Monday, December 19, 2011

Rock News Artist Of The Year #3: GUNS N’ ROSES

As part of the 2011 hennemusic Rock News Awards – recognizing the biggest rock news stories and artists of the year - hennemusic is counting down the Top 10 rock news artists of the year.

The Top 10 are determined by music fans: numbers are based on the combined total page views of the top 50 hennemusic rock news stories of the past twelve months.

Rock News Artist Of The Year #04 – STEVEN TYLER
Rock News Artist Of The Year #05 – GARY MOORE
Rock News Artist Of The Year #06 – JOURNEY
Rock News Artist Of The Year #07 – MOTLEY CRUE
Rock News Artist Of The Year #08 – METALLICA
Rock News Artist Of The Year #09 – JAMES DURBIN
Rock News Artist Of The Year #10 – PEARL JAM

We’re down to the final three positions on the hennemusic Rock News Artist Of The Year list; today we feature #3, and we reveal #2 and #1 tomorrow!

Rock News Artist Of The Year #3 – GUNS N' ROSES

Talk about extremes.

Guns N’ Roses started 2011 with false rumors of a US tour and a reunion at the 2012 Super Bowl, and are ending it as one of the soon-to-be newest members of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

A February tour of the States was rumored along with a re-launch plan for “Chinese Democracy” - but Axl Rose shut the talk down with a February 5 tweet:

“Contrary to anyone's claims, there are no concrete plans nor were there ever for a tour, a relaunch or sponsors (n' certainly not to replace anyone in the band) beyond a collection of random ideas thrown out by various individuals w/out any real foundation or negotiations in place other than our prior involvements (which wouldn't take a rocket scientist to put together).”

A week later came a bogus rumor started by an Indianapolis sports journalist that a reunion of the GNR lineup was in talks to play the 2012 Super Bowl in – you guessed it – Indianapolis.

Former GNR bassist Duff McKagan had to deal with the rumor in a personal way, telling Rolling Stone, "That's bulls**t. Pure, unadulterated bulls**t,” said Duff. “But it's a good story. You know, I heard it from my wife! 'Hey, you know the Super Bowl is asking you guys...' I'm like, 'Honey. Really?' Even in my own house, you can't differentiate what's being said on the internet and the real story. I'm like, ''s me. You think maybe I'd know about that?'"

There remains so much interest in a GNR reunion that the Super Bowl story was the #5 hennemusic Rock News Story Of The Year (read it here), a trend that would continue throughout the calendar.

March brought news of a $20 million lawsuit by Axl against Activision Blizzard Inc. that will go ahead in court this coming January. Axl is suing the game-maker for using a GNR song in its "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" video game and his belief that Activision reneged on a promise not to use images of the band's former guitarist, Saul "Slash" Hudson, in the game.

In late March, Best Buy relegated “Chinese Democracy” to its bargain bin, selling the album for $1.99 in an effort to recoup its losses on the project as the exclusive US retailer. Best Buy reportedly paid $14 million for 1.6 million copies of the album; at that point, “Democracy” had sold just 614,000 copies in the country.

GNR finally hit the road in October to play shows, starting with Rock In Rio. And this is where the ongoing Axl-thinks-it’s-ok-to-start-concerts-ridiculously-late headlines started up again, as the band hit the stage 2 hours later than scheduled; the promoter blamed Axl, GNR blamed technical problems at the site.

The whole issue of Axl starting shows late was met with a post by the GNR singer, who wrote on Facebook:

"Love it Hate it Accept it Debate it — You want 8 o'clock shows go find F-R-I-E-N-D-S or hit a cinema somewhere…or you wanna be informed go catch the 10-o'clock news.. this is Rock N' Roll! Treat yourself don't cheat yourself thinking you're gonna go to school or work or whatever you 'normally' do the next day. Oh and remember before you get high and never want to come down. 'you can have anything you want but you better not take it from me!' This is Guns N’ Roses and when the time is right the stage will ignite. Looking forward to sharing that with rockers soon!"

I’ll borrow Duff’s line from above here and say "that's bulls**t. Pure, unadulterated bulls**t.”

Axl’s disrespect of fans in this manner has been going on for years, with promoters paying fines for going past local curfews, and there’s no end in sight. Having sat through one of the shows on this tour myself, I wrote a rare rant about the whole thing here, knowing that things won’t be changing any time soon.

Later in the year, during a rare interview with VH1’s That Metal Show, Axl used 20-year old excuses to blame others that for his late starts, while host Eddie Trunk never challenged him on the lame explanation.

More dates through South and Central America followed, which brought us footage of Axl screaming at fans at a Rosario, Argentina airport as he tried to find his way to the private jet. More video followed, including Rose wiping out on stage in Mexico during the opening song, and then threatening to end the show right then and there.

A 2-month US tour launched in late October in Florida, with more late starts and needless delays in getting Axl on stage, but the shows were almost always met with positive reviews.

Then, huge news for GNR fans came with the band’s nomination for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, in their first year of eligibility. By December, it was confirmed that GNR is headed to the Hall in the spring, and the speculation about what will happen at the event will continue right up to show time in Cleveland on April 14, 2012.

Will the original GNR reunite and actually play? Or, will it be a trainwreck, as predicted by former GNR drummer Matt Sorum recently?

Rumors continue as Duff and his band Loaded opened for two GNR shows in Seattle and Vancouver over the weekend, with McKagan playing with Axl and the band on both nights.

Stay tuned…

Guns Guns N' Roses

Guns N’ Roses – You Could Be Mine
With guest Duff McKagan

Key Arena – Seattle, WA – December 16, 2011