What happened to the London O2 2012 show

There has been some confusion and some unwarranted backlash towards Axl (who else?) regarding the cancellation of the London O2 Arena concert that was filmed last summer. The concert was filmed and then word began getting out that it would be shown, in its entirety, at theaters in Germany and England. People bought tickets and were looking forward to seeing the show, but then all the showings were mysteriously canceled. That is where the initial backlash towards Axl began — “He can never finish anything.” “Leave it to him to cancel something people wanted to see.” Etc, etc. Some tickets were refunded, some were not, and it looked to be another black mark on the band’s record. However, the band had never said anything one way or the other about this concert being filmed and shown. Zero promotion beforehand, zero apologies when it was canned.

Then earlier this year, VH1 got everyone’s hopes up saying that they would broadcast a one-hour condensed version of the concert and then, the following week, the entire 3 hour show would air on VH1 Classic (and also on Palladia), preceded by a Guns n’ Roses video block hosted by Eddie Trunk and a re-airing of Axl’s interview with Eddie from November 2011. The one hour concert was, indeed, played on VH1, yet the plug was pulled again a few days before the full version was set to show. On his Twitter account, Eddie cited “contract issues.” Once again, blame lay at Axl’s feet, along with all manner of insults. And yet, suspiciously, the band had nothing to say about it this time, either. That should have been a clue to thinking people that perhaps, just maybe, this thing had never been band-endorsed?

More information was revealed when a representative from Rockfuel, a media company producing a 3D bluray/DVD of one of GNR’s Las Vegas concerts from last November, came on the mygnrforum.com message boards in early March to let fans know what was coming with their production. Discussion immediately turned to “contract issues” and doubt that the Las Vegas show would ever be released. The Rockfuel representative shed some light on what happened with the London show:

For the record, the clip [promo for the Las Vegas show] that was put up briefly was unmixed (as the post stated) . You will see that Axl’s voice sounds great and strong the entire show . The 02 show was very poor editing, poorly shot, and poor mixing and was never approved by GNR camp before it aired.  It was not VH1’s fault or Axl’s fault.  It was some crazy producer who decided to take matters in his own hands and told VH1 the show was approved, when it wasn’t . The same people who announced the O2 show was being released in theaters, then suddenly was cancelled..  Axl had nothing to do with that as well.  We are doing things correctly, with the proper approvals, and the final results will speak for themselves.

With that out in the open now, the whole scenario makes much more sense. It is unfortunate, though, that Axl takes the brunt of every bad thing that happens involving Guns. And people wonder why he wrote “Out Ta Get Me.”

(Hi Nightrain visitors! Thanks for stopping by. 😉 )


Shootin’ the breeze with Axl Rose

On Wednesday, 24 October, Axl Rose was the much anticipated main guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live. It was being touted as “Axl’s first TV interview in 20 years!” Eddie Trunk, d.j. and host of VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show,” took a little exception to that since it was just last November that Axl sat down with him for TMS. Eddie was willing to concede on the point of this being a “live” TV interview and acknowledged that he was happy to see Axl on Kimmel [all via Eddie Trunk’s Twitter account].

Guns n’ Roses has a 12-date residency spread out through the month of November at Hard Rock’s The Joint in Las Vegas. The appearance on Jimmy Kimmel was to drum up a little publicity and re-introduce Axl and Guns n’ Roses to the general public. Many hardcore GNR fans were disappointed at the fluff factor of this interview, but in reality, it wasn’t for them anyways. As I have mentioned before, although Axl has been busy and actively touring over the past six years, he doesn’t command headlines like he used to. And for all those people who only vaguely remember him from the ’90s and were briefly reminded of Axl’s existence during the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame brouhaha, this type of interview was exactly what he needed. While obviously a tad nervous and stiff (not the first celebrity to appear that way on live TV), Axl came off exactly as I expected him to: polite, affable, generous, charming, and funny. And the general public needed to see that. Remember that violent, angry, foul-mouthed Axl Rose you thought you knew? That stays onstage for the most part and, even so, is largely a thing of the past. The vast majority of Axl’s interviews through the years have shown him to be quite calm and collected, witty and with varying degrees of gregariousness and cheerfulness depending on his mood and comfort with the interviewer. Unfortunately, all of those interviews were aired on MTV or VH1 and would have been viewed only by music fans wanting to see interviews with their favorite rock stars. Going on network television — which typically has relished in flogging Axl’s dangerous bad boy image — exposed an entirely different dimension of his personality to a broader cross-section of people. And he can only benefit from that!

