the tour was booked per Axl directions and that Goldstein had then been asked to lie and say it as his fault:

Let's just say that it was agreed to, and then the person said that it wasn't. So I was asked publicly to clear that up in the way that I did. But Axl knew that that tour... he asked us to book that tour.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:29 pm


These are the first two shows I’ve wanted to do in 10 years.
Gnronline fan review, 2002; as retold by an audience member

Despite the tour in December being cancelled, the band decided to play two shows at the Joint at Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas [Gnronline, December 3, 2001] on December 29 and 31, 2001 [MTV News, December 4, 2001].

We've been cooped up in the studio for so long, that we have to release some energy. Since we had so much fun playing Vegas last year, we've decided to do it again.

The setlist at the first show would contain 19 songs, five of which were new (Oh My God, Madagascar, Chinese Democracy, Street of Dreams and Silkworms). The setlist at the second show would contain 20 songs and with the same five new songs. No new songs that hadn't been played previously (at House of Blues or Rock in Rio) was debuted.

Axl at the Joint
December 2001


Before the show had suggested that Slash would attend the show [, December 29, 2001].

After all, I have never gone to a GNR concert before.

According to review, Slash had been seen walking around in the casino with guitar in hand [CDNow/Allstar News, January 2, 2002] after having been refused entry to the show on orders by Axl [NME, January 1, 2002].

Speaking briefly with ABCNEWS Radio, Slash said he tried to get in, but couldn't. A security guard confirmed his account, blaming band frontman Axl Rose for the exclusion.

Axl allegedly told the venue he would walk offstage if he saw any of his former bandmates in the audience.

Slash would describe what happened:

They said no way. I knew things were being blown way out of proportion. It was like being grabbed by my hair and being ripped back into the days of when I was in Guns N’ Roses.... I was going to see the show just like anybody else, and to be supportive, for what that’s worth. I spent the last six years trying to stay out of the nastiness that does go on. If Axl had heard I was there and sent somebody down to go, ‘You want to come up and jam on “Paradise City” or “Welcome to the Jungle”?’ I would have done it.

I've never actually seen Guns N' Roses from that perspective, and I was curious. And I wanted to go in a supportive capacity as well. ... I was trying to be discreet about it, but apparently Guns N' Roses' management found out and it was major pandemonium. It was like they sent out an all-points bulletin.

Slash would say that a representative from the band's management company, along with hotel security officers, came to his room and told him to stay away from the show, "to spare me the embarrassment of being turned away at the door" [MTV News, January 4, 2002].

Slash tried arguing that he would not be seen by Axl and had no ill intentions:

I even found a security guard who said he would sneak me in, but the promoter found out about that and nixed that. Basically, if they found me inside, they said, someone would get fired.

Really, I just wanted to go to the show, not cause a scene. If I had wanted to cause a scene," Slash said, "I could have called the head of security on my cell phone and said I was in the middle of the venue and to come and get me, just to f--- with him. I even thought about doing that, but that's just my mischievous side. It shouldn't have been a big deal. And if, even after all this time, if Axl had wanted to do a song, any number of our old GN'R songs, it would have been way cool.

A few days later Slash would call in to the Cane and Cabbie show and explain what happened:

This thing in Vegas, it’s just... It’s amazing how much controversy, you know (laughs) - I don't even know what to call it, Guns N' Roses or Axl and myself or the combination of any one of us. […] Well,  this whole thing started cuz my wife and I went to Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago for the opening of the Whisky Skybar  in Las Vegas. And in our hotel room they have one of those Las Vegas entertainment “what's happening in Las Vegas  this month” kind of magazines and I was flipping through it, and I saw... You know, I mean, I see GN'R, Guns N’ Roses at the Joint and, all things considered, it did catch my attention. And it says that they were playing on the 29th and the 31st. And I was like, “Honey, that would be sort of cool, you know, come back over here in a couple of weeks and go see Guns N' Roses. Now that I think about it, I've never seen Guns N' Roses”... (laughs). […] You know? I've never seen them from that perspective. So I booked a flight to Las Vegas and made a couple of phone calls to people I know in and around the Hard Rock Hotel and... to get tickets, so that I could go in and check it out. And no sooner had I made those plans that the entire – all of Las Vegas knew that I was going to go to a Guns N' Roses show. […] Well, somehow it got out, because whoever it was that I was talking - well, whoever it was that I  talked to in Vegas letting them know that I was coming and when I was booking the room, it’s just, you know, someone couldn't keep their mouth shut. I should have gotten into a 007 mode. […] Anyway, but... So what happened is, as soon as I got to the VIP section of the Hard Rock Hotel to get my room key, and it was like, you could just like feel the vibe. Like, everybody knew something that I didn't know. And it’s like, I’ve been around the block enough times to know this vibe, but I'm not gonna, like, dwell on it. Just give me my room key and basically I'll be on my way. And so no sooner had I gotten my room key and gotten in my room, there was a knock on the door and I think it was, like, four security guards and one of the management company's - you know, one of Doug Goldstein's cronies - and they came to, you know, so as not to embarrass me in front of anybody, in front of The Joint’s entrance. They came to my room to tell me that I was not allowed in the Joint – the Joint is the name of the gig, the name of the venue. […] That I was not allowed in there. And I was like, “Okay, explain to me why is this” and they said, “Because for one, if Axl finds out that you are there, he might not go on stage or he might just trip out and we just don't want that to happen.” And I was like, “Well, then, all things considered, I just really came down to see the show with all of good intentions, with - for one, just I'm curious. I didn't come there to cast any stones or anything like that. […]  I went to go see how my boy was doing, how the band sounded and so on and so forth, and, you know, have a good time and that was it. If I ended up inside the Joint that people were going to lose their job… […] as pissed of as I am about the whole thing, or at least I was at the time, I don't think they... They made sure not to tell Axl that I was there. I know they didn't tell him. […] So he didn't find out till afterwards. So I'm not going to blame the initial distress on Axl. But then, you know, what pisses me off is that the little bastard had the fucking gall to badmouth me and Duff on stage the next night. For riding on the Guns N’ Roses name.  I mean, that's so hypocritical. […] I haven't been riding on the Guns N' Roses name. […] And I’ve been working, you know ( laughs). […] I’ve been doing  all kinds of crazy stuff. I’ve been working, so that sort of hurt my feelings, cuz then I was like, you know - and I knew, I knew that he was going to say something on stage – […]  So that's basically what's up.  And the reason I wanted to let you guys know what the real story was, is because of all these phone calls that I was getting and it was starting to get blown out of proportion. I figured if I could tell anybody who could get it right and convey it properly it would be you guys.

Goldstein would later explain the decision and confirm it was not Axl's decision but a decision made to protect Axl:

We didn’t know what his intentions were. If nothing else, it would have been a distraction. Axl was really nervous about these shows. We decided on our own not to take any risk.

And in mid-2002 Slash seemed to harbour no grudges against Axl and blamed Axl's management:

I'm not going to make any excuses for him, but I know he wasn't responsible for that. That was management.

In late 2002, Dizzy and Earl Gabbidon would comment on the episode and be asked if it was true Slash or other former band members were not allowed into their shows:

Personally, I don't know if that's true. I heard that he (Slash) might be there, and the general consensus amongst all of us, including Axl, was, 'Whatever. If he wants to come out...I mean, whatever.' I don't know what happened, but I saw a funny cartoon — in, like, FHM magazine or something — of a little caricature of Slash getting kicked out (laughs) of the House Of Blues, or wherever we were playing — the Hard Rock Cafe, sorry. It was probably just a big rumor. I don't know anything about that, to be honest.

More tabloid bullshit! Someone at the House of Blues said they saw Slash the night before and he said he was gonna come down. It made Axl a little uncomfortable so Dougie [Goldstein] decided to not allow Slash passes. He could’ve come and relaxed in the back. Slash milks that store too.
Metal Sludge, December 17, 2002; THIS INTERVIEW IS POSSIBLY FAKE

And Steven would comment:

That's so fucking sad that he (Axl) has to be that insecure. That he can't even let a partner in life, 'cause it's not just a band, there's millions of Rock and Roll bands, but Guns N' Roses was the people's fuckin' band. What they did to me as a personal member was bad enough, but that's so wrong not to let him in, let him onstage. Not even let him play! I'm pissed that he didn't give me a call! I sent him a letter. I'd love to talk to him, it's only been 12 years. I have nothing against him, whatever he said, whatever happened in the past, happened, it's old. It was just fuckin' news, it's fuckin' over. We were young. We know how to rock, obviously. You don't need all these issues. But, I have to say, Axl was the greatest frontman ever, period.

In 2004 Slash would again be asked about the episode:

It’s not that big a deal. I went to go see - New Year’s of a year before last, I guess it was, or a year before that. I went to go see him in Las Vegas and I wasn’t allowed in. It was a big thing around my entire building, just like to make sure I didn’t get in. [...] I went because I saw it – I was actually in a hotel in Las Vegas like right before that, like in December. And I saw an ad for Guns N’ Roses with a new logo and all the stuff, and it looked exciting- [...] It was like, I’m gonna go see Guns N’ Roses, the band that I used to be in, you know? (laughs).

In an interview with Duff in 2004, the interviewer would say that Axl had "instructed the bouncers explicitly to keep you guys, his ex-bandmates, out of the venue", to which Duff would reply:

Yeah, what can I say? It hurts, it illustrates his incertainty and paranoia. It's a shame that it all had to end like this.

Slash would be asked about it again in 2007:

I went down to the Joint in Las Vegas. I knew that Guns was playing and I thought, “This will be interesting!” You know, [it was] New Year’s Eve, and me and the missus went down there, and management had made it so that nobody would let me in. Word got around that I was coming, and so I got there- [...] I got there and I got in my hotel room, and we're about to walk out the door, and there's a knock on the door. It’s security, going, “We can't let you in.” I was like, “Come on, it's no big deal. What am I gonna do?” You know, like, “What's the big problem?” And they said, “No, we've got strict orders not to let you back.” But it wasn't an Axl thing - I always stressed that. It was management, who thought- [...] Who thought it would probably be bad for the show if I sort of showed up, that it might distract Axl from what he was doing or… whatever (laughs). [...] The rumor was that I’d brought my guitar, I’d brought my top hat, and I was gonna get on stage and sabotage the night; which, you know, obviously I wasn't gonna do. I just wanted to sort of stand in the front of the stage and see Guns N’ Roses for the first time, because I've always seen it from the other side. You know?

What happened was, my wife and I saw an ad for Guns N’ Roses at the at the Joint at the Hard Rock, and so we made a plan to go there - it was New Year’s Eve. So I went down there, sort of got myself set up – I made a phone call, got set up, and then went down there, and I was forbidden to enter the venue. [...]  They just… the whole building knew I was coming. [...] They were saying, the rumor was that I had my guitar and my top hat, and that I was going to go in there, because, some, you know- [...] I just wanted to go see Guns N’ Roses, because I’d never seen them before.

Just with all due respect to Axl, he didn’t know that I was banned from the venue. It was a manager’s thing, which actually happened to be our old manager, who I hated with a passion. He thought Axl might not react positively if he knew I was there, so he decided to take it upon himself.

In 2009, Axl suggested that Slash bringing his guitar meant he not only wanted to watch the show as a spectator, and that Slash in some interviews had downplayed bringing his guitar with him to "save face":

[Slash] wrote that whole bit about not having his guitar in Vegas, I'd assume, to save face. I was told by both the Hard Rock and different Guns industry people who had come out to be supportive of the new band and were a bit surprised to see him there, especially guitar in hand, but just assumed it was a surprise for the show and we were in on the arrangement.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:30 pm


According to a fan who talked to Axl after the shows at the Joint, Slash had refused to sign off on including a new version of 'Welcome to the Jungle' on the soundtrack for the upcoming movie 'Black Hawk Down' [CDNow/Allstar, January 8, 2002]. The movie's music producer, Kathy Nelson, would confirm that they had tried to get the song included on the soundtrack, first the original version then a re-recorded version, but that they weren't successful [CDNow/Allstar, January 8, 2002]. According to To Zutaut, Axl, through Beta Lebeis, had said it would take away focus from the work on Chinese Democracy to record a new version of Welcome to the Jungle, while Zutaut meant they could use the version already recorded with the new lineup [Classic Rock, March 2008].

Part of Axl’s induction process for his new band was that they re-recorded every song off of Appetite. So we just had to spend a day mixing it.

This did not happen, and the soundtrack would not include any Guns N' Roses songs.


Then, in early 2002, it was reported that Zutaut had been fired not long ago [CDNow/Allstar, February 11, 2002].

I really thought I could get him to deliver the record. And we got close.

Zutaut would later give his story on why he was fired and that it was directly connected to 'Black Hawk Down'. Despite the band not delivering a song for the movie's soundtrack, Axl had requested a private screening of the movie [Classic Rock, March 2008]. According to Zutaut, when Axl realized there were other people present at the screening, he had blamed Zutaut and fired him [Classic Rock, March 2008].

[Axl] said, ‘Who the fuck are all those people in there? I was told that this was my private screening and I don’t know who these fucking people are! I can’t believe you lied to me about this – you told me it was a private screening! You’re fired!’

Zutaut would also mysteriously claim he had been set up by someone in the Guns N' Roses camp [Classic Rock, March 2008].

In 2013, Marc Canter would discuss the reasons Zutaut was fired and also suggest that Zutaut had been working with Slash on some level despite having a contract with Axl that forbid it:

[...] maybe [Zutaut] wasn't allowed to have contact with Slash. And then, like, his phone rang and it said Slash and Axl made him throw out the phone. And you know, then something went down from the movie Black Hawk Down. Jungle was gonna be in that movie and Axl wanted a screening. He wanted to see what the movie was about or whatever, before he agreed to put the song in it. So Tom Zutaut arranged some kind of a screening, but there was miscommunication about who else was going to be there, and it didn't go right - and that wasn't Slash - but it was, it wasn't what Axl thought. Maybe the people that were working with Axl, like Beta, who takes care of like personal business. There was miscommunication and somehow between the two things of Slash talk dealing with... in the contract, he wasn't supposed to be dealing with Slash while he was working with Axl and apparently he was doing that. So that was like a betrayal. And then something went wrong with this Black Hawk Down, which was the final straw. And that was it. So therefore Tom Zutaut was no good anymore and anything he has to say is no good.

The movie was released in December 2001, suggesting that Zutaut was fired at the end of 2001.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:30 pm


It's kind of funny, I got into rock and roll music so I wouldn't have to work and do nine-to-five and now it seems like I'm always working. Amazing.


Dizzy's wife, Lisa Reed, would release books:

And Lisa, my wife, has a new book out. Its called Embra's Flame by Lisa Reed, and its available on She also has another book out called Sabra's Soul. They're both kind of based in the rock world, so they're pretty cool. Check them out.

In late 2014, Dizzy would talk about working with his daughter Shade:

Shade is, you know, she's getting into songwriting and I'm helping her. We're throwing some things together when we can. And you know, she's got a great voice and I'm just trying to nurture that [...].

As for still partying:

I've mellowed out quite a bit. There are more important things in life than partying all the time. But we manage to have fun still.

In 2010, Dizzy and Lisa divorced [The Pulse of Radio/Blabbermouth, July 7, 2017].

In July 2017, Dizzy became a grandfather for the first time [The Pulse of Radio/Blabbermouth, July 7, 2017]. His grandson, Riley, was the son of Dizzy's daughter Morgan [The Pulse of Radio/Blabbermouth, July 7, 2017].

Talking about his kids and grandchild:

They're all grown up now. They're all adults, by the way. I have one grandchild.


Like, we used to have a Fantasy Football League at Dizzy's [?] like some of the guys from The Wild, other guys [?] and some just, you know, some, some people like twelve of them [?]. So I think Axl's brother was in that and had a team and so we would have our little first week of, you know, party over at Dizzy's house, like a BBQ. We'd have the draft at my rehearsal studio. And then, yeah, Axl would be a those. I ran into him a couple times at Dizzy's house.


In 2005, the movie Charlie's Death Wish would be released featuring Dizzy in an acting role [Sp1at, May 3, 2005]. Sp1at would provide a summary of the movie:

When a stripper finds out that her sister has been murdered while in prison, she seeks revenge in this pulse-racing action-thriller. The cast features a glorious mixture of lawless rock & roll stars such as Lemmy (from Motorhead) and Tracii Guns, scream queen Phoebe Dollar, and acclaimed porn star Ron Jeremy in a rare fully-clothed role. As the stripper attempts to track down the evildoers who made mincemeat of her sister she enlists the help of a friendly cop. But her courage is pushed to the limits as she encounters a dangerous band of assassins in her tireless quest to avenge her sibling. Hugely entertaining, CHARLIE'S DEATH WISH is a fast-paced thrill ride designed to set pulses racing from start to finish.

Apparently, Dizzy was hoping for more acting opportunities:

I've been delving into a little acting, yes. i hope i do some cool things in the future- that'd be great... so... look for me in movies- yes.

Later, he would mention a movie called It's A Still Life:

You know what, I’ve been working on a movie called “It’s a Still Life” and it’s gonna be a fantastic soundtrack. I’ve been doing the score for that, as well.


At some point, likely around 2008, Dizzy toured with the Psychedelic Furs [Metal Wani, May 20, 2018]:

We started at about what 10 years ago, I think? [...] I was out with the Psychedelic Furs, I think, and I got a call from Del saying, "I found a studio." [...] Richard Fortus and Frank had played with them in the past and and with Love Spit Love too, I think. And they needed a keyboard player. So they called me and it was a great experience.

And actually, I played with Psychedelic Furs as well, Richard got me into that gig. [?] tours with them, which was great.

2009: EMPTY V

A new live TV station will launch in Los Angeles at the Dragonfly on June 3 for Totally Wayback Wednesdays with Empty V, the new trip down memory lane featuring Dizzy Reed (Guns N' Roses), Troy Patrick Farrell (White Lion, Pretty Boy Floyd), Scotty Griffin (L.A. Guns), and Eric Dover (Sextus, Jellyfish). The band will perform the first songs played on MTV (Music Television), mainly focusing on the songs from the early '80s. Special guest themes will include Max Headroom and the VJs of the past in some form or another.

According to a press release, "This is not your normal tribute or cover band. This is something special, time travel to a safe place we once loved, and now it's back."
Blabbermouth, May 27, 2009

2009-2010: DFR

Later in 2009, Dizzy would play with his club band DFR together with Richard:

DFR, the band featuring Dizzy Reed and Richard Fortus (Guns N' Roses), Mike Duda and Mike Dupke (W.A.S.P.) and Todd Youth (Danzig, D-Generation, The Chelsea Smiles), will perform this Saturday, September 26 at The Knitting Factory in Hollywood, California. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Ages are 15 and up. Tickets are $18.00 in advance. Tickets will be $22.00 at the door. Also appearing on the bill is Vains Of Jenna.
Blabbermouth, September 23, 2009

Dizzy's band would also do a show on April 30, 2010, at the Stockholm Rock Out Festival in Sweden, again joined by Richard [Blabbermouth, March 5, 2010; GN'R Daily, March 9, 2010].

In between touring in 2011, Dizzy kept touring with DFR [Dalton Now, May 18, 2011].


On a new solo album:

I would certainly love to put out some more music. Definitely. You know, that's definitely going to happen and it's not going to take 10 years this time because you know in that 10 years I learned a lot. I learned a lot about what to do and what not to do, and how to do it. [...] I have a lot of songs that I want to put out, so there'll be another record for sure.


