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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.


2016.03.24 - Wall Street Journal - Guns N’ Roses Puts It Back Together

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2016.03.24 - Wall Street Journal - Guns N’ Roses Puts It Back Together Empty 2016.03.24 - Wall Street Journal - Guns N’ Roses Puts It Back Together

Post by Blackstar Sun Mar 05, 2023 3:26 am

Guns N’ Roses Puts It Back Together

The reunion of Axl Rose, Slash and Duff McKagan is important to the industry

By Neil Shah

When Guns N’ Roses singer Axl Rose and guitarist Slash reunite on stage next month after decades of bad blood, fans around the world will wonder how long the dysfunctional duo can keep it together. The return of Guns N’ Roses is the biggest—and most unlikely—rock ’n’ roll reunion of the decade.

“With Guns N’ Roses, we’re kind of talking about nuclear fusion here,” says Larry Miller, head of the music-business program at New York University. “It could hang together for a couple dozen dates—or not.”

After months of secretive maneuvering by managers and promoters, a tour is taking shape, though details are closely guarded.

Arriving at detente was a long, slow process and the stars had to align: Members of the band went years without speaking; a birthday olive branch on Twitter was sent by an intermediary; a divorce might have played a role.

A Guns N’ Roses reunion is “one of those things the audience was told they would never get,” says Peter Katsis, who briefly managed the breakaway band Mr. Rose has fronted in recent years.

The Los Angeles rock group is booked for two nights at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 16 and April 23, after two gigs at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on April 8-9. Demand for tickets is intense. On, a ticket-selling site, a general-admission floor ticket for the April 8 show can cost $2,400. A fancier “suite” ticket? More than $15,000. Long a global favorite, the band is also playing two dates next month in Mexico City at Foro Sol, a 60,000-capacity stadium.

As promoters chase reunion tours to stand out in a crowded market for live music, Guns N’ Roses has been something of a Great White Whale. Big artists now earn much of their income from touring, which keeps them on the road and creates an oversupply of concerts. A reunion is a unique event with built-in marketing buzz.

The coming Guns N’ Roses shows are the most notable attempt to resurrect a rock touring juggernaut since the Police, which grossed more than $300 million when they reunited a decade ago. Longtime manager and executive Irving Azoff has put the Eagles’ tour grosses after their 1994 reunion at about $1 billion, not including merchandise.

But few big rock acts remain who haven’t reconvened already, or have a quorum of surviving members. It’s the end of an era, says Todd Kerns, bassist for Slash’s solo band. “This is the Last of the Mohicans.” Only Led Zeppelin, which broke up in 1980 and whose members have worked together occasionally but never toured, sets off similar yearnings in hard-rock circles.

It will be the first time Mr. Rose, Slash and bassist Duff McKagan have shared a stage in more than 20 years. Co-founder Izzy Stradlin, a childhood friend of Mr. Rose’s, has said he won’t appear for these early dates, but he could join up later. With or without him, an announcement of a full-blown road trip is expected soon.

For music festivals, it’s getting harder to produce headliners with a “wow” factor. Tommy Stinson, the bassist for the Replacements, says festivals repeatedly urged his group to re-form. The alternative-rock pioneers, known by their fans as “the ‘Mats,” broke up in 1991, and began touring again in 2013. “It definitely started from the prompting of promoters,” Mr. Stinson says. We weren’t “sitting around going, ‘God, I wish we could do a ‘Mats reunion!’ ” (Mr. Stinson also played bass in Mr. Rose’s version of Guns N’ Roses until last year.)

Some touted reunions hardly qualify as reunions. This year, Coachella has booked LCD Soundsystem, an electronic-dance-punk act that folded only five years ago.

Alan Niven, who managed Guns N’ Roses until Mr. Rose fired him in 1991, says he believes concert promoter Anschutz Entertainment Group is paying Guns N’ Roses an impressive $26 million for its four U.S. shows. Representatives for Guns N’ Roses and AEG, which owns Coachella, declined to comment.

More rebellious than their hair-band contemporaries, Guns N’ Roses injected realism and spontaneity into rock in the 1980s, earning comparisons to the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols. The hard-rock group’s 1987 album, “Appetite for Destruction,” is the best-selling debut in U.S. history, with more than 18 million copies sold, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. One single, “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” has been played on Spotify more times than Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

The flameout came quickly. Drummer Steven Adler was fired by the band for drug use in 1990. “Use Your Illusion,” the group’s two-and-a-half-hour-long double-release follow-up, was ambitious, but criticized by some as overindulgent. Mr. Rose’s controversial lyrics and lateness to shows made him a business liability. At a show near St. Louis, he leapt into the crowd to try to confiscate a fan’s camera, then left the stage, at which point a riot broke out, injuring dozens. In late 1991, rhythm guitarist Mr. Stradlin—considered the band’s linchpin due to his songwriting—quit, fed up with Mr. Rose’s antics and the band’s substance-abuse issues.

After a period of inactivity, Mr. Rose, Slash and Mr. McKagan parted ways in the mid-1990s amid resentments over Mr. Rose’s control of the band’s name, which Slash and Mr. McKagan have claimed Mr. Rose pressured them to give up.

“A permanent shift in the mood of the band came at the first mention of the contracts and the ownership of the band name, all of which first happened when Steven [Adler] was kicked out” in 1990, Slash (given name Saul Hudson ) recounts in his 2007 autobiography. A few years later Mr. Rose sought the right to start a new band called Guns N’ Roses, he says.