To see the show, click here.

In the promo spot before Axl comes onstage, he strides up to a girl and “signs” her chest. She turns around to reveal the message, “Up next: Axl Rose.” Axl has signed many a body part in his day, but this was just a silly gag. Surprisingly, many people online didn’t seem to catch that despite Axl’s feigned writing motions. May I present, once again, ladies and gentlemen, exhibit A: It’s not his handwriting. But yes, it was funny that he played along.

Jimmy Kimmel opened the interview with a joke about Axl’s punctuality for the show, to which Axl replied with a grin, “It’s a miracle.” Axl’s timekeeping proved to be Kimmel’s fall-back joke, and Axl good-naturedly rolled with the punches. The rest of the interview was a bit of a show-n-tell beginning with an old flyer that Axl and Izzy had made up back when they were playing under the name Rose. I’ve seen a few jabs online about the bad grammar on the photo: “There [sic] living fast and they’ll die young.” Without meaning to dog Izzy, that is his handwriting (mixture of lowercase and capital) and the bad grammar is fairly typical of the writing samples I’ve seen from him. When Axl uses bad grammar, it’s to intentionally sound colloquial (ie. lyrics from “You Could Be Mine”: It don’t matter how we make it; “Breakdown”: You ain’t got no one. Etc. etc.) So why didn’t he proofread his friend’s contribution? Who knows, but that was 30 years ago, so let’s cut them both some slack.

Jimmy mentioned the proximity of early GNR’s rehearsal space to the television studio and asked Axl if he remembered it (why wouldn’t he?). Axl wryly answered, “Unfortunately,” and the internet conspiracy theorists immediately assumed that it was a jab at the old bandmates. First of all, they were talking about the space, not the bandmembers. Secondly, at that point in time, Axl was homeless and basically starving to death; he actually moved into the rehearsal space which was nothing more than a storage unit. No heat/AC, no bathroom, no windows. Ah, memories. I think Axl’s allowed to look back on that without a heart full of warm fuzzies.

From there, Jimmy asked about how Axl ended up in L.A. (he hitchhiked when he was 19).

What was that question, Jimmy?!

Next in the show-n-tell was a photo of Axl’s now-famous Halloween tree. He was at his most engaging during the telling of this story. He declared it one of the most evil things he has ever done. If you’re a parent, you may be inclined to laughingly agree.

Earlier in the day, fans submitted questions for Axl via Jimmy’s Twitter. Axl’s reponses to these were good-natured and let his wicked sense of humor shine. There was one question about voting and Axl had to admit that he’s not a voter (In the ’90s, Guns n’ Roses was invited to play for Rock the Vote and Axl declined, pointing out that he’s a poor example. According to him, his reasons for abstaining are that he never has time to properly research candidates and issues and doesn’t want to just throw a vote out there to say he did it. Musician Magazine Sept. 1991). Still, when pushed, Axl said that he might vote for Obama if he were to vote. It has been funny seeing little headlines and blurbs online declaring, “Axl Rose Endorses Obama! Axl Rose Is a Democrat!” I wouldn’t exactly call this a ringing endorsement: Axl shrugs, “I would lean Obama.” Don’t get too excited, people; besides, he’s not voting anyways.

The interview concluded with more talk about the Vegas residency, the Neil Young Benefit that GNR played last weekend (more on that to come in another post) and Axl’s early musical influences. Then Axl surprised the crowd by announcing that there were two sets of tickets to the Vegas gigs hidden under the seats and then treated the entire audience and crew to a burger from a Tommy’s Burger truck that he had brought along. A few skeptics have doubted that this was Axl’s doing, but I’m inclined to think that it’s perfectly in fitting with his personality. Slash, in his book, has said that Axl enjoys making grand gestures towards people.

