So yesterday a letter was sent out by Axl's PR firm in what we're assuming was nothing less than an attempt to draw even more attention to his, well, let's just say "special", musical adventures of the past few years (decades??). I went back and forth as to whether we should even engage this sort of crass attempt at image manipulation and ultimately landed on "Fuck It! Let's do this!", so here we go.
In his letter, which is reprinted in it's entirety below, Axl raises some pretty good points about the relationships that musicians have with each other, and the expectations that the public puts on them. He elaborates further on that by saying "People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense." And you know what? He's ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. There's no reason he SHOULD get back together with the original GNR lineup. That ship has long sailed, and people need to accept it.
SO WHY CAN'T AXL?
Look, I get that a brand is a powerful thing. In fact if properly cultivated it's the single most effective tool for reaping compensation (making the $$ yo!) that an artist can possess. Create a strong brand, and you can fart into a didgeridoo for 45 minutes and SOMEONE, in fact A LOT OF SOMEONES, are going to buy that shit. In fact they did and it was called Chinese Democracy. So if, as an artist, you're able to go down that path, I certainly applaud you. But please don't pretend that it has anything remotely to do with artistic integrity. The facts are such that GNR died the second the only person left in the band was one W. Axl Rose. He may have put off that reality by staying out of the public eye and taking 15 years to complete a record - he most certainly "protected" that legacy from being tarnished in doing so - but now he's back and trying to play off his rag tag group of musicians as the real thing and that effort is just patently FALSE.
Most recently demonstrated by "Billy Corgan's Smashing Pumpkins", there's an indefinable thing, a spark, and you just can't get that by plugging random musicians into whatever vacant spot is available. With the Pumpkins there’s the matter of the majority of the people that are buying the $45 tickets to their show are of an age that they could have fathered or given birth to 3 out of the 4 performers on that stage. And I get it. Very few people (well comparatively at least) paid much attention to Corgan's work under any other name, even though some of it was quite good, so the smartest way for him to bring in the most cash for his hard work is to simply trot out the old brand with all new players. Lazy? Sure, but if you had the opportunity to do the same then I can’t say you would necessarily chart a different course. What makes all the difference between that and Axl’s “GNR” is that I don’t see Corgan out trying to defend the new bands "Smashing Pumpkin-ness" to every media outlet he can. In fact his tact seems to one of simply ignoring the question, which is what Axl should have done all along. Instead we get statements like this:
“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.”
Sure, these are some extremely talented musicians that make up the new "GNR", but all of the experiences, all of the sweat, whiskey and heroin that went into creating the music that they are selling to the audience nightly is simply bleached out for lack of context. As a musician you might have had a similar experience, but the fact remains that the only people who were THERE and took the ride were named Slash, Izzy, Duff, Steven and AXL. Without those five names attached then what is being put forth in performance after sold out performance is BRAND and not a BAND man. And if this recent review of that BRAND’s performance is any indication, then it’s not going to be one who’s dwindling cache isn’t going to be viable for very much longer.
Notice how this is TOTALLY not Guns N Roses but it is. Weird, huh?
So you’re right Axl. You shouldn’t reunite with the “boys.” That’s a ludicrous proposition driven by the expectation that you’d be getting rich(er) by preying on your audiences affinity for nostalgia, which is always kind of awkward. And even though what you’re doing now, intentionally or not, is EXACTLY getting rich(er) by preying on your audiences affinity for nostalgia, I gotta say, I respect you for sticking to your Guns. But if you want to be respected as a relevant and vital musician 20 years after the fact then take your millions, sack up, retire the Guns n Roses name and start over with something new. Do it graciously, and do it at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. You don’t have to play with the band, in fact you don’t have to really talk to them if you don’t want. But be a professional and own up to your legacy. Enjoy it - and then make a new one. Because nothing you will ever say will speak louder than that glorious 53 minutes and 44 seconds that you and the rest of Guns N Roses, the real Guns N Roses, dropped on the world back in 1987, so now is as good a time as any to give up trying.
Read Axl's letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame below:
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.
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.
Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out. 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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
P.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III