In a December 2008 post on a fan website, Mr. Rose says that when the band was renegotiating its contract with its record company in 1991 he “had the bit about the name added in as protection for myself…as our then-manager was always tryin’ to convince someone they should fire me.” Mr. Rose insists “everyone had agreed to [the name] being mine should we break up.”

Everyone involved has a different perspective. “They all have selective amnesia,” says Doc McGhee, who manages Kiss and briefly managed Mr. Rose’s version of Guns N’ Roses.

The infighting meant Guns N’ Roses—Mr. Rose, Slash and Mr. McKagan were its remaining shareholders—missed out on business opportunities. For years, band products such as concert DVDs and other merchandise couldn’t be released under the band’s name because they required Mr. Rose’s and Slash’s signoffs and the two couldn’t agree, associates say.

“One of the two of us will die before a reunion,” Mr. Rose told Billboard in 2009. For 15 years, he toured as the only original member of Guns N’ Roses, releasing one album, the long-gestating “Chinese Democracy,” in 2008 and contemplating another album. He wanted to prove he could write, Mr. McGhee says, and saw his Guns N’ Roses as a way to demonstrate his contributions to the original band.

In October 2010 Mr. McKagan and Mr. Rose ran into each other in a London hotel and rekindled their friendship. “We hugged,” Mr. McKagan writes in a memoir. “Thirteen years is a long time not to talk.”

Manager after manager popped the reunion question. In one 3 a.m. conversation while managing Mr. Rose on tour, Mr. Katsis recalls: “He told me he wasn’t opposed to doing it at some point, and that he had no real issues with Slash.” But he still wasn’t ready.

Mr. Rose parted ways with Mr. Katsis in late 2011, leaving the handling of Guns N’ Roses to Beta Lebeis, Mr. Rose’s personal assistant and confidante, and her son, Fernando; they were aided by Mr. Rose’s business manager, booking agent and lawyer.

When Mr. Stinson, Mr. Rose’s bassist, couldn’t play some gigs in 2014 due to Replacements engagements, Mr. McKagan filled in. Duff played a role in easing tensions between Mr. Rose and Slash, several people say. “Duff has always been Switzerland,” says Mr. Kerns, Slash’s bassist.

Over the past few years, the Rose and Slash camps gradually started cooperating. First, they started licensing Guns N’ Roses music for movies again, says Marc Canter, owner of a famous Los Angeles deli, childhood friend of Slash’s and author of a book about the band’s Sunset Strip early days, “Reckless Road.” Mr. Rose released a concert DVD that required Slash’s signoff, and Slash later released one of his own. “That was a sign of some kind of truce,” Mr. Canter says.

On July 24, 2015, Del James, a writer and close ally of Mr. Rose’s, wished Slash a (belated) happy birthday via Twitter—something unthinkable unless Slash and Mr. Rose were reconciled, Mr. Canter says.

Then came the big news: In an interview with a Swedish outlet in August, Slash said he and Mr. Rose had buried the hatchet.

Several people familiar with the band say Slash’s recent separation from his wife, Perla, may have been a factor in Mr. Rose’s changed attitude. That’s not uncommon: Divorces often act as a catalyst for reunions, observers say. (Mr. Stinson and Replacements leader Paul Westerberg had both ended relationships when they reunited in 2013, according to Bob Mehr’s new book, “Trouble Boys.”) Mr. Rose’s representative wouldn’t comment. Slash’s manager didn’t return phone calls. Perla Ferrar declined to comment.

Rumors of a Guns N’ Roses reunion spread. A Billboard article in late December suggested a possible full-scale tour. In January, the band’s publicist confirmed what had become an open secret: Mr. Rose, Slash and Mr. McKagan were reuniting—but it remained unclear whether Mr. Stradlin or Mr. Adler were involved. Last month, Mr. Stradlin—who has avoided the press for years—opened a Twitter account to say he wouldn’t be involved in the April shows “at this point in time.”

Speculation about Mr. Stradlin is rife among fans. Reuniting groups sometimes don’t agree on how to divvy up the spoils, Mr. Katsis says. Even if Guns N’ Roses made an offer to Mr. Stradlin, it’s possible that once Mr. Rose, Slash and Mr. McKagan took their slices of the pie, Mr. Stradlin’s piece was too small. “Axl’s been carrying the torch,” he says. “It’s a business negotiation between who’s been carrying the business and who’s just coming back.” Mr. Stradlin wasn’t available to comment.

Guns N’ Roses could collapse again. While Mr. Rose is more punctual nowadays, local authorities at Coachella levy strict fines if a band violates curfew. Guns N’ Roses has sold some 100 million records, but winning over Coachella’s crowd isn’t easy: Older rock like Guns N’ Roses isn’t the main attraction for younger festivalgoers, who favor dance-pop, electronic music and hip-hop.

On Thursday, the Guns N’ Roses rumor mill remained in overdrive. Fans speculated Mr. Rose could be one of the guest singers to replace ailing singer Brian Johnson on a slew of AC/DC concert dates. Any participation by Mr. Rose likely wouldn’t interfere with Guns N’ Roses’s touring plans.

The last time Mr. Rose, Slash and Mr. McKagan performed together was in Buenos Aires on July 17, 1993—the group’s final stop on their 2½-year, 194-show “Use Your Illusion” tour.

“I look back at it now and go, ‘My God’—so much wasted time,” Mr. Niven, the former manager, says. “Their prime was lost.”

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