Guns N' Roses fans who might be contemplating a visit to Cleveland now that the band has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame can breathe at least a small sigh of relief.
Earlier this week, singer Axl Rose vehemently -- and very publicily -- declined for himself to be inducted, barred anyone else from accepting on his behalf and generally dissed the whole idea of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame itself.
But as of a few hours before this year's induction ceremony was set to get underway near the shore of Lake Erie, Rose had stopped short of commandeering a jackhammer and digging up the brand-new bronze plaque embedded in the sidewalk outside the Rock Hall to commemorate its newest class of members.
This post has been updated. See below for details.
Early this morning, Pop & Hiss received a letter from Guns N' Roses co-founder Axl Rose, through his publicist, announcing his decision to not attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Saturday in Cleveland. Written under the greeting, "To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern," Rose explained specifically why he was declining his induction into the Cleveland music institution.
The band, born in Los Angeles in 1985, was announced as an inductee in February alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beastie Boys and Donovan, among others, leading to instant speculation whether the five core members of Guns N' Roses circa "Appetite for Destruction" would appear together for the first time since 1993. Guitarist Slash officially departed the band in 1996, followed soon thereafter by other members Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (original drummer Steven Adler had left a few years earlier, as had Izzy Stradlin).
Rose retained the rights to the band's name, and over the next decade devoted his time to creating the album "Chinese Democracy," touring with a revived Guns N' Roses, and defiantly dismissing any suggestion of a reunion with the original members of the band.
Since February, Rose has remained mum on his plans, even as guitarist Slash has spoken out in favor of a Rock Hall reunion -- and acknowledging Rose's antipathy. "He hates my guts," Slash told Rolling Stone in early April. "It's over a lot of different stuff; I don't even know. There's just no communication between us. I talk to Duff and Steven, but when it comes to old Guns N' Roses, there really isn't anybody that makes decisions."
In the letter below, Rose specifically criticizes comments by Adler, who speculated to Billboard magazine in 2007 that the band might reunite. Those comments were given by Adler while promoting his own Adler's Appetite tour, which was timed to support his book, "My Appetite for Destruction." "I want to finish what we started," Adler told Billboard then (parentheses and elipses theirs), "and ... with the love and support I got from those guys, I think we can (reunite). I'm gonna leave it up to Axl. That's gonna be Axl's call, and I love Axl and I know he'll make the right call." Below, Rose calls Adler's comments "reunion lies." Continuing attempts to reach Adler have not been successful.
During a December 2011 sit-down interview with Rose after a Guns N' Roses concert in Seattle, the singer had yet to decide his plans, but was uninterested in making a scene at the induction ceremony if he did decide to attend. "I think about it in terms of Marlon Brando getting up at the Academy Awards and talking about Indians ... or when Michael Moore got up at the Academy Awards and said whatever about George Bush. People don’t want that associated with their awards shows, even if you have a big audience. In one way it might be right, but it usually backfires on whoever does it. So I really don’t want to spoil it for everybody else -- and take the beating."
Notably, Rose then laughed and cursed Jann Wenner, the founder, publisher and executive editor of Rolling Stone magazine -- who also co-founded the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Rose's open letter is printed in its entirety below.
To: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Guns N' Roses Fans and Whom It May Concern,
When the nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were first announced I had mixed emotions but, in an effort to be positive, wanting to make the most of things for the fans and with their enthusiasm, I was honored, excited and hoped that somehow this would be a good thing. Of course I realized as things stood, if Guns N' Roses were to be inducted it'd be somewhat of a complicated or awkward situation.
Since then we've listened to fans, talked with members of the board of the Hall Of Fame, communicated with and read various public comments and jabs from former members of Guns N' Roses, had discussions with the president of the Hall Of Fame, read various press (some legit, some contrived) and read other artists' comments weighing in publicly on Guns and the Hall with their thoughts.
Under the circumstances I feel we've been polite, courteous, and open to an amicable solution in our efforts to work something out. Taking into consideration the history of Guns N' Roses, those who plan to attend along with those the Hall for reasons of their own, have chosen to include in "our" induction (that for the record are decisions I don't agree with, support or feel the Hall has any right to make), and how (albeit no easy task) those involved with the Hall have handled things... no offense meant to anyone but the Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony doesn't appear to be somewhere I'm actually wanted or respected.
For the record, I would not begrudge anyone from Guns their accomplishments or recognition for such. Neither I or anyone in my camp has made any requests or demands of the Hall Of Fame. It's their show not mine.
