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Get in the ring: Axl Rose sues Activision over 2007 Guitar Hero game

November 24, 2010 | 12:29 pm

Axl Rose has sued video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc. for more than $20 million in a dispute that centers on the Guns N' Roses frontman's rift with former bandmate Slash.

The suit filed in California Superior Court in Los Angeles alleges that Santa Monica-based Activision violated an agreement with Rose by including Slash in Guitar Hero III and associating him with the Guns N' Roses song "Welcome to the Jungle."

Rose, who controls the band's business and assets, only agreed to allow Activision to use "Welcome to the Jungle" in the game because the publisher's executives said Slash wouldn't be connected to it, the suit claims.

Tim Riley, Activision's music affairs executive vice president, "guaranteed," the suit states, "that, provided Rose agreed to approve Activision's use of 'Welcome to the Jungle,' there would be no use of Slash in association with Guns N' Roses and 'Welcome to the Jungle.'"

However, Guitar Hero III shows an avatar of Slash when players play "Welcome to the Jungle" and allows them to virtually perform the song alongside the former Guns N' Roses lead guitarist.

Activision representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

Rose and Slash have famously been at odds since the latter artist left Guns N' Roses in 1996. He later did solo work and formed the band Velvet Revolver along with two other former Gun N' Roses members.

Skip Miller, one of Rose's attorneys at the firm Miller Barondess LP, said there have been discussions between the two sides over the last three years attempting a resolution. "We hoped this would get worked out, but it didn't."

He claimed that there are numerous e-mails providing written confirmation of Activision's pledges not to include Slash in association with "Welcome to the Jungle" in the game.

It's not the first legal trouble Activision has gotten into involving Guitar Hero. Last year the band No Doubt sued the publisher over its portrayal in the spinoff title Band Hero.

The lawsuit comes as sales of Activision's Guitar Hero games, and the music video game genre in general, have plummeted over the last two years.

-- Ben Fritz

Photo: Guitar Hero III with Slash on the box cover. Credit: Activision.