But Dizzy I see... As a matter of fact I think I'm playing with Dizzy on New Year's Eve up at the up at a winery, we got- [...] it's called Sunset Winos. It's Eric Singer, Eric Dover, me, Dizzy. I forget who else. It's, you know, a bunch of players and we do like one one or two gigs every once in a while.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:39 pm

APRIL 2002

In April 2002, the band Moth would release their record Provisions, Fiction and Gear which featured Josh on drums and Tommy on bass.

Well, [the sessions] were a lot of fun. It was me and Josh (studio drummer Josh Freese), and those guys, the guitar player (Bob Gayol) and the singer kid (Brad Stenz). It was a blast. I (expletive) love that record (2002’s “Provisions, Fiction and Gear”). And they made one right after too, which I thought was pretty good as well (“Drop Deaf”). They were a good band.

Being asked if he was ever asked to join Moth:

No, I wasn’t, and I wouldn’t have been able to at that time. I was under contract with Guns. I would have done some dates with them if it worked out. I really liked those guys. They were real talented and (expletive), but it wasn’t in the cards.

Provisions, Fiction and Gear
April 2002

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:39 pm


Chuck Klosterman, writing for The Times Leader, would look back at the missed release dates of 2001:

Unfortunately, [Chinese Democracy] was rescheduled for June [2001], and then October [2001], and then it was completely taken off the schedule. There’s a rumor that Axl Rose won’t release this album until we’ve won the war on terrorism, but that’s probably just gossip. Oh well.
The Times Leader, December 28, 2001

Zutaut was out of the project in January 2002, and would later discuss the state of the music at the time:

There were probably 50 or 60 songs on four or five CDs with 12-15 songs a piece. I had to go through those songs and then sit with Axl and work with him directly to pick and choose which songs would be worth finishing. [...]

We were finishing tracks. Doing overdubs with Buckethead and Robin Finck and some stuff with Tommy Stinson. I felt we had a well finished version of The Blues, Madagascar, Chinese Democracy. Atlas Shrugged was pretty good.

Zutaut would also specifically talk about the "I Have A Dream" speech that was to be sampled in Madagascar, and how important it had been to Axl:

Axl feels that particular speech is at the core of the message that he is putting across in that song, and he told me that if the Martin Luther King estate would not give permission for that to come out on the final record that, that track would not be on it without it.

I subsequently found out that the recorded rights to that speech belong to Universal so I figure that – Coretta King [wife of Martin Luther King] is dead now – so unless her kids are violently opposed to him being associated with Axl Rose, Universal should be able to work that out.

With Roy Thomas Baker and Tom Zutaut being booted off the project, Kerrang! talked to a "spokesperson for [the band's] management" who would shed some light on the ongoing work in early 2002:

I went to the studio three weeks ago and heard 41 songs. You're gonna be blown away when you hear them. All this stuff in the papers is rubbish: Axl's got himself together and he's making an incredible, important record. […] [Axl is] completely immersed in making this record. The 41 songs I heard were from the 60 or 70 he's working on. […] This album will make a big impact on people. People think they have all the answers, but the music will do the talking.

Then in March, Robin would mention in an interview with Rock 101 radio station in New Hampshire that the album would be released this year [Blabbermouth, March 27, 2002]. Around the same time an "insider" at Sanctuary would claim the record was completed:

An album exists and we expect to have it released before the end of the year. Word is that it's an awesome record.

In June multiple media outlets would claim the album was to be released on September 2 [Drudge Report, June 23, 2002; Undercover, June 24, 2002;, June 24, 2002; The Courier Journal, June 29, 2002] but band management would soon deny this to be true [Launch, June 25, 2002].

In August Axl would mention that new songs recently written had replaced older songs but that it was time to complete the record now, but also that despite the record being more or less ready fans shouldn't spend time waiting and that the record might not come out at all:

There are a lot of new songs that were just done in the last year that we feel that ‘okay, well that bumps a lot of stuff off the previous list but it's time to stop that now and wrap up the baby. It feels right, the timing, and a lot of things. We've sorted it down to what songs are on the record. What the sequence of the songs is. The album cover art is ready. Blah, blah, blah. If you're waiting...don't. Live your life. That's your responsibility not mine. If it were not to happen you won't have missed a thing. If in fact it does you might get something that works for you, in the end you could win on this either way. But if you're really into waiting try holding your breath for Jesus cause I hear the payoff may be that much greater.

During the August 26 show in London, England, Axl would talk a little bit about the music they had and their plans:

Now, there's been some concern that if we play 5 or 6 new songs, then there can't be that many more on the album. Au contraire, mon frère! We're just playin' the songs we're not considering putting out as singles or anything. So you'll get 18 songs and about 10 extra tracks. And when that - when the record company feels that has run [it's] course, then you'll get it all over again. And by that time, I should be done with the third album! So we'll see if all goes well, boys and girls! And if Uncle Axl proves not to be an asshole - we'll have to see, the jury's still out...

On August 29, Kurt Loder would ask Axl when the new record would be out:

Umm, you'll see it, I don't know if soon is the word. But it will come out and we will, we'll go back, we'll do some more recording and then we'll start the American leg of the tour... And see how it goes from there.

And Axl, Richard and Dizzy would be asked again in November:

Sometime during the next year.

I've heard that it's coming out in March -- but then again I've heard a lot of things, so you never know.

And why it had taken so long:

I was just trying to put this monstrosity together. [...] it's also how do you rebuild something that got so big and replace virtually every person on the crew, every single thing. And how do you make a whole bunch of guys that are something else into something that already was. I don't know if it's exactly been done like this. And not with the intensity of these players wanting to play the material.

We had a lot of set backs and a lot of it had to do with people quitting... sort of like 1 at a time. And then having to be replaced... was like a 1 step forward 2 steps back kind of thing going on so. That's one of the main reasons you know there were some issues couldn't be resolved along the way and people quit on there own accord and once we replace them and try to move on. And during that time we been putting a lot of great songs down in the studio.

Right... I really can't answer it. It's just we want to make sure it's right. Yes we gone through a few different producers. That each person that come along has contributed something to sound you are going to hear when the record does come out, everybody has kind of put there stamp on it but... When you spend a few years on something, you want to make sure it's right. So that's what we been doing. Just making sure to give you guys the best record that we can.

Richard joined the band this year and after the August shows he would record his parts for the upcoming album:

I joined a few months back. We did the tour of Europe, and when we got back, I recorded my parts for the album.

This means that Richard recorded his parts in September-October.

Tommy would also discuss the record's release:

We wouldn't be doing this if it weren't going to come out -- are you kidding? [laughing] If it works out, it could be history making, 'cause no one's ever done this before. A lead singer's never taken the (band) name and continued on with an entirely new band and done that successfully before.

I kinda got into this for exactly that reason; if you're gonna try to do something really whacked, this would be the way to do it. I really don't think about the consequences either way; it's either gonna work or it's not, and in the meantime we're all having a good time trying to make it happen.

It's mostly done. We're doing some last-minute bits here and there on it that we're sowing up. [...] You've got a band that is pretty much done with making the record, a public that is trying to find out what it's all about, so you want to try and make your moves according to that. Also, you have to be careful not to let too much out of the bag before you are ready to do that.

There are just a few odds and ends left to do - a couple of finishing touches, a couple of vocals - and we need to mix it.

To be honest, I thought we were close a few times. And then something happened, someone quit or the bottom has fallen out in some way. Occasionally there's been a one-step-forward, two-steps-back kind of thing going on. But it's very close to being ready.

In December 2002 Tommy would say the record was ready to be mixed:

It’s gotten to the point where the songs have evolved over time, and they can’t be any better. It needs to be mixed now.

After fall tour of 2002 ended prematurely in December, the band went on vacation and planned to enter the studio in January 2003 to finish the record [The Launch, December 19, 2002].

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:40 pm

JULY 2002

In a press release about the upcoming August 27 show in London, Richard Fortus was included in the setlist and not Paul Huge [CDNow/Allstar News, July 17, 2002]. No additional information would be given, but sources close to Richard would confirm that he had joined the band [CDNow/Allstar News, July 17, 2002].


Actually, Richard had been asked to audition for the band three years earlier, but Buckethead was chosen instead:

Actually, I first got a call like three years ago, but before that audition happened, Axl saw Buckethead play, and he decided to go with him instead. Fortunately, I got another call the next time they were looking for someone.

I joined Guns N Roses, I was asked to come and audition originally before Bucket had joined and so I was gonna audition for that role. And I came... I was coming out to Los Angeles, I was based in New York at the time, I was coming out to Los Angeles so I told him, "Yeah, so I'm gonna be out." I got a call asking for an audition. Week goes by, I hear back from them and they say, "Okay, we're gonna do it at this place and this time we're gonna get back to you with the details." They ended up not calling back, I got to this session [presumably another recording session for another band when he happened to meet upon GN'R members] and Tommy and Josh were on the session and I said, "Hey, I was supposed to come an audition but I never heard back," "Yeah, well, Axl found this guy Buckethead and he decided he's gonna use him so we stopped auditions."

Actually, this is funny, I was asked to audition for Guns N' Roses and I said, "Yes, sure," you know, "It works out because I'll be out in L.A. in a couple of weeks anyway, so I could maybe do it then?" And they said, "OK, great, that's perfect," you know, "We're gonna be doing auditions and we'll spot you in." And then I spoke back and forth with them and then I didn't hear anything more. I thought, "Well, that's weird." But I went out to do this album and the album was one Yoshiki [from X Japan] was producing. And he was co-producing I think with Ted Nicely [?] or somebody else that had brought me in. Anyways, I ended up going to the session and on the session the bass player was Tommy Stinson and the drummer was Josh Freese. And they were both with GN'R at the time so I said, "Oh, this is crazy because I was supposed to audition for you guys this week," and they said, "Oh, you're the guy, right! Well, Axl found this guy Buckethead and called off all the auditions." He stopped auditioning people.

I had received a call to asking me if I was interested in auditioning for GNR. I was heading out to L.A. in a few weeks at the time and I said 'Yeah sure. I'm going to be out there anyway doing a record so I'll do it at this time.' They said, 'Great.' I had spoken back and forth with their management and I didn't hear anything back from them, so I thought, 'It's not happening.' Then I got out to L.A. and Tommy Stinson [The Replacements] and Josh Freese [A Perfect Circle, Nine Inch Nails], who were the bass player and drummer with GNR at the time, were the rhythm section for the album I was hired to play on. So I said, 'Hey! I was supposed to come audition for you guys this week. Funny that we're playing on the same session.' They said, 'Oh yeah! You're the guy! Well Axl found this guy Buckethead and he called off all the auditions.'

Well, originally I got the call before then. I was in New York and I was going out, they called me said, "Hey, would you be interested," the management called me and said, "Would you be interested in auditioning for Guns N' Roses?" and I didn't know anybody in the camp but I was like, "Yeah, sure, guess so." I said, "Well, I'm gonna be in LA next week, maybe we could do it then?" and they said, "Oh, perfect." So we set it up. A couple days before I called to get information on where it's gonna be and all that and I never get a call back so I thought it was weird. So I am out to LA to do this other session to this other album and on this session was Tommy Stinson and Josh Freese, who were both playing with GN'R at that time. And I was like, "I can't believe you guys are [?] because I was supposed to come over coming to audition for GN'R," and they said, "Oh, you're the guy from New York, oh right! Okay," and they go, "Oh, that's so funny, well Axl found this guy Buckethead and we just called off all the auditions." And I said, "Okay, cool." So Tommy and I went out that night, became best buddies, you know, best friend.


Richard befriended Tommy which may have helped in Richard getting the call to come in and replace Paul when he left in 2002:

And fair enough, Tommy and I became good friends after that and then next time they were looking for a guitar player they called me. [...] I was on another tour in Europe, got the call, I flew back to LA, because I had two days off, flew to LA, auditioned, got back on the plane, stayed up all night auditioning with them, got back on the plane, flew back to to Europe and finished the tour I was on and then went straight into rehearsals for my first tour.

Well, I guess I developed sort of a reputation in New York, you know, from playing with different people, and being a session guitarist, and writing with different people. And I had worked with Tommy Stinson and Brain, Josh Freese – they all were in Guns N’ Roses -  and I guess that's where it came about, yeah. So they called and I was on the road in Europe, and I flew back in on my day off in Europe. I flew to Los Angeles, auditioned and then flew back, all, like, in one day.

We did the record and Tommy and I became best friends and we ended up doing a bunch of other stuff together. And Josh and I did some stuff together. But next time GNR needed somebody about a year later they called me again. At that time I was on tour in Europe. I had two days off and I flew to L.A. from London. I got off the plane did the audition, got to hang out with Axl talking about music, and then got back on the plane, went back to Europe and finished the tour I was on. After that tour ended I started with GNR in 2001.

I came into Guns N' Roses because some of my friends were in the band. Josh Freese was playing drums, Tommy Stinson was playing bass… Robin Finck [was on guitar]… It was, like, 'Yeah, sign me up. Let's do this.'

I came into Guns N' Roses through Tommy Stinson. Actually, I'd known Tommy and I'd known Brain and I'd known Robin prior to joining. Tommy called me up and asked me if I'd be interested. And I was on another tour. I flew in from Europe, got off the plane, went straight to the audition, auditioned, hung out with Axl talking and listening to music all night, went back to the airport, got on a flight and went back to the rest of the tour.

When I came in, I was really drawn to it because originally it was Josh Freese and Tommy Stinson and Robin Fink and Buckethead, you know, I wasn't that familiar with Buckethead but also Brain came in, and those were all guys that I'd worked with before and was really excited to play with. You know, I was a huge Replacements fan and obviously a big Nails fan. So working with those guys was really intriguing to me.

I was excited — I was always down to do anything with Tommy. And they were like a dream band. They flew me to LA and had a car waiting to take me to the audition.

I was on tour with Enrique Iglesias and this was like during his heyday of like when he was massive and like Hero had just come out and we did that whole, 9/11 has just happened, and we did that Tribute To Heroes. And it was just huge. And so I've been doing this tour with him for year and a half or two years, and [?] Albert Hall in London. And I had got a call... Now two years later [after he first was asked to audition] I get a call from Tommy going, "Hey man, can you come audition for Guns?" "Sure. Let me figure it out cuz I'm in Europe." So I sorted it out, I got off stage from the last show at Royal Albert Hall, had a car waiting, went to the airport, flew to LA, got off the plane, went straight to the audition, did the audition, hung out with Axl all night, talking and listening to music in his car, and then went back to the airport and flew back to finish the tour.

Tommy would later talk about his role:

I don't know if he'll ever forgive me. Hopefully, he'll live through it. We met at a session and became fast friends. We have a lot of things in common and we've been good friends since.


Richard would later comment on Axl mentioning him playing Stray Cat Blues:

Yeah, I was getting the sound on my amp! It wasn't like, Okay, this is what I'm going to play. I was just getting the sound, and when you play something you play a riff or whatever. You're doing something familiar to get the sound in the amp the way you want it to sound. That's just one of those riffs. I was just playing the beginning of it, not even thinking about it. Then Axl was like, Whoa! He was like, Wow, 'Stray Cat Blues'! That's big points. [...] I walked in the room and it was the first time I played with them.

Discussing joining the band:

We played through some songs [on the audition] and then just stayed up all night talking to [Axl], got back on a plane and… He was great, you know, very engaging and very charming – not the monster that you read about (laughs).

Tommy and Brain (aka Brian Mantia), I've worked with both of them before. Buckethead was there at that time, and I came in and was brought in to replace Paul, who had been writing with Axl and I guess he was a childhood friend of his. He was no longer there for whatever reason, and they were looking for someone to fill that spot.

I was not really a fan of the band when I was growing up. I always lumped them in with the hair metal bands of the time. That wasn’t my scene at all. I was more of a punk rock kid. When I got the call to audition, Tommy Stinson was already one of my best friends. I was a huge Replacements fan growing up and I think Tommy is an amazing songwriter and musician.

Also, I was a big fan of Robin Finck’s and the stuff he did in NIN. So it was very intriguing to me.  By that time, I’d also figured out that Guns was much more than just one of the LA metal bands. They were influenced by all the bands that I’d been influenced by. Bands like the Stooges, the Stones, The Dolls, Nazareth, Pistols, etc.

To be honest with you, it sort of wasn't my thing. I wasn't really… I wasn't into metal as a kid, I was sort of a punk rock kid, and all the bands that I was in were all very different; they weren't metal. So when I first got that call, I thought it was unusual, but it sort of made sense because of the people that were in that band at the time: Robin from Nine Inch Nails, Tommy from The Replacements, Brain from Primus. Those were all guys that I knew and [from] the same type of genre that I was in, so it sort of made sense. And Axl sort of wanted that — he wanted a diverse type of thing. He didn't want guys that were just, you know, L.A. metal guys. 'Cause, you know, GN'R always had some roots in punk rock as well.

Being asked what songs they played at the audition:

It's been awhile. I know Riad and the Bedouins was one, from Chinese Democracy, there was a few Chinese songs on there that I auditioned with, as well as, you know, Paradise City and I don't remember what else was up there.

And being asked whether he had practised the unreleased songs before coming to audition:

Sure, sure, yeah, with earlier versions.

Richard talking about joining the band:

I'm the newest guy. I joined a few months back. [...] Yeah [it was an easy decision to join]. Tommy's one of my best friends, and he has been for a while. We've done loads of recording sessions together. And with all of the other people that are involved with Guns N' Roses, it's a pretty unbelievable band.

I had decided to pretty much stay out [in California] and do my own stuff because there usually isn't any money in touring. At the same time I didn't like the idea of painting myself into a corner and never going out. But I'll tell you, the money on this one was too good to turn down.

After years of their begging, pleading and general groveling, I finally succumbed and joined the band. Okay, okay ... I had done a few sessions with Tommy Stinson and Brain. Tommy and I had been pretty good friends for awhile so when they were looking for someone, Tommy called and asked if I wanted to audition. At the time I was on the road in Europe so I had to fly from London to L.A. and then back to Ireland during a two day break. Got off the plane and went straight to the audition and then got back on a plane!

So I was in Europe with Enrique Iglesias, I was in the middle of a tour. I got a call... Tommy Stinson was a friend of mine. Brain was a friend... or actually, at that time I think, was it Josh Freese? Anyways, I'd played with those guys and worked with them doing studio work and they had called and said, "Hey, would you be interested in auditioning?" I said, "Sure." And so I found a three day window or two and a half... Yeah, I guess it was like three days and after I finished our last show at the Albert Hall I had a car waiting, went straight to the airport, flew to LA, did the audition, went straight, you know, straight-

After the auditions Richard would hang out with Axl in his car:

So then I hung out with Axl all night talking, listening to music in his car and stuff like that, and had to go back to Europe to finish the tour [with Enrique Iglesias]. [...] [Axl] pretty much told me that night [that I was in the band]. [...] We spoke about it and he said, "Well, we're going to start rehearsals in two weeks," and I say, "I can't start in two weeks, I'm in the middle of the tour," and he looked at me like, "Are you kidding me? I'm offering you and you're not going to." And he thought about it for a second, "You know what? We'll wait for you because I know you won't do it to me." And you know, Axl's always been great with me. We've always had a great relationship and he's always been a solid dude.

Axl told me we were starting rehearsals a week later after I had auditioned, and I said, "I can't do that because I'm in the middle of the tour," and he said, "Well OK, I'll wait, we'll wait for you because I know you won't do it to me. You won't leave me if something else comes up."

