Mike Duquette: Axl Rose sent a surprisingly measured open letter to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame both declining attendance and induction as part of Guns N’ Roses into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While I’d love to say the big question now is how the bugs at Rolling Stone are going to react in the press, I think the bigger, more interesting question is one we’ve all asked, but one Axl himself actually touches on.
We’ve all asked ourself when a band stops being itself, so to speak. Band members fight, break up, reunite and tour with different musicians under the original name (or whatever legally advised alternate they can get away with – I’m looking at you, Endless Summer). And we’ve all weighed in on this before, I’m sure. But now that one of the most mercurial lead singers in rock history has essentially made it clear that he sees his current lineup of GN’R as the only true claimants to the name, instead of Slash, Izzy, Duff and Steven, it’s worth asking again: when does a band truly lose the right to be known as that band?
Brian Boone: YOU KNOW WHERE YOU ARE? YOU IN THE JUNGLE BABY. YOU’RE gonna get a sternly worded letter.
Michael Parr: I am utterly certain that the letter was not written by Axl. The reference to “my camp” made me certain of this.
Also, he’s an insufferable, flaming douche nozzle.
Michael Fortes: I’m in support of any band that chooses its own destiny. Guns N’ Roses has done that in its own way, via ceding rights to the band name to Axl so that he alone has final say from a legal standpoint as to what GN’R is at any given moment. That said, public perception is a tough thing to manage when your band’s legacy rests firmly on the work of an old version of the band, yet the current version is committed to moving forward. Say what you will about Axl Rose, I can’t fault him for not wanting to do something that would make his insides churn with disgust. I think his fans can appreciate that.
So in short, I believe a band is a band is a band, so long as people keep feeling compelled to come to the shows and talk them up. GN’R in any form has fit that description since they first came together, regardless of who was playing lead guitar.
Annie Logue: On the other extreme, take a group like the Chieftains – not exactly rock and roll, of course, but together for about fifty years. They are so tight it’s almost scary, and yet, they can also accommodate all kinds of off-beat guest musicians. (My favorite Chieftains show involved Ashley MacIsaac, a Canadian fiddler and notorious head case/drug addict who was wearing silver lame and yet absolutely holding his own among these old men in their old men’s outfits.)
The New GN’R is like the evil opposite of the Chieftains.
Dw. Dunphy: Is it for a band to decide at all? After all, the Hall of Fame isn’t inducting GN’R, they’re inducting Appetite for Destruction GN’R. That’s a given. So Axl can defend his position all he wants, but is missing the point. It’s not his call to make when dealing with a larger perception he cannot micromanage.
Chris Holmes: I can see why, from an artistic standpoint, he wouldn’t want to play with the old gang at the induction. Even though everybody knows that the only reason anyone gives a shit about Guns N’ Roses with Bumblefoot is because of the music they recorded with Slash, he knows that performing even a one-off show would cement that irrefutably.
I also have to agree with him on the notion that neither he nor anyone else who has been in the band owes the fans anything. I actually applaud him for not taking the bigger payday to play with people he obviously dislikes.
Dan Wiencek: I wonder if Rose made this statement in the hopes of scuttling GN’R's nomination outright, or if he is as magnanimous as he sounds about wanting the rest of the band to enjoy the recognition.
I’m thinking back to when Pink Floyd was inducted, and Billy Corgan showed up at the gig to sit in for Roger Waters. No one expected Waters to show up at that point (I imagine it would be a different situation today), but I don’t recall him demanding to be excluded from the nomination altogether. That’s what makes Rose’s position so weird. If he doesn’t want to play with the other guys, he shouldn’t and bully for him, but why insist on having himself airbrushed out of the story outright? (Unless, as I say, the intention is to pressure the Hall to scrap the whole idea.)
CH: Either way, he’s got to be perfectly cognizant of the fact that the group being inducted has precious little to do with the one that he trots out for tours every so often.
Dw.: Plus, I’d rather Tommy Stinson be recognized for The Replacements anyhow.
MP: I think we all agree on that note.
The RRHoF knew what the were doing when they put Guns N’ Roses up, they knew it would stir up this exact shitstorm. At this point, I have about as much desire to see a Guns reunion as I do a Spice Girls reunion. Shit, I might even go as far as saying I’d rather see a Spice Girls reunion.
His points are clear, and not at all unfounded. I’m certain that his request was that his “crew” be the only “Guns” to play, and I’m certain that request was flatly denied. At this point, I think everyone but Axl should hop on stage with Corey Taylor and remind everyone that it was the band, not the person.
CH: What might the all-crotchety dream band for a RRHOF Induction show look like? Axl, John Fogerty… any others?
AL: Yoko Ono on vocals. The Supremes on backup.
DW: MIKE LOVE.