That said, I won't be attending The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction 2012 Ceremony and I respectfully decline my induction as a member of Guns N' Roses to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.
I strongly request that I not be inducted in absentia and please know that no one is authorized nor may anyone be permitted to accept any induction for me or speak on my behalf. Neither former members, label representatives nor the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame should imply whether directly, indirectly or by omission that I am included in any purported induction of "Guns N' Roses".
This decision is personal. This letter is to help clarify things from my and my camp's perspective. Neither is meant to offend, attack or condemn. Though unfortunately I'm sure there will be those who take offense (God knows how long I'll have to contend with the fallout), I certainly don't intend to disappoint anyone, especially the fans, with this decision. Since the announcement of the nomination we've actively sought out a solution to what, with all things considered, appears to be a no win, at least for me, "damned if I do, damned if I don't" scenario all the way around.
In regard to a reunion of any kind of either the Appetite or Illusion lineups, I've publicly made myself more than clear. Nothing's changed.
The only reason, at this point, under the circumstances, in my opinion whether under the guise of "for the fans" or whatever justification of the moment, for anyone to continue to ask, suggest or demand a reunion are misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal and DJ Ashba.
Izzy came out with us a few times back in '06 and I invited him to join us at our LA Forum show last year. Steven was at our show at the Hard Rock, later in '06 in Las Vegas, where I invited him to our after-party and was rewarded with his subsequent interviews filled with reunion lies. Lesson learned. Duff joined us in 2010 and again in '11 along with his band, Loaded, opening in Seattle and Vancouver. For me, with the exception of Izzy or Duff joining us on stage if they were so inclined somewhere in the future for a song or two, that's enough.
There's a seemingly endless amount of revisionism and fantasies out there for the sake of self-promotion and business opportunities masking the actual realities. Until every single one of those generating from or originating with the earlier lineups has been brought out in the light, there isn't room to consider a conversation let alone a reunion.
Maybe if it were you it'd be different. Maybe you'd do it for this reason or that. Peace, whatever. I love our band now. We're there for each other when the going get's rough. We love our fans and work to give them every ounce of energy and heart we can.
So let sleeping dogs lie or lying dogs sleep or whatever. Time to move on. People get divorced. Life doesn't owe you your own personal happy ending especially at another's, or in this case several others', expense.
But hey if ya gotta then maybe we can get the "no show, grandstanding, publicity stunt, disrespectful, he doesn't care about the fans" crap out of the way as quickly as we can and let's move on. No one's taking the ball and going home. Don't get it twisted. For more than a decade and a half we've endured the double standards, the greed of this industry and the ever present seemingly limitless supply of wannabes and unscrupulous, irresponsible media types. Not to imply anything in this particular circumstance, but from my perspective in regard to both the Hall and a reunion, the ball's never been in our court.
In closing, regardless of this decision and as hard to believe or as ironic as it may seem, I'd like to sincerely thank the board for their nomination and their votes for Guns' induction. More importantly I'd like to thank the fans for being there over the years, making any success we've had possible and for enjoying and supporting Guns N' Roses music.
I wish the Hall a great show, congratulations to all the other artists being inducted and to our fans we look forward to seeing you on tour!!
P.S. RIP Armand, Long Live ABC III
-- Randall Roberts @liledit
Updated: The original version of this post wrongly stated when guitarist Izzy Stradlin left Guns N' Roses. He left in 1991, not, as originally written, after Slash had departed in 1996.
Photo: Axl Rose performing with Guns N' Roses. Credit: Katarina Benzova
It feels a little funny to judge someone's musical taste, be it a janitor, a waiter or a legislator, but when the president of the United States offers a look at his re-election campaign's officIal Spotify playlist, one can't help but parse the mix and see where the leader of the free world -- and possessor of an impressive Al Green falsetto, it turns out -- is coming from, musically speaking.
On Thursday, Obama's reelection campaign Tweeted a link to a Spotify mix called "2012 Campaign Playlist by barackobama." Spotify, for those still living in 2008, is a streaming music service in which subscribers can create and share song playlists among friends and other users. Over the last year the service has become an important -- and hip -- venue for musical discovery.
Just as important, though, it's a place to impress friends, peers, constituents and voters with your amazing musical taste, which is what the Obama reelection campaign seems to be doing with its first playlist.