[Axl] had said, "Hey, we're gonna start rehearsals in two weeks," and I said, "I can't do it, I'm in the middle of a tour," and he responded and said, "You know, that's"... he thought about for a second, I could see him sort of, like, I could see him thinking, "Are you kidding me?" but then after a think about for a second he said, "That's okay, we'll wait for you because I know that you won't do that to me, you won't leave me stuck," you know. Because it's really that's what... in this business, that reputation of being somebody that will jump ship to take another gig is a really bad reputation to have

(Rose) was tough about it, but he said, ‘OK, we’ll wait.' I’ve been playing as a side man for so many years. Your commitment is really very important. Without it, it’s easy to get a bad rep.

And then Axl that at the audition, we're hanging out, he's like, "So we're gonna start rehearsing in two weeks cuz we got this thing coming up," and I was like, "Woah, woah, I can't leave the tour that I'm on," and he was like, "What?" [laughs] Like, "I'm asking you to join Guns N' Roses and you can't leave the Enrique Iglesias tour?" And he you thought about it for a second and he goes, "Okay, we'll wait because I know you won't do it to me."

Being asked if he felt that talking to Axl had been part of the audition:

Oh yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, every gig I've ever done most of the audition is how you relate to somebody and how you... and when I've auditioned people I know after meeting somebody I know what they're gonna play like. Just from their personality.

Later Richard would claim his somewhat initial mercenary motives for joining the band had been replaced by enjoyment:

I mean just think of it, to have Robin and Buckethead up there, I don't think you could put a better group together. We all split up the lead breaks pretty well.

Being asked if he was a Guns N' Roses fan prior to joining:

No, I didn't grow up a Guns N' Roses fan, really. I was sort of like a punk-rock kid, and they were one of those bands that was kind of marginal. You know: They had long hair. Certainly, "Welcome to the Jungle" is a pretty undeniable song, and I loved "It's So Easy," too, because that's right up my alley, fitting right in with bands like the New York Dolls, MC5 and the Stooges. But Guns N' Roses were so L.A., and I was a NYC kid. So it wasn't until much later that I really got into the band.

The kind of metal I associated them with at the time, well, I was vehemently opposed to it.

No! It was totally not my genre! When I joined, Brain from Primus was playing drums, Tommy Stinson from The Replacements was playing bass and Robin Finck from Nine Inch Nails was playing guitar so it made…..those were all bands that I related to so it made sense for me. Plus, Guns N’ Roses had a lot of roots in the whole Punk Rock thing so it made sense to me and the whole New York Dolls connection, you know that….

I wasn't that familiar with - I mean, obviously I knew Guns N' Roses, I knew Appetite and I knew all the big hits, but I never really owned a record, it just wasn't my genre.

And whether he had any reservations considering the band's hard-partying reputation:

At that time, no. I mean there's nothing crazier than what I've been involved with. And at that time it was, you know, Tommy was a good friend, I knew Robin, I new Brain, and I was excited to play with those guys, you know, I mean, it really was.... I mean, at that time if I were going to put together my dream band, it was probably pretty much that band. Robin's a great talent and Tommy is an incredible musician and, you know, one of my closest friends, and playing with those guys is sort of a no-brainer for me.

But he soon realized joining GN'R made total sense musically:

[...] it makes total sense, because Guns N' Roses really was separated from that LA hair metal scene, which is who I sort of lumped them in with initially. But once you get into it, you realize it's much more akin to classic rock and punk rock. And so it makes perfect sense that I would relate to it. Once I got into it, it's like it fit really well for me because that's my background, you know. Equal parts Black Flag and Rolling Stones.

And as I'm sure you've read, I wasn't a big Guns N' Roses fan when I joined the band, I just didn't know much about them. I mean, I knew, obviously, I knew all the hits but I didn't know any albums, it wasn't really in my genre, you know, it wasn't where my attention was focused. And I sort of lumped them in with the other LA hair bands, unfortunately, because it's not what they are and as I started listening to it I was really excited about it because it's definitely more up my alley than I had originally thought. You know, it's very Stones influenced and very classic rock influenced as well as being very punk rock influenced - that's my background.

In 2017, Richard would say he had wanted to return to playing rock:

Enrique was huge, and it was great,. We were doing three nights at Albert Hall in London. He was at the peak of his game, and the band was killer, but I didn’t want to continue touring with Enrique. There’s a big difference between pop music and playing in a rock band. ... I was eager to get into a rock band again.


When we had Richard’s first audition with us and he’s on the plane, on flight out of L.A., some kid (?) asked him for his autograph and was like, “Izzy, could you sign this?” So I kind of thought that maybe it was a good omen.

Richard would also mention this episode:

Actually, on my way back to the UK to finish that tour I was sitting at the at LAX and this guy comes up to me and he says, "Excuse me sir, are you who I think you are?" And of course I said, "Probably not." And he said, "You're not Izzy Stradlin?" And it was the most biz... Nobody had ever said that to me before. And I looked around like, is this a joke? And I said, "No, I'm not, but I think I just took his gig."

And funny thing happened, I had gone to LAX, to the airport, and I was sitting at the airport ready for my plane and a guy came up to me, said, "Excuse me sir, are you who I think you are?" I said, "Probably not." He said, "You're not Izzy Stradlin?" It was the weirdest, nobody has ever said that to me before, ever! Nobody has ever said that to me. And this guy, right then. And I thought, "Where's the hidden camera? This is too weird."


Axl would later explain the replacement of Paul with Richard:

Paul helped us a lot in the writing and the recording of this record and to me was a vital part of not only the band but also my life. The world tour really wasn't his cup of tea whereas he's much more comfortable in a studio setting. We're fortunate to have found Richard who has this vibe kind of like Izzy but with amazing feel. The first thing I heard Richard play was the beginning of "Stray Cat Blues" by the Stones and he did it with the right feel. Richard likes to play rhythm. He's an amazing lead player and very technically skilled. He really likes the pocket that Brain sets and the two of them click with Tommy so we finally have the real deal rhythm section, as Richard is a proven professional. Basically, Richard's the guy that we always were looking for. I think that we'll go on to write some very interesting things with Richard and he's already done some rhythm work and some leads on the album.

In 2005, Dizzy would be asked what had happened to Paul, and respond:

He was dismissed.

And in 2018, Brain would refer to it as "Axl got rid of Paul":

[...] Axl got rid of Paul and then we got Richard because he was Tommy's friend [...].


Although Paul would no longer be part of the touring lineup, he still worked for the band in other capacities:

Paul helps out all the time and is on a lot more material. Paul helped get a lot of the base credits etc together which were extensive. He's always had a good memory on that stuff and it's generally important to him to be as ethical as he's capable which is invaluable.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:42 pm


I’m from St. Louis. I started playing violin and drums around 4 or 5 years old. I didn’t pick up guitar till I was around 13. I don’t think I was a bad kid. I got in to some trouble, but I wasn’t too bad. I really fell in love with rock n’ roll at an early age and used to go to every concert that I could. It didn’t matter if I was really a fan of the band or not, if they came to St Louis, I went.

I was obsessed. I read, watched and LISTENED to everything I possibly could. I’d spend Saturday mornings at Vintage Vinyl in St Louis, scouring the bins of vinyl. I’d read every interview I could and then search out the people that influenced the people I was listening to. I saw every concert I possibly could, whether I liked the band or not. Every second of my youth was focused on music. I was obsessed, body and soul.

You know my father used to always say to me, he's like, "Yeah, you're blessed because you'd be doing this for free if you weren't getting paid for it," which is absolutely true.

When I was little, I remember being like, I was like four or five years old and being in Sunday school and at church and them asking me, you know, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And they were asking everybody in the group, you know, and I remember thinking, that's my earliest memory of thinking, "I want to be a musician."



Richard Fortus was born November 17, 1966, in St. Louis, Missouri [Glide Magazine, April 23, 2012] into a musical home:

I was, born and raised [in St. Louis]. [...] I was born and raised in, like, between Chesterfield and Creve Core.

[...] my mother sang and played piano and my father was one of the owners of a company called St Louis Music, which made Crate and Ampeg and Alvarez, so I grew up in a musical environment. There were always a lot of musicians around and a lot of instruments so I was always around it.

Well, my mother actually was into vocal music and played piano and sang with different choirs and things like that but my father actually, he was part owners of a company that made musical instruments. So they made guitars and they made amplifiers and that exposed me to that world of, you know, of rock'n'roll.

[My father] was partners in a company that made musical instruments. [...] So they made guitars and they made amplifiers and that's how I was exposed to music at a young age. [...] [MY father] was an accountant. And had nothing to do with music other than he worked in that business. But I was around a lot of people that were musicians, that worked for him, and that really is what influenced me and got me... but I think my love of music goes back even before that.

Already at the age of 4-5, Richard started playing the violin, and the drums to the chagrin of his parents:

I played violin and cello all through school, so all the way through college. That was my primary focus. It was the biggest part of my musical training when I was a kid. I didn't pick up the guitar until I was about 13. I played violin and drums all the way through grade school.

I started playing violin when I was four, and drums as well. So that was always like my major passion. [...] Well, like I said, I started on violin when I was four and I played violin all through school. I also started playing cello in high school. I taught myself basically from my knowledge of violin, it’s not that far off; it’s pretty close just a different clef so it was easy to transition.

I played in youth symphonies and different orchestras. At Christmastime, from the time I was about twelve years old, I would do “Handel’s Messiah” at different churches around the city and you’d get fifty bucks per event and you’d go to all the different churches and play “The Messiah”. We’d do the gospel churches in East St Louis, which was a lot of fun because after you would play “The Messiah” they would then do gospel things and would always use the strings since we were there so we’d get to play these gospel bits too. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun.

When I started I was young, I was like four, so I don't think I had a whole lot of choice in the matter, you know. And I remember my grandmother had bought me a drum kit much to the chagrin of my parents who were not very excited about that. But I really getting started... I started playing violin when I was, I guess, five and I played violin all through school.

Well, I actually started on violin. I started when I was about four or five years old. [...] When it was first offered to me, at that age is sort of like, "Yeah sure, I'll try anything," you know. And I was also playing the drums at that point so I sort of got into both of them at the same time and it sort of filled two different roles. You know, I was doing violin at school, I was studying drums with a drum teacher, a private teacher [...].

Violin... the Suzuki method was just coming into popularity when I was about that age and they were starting kids really young. My parents got me involved in that and so I rolled with that. And then my grandparents bought me a drum kit, much to the chagrin of my parents, and, yeah, so I got into that and that sort of quelled the rock-and-roll side of me while I was still playing in different orchestras and stuff with violin. And then started playing cello later on as well. But yeah, I carried on playing drums, drums and violin, all through school until I was about 12 [...]


When Richard was 7-8 he became interested in rock music:

[...] I really became obsessed with rock probably around the age of seven or eight. And just, you know, fell head over heels in love with it and really obsessed over it. It's funny, I really spent every waking hour it seemed, like, immersing myself in music and music and rock'n'roll history, and classical as well.

I guess when I was a little kid I discovered The Beatles and the Stones and I thought that was much more appealing than Classical music. When I was 12, I was playing the drums. I was playing the violin around the same time I started playing the drums. I was getting my Rock & Roll ya-ya's out at the same time I was studying classically. I was doing that all the way through school. Through high school, I always played violin and cello and studied Classical guitar as well.

I was always pretty obsessed with rock n’ roll. I studied classically and I enjoy orchestral music, but the freedom and energy of rock, blues and jazz is what I was more drawn to. Improvisation, it’s spontaneous composition. It’s so much more expressive and immediate and emotional. As a classical musician, you are only interpreting the music and there is very little creativity involved. The expression is very limited, you are simply a tool for the composer. There isn’t any genre that I don’t like. Good music is good music.

Then at 12-13, Richard picked up the guitar:

I've been playing guitar since i was about 12 or 13.

I started on guitar at around 12 and with great trepidation. I'd started on violin when I was about 4 and had my hands full with 4 strings and was very unsure about adding 2 more to the equation. However, I was in love with the rock and violin wasn't cutting it.

I remember seeing Ted Nugent when I was a kid, I was really little, and thinking, he was rock and roll personified to me, just the personification of rock and roll. It just embodied every thing that... just that mayhem, just craziness. It's probably one of the defining moments for me, to see Ted Nugent.

There were always guitars around my house but I didn't start with guitar until later. I think mainly because I was intimidated by, it had six strings instead of four, and, you know, it's so large, the neck was so long and I was used to a short... and I had a lot to with just a small, I couldn't imagine and then all this playing chords, that just intimidated me. So it wasn't until I was 12 that I picked up the guitar.

There were all these guitars around the house and they were always so intimidating to me just because there were 6 strings! My left hand was already strong, so it came very quickly.

There were always guitars around the house when I was growing up. I was always pretty intimidated by them because they had 6 strings and I had my hands full with 4! I always loved guitar though. Guitars are just so sexy!

When I was about 12, I used to jam with other kids and they started showing me stuff. I became fairly adept very quickly. I always hung around older kids that were much more advanced. They hung out with me because at a very young age, I was a pretty solid drummer and they all played guitar.

I was playing drums in bands and stuff when I was really young, like when I was ten or eleven. I was always hanging out with older kids and I was always intrigued by the guitar; it’s just that I was a bit intimidated by it. There were always guitars around my house because of what my father did but for me, I had my hands full with four strings. I was intimidated by the length of the neck on a guitar when I had a little neck on my violin and had a lot to deal with there (laughs). Then finally through seeing friends, watching guys in bands I was playing with, I started picking up things on it and I got really good quickly in a short period of time. I already had the finger strength from violin, so it was very easy for me to get good quickly.

[...] as my tastes started to lean more towards rock and roll and less towards classical I then later gravitated towards the guitar, probably around the age of 11 to 12.

[...] until I was about 12 and then picked up a guitar and there were always guitars around my house because my father was involved in the MI side of the industry so he was working for a company that made musical instruments. So St. Louis Music, which was [?] Electro Guitars when I was a kid. So there were always guitars in the house. But I was very intimidated by them because they had six strings and very long necks and polyphonic [?] so it was very intimidating, so I never really got into it until I was about 12 or 13 start picking the guitar up. [...] when you think about it, when you're kid, you know, like focusing... cuz violin is predominantly single notes, you know, especially in classical, it's single note lines. The idea of piano still is... like I can't believe how pianist can sit down and sight-read music, that just blows my mind, with your hands. It's still difficult for me to get my head around. But, you know, it was the same type of thing with guitar, it was like, man, reading chords and yeah, I had just a lot to deal with.

I was, like I said, I was always a drummer as well. So I played in bands as a young kid, friends playing drums. And then I guess I started playing because I was hanging out with guitar players and sort of thought, "Man, that doesn't look so difficult," because there were always guitars in my house. There were always guitars around. My father was in the music business. He was in the musical instrument business. And so he was partners in a company that made guitars and amplifiers and drums. So there were always guitars around my house, but I was always very intimidated by them because they have long necks and two extra strings that being more polyphonic based as opposed to single note with the monophonic with violin. And I was intimidated by all of that. I mean, I got my hands full with four strings. I'm just gonna stick with that. And yeah, so then I realized later on that it's actually easier in a lot of ways. And I started diving into that and then became obsessed with that. But I always, I already had a lot of finger strength from violin. So I got good quickly. You know, I was able to pick stuff up very quickly.


I grew up really into Prog Rock and Art Rock. David Bowie, King Crimson to Yes, the early Genesis stuff, Peter Gabriel, and Iggy Pop. Then I got into the really classic stuff like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, The Faces and stuff like that.

Then I heard The Clash when I was about 13 and all of that changed & all I wanted to do was listen to Punk Rock. The early Punk Rock days. Bands like The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Ramones, Psychedelic Furs, The Beat and bands like that.

Then I started a band and we did that type of music. I was about 14 or 15. From there, my band became very popular in St. Louis and around the Midwest.

[...] it wasn't until I was about seven or eight years old that I started to hear The Beatles and the Rolling Stone and, you know, bands that were popular then were Thin Lizzy, bands like Styx, Foreigner and things like that, Foghat, I remember Aerosmith was huge, KISS was huge. Those were big bands for me when I was seven and eight years old. KISS and Queen was a huge band. And then I started getting into, I inherited my aunt's record collection because she became very religious and found Jesus and decided to give away her record collection to me because she didn't want to listen to... It really developed my passion for listening to music and searching albums out and wanting to listen to albums.

I guess I was probably six or seven and had my mother order 8-tracks for me from like the Columbia Music Program or whatever it was, where you could pick out ten or you buy two and you get ten free, that type of deal. I remember getting the Beach Boys and Aerosmith’s Rocks and War and KISS Alive. Then I inherited my Aunt’s record collection because she discovered Jesus and decided that she was going to get rid of all of her secular music. So when she did that I inherited her amazing record collection, which was the complete Beatles and Rolling Stones, T Rex and Humble Pie, Black Sabbath, Peter Frampton. And that stuff, to me, was like finding a treasure chest. I lived in those records for a good solid year; just obsessed over that stuff. That was really, really formative. [...] When I was a kid, Queen and Aerosmith were huge for me. Then David Bowie was also huge then Bob Dylan and obviously The Beatles and the Stones and Hendrix.

I benefited from her being born again and finding Jesus and wanting to part ways with all of her secular records which I embraced. Yeah, bands like The Beatles and, you know, all the classic Rolling Stone stuff, [?], Black Sabbath and... I inherited this great collection and that really shaped my young musical mind.

From the time I was about 9 years old, I inherited my folks' record collection. So I got all The Beatles' and Stones' records. I listened to Humble Pie. That was very formative for me and probably why I started playing guitar. I used to love listening to that stuff. From there, I got really into prog rock, art rock stuff - some Crimson, Yes, early Genesis when I was 13 or 12. Then I heard The Clash and it was all over for me! It's funny because I never took to what was popular at that time, the rock thing with like Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne. I had no interest in it. Then when I heard The Clash, that's where I belonged! So I went from Yes and King Crimson straight into The Clash.

I grew up listening to Robert Fripp, Snakefinger, Adrian Belew, Jeff Beck, Neil Young, Frank Zappa, Peter Green, Steve Howe, Brian May, Buddy Guy, Albert and BB King, God, i could go on forever.

I remember going to see Pink Floyd in Philadelphia with my father. I don’t know what tour it was but it was probably Animals. Then I also saw KISS and Funkadelic. It’s funny, in St Louis, and it was probably this way for you as well, but when I was a kid, you went to see everything. It didn’t matter if you liked the band or not. If it was a big show coming to town you went. I would go see Van Halen every time they came. I never liked Van Halen but I’d still go to see them (laughs). I went to see everybody. I went to see Styx and I hated Styx. I saw Journey and I hated Journey. I hated all that stuff but I would go see it because, well, because I could. Because of what my father did, I had access to tickets and stuff like that and I would get to go backstage so it was pretty cool. I also remember going to see Frampton on the Frampton Comes Alive tour when I was really young. It was like 1976 or 1977. He is one of my favorite guitar players ever. He was a huge influence on me. I mean, Humble Pie, I still love that stuff.

When I started off I'm a real prog type stuff at that point so bands like Yes and King Crimson and like, you know, Peter Gabriel, Genesis and you know. And like more the art rock, like Bowie and T-Rex and Velvet Underground and Roxy Music, you know. Stuff like that I was really intrigued by. And then I didn't listen to, I wasn't into, like, Motley Crue or Poison or Def Leppard or bands like that, that were popular, Ozzy Osborne. But I love like the early Sabbath stuff. I just was like attracted more to older music. And then I heard The Clash and my whole world was like, "Whoa! Okay, hold on a second-"

Talking about The Clash and his other influences:

The thing about The Clash is that it was so mature and so evolved in its rawness, but there was an element of sophistication that I found incredibly attractive. It wasn’t just a group of yobbos out bashing their head against the wall. It was so deep. You could hear it instantly. When you listen to, especially when you hear London Calling or Sandinista, it’s just so deep. There’s so much going on there and there’s a level of sophistication that I found very attractive because there was no pretension to it, whereas the things that I was into up until that point were bands like … I was not into the contemporary rock bands when I was a kid. After Aerosmith and Queen, I wasn’t into stuff like Ozzy Osbourne. I wasn’t into Def Leppard or Motley Crue or bands like that, that were popular when I was a kid.