All in all, it was a pleasant interview despite its lack of any new revelations. It seemed to be a positive experience for Axl, Jimmy, and the fans; anyone looking for something negative to report is just nit-picking.

Well done, Axl Rose.

Pseudo Art

I debated even mentioning this, but since it is gaining public attention and is relevant to Axl, I decided to go ahead with it in the hopes of injecting some rational thought into the matter.

Recently an L.A. photographer named Laura London announced her new art installation, “Once upon a time… Axl Rose was my neighbor.” The title alone should throw up dual red flags of exploitation and name-dropping. The main feature of her exhibit is a 20 + year old photo of a garage door with graffiti aimed at Erin Everly, Axl’s wife at the time.

According to London, Axl and Erin were having a fight and, in the heat of anger, Axl ran outside and spray-painted the garage. The only thing is… London never actually witnessed this; she just made the assumption that it was Axl because she “was hearing stories about him…” While she was taking the photographs, Erin came home and confronted her and she subsequently stored the photos away. Not very well, apparently, because they’ve been circulating on the internet for years. Why she decided to make a big deal about it now, I can’t imagine. In addition to this photograph that is old news anyways, she also hired “actors” to portray Axl, Erin, and even Slash, not one of whom resemble the real people in any way. But it’s art because somebody hand-painted the tattoos on Faux-Axl. Groovy.

On 26 September, Axl’s attorneys issued a cease-and-desist letter to London. The following day, another cease-and-desist letter was issued, this time from Erin’s lawyers who stated that not only does Erin back up Axl’s denial of having painted the message, she is also willing to testify on his behalf. At this point, with their marriage dissolved 21 years ago, there would be no reason for Erin to lie to protect him. If Axl had in fact painted the door, Erin’s cease-and-desist letter would have only had to request that her name and image be pulled from the exhibit. But the fact that she verifies Axl’s account exposes London’s artwork as defamatory.

Now, if that is not enough (and it doesn’t seem to be for some people who are bound and determined to believe anything negative about Axl), a simple comparison of handwriting should be proof enough. Take a look at the garage door photo and then study the following samples of Axl’s handwriting.

Handwritten lyrics to the song “My Michelle,” circa 1986, signed by Axl on the lower left side.

Postcard sent to the band publicist in October 1987. Axl’s note is in black.

Samples from the “November Rain” and “Don’t Cry” videos, 1991 & 1992

Samples from the “Estranged” video, 1993.

Axl always writes in all capital letters. The graffiti message is an odd mixture of capitals and lowercase. Axl’s handwriting tends to be more angular while the graffiti letters are more rounded. Even accounting for the difference in using a spray can versus a pen, no one’s handwriting would change that much. Note in particular the R’s, E’s, and S’s. Axl has a very distinctive way of writing these letters, none of which is used on the graffiti message. Also notice that, on the garage door it says “nothing” while in the postcard sample, Axl writes the colloquial “nuthin’.” In addition, the message itself is inane. Even in a rage, I would expect Axl Rose to come up with something more poetic and shrewd than that. The man expresses himself through words as a living! Erin has told sources that neighborhood kids were the ones who vandalized the garage door. Some people have wondered, “Why would kids do that?” Why not? Kids do lots of stupid things. If they were aware that Erin and Axl lived there, they probably found it funny to be a nuisance and stir things up.

London’s exhibit was supposed to have taken place on the 29th of September, and judging by the gallery’s website, it apparently still did. They offered a weak back-pedaling statement saying, “The show title beginning with ‘Once Upon A Time…’ was, we believed, an obvious reference to fantasy and a re-imagined reality. The gallery regrets any possible inference otherwise made, and we apologize for the confusion.” Maybe so, but was anyone else going to see it that way? This probably would have remained largely under the radar for most people, being a small exhibit and all, and Axl has been accused of drawing too much publicity to it. Again, maybe so, but if someone were making money off of your name and purporting that you did something in which you had no part, wouldn’t you be upset, too? Even though the added publicity is unfortunate, if Axl had let this quietly pass by, people would always wonder. The guy has a hard enough time with public image without people “re-imagining reality.”