"The official 2012 playlist features picks by the campaign staff, including a few of President Obama's favorites," reads the collection's description. It features a pretty impressive mix of music that encompasses urban and rural, black and white, male and female.
Concerns: Where are the Latin songs? (Someone had better fix that quick!) Hip-hop isn't represented. Country vocalist/Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker has two tracks, and the great Raphael Saadiq is included. Electric Light Orchestra's "Mr. Blue Sky" offers confirmation that Obama's staff is on the cutting edge of the hipster influence continuum, as does the presence of Arcade Fire.
There are fellow Chicagoans Wilco, which the president has long acknowledged as one of his favorite bands and Orange County legends No Doubt. Booker T and the MG's and their classic Memphis instrumental "Green Onions" sends a message that transcends words, and Curtis Mayfield's amazing vocal turn with the Impressions on "Keep on Pushin'" is an inspired choice. The campaign shows an affinity for the more outlaw-inspired brand of country with Dierks Bentley and the Zac Brown Band making appearances -- as well as Sugarland (!).
Below, the entire playlist:
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery, home to some of the city's most unique live (and dead) performances in recent memory, has announced a few shows for the spring at its Masonic Hall: Irish singer Sinead O'Connor will perform on Feb. 20 and Feb. 21, and Echo & the Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch will perform solo shows on March 22 and March 23.
O'Connor is touring in support of her upcoming solo album, but made news most recently for her much publicized (publicity-stunted?) search for a husband, which culminated in a quickie Las Vegas marriage and subsequent split (though they've perhaps reunited?). Best known for her amazing voice on gems such as "Mandinka" and the excellent cover of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U," O'Connor is looking to recapture headlines for her music rather than her personal foibles.
McCulloch will no doubt be bringing pared down versions of some of Echo & the Bunnymen's classics, including "The Killing Moon," "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and "The Cutter" (hopefully, he'll be performing all three).
O'Connor tickets are $30, and McCulloch tickets are $25, and both go on sale Friday at noon Pacific time through Ticketfly.
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Sinead O'Connor arrives at amfAR's Inspiration Gala in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2011. Credit: Matt Sayles/Associated Press.
Pop music royalty arrives: Beyoncé Knowles and Sean Carter, aka Jay-Z, welcomed their first child, Blue Ivy Carter, into the world on Saturday. Their daughter was born at New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital, and within moments Twitter was alight with congratulations and speculation.
The Village Voice's Maura Johnston has collected the four most ridiculous rumors about the origin of Blue Ivy Carter's name (so far) and, of course the best one involves the Illuminati. But we're more wondering what the world's best rapper is going to rhyme "Blue Ivy" with. "Ivy" is certainly a tricky word to match: "chivy," "jivy," "HMS Tantivy"?
U2, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga are tops on Ultimate Top 10: U2 was the most financially successful act of the year, according to the Times' annual Ultimate Top 10, a ranking that combines concert revenue with sales of recorded music. Second was Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga was ranked third, reports Randy Lewis.
The Lineman takes New York: Glen Campbell took his farewell tour to New York City's Town Hall on Saturday night. The singer, who announced last year that he was living with Alzheimer's, is in the middle of a final tour before retiring from performance.
The singer was rocky but inspiring at Club Nokia last year, but the New York Times' Jon Caramanica was less impressed with Campbell's gig in New York. "Once a purveyor of highly successful country crossover hits that shone with slickness and confidence, he’s in deteriorating form now, ragged even at his best," he wrote. "There were fragments of his old smooth croon at points during this show — 'The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress,' 'Where’s the Playground Susie,' the affectionate Hank Williams impression on 'Lovesick Blues' — though the antiseptic room with inadequate sound did him few favors."
The Village Voice was more excited. Wrote reviewer Peter Gerstenzang: "Whether leaning in and pulling out the depth of 'Wichita Lineman,' matching Ray Charles note-for-note on 'I Can't Stop Loving You,' or encouraging the assembled urban buckaroos to sing the chorus to 'Rhinestone Cowboy,' Campbell's instincts, playing and pacing were just about flawless.'
Meshell Ndegeocello takes the El Rey: Ernest Hardy hit the El Rey on Friday night to see the return of singer-songwriter-bassist Meshell Ndegeocello. "It wasn't just the range of styles and influences showcased that was impressive, however," he wrote. "[C]ross-genre cut and paste is now a standard exercise for would-be renaissance artists. It was the artfulness with which all of it was integrated."