Then I heard bands like The Clash, and Echo and the Bunnymen, and The Psychedelic Furs and I was listening to older bands. Bands like art rock bands like King Crimson, and Yes, and the early Genesis stuff, and T-Rex, and Bowie, and Iggy Pop and when I heard The Clash it wasn’t just… now I love the Sex Pistols. It was raw, it was anger and it was rebellion. With The Clash it was so much more, it was so much deeper and it was so much richer musically. There was so much depth to it. That’s really what spun me around and made me really re-evaluate things and go, ‘wait a second, this is what I want to do.’ Music isn’t masturbatory. It shouldn’t be like that. It shouldn’t be so pretentious. This is honest and you can feel their passion for music beyond the fashion. That’s really what drew me to it.

When I first started playing I was really into more, I guess, the art rock type of things and also fusion, because when I was a kid, like, Mavishnu Orchestra and Jeff Beck and that was really what attracted me as well was, like, Yes and Genesis like the early giants, King Crimson, stuff like that. And then I heard the Clash and everything sort of changed. Then it was about not being able to play, you know- [...] and it was about the songs and the attitude and not so much about masturbatory playing, you know? But I was always into... When I was a kid I was into older music, you know, I was into bands like Thin Lizzy and Bowie and, you know, stuff that was a- [...] Kids my age were listening to Poison and Def Leopard and, you know, it just wasn't my thing. So I went from like the older rock and then I got into punk rock, you know?

I heard the Clash and everything changed for me. My whole world went... Cuz before that it was all about... Like I was really into Mahavisnhu Orchestra and Jeff Beck and [?] and, you know, all this the fusion thing that was happening, you know, like  the [?] like with that, you know I Get Up On The Corner and Bitches Brew and then when that became Mahavishnu. To me that was my Vishnu was like punk rock, right? They like chips on their shoulder and they were out to prove themselves, you know. And that's the same thing, that energy and that passion is what attracted me to the Clash and to the Sex Pistols and to the Ramones, and it was so immediate and so raw and pure, you know. And that really attracted me. And also, I think ignorance so often breeds innovation. And there was a simplicity and ignorance that made that so pure and genuine and again, you know, I need to believe it. And, you know, same thing with Sonic Youth, the same thing with Fugazi or a Minor Threat and Black Flag, you know. Like, when I heard all this that's where my life went, you know, musically. And then it was not about being a virtuoso player and for years, you know, we hid that as much as we could and it was more about the subtleties, you know, where you let that shine for a second, you know, but don't focus on it, you know. And so that's sort of the direction that I went in.

Richard was also a fan of the Replacements with Tommy Stinson:

I did end up playing with a lot of my favorite artists from that time, like Tommy Stinson from The Replacements. The Replacements were one of my favorite bands. I remember seeing The Replacements opening for X when I was 14, and Tommy was my age.


Talking about his first guitar and how he is a 12-year old kid had sold drugs to buy it:

There were always guitars around the house but I remember the first one that I bought. I got it from my father’s company. At that time they owned a guitar line called Electra and those were my first guitars. I sold drugs to buy it (laughs).

I was like twelve years old. [...] I was trying to buy a guitar (laughs). [...] I used to sell joints for the guys up the street and from there I was selling bags of weed and then from there I ended up buying water acid from Hell’s Angels. I used to also buy speed from these junkies that would break into pharmacies and they didn’t want the speed so I’d buy like black beauties and yellow jackets and speckled eggs, stuff like that, for like fifty bucks and then I’d sell them for a buck a piece. So I made a lot of money doing that. [...] it was when I was in Junior High, so I would’ve been thirteen when I was selling speed.

Talking about getting busted for selling drugs:

I think the first time I got busted by my parents I was twelve. I also got caught at school and they called the police and stuff. [...] My father told me, “I can’t tell you not to do drugs. You’re going to do what you want to do. All I can do is tell you about all of these guys that work for me that are all very talented musicians and have wasted their lives and are working in a warehouse because they chose drugs and it became more important to them than furthering their careers.

Whether that talk had worked:

Yeah, I think so. I had a lot of problems with drugs after that but I think that ultimately it really tempered my youth and really always made me focus more on what I was doing in my career. And when I say career, meaning like the quality of my art, really focusing and keeping that paramount in my life as opposed to putting drugs first. I don’t know if that was his intent when he told me that but it definitely had that effect on me.


At some some point, Richard also learnt the cello and would later use it was some of his bands:

And I also play the cello.  [...] That I picked up later on. [...] I've done quite a few recordings, which cello and violin. But I actually played cello live with a few different projects, with The Psychedelic Furs. Which a lot of their early stuff has cello in it. So I played six string electric cello. [...] it was really cool. And it's actually a MIDI cello, so I had the high E string and a low F. So, you know, it goes lower than a cello and higher than a violin actually. But it was really cool. For using it electrically I had it mounted on a stand so I could just walk up to it and play. It was really cool. I also used it with an electronic artist named BT.


I guess I was about 15 years old and I left my regular public school and went to an arts school that was like a magnet school downtown where I grew up in St. Louis and I went to this art school and started meeting likeminded musicians, which was a tremendous opportunity just to be around those people and have... you know, that's the hardest thing when you're a kid, is about getting into music is finding likeminded musicians, you know. And that was a really cool thing about that school, is that I was around a ton of different people that were into completely different things. And it was also a great experience for me as far as expanding my horizons and getting into other types of music, you know. And it was a city school, so I was really at an early age exposed to, you know, the Parliament Funkadelic stuff and you know all the funk stuff that was going on at that time. Also, you know, the early hip-hop stuff. Gave me a well-rounded musical back. But I found some guys when I was about 14-15, started in school, and we were into older music. We were into, like, more of the art rock. Yes and Genesis and Pink Floyd and more of the artier stuff. You know, Bowie. And not so much the contemporary. So not like Poison and Def Leppard- [...] I was into stuff like Sabbath and you know like older rock classic stuff like The Who and you know the Kinks. So we were into that stuff as well as the typical musician's school nerdy stuff like Mahavishnu Orchestra and what was going on in the whole, you know, jazz fusion period and being musos. And then I heard The Clash and we all sort of naturally progressed from listening to that stuff into The Clash and the B and the Damned and Sex Pistols and Ramones and all that, you know, and really at that point it became about trying to pretend like we couldn't play our instruments, right? So it was this weird [?] where you go from one extreme to the other. With the art stuff and the jazz stuff, it's all so masturbatory and then going to the other extreme of just serving the song and really not trying to show your chops, but the opposite.

I got a scholarship to Southern Illinois University and I started going when I was out of high school but I just wanted to take music classes and my band then was doing really well and I didn't really have any interest in anything but music and that was my focus. And, you know, I guess also in business but really it was music business stuff and there was no real classes at that time for things like that. So, you know, after a few months I just... they wanted me to take academic classes and I had no interest in...

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sat Apr 13, 2024 8:06 am; edited 51 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:42 pm



While attending high school, studying visual performing arts, Richard met Michael Schaerer with whom he would found the band The Eyes [KSHE 95, December 5, 2016].

[...] like I said at that point my band was starting to take off and had a lot of record company interest and so I just sort of went with that. And it wasn't long after that that we signed with Atlantic and I started touring.

Pale Divine was my first band. We toured and became very popular in the midwest and eventually signed with Atlantic records. We toured with the Furs and during that tour the Furs asked me to join them onstage everynight after our set.

[...] we were playing incessantly, we played non-stop – constantly, just every week - and traveling between Chicago, Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, you know, Chicago… It was all a big cycle that we would do all the time in all the college towns. It was quite an experience and a great way to learn the stage.

[Pale Divine lasted till] ’92, when I left to join The Psychedelic Furs. Well, actually I left to start a new band with the singer of The Psychedelic Furs; that was Love Spit Love.

My first serious band was a band called The Eyes, which then became Pale Divine. I started with them when I was about fifteen and I put the band together with the singer who went to my high school. I went to an arts high school, a magnet school, because I was in a lot of trouble at the time and I remember I was very serious about music and I thought, well, I didn’t want to leave my school because I was well-established there, but since I was in trouble there I felt like I had to sort of make peace somehow with my parents, sort of appease them. So I went and checked out the school and for some reason I just went with it and it was the best decision I ever made. Not because of the education I got but because I was around so many like-minded kids that were just as passionate about music as I was.

I met the singer of this band there and through other friends there I met a couple of other guys and I played with them till I was like twenty-two and moved to New York. We were signed to Atlantic Records and we were a big deal in the mid-west, we had a big cult following. It was like very alternative music; well, what they called alternative at the time, like college rock. We played all over the mid-west and had a big following and signed with Atlantic and toured opening for the Psychedelic Furs.

It was my very first band. I had lots of hair. [laughs] I was in that band when I was fifteen and that’s when we started. We signed with Atlantic Records, put out a record called Straight To Goodbye, which was very telling, and we toured opening for the Psychedelic Furs. And then I started playing with the Furs.

I remember playing the Blue Note in Columbia, MO. Our album had just come out and we were playing 2 sold out nights there. I'll never forget walking out onstage and that feeling of "wow, we made it!". I think that particular venue was so important to me, because we'd tried so hard to get in there for the longest time.

That was a band called “The Eyes.” We had a grass roots following from all over the Midwest. We were from St. Louis so we were really big in St. Louis so we branched out to Chicago, Indianapolis, Kansas City, down to Springfield. The Midwest college scene.

Then we signed to Atlantic Records and changed our name to Pale Divine. We put out a record on Atlantic then we toured supporting Psychedelic Furs who were one of my favorite bands.

It was exciting to build something on your own, clawing your way up, trying to make great music and putting on great shows. It was really very focused and very driven. We did everything ourselves, building at a grass-roots level. [...] I remember walking onstage [at the Blue Note in Columbia, MO] and everybody singing every song and thinking I’d made it. But everything is so incremental. It wasn’t meteoric by any means.

This is my first band, right? I was 14-15 and we used to play at a place called Animal House. [...] So I was in a band, it was called The Eyes, right? And that was my first band. And we used to play there like every weekend. [...] It was this massive place and they have you know two or three bands at night and yeah, it was just it was a great way to cut our teeth. And we had reflections[?]. And then if you were really lucky to get a gig playing at Mississippi Nights opening for somebody, right.

The Eyes; Richard to the left
Unknown date

The Eyes; Richard to the right
Unknown date

Talking about how Richard got his band to support the Psychedelic Furs:

[...] that was one of my favorite bands, the Furs. So when my band signed a deal that was one of the bands that I was like, "Okay," and, I mean, I wrote a letter to John Ashton, I wrote a physical letter and a friend of mine in New York worked at a music... [...] So I got the address and sent him a letter, a physical letter. I wrote to their agent, you know, and said - and this is, you know, we were signed to Atlantic - I'm like, "Hey, here's copy of our record, we signed with Atlantic, I'm a huge fan," you know. Same thing with the agent, "Love to tour with you guys, if," yeah.

At some point they changed the name to The Eyes, and at one point they independently released Freedom in a Cage [GN'R Daily, July 12, 2008].

See later chapter for information on shows Richard did with Pale Divine after having joined Guns N' Roses.


According to a quotes above, Richard and his Pale Divine had opened for the Furs in the 90s and Richard would then tour with the Furs at some point in the early 90s before becoming a regular member of the band when it came off hiatus in the 2000s.

I was a huge fan. They were one of my favorite bands, from the time I was fifteen. I never liked Ozzy Osbourne or Motley Crue, which was popular when I was a kid. I always liked older art-rock bands like Yes and Genesis and Pink Floyd. Even Zeppelin I didn’t like until years later. But when I heard the Clash, I was all about the Clash and the Psychedelic Furs and The Damned and the Dead Boys. Everything sort of changed at that point.

And the Furs were a huge influence on me, I mean, Talk Talk Talk, that album really affected me and at that time, man they, were one of my favorite bands. I saw the Forever Now tour when I was... Man, I must have been 14-15. [...] I remember I saw them at the same place that I saw The Replacements open for X, I saw a [?], Circle Jerks, I saw everybody there.

[Pale Divine] toured with the Furs and during that tour the Furs asked me to join them onstage every night after our set. I worked with Butler for the next 12 years.

Richard Butler than asked Richard to join him in New York City to work on Butler's solo album:

Well, I was playing with the Furs on a tour and then afterwards Richard asked me if I would come to New York - he was living in New York - and write with him for his solo album. So I started doing that and I was still with my old band and having a lot of problems with the singer. We were working on our second record, we're writing our second record, we kept sending demos to the label trying to get them to give us the green light to go in and record the next album and we were rehearsing everyday, you know, playing gigs on the weekends still, like, supporting ourselves in that way. And trying to get the singer to show up at rehearsals. So for six months he would not show up at rehearsals and we were rehearsing every day. And then we're sending demos to the label and around that time, meanwhile nobody wants to be around the singer cuz he's just a nightmare, and around that time I got the call from Richard saying, "Hey, would you be interested in working with me?" I remember going into a band meeting, the singer showed up, and I had this in my back pocket, you know, knowing, "Okay, what am I gonna?" and I didn't know what I was gonna do and I sort of was assessing things. And first thing he came in and said, "I've decided I want to record a solo acoustic record," and so that made up my decision for me right there [laughs]. So I moved to New York and started working with Richard on his solo album [...].


Living in New York City opened up doors for Richard as a session musician:

Going to New York thrust me into this scene. I was instantly given a certain amount of credibility because of the notoriety of the band I was joining. Because I was coming in to join the Furs, I had cachet to be in the whole art scene, the circle they ran in. I’m meeting musicians, directors, models, photographers, artists, it all was all there. I was a kid, and a sponge. I kept my mouth shut and learned and listened. And I kept getting asked to play with so many great people that I grew up admiring. My heroes. It was a constant state of amazement to me. I’m playing with Mick Jagger, Tom Tom Club, Billy Idol. It’s like ‘I can’t believe I’m doing this.’ You step back and think, ‘How did this happen?’

Being associated with the Psychedelic Furs also opened doors for Richard:

I think moving to the city with that name cachet of being associated with the Furs put me in a certain light. So it introduced me to a crowd of people and people heard what I was doing or saw me live, and then started to ask me to be involved in sessions. And I think a lot of it again goes back to just meeting people socially and [?] I generally know what a person's gonna play like from talking to them. I know what kind of musician they are just from talking to them nine out of ten times. I don't think I've ever had anybody come in where I thought, "Man, I want to work with this guy," and been wrong about his playing.

Talking about his session work:

Fortus [...] did extensive session work with acts like BT, Gravity Kills, 'NSync, and most recently, Enrique Iglesias.

Fortus, a seasoned session player who's worked on records by everyone from Ben Folds to ’N Sync’s “Celebrity" [...]

When I moved to NY, i began doing sessions. I did loads of different types of sessions. Movie scores, tv ads, pop records, hip hop, country, zydeco, etc... I love to play different styles of music. I love music and i love the challenge of playing styles I'm not as well versed in. I worked with loads of different types of artists. I just love to make music and I'm still amazed that I can make a living doing it. I feel incredibly fortunate.

For a long time, yeah, I did a lot of records. I mean, that was just what I did in New York. I was the session guy, you know.  I couldn't afford to go on the road, I didn't used to go there. I couldn't afford to tour because I was making a lot of money and I was super busy in the studios in New York and L.A. and I was always working and doing that stuff. And being on the road didn't pay, you know. Occasionally I would, you know, I'd go out like with the Furs. When the Furs go out, I would always go out because those are my... It's like your family, you know. But it was tough, you know, it was tough to tour in those days because I was losing money.

I really enjoy both [sessions work and touring] equally. There was a time in my life where - when I was living in New York and I was, you know, with the Furs and with Love Spit Love - I was doing a lot of session work and I was, you know. But that's when there was a lot of session work. [...] But I couldn't afford to go on the road. I would get offers and it was like, "Oh man," you know, unless it was something I really loved I couldn't justify it because financially I was making more money just doing sessions all the time. And I was booked and as you get more and more booked, you get more and more expensive. And you know, I was at a point where I just couldn't afford a tour.

[...] because I think socially and musically as far as my history of music, my knowledge of the history of music, I could relate to producers. So if a producer said... I mean, cuz there's better guitar players than me, you know, I think my strong suit was I knew my history, and I knew how to use my gear, and I knew how to get tones, and I knew if a producer said, "Yeah, I'm looking for more of like a Kossoff type vibe on on the chorus," and like I knew exactly what he meant, and I knew how to get the sound, you know. And being able to relate to people socially in that way makes a big difference. [...] It's a communication thing, you know. A producer or an artist wants to be able to say, to express themselves in the way that they do and to have somebody relate to them. And so when a producer says, "I don't know, I'm looking for something fuzzy and Beach bowling," you know, then you've got to be able to go, "Okay, what the fuck does he mean by that?" and then saying, "Okay, I think I get it, I think I know what you're looking for, check this out," you know. And knowing your gear and how to... it's about communication I think, that's ultimately what I was trying to get at.

Being asked how it compares to work with pop artists like Britney Spears and N'Sync to Guns N' Roses:

It's a very different experience when you go in to do a session. It's great to be able to take someone else's song and add something to it. it's very different than when it is your song. I enjoy them both equally.

And especially how it is to tour with artists like Enrique Iglesias and Rihanna:

You know, I learned a lot. You always learn from different experiences. And playing with Enrique was interesting because the band was so good. And I came into that through a friend of mine, Tony Bruno, who's one of my favorite guitar players. And, you know, just the opportunity to play with him and it was a great band. It was a lot of fun to do. And I mean, it wasn't like, you know, I was going to spend 20 years in that band, but, you know, for a quick thing, same thing with Rihanna, you know, that was a lot of fun to do for a short period of time. For the same reasons. And it's not so much about... But at the same time, I couldn't see doing those gigs for a long period because it would start to seem like a job. Because you're playing the same exact thing every night.

Talking about playing with different artists:

It's all music. I don't, you know, I don't really... I don't tend to draw lines, you know. I love music. Be it country or.... I'd love to do a country gig. I've done a couple of country records, but to do a country gig would be fun, at least for a little while. To do pop gigs is fun for a little while then, I think, it quickly becomes a job, and that's when you get bored. It's like, "OK, enough," you know, because you're doing this, it's very- It's very structured.

And how he became the hip-hop go-to guy in New York:

Well, you know, hip hop was taking off, I was in the hip hop when I was, you know, in my later teens, I guess, in St. Louis, and it was around a lot, you know, even in high school. Hip hop was a part of the musical landscape and it was new and exciting and, you know, half the kids in my school were black, half were white, and it was kept that way as part of the... it was a magnet school so they had to keep it 50/50. So I was exposed to a lot of funk music, New Parliament and things like that when I was in high school, and hip-hop I always enjoyed, you know, from Sugar Hill and then when Public Enemy's first album came out, I mean, that changed everything, you know, [?], the first NWA album, you know, the Eazy-E stuff, all that was a big part of my growing up as well. And then when I got to New York, I don't know how I got into that, I guess I was doing so many sessions that, you know, it was inevitable that if a hip-hop artist was working with a producer and they needed a guitar player I would get a call, because I was sort of the go-to guy in New York. And I ended up doing a lot of that stuff, you know, working with everyone from the Wu-Tang guys to Puffy stuff. Yeah, you know, whenever someone needed guitar in New York, New York hip-hop, I seemed to get calls.