T-shirtgate at the concert gates

I remember my first dissection. I was in 4th grade and they had set up tables in the school library where we would be guided through the slicing and dicing of a cow’s eyeball. I’m not overly squeamish, so it didn’t bother me too much as long as I didn’t think too hard about it. Today I’m going to guide you through a dissection and I guarantee it’s going to be messy and it’s going to be ugly.

1st June 2012. My burgeoning interest in Axl Rose was only a few weeks old, but when the report hit the news wire, family and friends made sure that I had heard: “Axl Bans Slash T-Shirts!” Look! Look what that nutjob did now! What a hateful, spiteful, petty man! {Insert giant eyeroll here} This already smelled of rotten fish. Get out your scalpels, friends, and let’s tear this hack job apart.

First cut: Consider the source. Most people who saw the article had it pop up in their newsfeed via Yahoo or GuitarWorld or some other source. But way down at the bottom of the article was a little note listing the original source: a British music magazine called NME. That won’t mean anything to the casual reader, but after having just read pages and pages of articles about Axl and Guns n’ Roses, I immediately recognized the name NME as notoriously anti-Axl. With headlines like “Axl Rose Falls Headfirst Onstage” and “Axl Rose’s Best Tantrums,” it’s plain that NME revels in any chance they get to throw more dirt at Axl. So right off the bat, we should be wary.

Second cut: The second sentence tells us that band management has banned anyone wearing Slash t-shirts from entering the gigs on the UK leg of the tour. Wow, anyone? One of the first rules I learned in my high school Written Composition class was to avoid unprovable generalizations. Marks off for poor writing skills. Next, I did a little bit of research via a couple of the main Guns n’ Roses fan forums. These people are fanatical about documenting who has attended concerts, so I knew that there would surely have been a few at this same concert. I was not disappointed to find that message threads had already been started regarding the NME article. Some people jumped on the bandwagon and bashed Axl (yay, fans!); some were skeptical, saying that they had seen people in all manner of Slash gear at shows they had attended — even people dressed in full-on Slash regalia — with no harassment from security. There was a very small minority, however, that did report either hearing an announcement regarding Slash clothing or saw security asking people to turn their shirts inside-out at a smattering of shows. So then the question is, who gave the orders?

Cut number three: In the NME article, James Revell, the Slash-clad fan, is quoted as saying, “I believe they asked me to do this because Axl Rose has some problem with Slash and if he saw me wearing the shirt he might have stormed off stage.”

Uh huh.

When the reporter asked a security guard, he said “management” had instructed them to do this; whether arena management or band management remains unclear. But, based on the conjecture of an angry 18 year old, blame automatically gets laid at Axl’s feet. Then, like a bad game of Telephone, the news wire jumps all over it and we see headlines morph from “Guns n’ Roses Bans Fans From Wearing Slash T-shirts” to “Axl Rose Bans Slash T-shirts,” with every manner of speculation and rumor-mongering contained within the articles. When we boil it down, this whole media firestorm stems from one quote by one witness. Shouldn’t there have been plenty of other half-naked Guns fans with a story to tell of how big, bad Axl Rose wouldn’t let them wear their Slash t-shirts? And nowhere was an attempt made to contact either the venue management or the band management. And, amazingly enough, this was not an issue on the remainder of the tour, including rock festivals where both Axl and Slash were playing at the same venues. Wouldn’t it be conceivable that there were fans attending both shows and possibly also wearing a {gasp} Slash t-shirt? Or are only British fans in Slash shirts offensive to Axl? Still smells like fish to me.

Fourth cut: The article says, “an NME source noticed that a member of the crowd was bare-chested under his jacket.” A bare chest? At a rock concert?! Stop the presses!! Seriously, all it took for this sharp-eyed “source” to hone in on this kid was that he was bare-chested under his jacket? Unless the kid was doing backflips or had mounted a soap box to decry the injustice wreaked upon him, wouldn’t most people just walk on by? Wow, I must not have what it takes to be a real reporter.

