Monday, April 16, 2012

Axl Rose Inducted To Douchebag Hall Of Fame

Axl Rose made headlines the other day with a weird, rambling open letter to the LA Times in which he not only strangled the hopes of Guns N' Roses fans that the band's original lineup might reunite for its first-ballot Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame (hereafter abbreviated "RNRHOF") induction over the weekend, but refused even to be inducted in his absence.

Put another way: not only did Axl not show up for the ceremony, much less sing "Sweet Child O' Mine" and "Welcome to the Jungle" with the guys he wrote them with, he did not consent to being inducted at all.

As it turned out, Axl was missed, I guess, but the band's founding rhythm guitar player Izzy Stradlin also did not show up, and it went nearly unremarked upon because Izzy had the good taste not to say anything to anyone about it. (His replacement for the "Use Your Illusion" tour, Gilby Clarke, stepped in and played his parts despite not being inducted.)

Anyway, Axl's letter got a lot of attention (as I'm sure it was specifically designed to), and it is striking not so much for what it says but how it says it. And by that I mean that it says it so poorly, I'm not sure what it says. Is English Axl's first language?

To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,
When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N' Roses were to be inducted it'd be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.
It's only complicated because it's awkward, and it's only awkward because you can't drop whatever 15-year-old grudge (and I mean that in both senses of "15-year-old grudge") you have against your former bandmates long enough to sing a couple songs. They have all indicated that they have no ill will. Your individual grudges with all four of the other guys have one thing in common, and that's you, buddy.
Since then we've listened to fans, talked with members of the board of the Hall Of Fame, communicated with and read various public comments and jabs from former members of Guns N' Roses, had discussions with the president of the Hall Of Fame, read various press (some legit, some contrived) and read other artists' comments weighing in publicly on Guns and the Hall with their thoughts.
Odd how Axl switches here from "I" statements to "we" statements ("we've listened to fans," "we've been polite"). Does he mean we, like me and the seven employees I call "Guns N' Roses?"
Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out.
What is there to 'work out'? Either you show up, smile (or don't), have your photo taken, sing a couple of tunes -- that would be "amicable" -- or stay home and keep your mouth shut -- that would also be amicable. Not showing up and talking a lot of shit about the four guys who helped you get obscenely rich and famous? That's not amicable.
Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.
Let's read that part again:
Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.
I have read this sentence eleven times and I have no idea what it says. Axl seems to suggest that the RNRHOF has no right to decide who to induct into the RNRHOF, and that in any case he does not agree with the choices it did make. So does that mean he thinks Bumblefoot and DJ Ashba should be in the RNRHOF along with Slash and Duff and Izzy? That would be insane. Is he saying he doesn't think Steven Adler should get in at all? That would also be insane. Maybe he thinks the current lineup is the only lineup and Slash and Izzy can go jump in a lake? Once again: insane! And concluding that he's not wanted at the ceremony? Insane doesn't seem strong enough a word.
For the record, I would not begrudge anyone from Guns their accomplishments or recognition for such. Neither I or anyone in my camp has made any requests or demands of the Hall Of Fame. It's their show not mine.
This paragraph seems to be contradicted directly by the one before it, and the next two after it:
That said, I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of "Guns N' Roses".

I'm not sure if Axl means that he is forbidding the use of his likeness or anything with his name, face or voice on it, or if he just means he doesn't want anyone talking about him at the ceremony. Either way: what a dick!
This decision is personal. This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario all the way around.
Here, Axl has a point: Standing before the brightest lights of your profession and accepting their praise and gratitude for one night is definitely a lose-lose situation.

In regard to a reunion of any kind of either the Appetite or Illusion lineups, I've publicly made myself more than clear. Nothing's changed.
The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of "for the fans" or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba.
Nobody's trying to distract from the efforts of the current lineup because nobody knows what those efforts are, other than playing note-perfect, tribute-band faithful recreations of the records the original lineup made, right down the the note bends in the guitar solos, while Axl struggles for air.

Nonetheless, Axl's insistence that the new band is not just his flunkies but a real band runs through this whole letter. I can think of a really easy way for Axl to prove that they are more than just hired hands: open up the books and show us how the rest of "Guns N' Roses" is being compensated for their efforts. Are you splitting everything eight ways?
Izzy came out with us a few times back in '06 and I invited him to join us at our LA Forum show last year. Steven was at our show at the Hard Rock, later in '06 in Las Vegas, where I invited him to our after-party and was rewarded with his subsequent interviews filled with reunion lies. Lesson learned. Duff joined us in 2010 and again in '11 along with his band, Loaded, opening in Seattle and Vancouver. For me, with the exception of Izzy or Duff joining us on stage if they were so inclined somewhere in the future for a song or two, that's enough.
Look, if you don't want to play with the old band, that's your business. But don't pretend that a handful of one-off guest shots by two of the other guys, plus inviting Celebrity Rehab mascot Steven Adler to one afterparty, should count as having reunited Guns N' Roses.
There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.
I have studied this paragraph for the last forty minutes and I think he's saying that unless his former bandmates recant each and every one of their malicious lies about him, Axl will countenance no contact with them of any kind. I would point out that even if his bandmates had never written books or given interviews or said anything at all about him on film or in print, the case that Axl is a crazy asshole is pretty much open-and-shut.