As a session musician, the hardest challenge he got was doing work with other professionals in Nashville:

There's always challenges, there's always challenges. I'll tell you some of the biggest challenges: going to Nashville, like, getting a call in New York and asking me to come to Nashville and doing sessions in Nashville - which I didn't do much of but, you know, I did a few times where I would go to Nashville and do sessions to albums. Because I think producers wanted something different I guess, you know, and I would get calls and go out there and that was very challenging and very stressful and very different than the system in New York. You know, when you're in Nashville it's a totally different vibe, you know, it's a factory, they're just churning things out, it's incredible. And the level of musicianship is just unreal. And you go into a session there and the producer will put a demo cassette on, you listen to it, you know, there's like this [?] cassette, you know, the medium of demos [?] and we would listen, we'd all sit around and listen to the demo and then - I'll never forget this, the first time that happened to me I was in the control room with all these great players, we're listening through and they listened to the song once and, "Okay, let's go ahead, let's do it," and nobody had been writing anything down, they just went out to the studio and played it back, which I found incredible. People were making notes, you know, but nobody had an instrument and they just went out and did, it is incredible to me. I mean, that's so different to how the recording process went in New York where I was generally called in after the bass, drums and keyboards were down and a scratch vocal, and then I would come in and play on top of it. And, you know, you experiment, you sit there, you try [?], you try different pedals, using different guitars, until you find what is going to work best for the track. In Nashville you have your sound, you have your clean sound, you have your rock sound, and that was it.

One of the coolest sessions was with Puffy on All About The Benjamins, a song by Tommy Stinson [for more on this song, see earlier chapter]. Richard would also get to know Tommy after doing a session together with him:

You know what's funny is that I met Tommy on a session with Yoshiki years and years ago. After that we became like best friends.

1992-1997: LOVE SPIT LOVE

Love Spit Love was founded with Richard Butler from Psychedelic Furs when the Furs were on hiatus, and Butler's brother Tim [CDNow/Allstar News, July 17, 2002].

As explained above, Butler had asked Richard to come to New York City and work on Butler's new intended solo project, but this became Love Spit Love since it wouldn't be right to call it a solo project with Richard's involvement:

So I moved to New York and started working with Richard on his solo album which inevitably became the Love Spit Love album. As we were recording he was like, "Man, this is not a solo album, this would not be fair of me to call it a solo album because we've done everything together," and he said, "Let's just, why don't we just call this call this a band name and make it a band?"
Fortus initially co-founded Love Spit Love with Furs frontman Richard Butler and Butler's brother, Tim, when that band [=The Psychedelic Furs] broke up in the early-'90s [...]

[Pale Divine lasted till] ’92, when I left to join The Psychedelic Furs. Well, actually I left to start a new band with the singer of The Psychedelic Furs; that was Love Spit Love.

Then I ended up playing with the Furs while we were on tour with them. After that tour, I’d been having a lot of problems with the singer in my band, and Richard Butler, the singer for the Furs, asked if I’d come up to New York and write a record with him for a solo record. We ended up making it a band because he felt that it wouldn’t be fair to call it a solo project since what I did was an equal thing. So we ended up starting a band called Love Spit Love.

My first band was called Pale Divine, we were on Atlantic Records, and we actually supported the Furs. And that was like, what, '92? '91, maybe? And the Furs at that time, you know, that was one of my favorite bands, and so it was a real thrill to be able to play with those guys. But we were supporting them and then they asked me if I would come up and sit in with them after our set, and I was planning cello with them. And then after that tour I ended up doing more stuff with them, and then Richard asked me if I would come up to New York and write what was going to be his solo record, but that ended up becoming a band, and they became a band because he and I wrote the whole thing, and afterwards, he said, "You know, I feel like it would be unfair of me to call this a solo project, we've done it all together."

Frank Ferrer would be recruited to the band:

I knew Frank because he used to be in a band called The Beautiful, Frank Ferrer, they opened for my old band Pale Divine and then I saw him on St. Mark's Place in New York City and I said... I asked him what he was doing, The Beautiful had just broken up and I'd just started a new band called Love Spit Love with the singer of the Psychedelic Furs- [...] And Frank joined us, so I've been playing with Frank since like '93.

I've been playing with Frank since '94... no, before that, because he he was in a band called the Beautiful and they supported my first band, Pale Divine, in the Midwest on some shows, right? And then I was walking down the street, I was working with Butler on that Love Spit Love album, the first Love Spit Love album, we were writing it, we were auditioning drummers to put together a band to record the album. And I was walking down the street and I saw him closing up St. Mark's Leather, this shoe shop and I'm like, "Hey!" he's like, "Hey, man! What's going on?" "I'm good, what's going on with the Beautiful?" he's like, "We just broke up," and I said, "Really? We're looking for drummers." Yeah, and so we played... he got that gig, Love Spit Love. And then we started the Furs up again, he came played with the Furs, then he toured with the Dead Daisies, he toured with - we had a band together called Honky Toast that was on Epic - that's a really cool record... We've done so much stuff together.

Love Spit Love released two records, Love Spit Love (1995) and Trysome Eatone (1997).

I actually did 2 records with Love Spit Love. Richard Butler had asked me to help him write a "solo" record after we finished a Furs tour. We began writing and after a while he decided that it wouldn't really be fair to call it a Richard Butler album, since the 2 of us had written everything together and it had more of a band feeling. After all of the songs were written we signed a record deal and started auditioning drummers. We auditioned loads of drummers in NY.

I was walking down St. Marks and ran in to Frank as he was closing up a shoe shop. I remembered him from his old band the Beautiful. They had opened for my old band (Pale Divine). His band had just broken up, so I invited him down to audition and he got the gig. So we did the first LSL record and then toured to support it. After that, we switched record labels and signed with Maverick/Warner. That label was really hot at that time, but they really dropped the ball on our record. I thought that was a great record, but we toured and then Richard, Frank and I got together with John Ahston and Tim Butler and did a few more Psychedelic Furs tours.

1998-2003: LOUP GAROU

Richard also has experience from a zydeco band:

The band was called Loup Garou. I played with them from around 1998-2003 in New York City and I’ll tell you what, it did more for my rhythm playing than anything I’d ever done before. That was such a great learning experience and really a great opportunity and it got me into a lot of cool stuff. We were hanging around with these guys, the Meters crew, Gatemouth Brown and that whole scene. It was great, I loved it, and I did one record with them in 2002.


Actually, right after the last LSL tour, Frank and I had been playing with a couple of friends from the East Village in NY in a band called Honky Toast. There was a huge buzz around that band in NYC. We ended up in this huge bidding war. All the majors were trying to sign that band. It was a band we were just doing for fun. We ended up signing this big deal with Epic and doing a record. We did a little touring, but we terrible management and we weren't a very healthy bunch at that time. After that, Frank and I did some more stuff with the Furs. Frank is a natural talent. He's one of the best rock drummers i have ever had the pleasure of playing with. We've played together so much, we know what the other is going to do before it happens. A sort of telepathic communication.

A few years back, i was in a band called Honky Toast with some of my closest friends in NYC. It was just a fun band that would play when we were all in town at the same time. We were just having fun with it and we played a few shows. Before we knew it, there were all these A&R; guys coming to the shows and a huge bidding war started. It was a great band, but didn't really happen for a variety of reasons.

Fortus has also worked with his own projects, including Pale Divine and Honky Toast [...]


While living in New York, Richard would establish a studio and work on composing scores for movies and video games.

I had a company in New York that was doing TV and film and commercial work, and video games.

I got into it because a lot of the sessions that I was doing in New York, probably most of them, were either for TV or TV commercials, or for movies. That's generally what I was doing. So I then started a company, I was getting asked if I'd be interesting in composing for different jingle houses or TV themes, doing TV themes or something like that, and you demo on them and then, you know, as you become more advanced you win a few and it sort of takes off. And that's what I did and I started my own company and we had a studio, had a partner that I worked with, and then we had a few people, you know, it just grew and grew, had a few people working for me, [?] were working in different studios in our main studio, and it just sort of grew. And through that I started doing more film stuff. It is a very, you know, when you're working with commercials it's a very different thing because you're dealing with such a finite time frame, you know, you've got 30 seconds or a minute at most, and same with TV themes, but then when you start scoring shows you've got more room, and then when you do movies it's a totally different time. But that's how I got into it, was through advertising.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:43 pm


In 2015, Brain would talk about Buckethead disappearing right before the band would go on a tour, which could be before the summer shows in 2001, but also possible later.

I mean, in Guns, the greatest thing was, you know, [Buckethead] would do the puppet thing and what wore out the managers. There's millions of dollars on the line and they're talking to a fucking puppet! So finally he just went MIA and the only way to get ahold of him was through me. And it was kind of fun. I mean at that point I was kind of like "Oh, okay, they only get a hold of the main guy keeping it together, Slash's replacement, was to go through me." So I kind of felt like a big cock, you know, whatever. I just thinking, "Oh, okay, they gotta go through me. This is cool!" you know? [...] Kind of because that's how close we were. I was saying is that we got along, you know, like musically we got along, just everything, you know.

Brain would also speculate that Guns N' Roses management would use "undercover cops" to "check him out":

You couldn't get a hold of him for like a month, we're going on tour. "Is he coming? I don't know if he's gonna show up." I think they actually, like, had people like, like undercover cops, like checking him out at one time. He called me and he's all, "Brain, there's a car out front. It's been there for like three days." And I'm like, "What?" He's like, "Yeah, I don't know what's going on." And this was before we're supposed to go on a major Guns N' Roses tour. "I think they're wondering like if I'm gonna come or..." We didn't know what's going on and so he was paranoid and scared. So he said, "Okay, I'm gonna go out there with a mask." And he had a hatchet, so he said he went out there with a mask and a hatchet and just stood next to the car and he was just like this [likely posturing]. Just stood next to the car! [...] With the mask and a hatchet. And they just looked at him, and they just took off. So I think he was being followed. You know, I mean, he never found out the truth, but I think that's how paranoid, that's the game he was playing. Because he was MIA for like a month sometimes. "Where's Bucket?" "I don't know," "No one knows where he's at."

And how lawyers had threatened him:

And oh, man, I mean, the letters that he would get from the lawyers in stuff because he would just wear them out so much. "You're never gonna work again." "You'll be working at a gas station before you ever will pick up a guitar again." It's like they would try to call him and they would just get, you know, like Looney Tunes would come out of his answering machine, and you know, there's a huge tour coming on and The Haunted Mansion would come on.

Being asked how Axl reacted to his lawyers being "pissed":

I think he was doing, you know, billion dollar deals and trying to build the Guns N' Roses hotel and stuff. You know, I think it was just the chaos. It's just like another thing.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:43 pm

AUGUST 17-26, 2002

If you’re expecting to come see the old band, then don’t come. Because it ain’t it. Yeah, this is what we’ve got. [...] You know, I’ve seen the older guys quit on their own, one at a time, and be replaced. I’ve seen the process. It happened gradually. To me, it still feels like Guns N’ Roses. And you put Axl out there singing, they got guitars, they’re playing the old songs. It feels cool.

Despite last year's touring being postponed and ultimately cancelled, in April 2002 it would be announced that the band would tour in the summer of 2002 [Metal Hammer, April 25, 2002]. The first show would be to headline Summer Sonic Festival in Japan on August 17-18 [Metal Hammer, April 25, 2002]. This announcement would be followed with additional dates: Hong Kong on August 14 [Rolling Stone, June 13], Carling Leeds Festival on August 23 [NME, April 27, 2002], Pukkelpop festival in Belgium [Rolling Stone, June 13], and London Docklands Arena on August 26 [NME, July 16, 2002] and 27 [Metal Hammer, June 19, 2002]. The band also planned to tour in Australia before Indonesia [Undercover, August 12, 2002]. The band then planned to return to USA for a fall tour from September to December [Rolling Stone, June 13]. The US tour in the fall was the postponed tour when the band expanded their tour to include more dates in Asia in the fall [CDNow/Allstar, August 5, 2002].

Axl was excited to start the tour in China and would say this would only be the beginning of a massive tour to continue for two or three years:

It's a dream realized. A dream come true. The right time, the right place and the whole thing came about by chance. I guess it's meant to be. This was something we could not turn down. The most exciting thing is getting the band out there to begin doing some shows and these are some big shows. It's a way for us to play for a lot of people and have a lot of fun. It's also a warm up so we can have an understanding of how to start our Fall tour. And that's a warm up for the Spring tour. This thing is starting now and much like Use Your Illusions that went for two and a half years, this thing is going to go off and on for the next two or three years and we'll see how it goes. We're really looking forward to seeing all the different people in the different countries and this is a great opportunity.

And discussing the lineup:

Okay, let's see. We have Mini Me and Nipsy Russell and Charles Nelson Riley and Colin Powell. Just kidding. It's nearly the same as it's been; Dizzy Reed (keyboards), Chris Pitman (keyboards), Brain (drums), Buckethead N' Robin (guitar), Tommy Stinson (bass), Richard Fortus (guitar) and myself. I'm very excited to do these shows. Being at the rehearsals with the guys was just really exciting.

People talk about player haters. Well, I don't think it pays to be a 'hater - hater.' You've got the haters out there but the guys in this band it just rolls off their shoulders because they take a certain pride in their work. They're hungry and they want to do this for all the right reasons. They want to get this material out there to the people. Now that we feel that we have clarity as to the album we're trying to make, we're wrapping it up. We've had every obstacle and every strange occurrence that you can have and for us to be playing Hong Kong in a few days is a big step. Everyone's excited and everyone's nervous. As Dizzy put it ‘Oh no, we're gonna have the Red Army between us and the plane…

Axl would also send out a message to the band's skeptics:

To the ones who are negative and want to see either myself or the new band fall on their faces, personally I can't pass up an opportunity to upset so many of them in one quick swoop. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. I feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside! But seriously...this is our tour. This is a collection of performances I've agreed to. That I have personally authorized not someone else's good intentions gone awry or a reckless promoter's personal agenda. These shows are important to us and for better or worse we'll be there. For those who've had my back and are down by us with even a modicum of understanding we hope to give you our best, and look forward to seeing you on this little intro jaunt.


The first show took place at the Summer Sonic Festival, Hong Kong, China, on August 14. This would be a fairly short set and the band played Madagascar, Chinese Democracy and Street of Dreams.

2002, I believe [was my first show with Guns N' Roses]. Yeah, I was just telling you about the first outdoor gig, it was that tour. [...] We were just talking about how it always rains when we play outside for [November Rain]. But yeah, that was my first outdoor gig. And it was pretty amazing. [...] I don't know what the deal is. Axl got a direct line with God or something, I don't know, but it seems uncanny and it happens a lot.

During the show Axl would show the audience a photograph that assumingly would be on the cover of 'Chinese Democracy' featuring a Chinese street with a wall with the words "Guns N' Roses" scribbled onto it [NME, August 15, 2002].

A fan at would provide more information:

Before he played the second one [new song], [Axl] told a little anecdote why the new album is called "Chinese Democracy". He said it was because he saw a photo taken in Hong Kong, which he's using as the new album cover. And then he showed it on the video screens, and it was a black and white picture of a bicycle with a basket, and in the wall behind it, someone had grafittied "guns n roses"!!! He said "I didn't paint that myself, so one of you motherfuckers out there must have did it!" The crowd went wild, and he launched into the song., August 14, 2002

The next show took place at the Summer Sonic Festival, Chiba, Japan, on August 17 before coming to the Summer Sonic Festival, Osaka, Japan, on August 18.

The two shows in Japan would break audience records, 35,000 in Chiba (Tokyo) and 25,000 plus in Osaka.

Both festivals were record breaking sell outs. We were very honoured to witness such spell-binding performances from Guns N' Roses.

Tommy would look back at the show in Chiba:

When it really comes right down to it, millions of people are going to come and see Axl Rose. In Tokyo, 35,000 people came to see us, and they knew they weren’t going to see Duff, they knew Slash wasn’t in the band. So I know that he’s sort of an enigma, so they’re gonna come and see him, and it’s cool to be a part of it. It’s actually cool for me to be anonymous and a part of it. I could walk through those 35,000 people and watch the other bands. I get to be anonymous, and put on a show of that level without all the nonsense.

And Richard would mention how it had started to rain during November Rain in Osaka:

I remember one of the first shows I played with the band was in... Osaka, Japan, and it was outside, an outdoor stadium, and it was full of people, just crazy, and I remember we're playing the show and then we get to November Rain and all of a sudden it started pouring, like the skies opened and it just started pouring rain, on November Rain. And I looked at Tommy, he looked at me, and we're both like... it felt like a joke, it felt like somebody was pouring buckets of water.

Brain would later look back at playing for Japanese audiences:

So it's like, you know, it's reserved. But you know, when I played it with Guns N' Roses or with Bucket, you know, they would file in a single line, watch the show, clap, go crazy. Then all stand up, file out in a single line. No one would pass someone, you know [...] They go crazy, but it's all like, you know [...] it's all like kind of premeditated. Like, "Okay, here's the song that we get to go crazy on and then we'll stop."

Hanoi Rocks with Michael Monroe would also play at the Summer Sonic Festival in Osaka, and Monroe would be critical of the new GN'R:

Well, I was very friendly with [Axl] whenever we bumped into each other, but I haven't talked to him in a long time. I speak to Slash regularly. I'm closer with him than with Axl. A weird thing happened when we played in Japan a couple of years ago. Axl was headlining the show with the new Guns N Roses, the hired Guns N' Roses. I never realized how much chemistry the original band had until I saw Axl with those hired guns. They were just sort of lost on stage. When Axl heard that Hanoi Rocks was playing the same festival that he was headlining, he got nervous and said he would not play on the same stage as us on the same day. I checked it out with many different sources, and he thought that the audience would react more to us than to him. That was a great compliment and a good favor too because it leaked to the press and people were like "Hanoi Rocks must be really great if Guns N' Roses are shaking in their pants." I did get along with him and he was very nice to me. I didn't think we were that good of friends until he was nice enough to give us that kind of promotion. I watched him on the monitor on the second day of the show and the guitar player [Buckethead] was just so mediocre. It was like watching a cover band, and they looked ridiculous. They had no connection with the audience. I told Slash myself that you were really shining by your absence. They weren't even doing any new songs. It was all old ones.
Metal Sludge, March 2, 2004

[Axl]'s even beat Billy Idol for procrastination. Billy Idol used to be the king of that. Two million dollars later and you'd ask him, "When is the album coming out?" "Two weeks, two weeks" he'd say. There's probably different things holding up Axl. The guy got so much money so quickly, and you can imagine all the scumbags around him. It must be hard not knowing who your friends are. Let's put it this way, I don't envy him. It was funny, when I saw him play he opened the show with "Tokyo, do you know where you are?" Of course we're in Osaka, so I said, "Do you know where you are motherfucker!" Then he realized he messed up and tried to correct himself. Then a few songs later he’d say, "Alright Tokyo." I was like, 'maybe he should cut down on the Prozac or whatever.’ One time I was having dinner with Axl in New York City. I had a couple of white wines with orange juice. That's when I used to drink though. I don't drink now. Anyway, I was feeling good, but Axl thought I was really out of it. He's looking at me because I'm smiling and he says, "Mike, do you know where you are?" I said, "I'm in the jungle baby, I'm gonna die!" Oh yeah, I knew the answer to that.
Metal Sludge, March 2, 2004

The band then flew to Europe for a show at the Carling Weekend Leeds Festival, Leeds, England on August 23. Before the show, Noodles from The Offspring had expressed doubts about the show actually happening:

Those guys ain't gonna show, we were supposed to have played with them in Italy last year and they blew out [chuckling]. Man, there's so many rumours about that band, what with Buckethead being instutionalised and Axl's hair implants going wrong. And taking 18 years to make a new record - that's insane. But I'm looking forward to seeing the Prodigy again at Reading, and I hope Jane's Addiction will be on the same night as us.
Metal Hammer, July 20, 2002

Robin, Richard, Tommy and Dizzy
England 2002

During the show Axl would respond to a heckler who asked, "Where's Slash?," with "He's in my ass! Fuckhead!" [The Guardian, August 26, 2002].