In this latest incident, Guns and Axl remained silent, largely because they felt they have already dealt with it before. Oh yes, this isn’t the first time people have prattled on about the supposed Slash t-shirt ban. A big deal was made of it after a concert in Winnipeg in January 2010. Shortly after those allegations were made, Fernando Lebeis, Axl’s manager, wrote on the Guns n’ Roses message board to say, “We did not advise any security to ban any sort of apparel… If they did, they did it on their own accord, or under someone else’s order — from within their management.”

But that wasn’t good enough for some people. A moderator of a Guns n’ Roses fan site kept pursuing the story until TMZ and other outlets blew it up. And once that happened, Axl blew up and made an appearance on the message board to tell this woman just what he thought. This is another case where I agree with his reasoning, but his methods make me cringe. A few days later, on February 16, 2010, Axl addressed the situation again on Twitlonger (a lengthier version of Tweets), although with less vitriol (guess he had had enough time to cool off).

Canadian tour n’ Slash banned nonsense: which I addressed live as soon as it happened but hey fake allegations from unreliable sources bein’ negative n’ all especially w/us n’ these issues got more weight to n’ 4 aholes. Fabricated from a 2001 bs RS piece from Rock N’ Rio. Bottom line: Never happened, end of story. %@&$ TMZ, Contact Music, Spinner (I got ur attitude.)

(And, I love ya, Axl, but dude. Seriously. Commas!!)

The 2001 Rock in Rio incident that Axl references involved a front-row heckler. Axl ran down the lowest part of the stage during the second song of the set (“It’s So Easy” at about 5:44 on the video link). As he goes into the bridge, Axl leans forward, very deliberately flips off someone in the crowd and then points his finger right at him to insure that this guy knows that Axl is on to him. As soon as he finishes that line of the song (which, weirdly, also seems it could be directed at the person in the crowd — “See me hit you; you fall down”), Axl says, “Get that guy outta here! That guy right there! Are you listening to me, Mr. Security Man? That guy: gone!” He grins, then as an afterthought adds, “Hand me that shirt. Thank you,” as an unseen person tosses up a wadded shirt to him. Axl takes the shirt, picks up singing as he runs back up to the mainstage and throws the shirt out of the way. And that’s the last we see or hear of it. What was on the shirt? No one knows. It may not have even been the graphics that were the problem — there were lots of people in the crowd swinging shirts around their heads. The shirt didn’t seem to be the main issue anyways. So, from that incident where not everything is clear, we get wild and misguided stories that crop up every few years. It’s like the monster that will never die — chop off one head and another grows back. No wonder Axl gets frustrated! It would drive me nuts, too, to be continually ignored or taken for a liar.

When this latest tour ended, I contacted Jarmo Luukkonen, who is creator of the site Here Today Gone to Hell, and now allowed the privilege of touring with the band. Obviously not the most unbiased source in the world, but, from what I can tell of him through his message board, he likes to get to the truth of a situation. I asked him whether he saw people in the crowds wearing Slash gear or whether they were turned away. His response was briefer than I would have preferred, but at least he did respond. The entirety of his message was:

“Hey, I think as usual, things just get twisted and blown out of proportion.”

Which is what I suspected all along.

What’s left on our dissection table then?

  • One unhappy, bare-chested fan
  • One security guard just “following orders”
  • And one weighty accusation

That’s not a news story, folks; that’s a personal anecdote and the source who perpetrated it had no business doing so with such flimsy information. So the moral of the story is: anyone can be a journalist! Woo hoo! No, wait. The real moral is: CHECK YOUR FACTS! And before you click “share” or spout off ridiculous comments, take another look at that scandalous news article and be sure you can extract any real news from it.

That little Hall of Fame kerfuffle

Until April of this year, Axl Rose had largely stayed out of the mainstream public’s eye. Yes, he had been playing some shows, but he hadn’t done anything that the newshounds could jump all over. Then came the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame … The storm clouds broke open with the publication of Axl’s Open Letter to the RRHOF, Guns n’ Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern. As Axl no doubt anticipated and had to prepare himself for, the media was more than happy to splash it all over the place, complete with with the most unflattering photos possible.

