This is a follow up from my previous book review and a continuation of Axl’s speech at the 1992 concert in Oklahoma.
The second book I read was by Stephen Davis and titled Watch You Bleed: The Saga of Guns n’ Roses. Aside from the rather sensational title, there was nothing wrong with the cover of this book. It seemed promising in the prologue where Davis narrates that fateful trip when Axl and his buddy crawled up out of the freeway into the streets of New York. Axl has recounted this tale many times since the first person he met uttered those words that he would later make his own: “Do you know where you are? You in the jungle, baby. You gonna die!”
Then begins chapter one and right off the bat, Davis threw a dud when he got Axl’s birth date wrong. If you’re going to write a biography, wouldn’t you at least want to confirm that you have your subject’s basic data correct? Any fool can go on Wikipedia and find Axl’s birth date (the 6th, not the 12th of February 1962), so Davis lost credibility with me right there. That “Ah, close enough” attitude permeates the book. It seems that Davis was more intent on coming off as cool or clever to bother with pesky facts. Several pictures are captioned wrong and the overall sloppiness of the writing had me drop the book in disgust several times. Once again, the stories all had a familiar ring — and they should since this was the third time I’d seen them in as many weeks. A quick comparison of Davis’ and Walls’ sources verify that they were fishing in the same pond (Davis’ book was published in 2008, but still pre-Chinese Democracy). The only additional material in Davis’ book pertains to the other band members, which makes sense as it was supposed to chronicle the history of the band. For me, the only redeeming factor of Davis’ book was that he made it a point several times to mention Axl’s sobriety and lack of drug use (as opposed to the other guys), although the rest of the time, he seemed to verge on ridicule. Other than that, I would be hard-pressed to recommend either of these books. All they are good for are a one-shot dose of info that just skims the surface, leaving you to choose your poison — inaccuracy or bitterness.
I was going to close this with a rather ironic quote from Axl that Davis used to open his book: “I can’t wait until somebody writes a book about us full of stuff that didn’t happen.” But, unlike Davis, I want to actually be able to cite my sources and I can’t turn this quote up anywhere (if anyone does know where this is from, let me know). Kind of like that famous Abraham Lincoln quote that goes around Facebook, “The trouble with quotes on the internet is that you never know if they are genuine.” Same with those in books, too, apparently.