The band would go on late for this show and by the scheduled end time, at midnight, only half of the set had been played. A review at would describe what happened:

How we rejoice when that legendary confrontational spirit emerges. Past midnight, they have only played half the set, but the promotors and city council want them offstage, because it is improper to enjoy oneself at such an hour amongst a large public gathering, don't you know.

"I didn't come all the way to England to be told to go home by some asshole!", fires Rose [referring to festival organiser Melvin Benn], "Tell you what - I don't want to be accused of inciting a riot, but if you stay here, we'll stay, and we'll see what happens." For a moment, there is an uncomfortable air of confrontation. After all, this sort of thing hasn't happened for nearly a decade. Live outdoor music events are now slick, respectable affairs. Axl's ear to ear grin suggests that he's missed all this as much as we have, and grown men are crying with joy.

As it happens, the council agrees to extend the festival's license so the band can play on. Not so much as a gesture of good nature, rather that a riot could prove rather expensive. So Guns N' Roses go down as the only band in history to mess with fearsome promotors Mean Fiddler and emerge victorious. What an amazing night this is turning out to be.

Guns N' Roses would comment on this in a press release:

Guns N’ Roses wish it to be known that Saturday night’s appearance in front of the massive sell out crowd was delayed through logistical problems beyond their control.

The band were contracted to play a 2 hour set and scheduled to take the stage at 10pm, at which point The Prodigy were still on stage. Despite concerted attempts from the festival organizers to make up time, the show continued to run late. The running delay was further compounded by the vast amount of equipment between the two bands. As a result the Guns N’ Roses crew were not able to take control of the stage until 10.30 pm to begin their preparations for the band’s set.

In consequence, Axl and band did not take the stage until just past 11.00pm – so the show overran the curfew set by local authorities [...].

Guns N’ Roses would like to thank the promoters, The Mean Fiddler, for making the correct decision in allowing the show to continue in the interests of public safety.

And Goldstein would make a statement:

I would like to take this opportunity to let everyone know about the "behind the scenes" events at Leeds regarding GN'R. From the first band all the way through the day, the set changes kept getting longer and longer. Prodigy was supposed to go on until 9.30pm, but didn't end up leaving the stage until 10.10pm.

This letter is not to make excuses for Gn'R taking time to get to the stage. We had out normal 45-minute set change. This letter is to thank one man. Festival organiser Melvin Been. He risked going to jail - and they were not idle threats from the local authorities - if he did not shut down the show. Myself and my partner Merck, and our production manager were in his office during the GN'R set, and I saw this man, who had been a gentleman to us from the inception of our committing to play the event, in great emotional turmoil and unrest. He faced the very real threat for being prosecuted, and the very real possibility of losing any future chance of ever having another Leeds festival. He also knew that if we shut down the show, the fans would most likely riot, and another rock'n'roll tragedy would be the headlines today.

Readers, if you enjoyed the festival as much as I did, I urge you to do what you can to keep Leeds alive. The whole event was one of the best bills I've bee involved in. And to Melvin, thank you for making the choice you did. You took a huge personal risk to make sure your fans were firstly safe, and entertained. Thank You.

During the show Axl pulled a calf muscle and needed physiotherapy before the next who [The Guardian, August 31, 2002].

The next show happened at the Pukkelpop Festival, Hasselt-Kiewit, Belgium on August 24.

Review in KindaMuzik:

The first thing that hit me, when the chorus of 'Welcome To the Jungle' kicked in, was Axl's voice. Although the last time I saw him perform live was almost ten years ago, his strong voice sounded exactly the same. All the high notes came out perfectly, and he ran around the big stage just like in the old days. Unlimited mileage for the redheaded enfant terrible of rock music, and the only difference in his appearance was his dreadlocks and fresh love handles. This wasn't just a Guns N' Roses show. This was payback time, and Axl seemed to understand that concept more than we -— journalists and fans — did. Although the setlist was predictable and safe, Axl and his new band surprised me, due to their sheer lust for life and energy, and they claimed their stadium rock throne back from the likes of current dumb, million-selling rock icons with no future place in the history books.

The last show of the tour took place at the London Arena, London, England on August 26. For this show the band Weezer, on direct request from Axl, would be the opener [NME, August 22, 2002]. Guitarist Brian Bell from Weezer would comment:

He was on the stage watching us while we were playing [at Japan's Summer Sonic 2002 Festival]. I was actually a bit nervous about that. After the show, Axl and Rivers (Cuomo) talked, and that's how it happened. It takes me back to the days when I lived behind Hollywood Boulevard in 1988, hearing Appetite blaring out of Z28s. The songs are as good today as they were yesterday.

During the show Axl would reference a review in NME in a self-deprecating manner:

How you doin? I'm doin' pretty good, thanks for asking. It's good to be here in lively old England. See you didn't even think I knew where I was! I want to... I wanna say that I learned that I'm as big as a house! So I think I'm owed some rent money! I think that there’s a little pussy-ass writer over at NME that owes me some rent money... for livin' inside my ass! Just playin' around. This is 'Live And Let Die'.

Axl would also joke about his rumour for ranting:

Now, there's been some concern that if we play 5 or 6 new songs, then there can't be that many more on the album. Au contraire, mon frère! We're just playin' the songs we're not considering putting out as singles or anything. So you'll get 18 songs and about 10 extra tracks. And when that - when the record company feels that has run [it's] course, then you'll get it all over again. And by that time, I should be done with the third album! So we'll see if all goes well, boys and girls! And if Uncle Axl proves not to be an asshole - we'll have to see, the jury's still out... [Talking to Tommy:] Wait, was that a rant? Does that qualify as a rant or was that just nonsense? It was under 5? OK, it's - it doesn't qualify, wasn't long enough!

The Guardian would summarize reviews for the band's 2002 UK shows:

Minus guitarist Slash, Axl Rose brought his metal anthems to England for the first time in a decade. The NME revelled in the “sheer lunatic glory” of Guns N' Roses as they played the Leeds Carling Weekend and at London Arena. Rose's best songs, “like all great teen anthems, remain ageless”, reckoned the Observer.

The future is rosy, added the Times. “Guns-style hard rock acts such as Limp Bizkit dominate the teen market... Rose could well reclaim his vacant throne as the biggest brat on the block... This belated comeback was more fun than it had any right to be.


Just before the tour was about to start it would be reported that the band was cancelling a planned show in Korea in September to work on 'Chinese Democracy' and the media would speculate that more planned shows would be cancelled [Metal Hammer, August 12, 2002]. By September 25 it was clear there would be no shows before November [Press release, September 25, 2002].

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:44 pm

AUGUST 29, 2002

On August 29, Guns N' Roses would do a surprise performance at the 19th MTV Video Music Awards, taking place at the Radio City Music Hall in New York, USA [MTV News, August 30, 2002]. The band played 'Welcome to the Jungle,' 'Madagascar' and 'Paradise City'.

The Globe Globe writer Renée Graham was not impressed by the performance:

This wasn’t the lithe, sinewy Axl of 1987 but a middle-age man desperate to prove time hasn’t eroded his ability to whip an audience into a frenzy. Wearing his trademark bandanna — swaddling what had to be long, braided hair extensions — he huffed and puffed his way through “Welcome to the Jungle.” By the end of the song, and he only sang a snippet, he couldn’t have been more winded if he’d been running up Heartbreak Hill with a piano on his back. For someone who hasn’t' done much singing in public since the early 1990s, Axl wasn’t in good voice. Fortunately, he didn’t attempt “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” which, given the shakiness of his voice, would have been an unholy mess.

Kurt Loder from MTV would later reminisce:

Well, nobody knew about it. Really nobody knew about it. And then [MTV Executive VP] Dave [Sirulnick] came to me and said, ‘You should really come over to see this.’ It was the night before the show, and they were doing a rehearsal, and it was Axl. And you just thought, ‘Where’s he been? What decade are we in?’ And he had this big band — and they were a great band, you know — but he was doing Guns N’ Roses material, and they were great. It really was a surprise. And when he came out, it was like the Pee-Wee Herman moment.
MTV Newsroom Blog, November 21, 2008

Steven Adler was also not impressed:

I was expecting to be impressed [by GN'R at the VMAs]... Just watch the '88 performance, that was a real band...

Slash would say he didn't saw the performance:

You know, it was one of those things where I got a bunch of phone calls one morning, leaving me messages going, “What was that whole thing about on TV?” and I didn’t know what anybody was – you know, what it was. [...] I’d been gone for a while, Duff had been gone for a while, Matt had been gone for a while. It was over with. When it finally ended, it was like a no turning back kind of thing. So when I heard what it was, it was the MTV Awards and I heard the reaction from the people that saw it, I didn’t want to see something, I didn’t want to leave - you know, I have that memory of whatever Guns N’ Roses was. When I left it was still sort of cool.

Duff would complain about Jimmy Fallon's introduction:

On the recent Video Music Awards, even Jimmy Fallon was like 'I've always wanted to see them' and they kept saying 'them' and it wasn't...

Gilby didn't like it:

The Video Music Awards performance, it’s just strange. I mean, Axl’s still got it. I think he’s great. I think he sings great, I think he writes great. It just doesn’t look like Guns N’ Roses to me. I mean, that’s my thing. It just doesn’t look like the guts of that band, you know? And I think you lose the guts when you take away someone like Slash which is a big, big part of it.

I’ve only seen the thing on MTV. And I watched it live, because I knew some people from the crew and they had told me it was gonna happen. I think it sucked.

Lars Ulrich would defend Axl:

In the last two weeks, there's been a lot of Axl bashing going on in various places. I'm psyched that Axl's back. I've always liked GUNS N' ROSES. My perception was that Axl was pretty psyched to be back on TV and back in front of an audience, because he had a lot of energy — maybe a little too much energy. [James Hetfield chuckles in background] But I thought the band sounded good, and what I heard of that new song sounded pretty interesting. I've always had a soft spot for old Axl. So no Axl bashing from me.

A couple of months later Axl would be interviewed and the interviewer would say Axl had looked great at the show:

You are too kind. But the MTV thing was a lot of fun. We just basically… We were working on putting that little medley together on that day, 'cause we didn't know we were playing it 'till a couple of days before it, 'cause it was still in negotiations. So we were really happy to be able to do that. It just blew all of our minds when we were out there and doing it. Like, when the curtain went up, it was like, 'Is this still really happening?' So we're excited to be doing this. This is still a prelim of trying to get some road legs with this lineup, with this band. We just did a mini-tour in Asia and in Europe a little bit, and now we're doing this, and we're also out to show people that this band rocks, this band can play, this band does justice to the old material, and it's a really exciting thing to watch in its own right.

And later he would talk more about the show:

It was really strenuous. I mean, MTV wanted us to do it, but we were in negotiations about what it is we were going to actually do, because I felt like, if we just do an old song, that’s not really the right way to go about this; if we just do a new song... So there was... There wasn’t complications, like, they weren’t being any problem or anything. I was just trying to figure out, “Well, how we do this so that it’s right.” And we were actually working on a medley in sound check that day of the show. And then everything, of course, goes wrong. For sound check, the police won’t let me down the street to the venue. And then, the day of the show the police won’t let me down the street to the venue, and I had to go running down the street past the cops. The best part was, I was running down the street to the venue and in front of, like, all the people lined up for MTV to go in, and somebody’s like, “That was Kid Rock!” I thought that was pretty good.

[...] there were negotiations about trying to figure out how long we could do something and where it would be at the show for, actually, somewhere near the beginning of that little mini-tour we did. And then we didn't have what we were doing on stage worked out until the day of the show. [...]  It’s like, cuz it wasn't for sure that we were playing until the day before the show. [...] People were pretty shocked. Yeah, definitely (chuckles).

Being asked if he had been a nervous wreck all day before the show:

Well, no, I wasn't that... But everything tends to go wrong in my world. Like, even going to sound check, the police wouldn't let me down the street to go to the building. And then, the day of the show, they didn't let us go down the street. I had to get out of the car, run past the police, they're telling me I have to stop, and I'm like, “I gotta sing” (chuckles). And the best part was, as I'm running down the street, I had to run past all the people lined up to get into the building. And they're going, “Hey, there goes Kid Rock!” I thought that was pretty funny.

Being asked why the police wouldn't let him down the street:

You know, just they are lost. Just confusion, lost, don't know what's going on, people not having people's names on the list, not knowing what passes to check, all that kind of crap. So, just usual stuff going wrong for no reason. [...] I had, like, police chasing me down the street (chuckles), and then our security and MTV had to clear with them, but… It was very interesting.

In 2006, when asked about his memories of the show, Axl responded:

Catastrophe (laughs). [...]  It was a lot of fun. It was a tough one. The crowd, though, was great. The audience was amazing and once we got rolling, it was good. But, you know, there was the whole new band thing and it took everybody a little bit to get going.

Brain would look back at the show and suggest that the lack of warm-up had affected Axl's performance:

You know, no one knew that we were supposed to be there. So we weren't allowed to go in there. We were just like in a side trailer on the side of the whole building. So we didn't get to be a part of the show at all until they were like, "Okay, you know, we're gonna sneak you in." Clearly no one knew that we were supposed to play. So it was kind of like, almost like a dream, you know? It was like, "Okay, get on stage, okay." We did it and it happened in five minutes and then it was done. It was like, "Well, wait a second." There was no buildup or anything to just literally, you know, "Oh shit, we just played." And I think that's why Axl was a little winded. He got a little flack from it because I think it was the same for him. It was just like, "Okay, you guys are nowhere to be seen." "Okay." "Now gather in the hall". "Okay." "Jimmy Fallon's just introduced you, run on stage, play." You know, it was just like, "Wait, what?" We didn't have a chance to even like think, you know, and figure it out. And then being on the side, no one even knew what was going on. We didn't get to watch the show or anything. We were just like in a trailer. So we could have been anywhere. It wasn't like, "Hey, we can all hang out. We're backstage in the green room, talking to the other stars," you know, Michael Jackson's walking by, "Oh cool," you know, it was more just like, "No, you guys are so far removed because no one knows that you're supposed to even be here and then get on stage and be done." [...] That's how MTV wanted it. They wanted it to be a surprise. [...] Yeah, everything was off with his in-ears also. That's why he kept touching them. And then he was just like, "Oh shit," you know, like, and then he, we, didn't have time to really prepare or get pumped or do any exercise, any kind of exercises or anything that you would do before any kind of warm-up. Because you know, we didn't know when we were going on. It was literally just like, "Someone's going to knock on the door and you guys just got to go," and we were like, "Wait, what?" You know, like, "Okay."

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:44 pm


Around the time of Rock in Rio in 2001, Axl had been talking about making two record [see earlier chapter], but throughout the touring in 2002 he would talk about the plan being to release three records:

It took a long time, but now it's working, and I think we'll have the right record. And when we do drop the record - the plan is to drop the record, have a bunch of extra tracks, about a year or so down the road drop another record, and drop a third record. This is a three-stage thing and we'll be touring for a real long time. [...] we've been collecting lots of songs. So there won't be lots of time off. We'll just keep touring.

Now, there's been some concern that if we play 5 or 6 new songs, then there can't be that many more on the album. Au contraire, mon frère! We're just playin' the songs we're not considering putting out as singles or anything. So you'll get 18 songs and about 10 extra tracks. And when that - when the record company feels that has run [it's] course, then you'll get it all over again. And by that time, I should be done with the third album! So we'll see if all goes well, boys and girls! And if Uncle Axl proves not to be an asshole - we'll have to see, the jury's still out...

In 2018, Zutaut, who was out of the project by December 2001, would confirm that Axl had been planning for three albums:

[...] not a lot people know this: Chinese Democracy was going to be trilogy.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:46 pm


The new lineups of Guns N' Roses from 1996 and onwards had come together in unusual ways with most band members not knowing each other from before. Axl would later hints at difficulties getting everybody to get along and gel:

I was just trying to put this monstrosity together. [...] it's also how do you rebuild something that got so big and replace virtually every person on the crew, every single thing. And how do you make a whole bunch of guys that are something else into something that already was.

[...] this band did not come together by a bunch of guys meeting each other in a bar or down on a corner in their old neighborhood or anything like that.

Tommy, Richard and Dizzy would comment on what a weird bunch of musicians they were, but how well they played together:

That's really sort of the intrinsic kicker. [Axl] didn't go out and hire a bunch of Sunset Strip metalheads to fill the gap. He got the best of the worlds he was interested in.

It's funny - if you took any pair of us, none of us would've started a band together. We've had to work hard at the chemistry. But everyone is so talented, it works. You add Axl and it works even better.

Everyone is good enough. Each one of those guys is a great player in his own right and so its works no matter what. But as far as chemistry? Yeah you know we are a few shows into it now and you can tell, you can feel it. I think you can rehearse as much as you want but when you put something together like this, you need to go out and play and feel it. And some of us been working together for a while now in the studio and we're a few shows into it now and it's really starting to feel cool. People are losing their minds man, it's been going great.

Everyone comes from a different place, but when we get together it all seems to work. I think there’s a little more depth to the sound and what we’re doing.

This [band] isn't like some all-star team. We've all had time to work on Chinese Democracy, but we don't really have any public identity yet.

It’s a lot of fun. I won’t [kid] you. It’s a lot of fun to go up there and have cannons going off behind you, and having your rock dream come true. Not that I have that dream as of late, but as a kid that would have just made my day.

I think the new guys really put in a lot of what eventually will come out. I think it is amazing that we are going to pull this off. Because we are all coming from different backgrounds.


We have Robin Finck, he was in Cirque de Soliel, before he was in Nine Inch Nails. We also have this guy named Richard Fortus, who is phenomenal playing guitar. He actually just sat in with me at the Cat Club Thursday night with the Starfuckers. Brian plays drums. Tommy Stinson, who plays bass, was in the Replacements. That is the core of the GNR lineup now. Oh, and we have this cat named Mother Goose [=Chris Pitman]. He plays keyboards and does a lot of computer programming.

I think in a lot of ways its a better band than the old band. the best band... the lineup that we had in 2002 is the best band that I ever played with. [...] skill.. and yea... the whole performance- everything.

[...] Richard Fortus or whatever, right, like, he's kind of like the 'Josh Freese of guitar' [?] kind of, you know what I mean? He can play anything and he can join, you know, and play with anybody and play on a bunch of people's albums [...].

Brain would talk about his band mates:

You know, lucky Tommy and I connected, you know, Tommy and I would be like... He would be like he my drinking buddy, my "let's hang out and party" buddy, my "let's," you know, "go do..." And I liked Tommy's playing, I got it, you know, so as long as I had that connection with him I think I was cool. I barely knew Robin.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:47 pm



In October 2002, composer Marco Beltrami would mention that he had recently been asked to provide orchestral arrangements for the Guns N' Roses songs "Seven," "Leave Me Alone," "General" and "Thyme" [Marco Beltrami website, October 17, 2002].

The suggestion to contact Beltrami had come from Mark Williams, A&R executive at Geffen:

[...] [A&R executive] Mark Williams suggested Marco Beltrami, among others, to play strings on the album.

