'GLORIFIED GARAGE BAND' TO STORM STAGE IN ST. PETE
- Jay Kirschenmann, The Bradenton Herald, 12.27.91
From an L.A. bar band to a headlining act in a mere four years, Guns N' Roses is at the peak of its popularity, despite what happened in St. Louis earlier this year.
Lead singer Axl Rose, apparently mad at ``lax security'' when someone in the crowd tried to take his picture, leaped into the crowd, scuffled with the fans and then left the concert. About 60 people were injured in the resulting riot.
A press release from the Florida Suncoast Dome, St. Petersburg, regarding the band's Saturday concert, prominently includes the warning: ``Cameras and video recorders will NOT be permitted.''
No kidding: They wouldn't want to get Axl mad again. Perhaps overcompensating, the folks at Geffen Records sent The Bradenton Herald four sheets of 20 color slides and a stack of black and white pictures instead of the usual two or three pictures. (But someone should have told Slash, lead guitarist, that his pants were unbuttoned before all those expensive photo sessions began.)
Also earlier this year the band was 2 1/2 hours late to a Long Island concert. But, they're famous now. Stars. Here's where they came from, according to their record label:
The Gunners began in Hollywood in 1985. The ``roses,'' singer W. Axl Rose and bassist Duff ``Rose'' McKagan, teamed up with Slash, guitarist Izzy Stradlin and drummer Steven Adler to take the L.A. club circuit by storm.
It was fall 1986 when Guns N' Roses produced and released their four-song Live ?!*@ Like A Suicide on its own Uzi Suicide Record Company label. An alert Geffen Records executive watched the crowds, listened to the music and signed the band to a recording contract.
Appetite For Destruction followed in July 1987, and the band toured, opening for The Cult, Motley Crue, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden and Aerosmith. The album broke into the Top 100 and then shot to No. 1, where it remained for five weeks. Three singles hit the Top 10: Sweet Child O' Mine (No. 1), Paradise City (No. 5) and Welcome To The Jungle (No. 7). The band also won the 1988 MTV Award as Best New Artist for their Welcome . . . video.
In November 1988 Guns N' Roses released G N' R Lies. When the album hit the No. 2 chart position, the band members became the only artists in the 1980s to have two albums simultaneously chart in the Top 5.
The single Patience earned a No. 4 chart spot, and the album was nominated for a Grammy Award. The band was lauded by Rolling Stone magazine's Annual Reader's Poll as the ``Best New American Band,'' and the critic's poll for ``Best Heavy Metal Band'' and ``Best Male Singer.''
In 1989 the band appeared in concerts with The Rolling Stones, and Sweet Child O' Mine won both an American Music Award for Favorite Single, Pop/Rock, and the MTV award for Best Metal/Hard Rock Video.
The band contributed to two albums in 1990: Days Of Thunder, the sound track to the film of the same name, with a cover of Bob Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door, and Nobody's Child, the project to aid Romanian orphans, with the song Civil War.
The band reluctantly fired Adler in July after repeatedly trying to help him resolve the drug problems that hindered his drumming. His replacement: Matt Sorum, drummer for The Cult. Also, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, a friend from the early club days, was added in 1990 to give some additional color to the sound. In mid-November Stradlin was replaced by Gilby Clarke.
This summer Guns N' Roses kicked off their two-year world tour as headliners. The first leg encompassed 35 dates in the United States and Canada, almost all of which were sold out despite an ailing economy that was not as kind to other artists.
The band began the tour before recently simultaneously releasing its second and third studio albums, Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. Why two albums?
``In addition to the new songs, we wanted to do some of the songs we couldn't do on the first album because of time and finances,'' Slash said in the Geffen Records release. ``We wanted to clean the slate so on the next album we can start fresh.''
The albums contain Dylan's Knockin' On Heaven's Door; Paul McCartney's Live And Let Die (now playing on MTV); and Get In The Ring, a song that lashes out at the press. The albums combine heavy metal rock on some tracks, and soft ballads with acoustic guitars on others. There's even some blues, as on Bad Obsession, with tasty harmonica licks.
Despite Axl's antics - like leaving the St. Louis concert in a big pout - the albums and live shows have gained good reviews. Slash says it's the fans who make the shows good.
``Sometimes people don't realize how important it is that we get our energy from the crowd,'' he said. ``When we play, we're halfway there, but the crowd's the other half. I've always thought the crowd and us are one and the same. We're really a glorified garage band and we play as long as we can, just because we enjoy the music.''
A December ``year in review'' story in Rolling Stone observed: ``Guns N' Roses: violence and romance. If the band can continue to transform its obsessions into such terrible beauty, time will eventually burn away the chaos of the everyday, and the work itself will loom large, indeed.''