(In a related story, Keith Richards wrote last year in his book Life that Mick Jagger has a "tiny todger" and they are currently planning their 50th anniversary tour where they will add another $580 billion dollars to the colossal pile of cash they have made since they stopped speaking in 1981. Just pointing out another way to do things, that's all.)
Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.
You're there for each other when the going gets rough? By that do you mean that the seven musicians on your payroll listen patiently to your lament when the record that you surely denied them any artistic or emotional stake in tanked, they happily continued collecting their salaries? Or that when you arrive to a venue packed with 300,000 screaming fans four hours late, they keep their mouths shut and collect overtime? When exactly did the going get rough for 2012 Guns N' Roses?
So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.
Here Axl has a point, but it could very easily be reversed: Life doesn't owe you, Axl, your own personal happy ending, especially at your former bandmates' expense.
But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.
A couple of metaphors stand out among this blizzard of tortured syntax and targetless attacks: "No one's taking the ball and going home"? Once again, if he doesn't want to reunite that's his business. But "taking the ball and going home" is exactly (exactly) what Axl is doing here. But there's a classy way to not reunite -- just don't show up or make any statement of any kind to anyone and let 'em wonder -- and there's an assholey way to not reunite. And, "the ball's never been in our court"? How could it be more in your court? It's your decision whether to show up, whether to play when you get there, and what to say about it.
In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.I wish the Hall a great show, congratulations to all the other artists being inducted and to our fans we look forward to seeing you on tour!!
Sincerely,Axl RoseP.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III

Gotta love the plug for "Guns N' Roses" on tour. He slipped it in there so subtly, I almost didn't notice it. And the cryptic "P.S." is just the right apertif for this banquet of paranoid rants, imagined slights, and warped sense of justice. What are Axl's motives? What are his grievances? 1,000 words later, all we know for sure is that Axl ain't coming. Instead, he will spend that night like he spends every Saturday night: telling a roomful of assholes all about that time Slash irreparably hurt his feelings by walking out on a monologue about what a loser Slash is.

Before I wrap this up I want to be clear about one thing: As big a fan as I was of the original band, I'm not at all upset that Axl didn't show up to play. I suppose it would have been cooler if he did, but I'm not losing sleep over it. This letter, and this situation, is interesting to me solely because it's such a clear reminder of what a colossal a-hole Axl Rose is. (I have an unhealthy fascination with the narcissistic, antisocial behavior or pampered rock stars.) The RNRHOF is lame and always has been, and the performances that happen there have never been anything but forgettable. Did you even know that the Talking Heads reunited the night they were inducted? So did the Police. Have you been jamming out to the bootlegs from that?

Anyway, Axl's didn't show, but the RNRHOF has a tried and true approach to truancy: when Paul McCartney didn't show for the Beatles' induction and the Van Halens and David Lee Roth skipped Van Halen's induction and countless other fallen-out rock legends let past legal/personal/financial/chemical issues derail their enshrinement, they're treated like the Mormons treat the dead: they're getting baptized whether they want it or not.

In Axl's (and Izzy's) absence, the rest of G N' R did what the Doors did when they were inducted: they got another singer and played the gig. (Eddie Vedder sang in Jim Morrison's place, giving birth to my theory that dudes liked Pearl Jam and the Doors for the same reason: that any dude who can sing at all can sing any one of their songs and sound just like the record.) As it stood, they got the singer from Slash's current solo project and he did fine, but if you ask me they should have added a little insult to injury and gotten someone totally ridiculous, like Bobcat Goldthwait or Pee-wee Herman or Fergie. They'd probably still sound pretty good and make the case that they sounded so good IN SPITE of Axl, not because of him -- much like the Axl Rose Presents the Guns N' Roses Revue Featuring Axl Rose.

When I watch this, I don't miss Axl at all, oddly enough. I mainly feel two things: one, where is Izzy? Why didn't he show up, and why didn't anybody make a big deal about that? Izzy was the primary author of most of Appetite For Destruction and G N' R Lies. I'm sure he had his reasons, but everyone screeching about Axl not showing up didn't even seem to notice Izzy wasn't there. And two, I feel happy for Steven Adler, whose unleavened joy at being reunited with the band 20 years after they kicked him out is visible even in a cell-phone video shot at long range with no zoom lens. Adler's enthusiasm almost all by itself made me feel that given the choice of seeing Axl Rose Presents the Guns N' Roses Revue Featuring Axl Rose or Slash, Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, Steven Adler, and a Singer To Be Named Later, I would go with the latter every time. So suck it, Axl.


  1. Looks like Axl does not want anyone seeing video of his former bandmates at the "Rock Hall" (which is what the call it in Cleveland). He did manage to make the induction ceremony all about Guns & Roses though. Did anyone even notice that the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted the same night?

  2. that was priceless--- had me giggling my ass off. spot on!