Headlines were sure to include negative language such as “dis” and “snub” and often made snide or mocking comments about the letter itself. I have to admit that, when I heard the news on the radio, I rolled my eyes and called Axl a baby, just as I had been conditioned to do. Later, when I actually read the letter for myself, I found that, while long and, in some places kind of cryptic, it was not a nonsensical diatribe as the press would lead us to believe. On the contrary, it is apparent that Axl put a lot of thought into both his decision and the composition of his letter to explain this decision.

Beginning with the composition, it should be evident that Axl is no dummy. His grammar is nigh impeccable and his vocabulary indicates an astute mind. There are times in the letter when he seems to be making lists straight from a thesaurus, but I’ve found this to be a particular quirk of his writing style (which can then be taken as proof that this letter is indeed by Axl himself). Whenever he resorts to this convention, it is in an attempt to cover all the bases so that no one can misconstrue his intent. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people end up getting lost through these sections (the author of this Fox news article couldn’t hang with it) and then just resort to mockery (although, Axl, a few extra commas and dashes may have helped the slower people make sense of what you said; if you ever need an editor or a proofreader, I’m your girl).

The tone of the letter is respectful and earnest overall. In the second half of the letter, as he addresses some of the complications which influenced his decision, Axl does begin to sound weary with a touch of snark. But he doesn’t give in to a full-fledged flaming; he reins it back in to conclude the letter with courtesy and on a positive note.

Of course, just as Axl predicted, people went nuts and immediately began tearing him apart. There are few people who can elicit such venomous reactions (especially from “fans”) as Axl Rose, which, he has admitted before is hard for him to take (That Metal Show interview, November 2011). Now, I realize that this won’t sit well with the majority of these “fans,” but seriously — the guy is human just like you and being famous doesn’t make him immune to the vitriol. The unbridled hatred and violence directed towards him just boggles my mind!

Now, there are  a lot of different ways that Axl could have handled his announcement. He could have sent an autographed photo of himself flipping off the RRHOF; he could have not said anything at all and left everyone wondering; or he could have unleashed a vicious attack, throwing people under the bus left and right. Instead, Axl — read that again: Axl Rose — issued a thoughtful letter to explain his decision; he took the high road for the decision he felt he had to make. It’s unfortunate that people couldn’t respond with the same level of respect and thoughtfulness, regardless of personal feelings about the decision itself.

And as to that choice to decline his induction and not attend the show, I now think Axl was actually fully justified. When the news came out, everyone immediately said, “Oh, it’s because of Slash. He can’t just suck it up for one night?!” In reality, having to put up with Slash was only one of many factors. It didn’t take much research to find that Axl has been a little skeptical of the RRHOF for many years. His first encounter with the Hall was in 1994 when he was called upon to induct Elton John. In his speech, Axl acknowledged, “I’ve never really understood what the RRHOF was about, but tonight I’m getting an education.” Later, in 2008, a fan on a message board asked Axl, “With regard to ownership of the name, how will this affect Guns’ induction into the RRHOF? The new band can’t exactly go and accept the award.” Axl responded

Never thought about that , with the RRHOF. The whole “mature enough” bit was cute. Not to offend anyone but personally I don’t have an interest and other than inducting Elton don’t quite get what it is exactly and who decides what. It seems to mean more to some than others and more so amongst fans. It’s nice to get recognition and have some form of acceptance but in regards to joining others the price is too high and just not worth it. It’s a ways away and seems a bit presumptuous to be contemplating being inducted now.

The people who want to boil it down to just being about Slash are obviously oversimplifying things. In the first three paragraphs in the letter to the RRHOF, Axl discusses his efforts to make more sense of the Hall. He expounds on this a bit more in his follow-up letter to Cleveland and the fans* when he says,

I still don’t exactly know or understand what the Hall is or how or why it makes money, where the money goes, who chooses the voters and why anyone or this board decides who, out of all the artists in the world that have contributed to this genre, officially “rock” enough to be in the Hall?

This isn’t an attack. These are genuine issues I don’t have enough verified information on to have more than rough ideas. Certainly not enough information to make any judgments about.