Beltrami would later speak more about the work he had done:

That was sort of just work for hire. I guess they'd heard some of my orchestral music of mine. I met with Axl and he played me these songs, asked me my ideas about them, and I told him what I thought they needed. They gave me four songs to orchestrate. A couple of them I did more than orchestrating, I actually wrote some melodies and stuff. It was a fun project. I really enjoyed it. The music was eclectic and at the time that I was doing it there were no lyrics on the songs that I was working on. People ask me about the album and I really have no idea about the release. I thought it was coming out last September. I'm the wrong person to ask about that.

[Being asked if he'd been in the studio with the band]: No, they had finished tracks. On one song I actually wrote a guitar part, but they pretty much had the band tracks down and then I added orchestral stuff on top of it.

[Being asked which songs it were]: A song called "Seven," which is the one that I did the most work on, I actually did some writing on. There was one called "Thyme," one called "The General," one called "Leave Me Alone."

I enjoyed it quite a bit. It was different than doing film music, but it was a lot of fun. I would probably do it again. It would probably be more fun at some point, to do it as a more collaborative affair, starting more from scratch, working and writing stuff [together]. But it was definitely fun. [...] In fact I have plans for other projects as well, some operatic stuff and some concert stuff, and I like writing songs, too. To me music is music and it's not limited by the medium, it just encompasses everything.


In late 2004 it would be reported that orchestral arranger Paul Buckmaster had worked on the songs, "Blues", "Twat", "Prostitute" and "Madagascar" from Guns N' Roses forthcoming album [Blabbermouth, November 22, 2004]. Buckmaster worked on the songs throughout August and September 2002 [The London Times, March 18, 2005].

Buckmaster would describe meeting Axl:

Axl was supposed to be there at 3pm, but turned up at 5. He was apologetic and ran me through four songs that he wanted to put strings over.

Axl seemed quite upbeat; he’d recently returned from Malaysia or Indonesia and was carrying pairs of those baggy trousers that you see people from those countries wearing and started giving them out to people in the studio. At other times, his humour was sarcastic. We’d be listening to a guitar part and he’d say, ‘That’s not nearly loud enough’. Anyone else would have said that it was the loudest guitar sound ever recorded.

According to the London Times, Buckmaster "immediately set about organising a 32-piece string section, featuring ten first violins, eight second violins, six violas and eight cellos. Recording began on September 13. Rose, though, was absent. Like many others on the project, Buckmaster has yet to hear if his contribution will see the light of day" [The London Times, March 18, 2005].


Buckmaster past away on November 7, 2017, at the age of 71, and Axl sent his condolences:

Very sorry to hear of Mr. Paul Buckmaster's passing. I feel very fortunate to have met him n' have his involvement in GNR. My deepest condolences to his friends, fans n' loved ones.
Twitter, November 9, 2017

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:47 pm


In the following quote Dizzy would say that some of the new band members hadn't been able to put their egos aside:

It's been kind of a struggle at times, but everyone's professional and everyone knows what's at stake here, how big this could be, so everyone's come in ready to work, and most of the people have been able to put their egos aside when they need to.


Axl would also mention that Robin and Buckethead had problems playing together:

When we first did our first show in Vegas, Robin and Buckethead didn't know each other at all, and you've got two lead guitar players trying to kill each other. [...] Well, I mean, I think they’re like - they can be cordial to each other, that whole kind of thing. But when they're actually playing, it gets that kind of alpha male thing going, [like] who's the real lead guitar player.

The last sentence in the quote above could very well have been about Slash and Zakk Wylde playing together - it is not entirely clear from the context.


Later Tommy would say disparaging comments about Buckethead, indicating that they might have had problems:

Buckethead going away is the best thing that could've happened to the band. It's gonna be great.

I won't get too far into that, because I don't really like slamming people or getting into people's personalities or anything like that. It's a really good thing.

The same year he would also talk more about Bucket:

You know, he wears a bucket on his head. That’s all I can say about that. And there’s not a lot under it.

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Post by Soulmonster Fri Feb 05, 2021 2:48 pm



At some point in 2001, Mercuriadis' Sanctuary Group acquired Goldstein's Big FD Entertainment, the management firm handling Axl and Guns N' Roses. With this move, Mercuriadis and Goldstein seems to have become co-managers of the band.

Apparently, Goldstein sold Big FD without counseling or telling Axl:

Well, Axl was a little frustrated that I didn't communicate with him about that, about selling my company, which to be honest with you, Mitch, I thought I did. I mean, I was like, "Look, I'm going to talk," because I actually spoke with Rod Smallwood. I went and met with Rod and Andy Taylor because it was their company and they told me that Merck was - and nobody knows why to this day, why Merck was given the green light, the free reign if you will, to be acquiring all of the different companies that he did, but, you know, it ended up sinking Sanctuary.


As described previously, the relationship between Axl and Goldstein had been bad for some time now, particularly after the cancelled tour of 2001, and Merck Mercuriadis had become co-manager of the band.

Goldstein would claim Merck was undermining his relationship with Axl:

So Merck ends up being a guy who clearly wants my relationship with Axl, and so he does a number of things behind my back to make me look pretty bad to Axl, quite honestly, and so Axl was frustrated with me.

One of these things seems to have been putting Goldstein in a difficult position during the 2002 MTV Awards:

But you know, it's funny, when the new band was touring in Europe, Axl came to my room and said, "So are you excited about going to New York on Friday?" And I said, "For what?" and he said, "Come on, Doug, the MTV Awards," I said, "Look, I have no idea what you're talking about." He goes, "Look, Merck has been telling us, me and the band, for two months. Are you telling me that you have no fucking clue?" I go, "Dude, I have no idea what you're talking about." So he leaves my room and I call Van Toffler, the president of MTV, who's a really good friend of mine. "Hey, man," I go, "I'm looking forward to seeing you." He goes, "Why? I go, "At the show." He goes, "Doug, you're not on our fucking show." So I go, "Look, you're gonna have to put us on the show. I mean, you know, if this doesn't happen, somehow I'm gonna end up feeling the brunt of it. I guaran-fucking-tee it." So he tells me to call another friend of mine, Dave Serelnic, who produces all of those shows. So I called Dave and basically I beg him, I plead, I go, "Look, I'll play during the commercials. I don't care." So he calls me back a half an hour later and says, "You get exactly two and a half minutes and then the credits start rolling." [...] So that was pretty much the last thing I ended up doing for them.

By late August 2002, Goldstein was out and Merck took over sole management responsibility of the band. Goldstein would explain how he got fired:

A couple weeks later [=after the 2002 MTV Awards], and I don't remember why Axl was upset at me, but he was, and so he had given the decree that if I see either Doug or our security guy, Bob Wine. Bob Wine's worked with everybody, the Rolling Stones, Springsteen, I mean, he's legendary in the security world. So Axl says if I see either of those guys, they're fired immediately. So it was an outdoor festival, and in Europe, and Axl's pulling up tardy - I know, tough to believe [laughing] - and- [...] So at that time local security was pulling out of the pit about 200 photographers. And so they're literally walking in line of Axl's limo and I thought, "Trainwreck! Axl may fire me but fuck it, I'm gonna save him getting pissed off and bear whatever emotions he's gonna go through." So I jump in the middle of it and tell these people, you know, basically go fucking back to the bit. So Merck comes up and says, "Well, you've done it, you're fired." So I was literally on a plane the next day.

Brain would mention talking to Goldstein at the time and suggest the incident above happened when they were playing in Leeds on August 23, 2002:

Doug was always great to me. I heard a lot of bad things about him, too, but he was always awesome. He was always like, would answer my calls. I remember going to his hotel two or three times asking him certain things about stuff and he would answer them. He never wore me out or anything, but I know that was at a time when he was getting worn out. I think they were done with him. I think when Merck was coming in and I think that's when you know a whole other management system, that Sanctuary Group or whatever they're called, was coming in. And I think that's... yeah, that's what happened. I think he was getting burned out so I don't think he had the power to be the dude he was back in the day when they're on top of the world, yeah. Then one day he was gone. [...] Yeah, it's like, "What happened?" He's been sent home and we never saw him again. I think we were Live at Leeds. [?] He was on the bus. And I was like, "Hey, did you see the show?" And he goes, "No, I wasn't allowed to go up there." I was like, "Why?" And he goes, "I just got in a big argument with Beta and Axl and I can't go up there." And I was like, "Oh, okay." And then I never saw him again.

In 2018, Goldstein would argue that he hadn't been fired at the incident above, just become so estranged from Axl that he didn't work with him again:

I was traveling every Friday night over to Hawaii to be with my kids. And I asked Axl if I could just work from Hawaii because Shep Gordon had done it for years. And he said, "No, I need you here." And I said, "Well, then you tell my three and a half year old that I can't do that." So it was more quitting. I mean, I read on the internet where I was fired and I don't, there was nothing. I was never terminated. I just, I wanted to be a dad. And I've never really looked back and said, "Gee, that was a bad decision." Quite the antithesis. I mean, I love my children, Jake and Eli. And, you know, to me, that's the best job I've ever had in my life. [?] And so I've never looked backwards. You know, you leave the biggest rock band in the world. So what? [...] No, I never got fired. [...] I mean, [Axl] was upset with me during that time period over something that went down that was pretty interesting. He was upset with me and didn't want to see me. You had 150 photographers who were coming towards his limousine as it was approaching, and I stopped them. And so he didn't want to see me, but that was very short. He didn't fire me over that. And no, really the condition upon where we parted ways was what I just mentioned. And I just wanted to be a dad.

In an article in Dallas Observer published in December 2002, an anonymous source said the following in an email to the newspaper:

I don't have much positive to say, and Axl has enough complications without me adding fuel to the fire. He's the one that turned on me after 14 years and I only recently got over the hurt. I'd rather try to take the high road. [...] [I need] to heal from finding out Axl and I weren't really friends.

It in not known whether this person was Goldstein, but it fits very well with the dates and content.

In 2015, Goldstein would be asked about how whether there was a "vault" of unreleased material:

Not to my knowledge. No, not to my knowledge. [...] But you know, there very well might be, it's just, again, I have no knowledge of it. I was gone in 2002. You'd know better than I would when Democracy came out. I just know that I was being called to Jimmy Iovine's office quite often to find out when it was gonna be done.

And in 2018 he would look back at his greatest memory with Axl and claim that Axl had fought for him when the rest of the band had tried to reduce his compensation:

The Axl personal one probably, and I wasn't there, but when my contract was up and I'd heard it from the attorney involved and two other witnesses, the band was gonna cut my percentages down and he said, "I got a different idea, I'll take the percent that you want to cut them down from each one of you guys and give it to him because he works harder than any of you guys." So, I mean, he was sticking up for me and, but yeah, I mean, we had a great relationship. He was my best friend. And we went through a lot of very heavy stuff together. And I love and miss him and always will.

In 2019, Tommy would reminisce over Goldstein:

You know, when I joined the band, he was the manager and he went out kind of in a blaze and it was kind of messed up. But, you know, I'll leave it at that. But I wondered, I often wondered about him. Like, you know, I don't think he's a bad guy, I just think things just got kind of screwed up, you know, for all of it.


Some time in 2009, Goldstein would send a letter to Axl imploring him to consider rekindling their friendship and starting to collaborate again [Letter from Goldstein to Axl, 2009].

I think there's a lot of great shit in that letter by the way [laughing].

In the letter, Goldstein would outline a business plan for Axl that, among others, included an annual music festival in Australia called the "Rose Festival" and a charitable foundation in Axl's name [Letter from Goldstein to Axl, 2009]. Goldstein efforts were not met with success, though, and Axl and him would not work together again.

In 2015, Goldstein would say it wasn't him who had made the letter public:

Well, you know what, interesting enough I didn't put it out in the public. I actually sent it. I gave it to Beta. Next thing I know it's on the internet. [...] In no way shape or form did I expect that to become public knowledge.

Talking about the 'Rose Festival':

[...] you know where that came from, actually is...everybody's doing... the Warp Festival... and so I thought, "You know what, Axl, you could actually be the producer of your own festivals." Why not? Why not? He loves, you know,...I mean, that's an interesting part of history. Nirvana, he brought Nirvana to the band. He loved Kurt Cobain. The whole Courtney thing, you know, he hated her but the reality is he-

I got to be honest with you, Mitch. I come up with really, really creative ideas. Because that would have been, and I allude to it in that letter, you have to do, I mean, like Ozzy. Ozzy doesn't do every Ozfest right. So Axl would have set up the brand of the Rose Fest by going and doing the first tour and then that's it. That's it. He does one and then every Rose Fest after that he gets the bands together for it, but he doesn't have to do it and he gets paid.

After Slash and Duff rejoined Guns N' Roses and the Not In This Lifetime touring had started, Goldstein was asked if he had attended any of the shows and say that he hadn't after tour manager John Reese had not been invited backstage and that "they" hate him for his alleged involvement in the signed partnership agreement [see previous chapters]:

No. [Former Guns N’ Roses tour manager] John Reese, when I was talking to him, he went to a show, he had passes for him and his now wife, and his daughters, and they went. They were back with Kanye West and a couple other people, one of the Brazilians, Beta’s family, one of the daughters comes out and only takes back Axl’s guests.

So Kanye got left there, a couple other celebrities, and John Reese. John Reese was the tour manager for the band, and he got embarrassed. So once I heard that I went, they don’t hate him, they hate me for some reason. They think I’m the guy that in 1993, when I was sitting with my wife having a child, that I was the guy taking the name back.

Why Axl should supposedly hate Goldstein for this is not clear.

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Post by Soulmonster Sat May 01, 2021 12:07 pm

FALL OF 2002

In October 2002, MTV News would report that Axl had been spotted in Shanghai [MTV News , October 10, 2002] and a few days later Blabbermouth would claim that the band was shooting a movie video there [Blabbermouth, October 14, 2002]. It would be rumoured that the band was visiting China to make a music video for the song 'Catcher in The Rye' [Blabbermouth, October 14, 2002; Metal Hammer, October 20, 2002].

In 2006, Axl would talk about having spent three months in China:

Yeah, we went and stayed in China for about three months, Beijing, Shanghai, and Xian. [...] Well, I didn't live there, we just went and stayed there a couple of years ago.

No it was before that but then I just thought I should go. I wanted to go before they banned me. So, you know, I mean Chinese Democracy that doesn't quite work for the government over there.

He would repeat this in 2016:

But my thing with China itself isn't about… With the term Chinese Democracy it isn't- wasn't about trying to tell them to have a democracy or anything like that. I'm not… really a… I don't really have an opinion of what type of government they should have. My thing is that I went and stayed there for about three months and everywhere I went the people are so shielded from what's going on in the world. And if you stay in the hotels there… you're from western society or something you don't realize that the stuff you're seeing on TV the average person isn't seeing. They aren't seeing that version of CNN or whatever. But the biggest thing to me was that… everywhere you went people were scared. They were frightened for their lives to have an opinion that deviates from the government's about the simplest thing. Things we take for granted you know, sitting in a car and someone going "Oh what Obama did today" if you say "Oh, I don't know about the… communist party is doing…" Your translator all sudden is terrified and for good reason. And that- [...] I do feel that people should be free to have their opinions and develop their thoughts and to move forward rather than have someone just completely dictating.

It is difficult to put three months of stay in China into the fall of 2002, though, since Guns N' Roses were in US for MTV VMA on August 29 and started their fall tour in Vancouver on November 7. So maybe two months in China - September and October? Or maybe those three months took place before this, and that Axl (and possible the band) returned to China again in October 2002 for a shorter trip?

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Post by Soulmonster Tue May 11, 2021 12:34 pm


In late September 2002, the band would officially announce the 2002 North American Chinese Democracy tour, starting in November and ending in December 2002 [Press release, September 25, 2002].

The openers for the tour would be CKY and Mix Master Mike. Drummer Jess Margera from CKY would explain how it came to be:

All of a sudden, Axl picked us. We had to cancel two sold-out shows in California and turn right full rudder all the way to Vancouver. We were at least 2,000 miles out of the way when we got the call. We've been driving for three days, but this is an awesome tour so it's worth driving all that way. [...] I'm psyched because that's probably the biggest tour of this year. And we've all been fans of Guns N' Roses for a long time. I got Appetite for Destruction when I was 10 years old, so I've been listening to that for a while. And I'm a big fan of [guitarist] Buckethead and Brain is a really awesome drummer. I can't wait to hang out with him. I'm not worried [about the audience not liking us]. I'm sure a lot of people will be psyched to see Guns N' Roses, but we'll be raging hard enough that they can't just write us off. Our live shows are pretty gnarly and it's hard not to watch.

And Axl would discuss the choices:

[Yeah], [Mix Master Mike]'s done some work with them [BEASTIE BOYS]. He's actually worked with Brain and Bucket in the past. But separate from Brain and Bucket having worked with him, Tommy was the person that turned me on to Mix Master Mike by having me go see a scratch show when they had this movie out, 'Scratch', and go to a performance of that, and Robin and I went with Tommy down to watch, and it was really exciting to watch. He just moved the people in a cool way, and it was cool that Tommy and Robin really liked it so much. They didn't know that this guy already had a relationship with Bucket and Brain, so it just kind of seems natural, because of their enthusiasm, and the other guys already knowing him and being excited about it. And then we're also playing with CKY, which is kind of thing that people are into right now, and they have a really interesting attitude. So, it should be fun. We wanna give people a full show of a few different things to see.

Big respect to Axl for noticing and recognizing DJs are actually musicians in their own right and we can open up arenas. [...] [Axl] saw my parts in the movie [=Scratch] and got inspired. He actually came to one of my shows, and then his manager called my manager and got it all formulated.

Having a DJ opening for Guns N' Roses was a risky choice, and Mix Master Mike would be met with boos and indifference. Looking back at the first shows and describing his approach:

There were some skeptical earthlings out there, and they had to be converted. At first it was tough, but it only took five minutes. I just showed them that I'm here to have a good time, but also to make them have a good time and show them something they've never seen before. [...] I'm up for challenges. To this day, not enough people know what scratching is. So I'm on a mission to convert people and let them know what's going on.

Rock musicians have their guitars. These are our guitars right here [pointing to a pair of turntables]. [...] I'll juggle some stuff they know, but I'll make sure I manipulate it in a way they've never heard before so they go, 'Well, this ain't the way we know it, but we enjoy it.' Like, I'll take a Zeppelin record and decompose it and cut it up.

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Post by Soulmonster Wed May 12, 2021 8:11 am


In 2002, Dizzy would be paraphrased talking about how the new record would be a band effort:

Reed stresses that "Chinese Democracy" is very much a band project, with all new members contributing and collaborating, and not just The Axl Rose Show, even though the singer is acknowledged as a benevolent dictator with ultimate veto powers.

And Tommy would describe the process of making new songs and how everybody contributed as in proper bands:

Axl doesn’t bring in a song and tell everybody how it goes. ... He’ll take one idea, then ask somebody else to finish it. He’s trying to draw the best out of each individual.

The reason why it’s taken so long is just it’s a different process than most bands probably do go through. The process Axl does, which is all new to me but it’s kept me around because it’s an interesting process, is he throws the songs around from person to person to see what they’re gonna [do], what stamp they’re gonna put on it and see what kind of spin it’s gonna take. And, you know, you hammer it out, beat it up, you kick it around the room a bit, and it takes a while to finally come up with the gem you end up with. At the end of the day, all will be revealed in time, you know.

[Axl] likes to take all the members of the band and get the best out of each guy for each song. It's a brilliant process that gets everyone involved so everyone owns a piece of the song because they've put themselves into it. That way you don't have people going, 'Well, I'm not gonna play on his song if you're not gonna sing on my song.' And that's a lengthy process because you have to get eight people to basically write a song together that everyone likes.