I did some looking into it and, to be honest, I came away with the same questions Axl has — and he had the benefit of actually talking to people there who obviously didn’t clear anything up. Using a list of nominating committee members, I did a little more investigating. Initially, I was trying to find anyone who may have had a connection — good or bad — to Axl at another time. Instead, what I found was much more interesting. Let me be clear that, while this information isn’t secretive, the Hall isn’t exactly going out of its way to make it public knowledge.

  • Co-founders of the Hall, Jann Wenner and Ahmet Ertegun, were also co-founder of Rolling Stone and founder of Atlantic records, respectively.
  • Of the 35 members on the nominating committee, thirteen have a direct connection to Rolling Stone, three to VH1, and five others have worked for each other in some capacity.
  • Several members appear to vacate and fill each other’s positions at a variety of publications and record companies
  • 5 members also serve on the Board for the RRHOF Foundation — the money end of this whole entity
  • The Board is comprised of past & present CEOs of MTV, VH1, Sony, Warner, and Clear Channel (once again, the “musical chairs” model of the Nominating Committee is in full force here); several investment and hedge fund managers; and a handful of lawyers.
  • Seemingly, everybody on the Board is in everybody else’s business — the real estate attorney represents at least three other members of the Board; investors manage the funds of the record companies represented on the Board; CEOs of talent agencies represent several inductees and probably more than a few hopefuls.
  • The net worth of the majority of the Board members is several times that of Axl’s — we’re talking multi-millionaires and billionaires here — and they still receive exorbitant salaries for their service, whatever that is.
  • Between the Nominating Committee and the Board there are more than a few links to Bruce Springsteen (why?).

I’m not suggesting some kind of conspiracy theory, but this is definitely one big happy inbred family.

Out of that long list of names, I could find only two that wouldn’t sit well with Axl: Irving Azoff and Brian Dunn. Irving Azoff had been an exec at Geffen (GNR’s original label). In March 2008, Axl hired Azoff as manager for the new GNR. However, in May 2010, Azoff initiated a lawsuit against Axl for allegedly cutting him off from funds. Axl counter-sued, citing mismanagement and sabotage of the release of “Chinese Democracy” and mishandling of concert dates to corner him into a reunion tour with the original members. Oh yeah, did I mention that Azoff is also the CEO of Ticketmaster? Brian Dunn was the CEO of Best Buy (until scandal forced his recent resignation) which was the sole — and feeble — distributor of “Chinese Democracy.” I can’t imagine that Axl is too thrilled with that guy, either.

Other interesting things to note are:

  • Anyone who wants to attend the ceremony with a seat on the floor has to pay anywhere from $575-1180 for individual seats or up to $25,000 for a table of ten — and apparently the inductees have to pay for their seats, too.
  • Inductees are provided airfare and accommodations, but in addition to having to pay to attend and accept their award, they are also expected to perform gratis. Those performances are aired on HBO and then recorded on DVD and sold in the Hall of Fame’s gift shop.
    What an honor!
  • The Foundation provides very little funding to the Museum itself, so one has to wonder… where is all the money going?

All this strangeness and I haven’t even touched on the debatable legitimacy of the nominating criteria and process, nor on the inclusion or exclusion of certain musicians. But Jann Wenner (he’s the co-founder and chair of the RRHOF, remember) was awarded the 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award. How’s that for a nice self-congratulatory pat on the back?

Knowing all that, it’s understandable why Axl would be a little leery of being inducted.

Now on to that messy business with Slash et al. The original lineup fans can’t get their heads around why Axl couldn’t just suck it up “for one night” for the fans. In reality, the ramifications of even this mini-reunion — most of which we, as the general public, would have no idea about — would have stretched far beyond one night (possibly legally, financially, of course emotionally, career-wise and also vis-a-vis his new lineup). People continually say that Axl is disrespectful of the fans and yet, the fans continually demand that Axl put himself in awkward or complicated situations for their own pleasure. Where’s the respect there? I’m sure that reuniting with Slash played into Axl’s overall decision, but it also seems apparent that he was weighing many other factors. He was fully and painfully aware of the kind of response his decision would generate, but still felt that it was in his best interests to go ahead with it. People call him cowardly, but sticking to your guns (ha!) takes guts. The relief that Axl felt when he discovered that a large number of people supported him in his decision (Eddie Trunk and Piers Morgan were two vocal supporters) is plain in his Cleveland letter. One thing I’ve learned about Axl by watching interviews and reading things he has written, is that he means what he says; he doesn’t say things just to make nice. So when Axl says that he never wanted to disappoint anyone and thanks the Hall for the nomination, I believe he really means it. So, for all of you who disagree with his decision and for all who are upset with him about it: at the very least you should be able to appreciate his honesty.