Axl's idea is to take eight guys and make them write a song together. He'll like an idea of mine, say, and then want to see what the others put on it. ... He wants it so that everyone owns the song.

I think pretty much everyone's brought something to the plate that we've turned into one thing or the other. I don't know if the song or two I wrote is necessarily gonna make this record or the next record. But everyone's brought stuff together that we've worked out and turned into stuff and it'll probably used at some point one way or the other. We've all contributed to pretty much everything on it in some form or another, you know.

The cool thing about it, which was also the biggest learning experience for me, was the collaborative effort. It really was eight guys writing a record together, eight guys from absolutely different places with regard to their musical backgrounds. Axl really produced this record himself in that he got all of us to bring things to the table and put us in a position to write together.

I never knew the Nine Inch Nails camp, so I wouldn't have had a chance to work with people like [guitarist] Robin Finck and collaborate on what I think is going to be a really amazing record. Axl's obviously a great singer, but his real gift is the way he can pull people together and get the best out of them. Hopefully it will be worth the wait.

And especially Axl's role:

[Comparing Axl with Paul Westerberg]: Well, Axl is definitely a better person to work for. He doesn't really act much like a boss, however. He's more of a bandmate, making it a we're-all-in-this-together kind of situation. Whereas Paul was definitely more single-minded. (Laughs.) Paul's got a bigger ego than anyone I've ever worked with. And he's more self-conscious than anyone I've ever known. Axl is definitely way more of a collaborator than Paul will ever be. With Axl, I feel like I'm actually part of a band. We're all writing these songs, and we're all playing them. I just feel more a part of it. Axl checks his ego at the door. He comes in and he gets involved, you know? That's a way better vibe to make music with.

I don't think anybody is in a position to question the way Axl writes and records. It might be a longer process, but it works. [...] [It] very much involves the rest of the band. Axl has a way of pulling out the best from each guy in the band, and that takes time.

[Comparing Axl with Paul Westerberg]: The difference is Paul was more of a dictator-type songwriter. It was his way and he wasn’t terribly open to outside input. Axl is more of a producer. He draws the best out of each guy and incorporates that in there, you know, more of a team player kinda thing. He really wants to have a band, not just be out there saying, ‘Hey I’m Axl Rose, I’m the (expletive) leader of this band.’ He doesn’t put up pretenses, sort of lets us do our thing and we end up sounding like band. Paul liked to be the band.

[...] there'll probably be compositions that started with each of us and were compiled by all of us, on the whole record, yeah. I would be willing to wager that that is how it turns out, because Axl is the kind of guy who is always looking out for the fairest way to do it so everyone's happy. Because obviously, that's the kind of thing that screwed up the old band. Everybody had songs they wanted to write, and have Axl sing, and then there got to be infighting, I think, with whose songs were going to be on the record. He's really conscious of that, so it ends up being a bit of everyone on there.

[Comparing Axl to Paul Westerberg]: Axl, by a long shot [is the easiest to work with]. I’ll tell you why, and I can explain this really well, actually. Paul liked to do it his way. He would hear things a certain way in his head but couldn’t tell you how it was going to happen. It would get kind of frustrating. He would have a vision and would fucking beat it to death trying to get there. With Axl, he doesn’t really have his own vision. He likes to take everyone’s two cents and throw it into the soup, get everyone involved and kind of mold it that way. Axl could really take production credit on this record because he took the best of each of us on each song and crammed it together and made it a musical piece. I can’t tell you how much I learned about collaborating with people while making the record, where Paul just kind of does it his way.


Paul would be way more of a dictator than Axl. Axl is more of a collaborator, maybe even to a fault sometimes. He wants everyone involved. Part of that may have come from the old band, where everyone wanted him to sing their songs but didn’t want to play the other guys’ songs. It would be like, “I’m not going to sing on your song unless you play on his song,” and then it becomes infighting and that kind of shit. That doesn’t really keep a band together. On the new record, everyone’s got a bit in there, their part of a song. It lends itself to us feeling a part of the whole record.

The long-awaited GNR record is a collaborative effort. That's how Axl likes to do things: involve everyone. You might not know it from what you read and hear about him but he's real keen at tooling individual talents, getting the best, most personal contribution from everyone involved.

Axl is very much into having a band. and he's one of the fairest, coolest, nicest guys that I've ever met... and that's just a fact. And I mean he treats us as band members but at the same time with any situation like that... there's always one person that's more important and you know is in charge and you have to know whose in charge. In every band, in every successful band, has a leader... he's the leader.

After the release of Chinese Democracy, Axl would explain why it wasn't a solo record:

I didn’t make a solo record. A solo record would be completely different than this and probably much more instrumental. I made a Guns record with the right people who were the only people who really wanted to help me try, were qualified and capable while enduring the public abuse for years. The songs were chosen by everyone involved.

And cite the inclusion of This I Love as an example of other members having power over the end result:

I didn’t want to do This I love in anyway shape or form and Robin and Caram insisted gaining Tommy’s and the others support.

Bumblefoot would also offer his views on this:

That's just part of the whole negative crap that's part of the baggage of being a new Guns N' Roses. That whole thing of blah blah blah, they're just hired guns... blah blah blah... they're not the original members blah blah blah you're not my real mommy, blah blah blah. (Laughs)

Considering there are guys in the band who have been there 18 years to whatever amount of time it is, and considering that we see each other on a daily basis, and when we're not, we're speaking to each other all the time, hanging out and doing things together, jamming and playing on each other's albums, and doing everything band members do... I'd say it's pretty much a band. Whether people want to acknowledge that or not, that's up to them, and whatever floats their boat. It doesn't change the truth.


I would say that it's more of a band than my own band. Absolutely. In my own band, it is everything that people want to say negatively about GNR. (Laughs) My band is really me, who writes all the songs, then Dennis comes in and kicks ass on them, but then I go and play bass and rhythm guitar and do everything else besides the drumming. Then when I do play live, I do hire friends or whoever to play bass and rhythm guitar. So in my case they are a bunch of hired guns, other than Dennis, who is really more of my right hand guy. We work together, and I do things for him as well. We just have a musical relationship that's gone on for years.

It has people that have been in the band for... I mean, Dizzy has been in the band for a good eighteen fucking years or so, going on nineteen years, and Tommy's been in for.. What? How long now? Eleven years is it? Or ten years? I don't know - I lose track. But you have people that have been there for a very long time, that have written songs, that have recorded songs, and have toured, people that have done everything a band does. Again, it's about entertainment and perception, not truth. The truth is it's a band, just like many other bands that write and record and tour, but if people don't wanna see that, it doesn't change what we are. It just changes how they look at it, and that's fine. It doesn't make any difference, because we're still a band going on tour, promoting the album of songs we wrote and recorded.

In 2011, Tommy would be asked if it is a collaborative effort or mostly Axl:

The whole process, funny enough, is actually a completely collaborative effort.  Even if one guy were to bring a whole song in, he’s got to fucking have the rest of the guys chime in, and do their bit on it. And for the good, I think that’s worked out really well. As long as everyone gets in the mix, somehow. It’s a cool way of doing it. I don’t know if it works for everyone, but it worked out great for this last record, anyway.

[Axl] likes to actually collaborate with the people he’s playing with. He doesn’t bring them a song and say, ‘Here’s my song. Sing it.’ It’s kind of a strange, old-school, songwriter-producer thing. I don’t think he realizes that. He’s really good at getting people to write something that inspires him.

One of the highlights of the whole experience is having written songs with a bunch of other guys I’d never worked with before to make Chinese Democracy. In the process, I realized two things. One is that Axl is fair to a fault when it comes to writing music. He wants everybody to have a part in every song, so everybody has a vested interest and every song will be the best it’s gonna be. And two, I learned how to write with other people and keep my ego out of the room. When you’re working with eight other people, that’s a necessity.

There were a few different periods of writing I can sort of remember. At one point, myself and Axl were in the studio for a few months just recording ideas. Some things came from that, just throwing stuff back and forth. Everyone else brought in ideas here and there. There were a few different processes. It was quite the experience, actually. It was a good learning experience because everyone that is in the band now or came through are all really creative, good songwriters in their own right. I hear about these consortiums or symposiums in Nashville (Tenn.) where everyone sits in a room and kicks around ideas. It was sort of like that but not as structured.

And Dizzy would be asked if Axl leads the charge in the studio:

For some songs, sure, but I know if we spend time and put together cool ideas and send it his way, and it’s cool, he appreciates it. So some things go a little bit further, maybe. And some things don’t, you know? Everyone brings things in, it just depends. At the end of the day, he’s going to sing it, so it’s got to flow the way he wants it to and the way he feels comfortable and the way he does put what he puts on it.

You know, I can’t really imagine what it would be like to not make music the way he does it. Working with him has taught me a lot. He’s a bit of a perfectionist, I guess. Because of that it always brings out the best in everyone that’s working there [in the studio], and also out of me. You need some tension to make the best recordings you can make. It’s easy to get something that sounds kick-ass and just roll with it and say, ‘Hey, there it is. We’re done.’ But everything should have a second go around – or three – to make sure it’s right. I think Axl’s work ethic has really rubbed off on me.

In a lot of ways, yes [Axl] is a perfectionist. If he has a song, he’s going to turn it inside and out and sideways. He’s not by any means a tyrant as the media says he is. He is a lot of fun to work with and I learned so much from him as well. He pushes himself to the brink all the time. If only people realized how hard he works before and after the show and in the studio. I have an incredible amount of respect for him and it makes me better and push myself harder.

In 2011, Axl would talk about all the misconceptions about him and refer to Izzy comparing him to Ayatollah in an early interview:

There's too many things. There's too many things said. It's, you know, it's like two decades of people talking and most the time they're talking off things somebody who had a bias started or said. They could have said jokingly, you know, "Axl's a dictator," I know exactly where that started, that started with a woman named Beth... she didn't start it, Beth Nassbaum, this woman was interviewing us and Izzy called me the Ayatollah in an interview, and then it just rolled from there and I didn't... I wasn't... It just didn't hit me that I should, like, you know, I should nip this in the butt and confront it.

In 2016, an interviewer would suggest Axl liked being a dictator:

And again, Axl would explain why it had become a widespread belief that he was a dictator:

Thirty years ago when the rest of the band was all on heroin. And they realized that the- this woman interviewing us for some tiny little rock magazine was more interesting in interviewing them than me Izzy said I was a demon. You know like the Ayatollah, because I was the big enemy at the time and then it just stuck.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Fri Jan 19, 2024 10:51 pm; edited 13 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Sat May 22, 2021 5:57 pm

NOVEMBER 7, 2002

The first show of the fall 2002 tour was scheduled for Vancouver, Canada, on November 7, 2002. But when Axl failed to show up for the show it was cancelled before the doors had opened resulting in thousands of fans rioting [Canadian Press/Edmonton Journal, November 8, 2002; MTV News, November 8, 2002]. Police used pepper spray to disperse the rioters but there were no injuries [Canadian Press/Edmonton Journal, November 8, 2002].

Following the announcement of the cancellation, groups of ticked-off kids converged at the gates of GM Place. Fueled, in some cases, by strong drink and marijuana, they hoisted the long metal security barriers outside and rammed them through the glass entry doors. They threw bottles and rocks. They were angry about paying $80 U.S. for tickets and then getting blown off, and they yelled things like, "F--- Axl, I wanna see Buckethead!"

After about 20 minutes of all this, a phalanx of cops waded in with attack dogs, and things got really ugly. Those fans who escaped the police onslaught with nothing more than a faceful of pepper spray might be said to have been the lucky ones. Wielding their riot batons with seeming abandon, the cops walloped legs, arms, heads, whatever available extremity presented itself. They ganged up to pummel people even after they'd fallen to the ground. One young man was smashed in the face and had his teeth knocked out — he stumbled away in a daze, holding them in his hands, with blood pouring from his mouth.

Even as the crowd began to disperse, police continued to chase and hit and kick individual stragglers. As one young woman who claimed to have had no involvement in the rioting told a local TV news crew, "I thought, 'Oh my God, they hate every single one of us.'"

Chad Ginsburg from the opening band CKY would describe the riot:

Five minutes before the show it was like: ‘Axl cancelled, he’s not showin’ up.’ Then the riot just started, and we were like, ‘Oh shit!’ By the time we were alerted and able to get back on our bus, they [the angry fans] didn’t know whose buses were whose, and they were rioting at our bus as well. I mean, you gotta know that the cheap bus isn’t Guns N’ Roses, but they were throwin’ bottles and stuff, and our techs were terrified to load the trailer.

Bam Margera, brother of Jess Margera in CKY, would later talk about the show:

Well, CKY, my brother's band, toured with them and it was the tour that Axl decided to simply not show up to a massive venue because I think wanted to see a football game instead and a riot happened, they broke a million dollar soundboard and then CKY was the only band that played. Then when Guns N' Roses didn't play everybody had a riot and smashed windows and whatnot.

A band spokesman said poor weather conditions at Los Angeles airport made it impossible for Axl's plane to fly [Canadian Press, November 9, 2002].

The day after Axl would explain what happened:

We were going to play a show and the plug got pulled on us. We were fully able to meet our commitments and we don't really understand what happened right now, why the show was pulled. We have a legal team looking into it, to get to the bottom of it, and then I'll have to sort out things about the people that bought tickets and things like that. But basically, the building manager just decided - in all of our opinion, prematurely - that the show was just cancelled. And he didn't discuss it with anyone. He just announced it over… We found out… My guys found out over the public address system. [...] I was in the air, I was in a plane on the way to the show. It gets complicated. The manager of the building said that the doors wouldn't open 'till he had confirmation that we were wheels up, that the plane was in the air. And as soon as he had that confirmation, he cancelled the show without telling anybody. And not only did he cancel the show, he cancelled the show and before this - I don't know if it was a riot or a disturbance, whatever - started, they had police at the airport trying to find out what was going on with me. So, it's all kind of screwy.

Axl received massive criticism for scheduling to come to Vancouver so late for the tour's first show:

But the fact that Rose hadn’t planned an earlier arrival in Vancouver didn’t sit well with some concert industry veterans.

“This was the tour opener — why wasn’t he there a day early?” asked Gary Bongiovanni, editor of Pollstar, a concert-industry tracking publication. “It’s almost unconscionable for him to try to come into the country so shortly before show time... And the bad weather coming to California had been forecast for days. This was not a surprise storm”.

Later Dizzy, Tommy, Richard and Brain would discuss what went down:

The people who run the building pulled the plug. Some of us were already there, and we found out over the public-address speakers. It's unfortunate and sad that people got hurt. It sucks very, very badly, but hopefully we can make it back.

We were there. Axl’s in the air. He’s on his way. Like, we had three hours before we even had to go on and they pulled the plug on it. It should have never been cancelled and everyone will hopefully get over it.

We could have easily played that show. We got the ... short end of the stick on it. I don’t think it's a good thing when fans trash the building and take it out on the band or the venue.... None of that is a good thing going around.

People jump to conclusions and say, Here we go again. Your reputation precedes you, as mine has for many years. [...] We had no idea what was going on. We, the band, were at the show interviewing with MTV. Axl was in flight to meet them as well. We were sitting there when they pulled the plug. We heard it over the loudspeakers. They didn't tell us. We were in the dressing room. [...] It made no sense to us ... the whole tragedy [=riot]. There was no point to it, no need for them to pull the plug. Axl was enroute to the gig and we were at the gig fully intending on playing.

The building was worried about getting the ice set up for the following day’s hockey game. We were all ready to play, then we heard it announced over the PA that the show was canceled. We knew [Axl] was on his way. He was delayed. We would have been done by curfew.

Axl was en route. It had little to do with us and everything to do with the owners of the building. They panicked and pulled the plug.

Well, I can tell you this. I was at the building and Axl was in route to the building. Well, the owner/manager of the building found out that Axl wasn't there yet, he like freaked out and pulled the plug and make an announcement saying "Tonight's show been cancelled, the band didn't make it to Vancouver" which I found pretty funny or ironic I guess, because I was sitting in the building when he make that announcement. That's what happened, a few kids decided not to leave and get rowdy with the police, unfortunately people got hurt and that's horrible, but whatever they showed on TV made it look a lot worse! It was really only a couple dozen kids that hung out and they were saying it was like a thousand and most of the people said bummer and went home.

The Vancouver show was not typical. It was entirely based on a decision by the manager of that building who panicked and without much discussion decided to shut the show down.

If I was somebody who had bought tickets to the [Vancouver] show, I'd be pretty upset, too. Personally, I think we could have still done the show and met the curfew, but [Orca Bay officials] were freaked about not having enough time to put the ice back in for a hockey game. I mean, it's not like we haven't always been late on this tour. It didn't seem any worse than any other day.

Oh, yeah, the first tour that we did, it was the first show, I think it was in Canada. Yeah, we got there and, you know, everything's broken and you know, like, the box office had one of those like barriers thrown into it. You know, we showed up and I was kind of nervous because it was the first tour and so, you know, and I remember Robin was even there and he's going, "God damn it! Looks like the show's canceled," you know, because Axl like already had canceled it and we didn't even know or something. And, you know, so the road manager was just about you know saying, "Yeah, I guess it's canceled," and,  yeah, we're like, "Yeah, obviously." So, you know, and I was like, you know, like totally into it and just going like, "All right, yeah, we don't have to play tonight." You know, like I was doing my thing.

We showed up on the... I remember being in the bus and showing up and all I saw was one of those, what do you call it? Where they blocked the crowd. [...] Barricades. And it was just thrown through the ticket box office and I was like, "Yeah, I don't think we're playing tonight." [...] I think I went and ate Indian food with Robin and Tommy and the Goose that night.

And Slash would answer when asked about it:

Nothing surprises me. When he really has all his sh-- together, Axl is brilliant, so it'll be happening. It just takes him a while to get around to it. As far as showing up to gigs? That's all par for the course. We've all seen that movie. What better way to kick off a Guns N' Roses tour than to miss the first gig?

Axl would later talk about how hard it is for him in general -- and not talking about the Vancouver show -- to get on stage:

It’s usually just a nightmare to get on stage. I don’t know why. It’s like, anything, the weirdest little things that can go wrong, go wrong. And then you have to go out there and act like everything’s fine.

Being asked how he felt when the show was cancelled:

Shock and dismay -- I mean, I didn't even know what the hell was going on. Tommy and Dizzy were doing an interview backstage with Kurt Loder from MTV, and they heard the announcement that the show was canceled coming over the PA system in the arena. No one could believe it. And it was Robin's birthday, too. It was such a drag. Apparently Axl had no idea, either, because he was on his way there. His plane was delayed, and we knew that he wasn't going to make it to the soundcheck, but there was never any question that he'd be there in time for the gig. Apparently, the venue just pulled the plug. It was pretty disappointing. And even worse, when you turn on the TV and see people getting their teeth knocked out, it's not something that you want to be a party to. So now the lawsuits will fly.

Last edited by Soulmonster on Sun Feb 25, 2024 12:11 pm; edited 16 times in total
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Post by Soulmonster Mon Jan 03, 2022 10:12 am


In January 2001, Buckethead would sign a multi album deal with Stray Records [Stray Records Press Release, January 2001].

[...] the opportunity to work with a cutting edge label which allows me to deviate from formulaic rock guitar.

According to the press release, Buckethead was "expected to begin work on the first of his Stray releases after conclusion of tour support for the latest GNR release" [Stray Records Press Release, January 2001]. This could mean Buckethead was prohibited from working on Stray records until after touring in support of Chinese Democracy, which didn't happen until well into the 2010s.

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