* My apologies to Axl for not publishing his Cleveland letter in its entirety as he requested. It is worth reading and I hope you will follow the link.

The case of Axl’s missing necklaces

On June 5th, after a concert in Paris, someone stole Axl’s necklaces. That has been widely reported, usually with a snide remark, and often the articles conclude with some mention of all the other “trouble” that has occurred on the tour thus far. The resultant impression that people are left with is that, somehow, Axl is at fault for the theft of his own property. Kudos to CNN who managed to report just the facts without offering their own commentary on the situation. Worse than the shoddy journalism are the reader comments left after the articles. Many people do actually seem to believe that “Axl had it coming,” “It serves him right,” “He’s rich so it doesn’t matter.”

Let’s turn the tables then, shall we? It’s a nice weekend, you’re having a barbecue at your house and invited a bunch of friends and neighbors. It’s going to be a great party! Everyone is getting along and having a lot of fun. You’re glad you had them all over. When the last guest leaves, you go back to the bedroom and find that there are no blankets left on your bed. Odd. What could have happened to them? You ask your family if anyone took them off, put them in the laundry or something. No one knows. You all begin to look around the house and can’t find the blankets anywhere. The only conclusion is that someone stole the blankets. Now, really, it’s not that big of a deal, right? You have extra blankets so you don’t have to go without. Blankets don’t cost that much, so you can go to the store tomorrow and buy replacements. But the thought keeps eating at your mind, Someone came into my room and took something that belongs to me! I invited these people here, shared my food and home and this is what they do?!

It’s a purposely absurd example, but I hope it illustrates my point. Someone took advantage of Axl’s generosity and trust and he had every right to be angry. What bearing does it have on the situation that he’s wealthy and can buy more necklaces? What does it matter if people think he’s a jerk (the large majority of whom have never met him)? If Queen Elizabeth — a fairly benign public figure — was a victim of theft, I doubt the reaction would have been the same. “Oh, she’s got lots of jewels.” “Serves her right for being queen for so long.” I have a hard time imagining people would say such things about her. Leave out the personal rancor; it just smacks of immaturity and bitterness. Axl could sneeze more money than I will ever see in my lifetime, but it doesn’t make me jealous. He lived in squalid conditions, beat the streets for years, and worked hard to achieve his goal. If he wants to spend $200,000 on jewelry, that’s his prerogative.

Having something taken from you is a horrible feeling. A little over a year ago, someone stole my husband’s little Honda from in front of our house, in broad daylight. At the time, my husband worked across the street from our house, so it wasn’t unusual to hear the car start in the middle of the day if he had to run errands. I noticed that the car was gone when I got home from picking my oldest daughter up from school. When my husband came home from work a couple of hours later, I asked him where he had gone that afternoon. He said that he had been in the office all day. Well, where was the Honda, then? That’s when we realized it was stolen. Look, it was a cheap, crummy little car and we didn’t have any great personal attachment to it, but what a sick feeling we had in the pit of our stomachs when we realized it had been stolen.

I found it interesting that the French press and commentary (I’m fluent in French) were much less concerned with Axl getting karmic payback than they were about the reputation Paris would hold in American eyes. Many feared that this news would discourage American visitors to their city. Don’t worry, Paris — the Americans are all too busy ripping up a person they don’t know to think about how it reflects on your fair city.

The following day, the girl who stole the necklaces turned herself in and the necklaces were returned to Axl. He addressed the situation on his Twitter:

Got my things back (really just an excited fan.) Thank you to the person for returning them n’ big thanks 2 the Paris police.

Axl may not be the most sympathetic persona in the world, but on a human to human level, we should be glad for him. And I hope that his necklaces were in better shape than our Honda was when we got it back two months later.