On Friday, Atlanta rapper and Brick Squad member Slim Dunkin was fatally shot in a recording studio. At the time, police were mum on suspects and a motive in the killing.
But on Tuesday, Atlanta's WSB-TV reported that police believe Dunkin was killed after an altercation over a stolen piece of candy.
"The information we're getting, it's unconfirmed, but witnesses are saying this whole thing started over a piece of candy," homicide detective David Quinn told the news station.
What, you may be wondering, is Elvis Costello's advice to fans contemplating a purchase of his monstrous new limited-edition box set, "The Return of the Spectacular Spinning Songbook," coming out Tuesday via record label Hip-O/Universal? On his website, he calls it a "beautifully designed compendium [that] contains all manner of whimsical scribblings, photographs and cartoons, together with some rock and roll music and vaudevillian ballads," so you might think he'd be promoting it as a holiday gift.
In a recent post entitled "Let's Make Things Sparkling Clear," the Imposter's team answers the question in no uncertain terms: "We at www.elviscostello.com find ourselves unable to recommend 'The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook' as the price appears to be either a misprint or a satire."
The multiformat package (DVD, CD, 10-inch vinyl, book, autograph, whatnot) documents his two-night stand this spring at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, where he delivered a raucous variety-show/concert in which fans were invited to the stage to pick a song by spinning a big game show-type wheel. The set has a list price of $339.98 (though Amazon's currently offering it for $202.66) and is limited to 1,500 copies worldwide.
But that's apparently too much, and Costello's team decided to speak out against Universal, the world's largest record label, by going public:
All our attempts to have this number revised have been fruitless so we are taking the following unusual step.
If you want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we suggest, “Ambassador Of Jazz” -- a cute little imitation suitcase containing ten re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived -- Louis Armstrong.
The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats.
Frankly the music is vastly superior.
The post adds that in 2012 the Spinning Wheel tour recordings will be issued separately -- but saves its deepest cut not for Universal but for file sharers who don't pay anything for music, which he describes as "pirates who [imagine] they are evangelists or that other people’s rights absolve their own thievery, in which case this is between you and your dim conscience."
Costello and the Imposters continue to tour with the spinning wheel, and will land in the Southeast this spring for a series of shows. For the price of the box, you might be able to grab a roundtrip ticket.
4/23 –- Melbourne, Fla., King Center
4/24 –- Clearwater, Fla, Ruth Eckerd Hall
4/25 –- Hollywood, Fla., Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
4/27 –- Jacksonville, Fla., Florida Theatre
4/29 –- Durham, N.C., Durham Performing Arts Center
-- Randall Roberts
Photo: Elvis Costello performs at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in May. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
It's been a rough week for fans of '90s hip-hop. First came Tuesday's news that Heavy D had died after collapsing on the sidewalk outside his Beverly Hills home. Then over the weekend, Twitter lit up with the news that 42-year-old Erick Sermon, one half of the groundbreaking duo EPMD, had suffered a heart attack.
According to a report Sunday from GlobalGrind, Sermon will be undergoing tests over the next two days and hopes to be home by Wednesday. His direct quote is "I'm Good." The initial news of his heart attack prompted a flurry of well wishes from supporters and his musical colleages, including Russell Simmons, Chef Raekwon and Questlove.
Though intensely prolific throughout the late '80s and '90s, Sermon has lain low of late. His last EPMD album was in 2008, and his last solo record was released in 2004. Though best remembered for EPMD smashes "You Gots to Chill," "Crossover" and "Gold Digger," Sermon also has had a storied career as a solo artist and outside producer. He's responsible for a few of Redman's hits, alongside classic cuts from LL Cool J, Too Short, Method Man and even Shaquille O' Neal (though those weren't quite classics.)
A master of the funk on a level with that of Dr. Dre, Roger Troutman and his hero George Clinton, Sermon is widely considered one of the most influential producers in hip-hop history. In fact, on a recent rundown of the greatest producers of all-time (via my Passion of the Weiss blog), Sermon placed 31st. Writer J. Ben Leonard noted that "in the late '80s, a time when most beatmakers were scrambling to unearth every last break out of James Brown’s discography, Sermon pushed the envelope by pushing the tempo down, eschewing dance-friendly breakbeats for a chunky soup of trunk-rattling bass melted over the digitized grooves of Zapp and Parliament... His omnipotence from roughly ’92 through ’95 was virtually unmatched."
With the news that he's doing better, the distraught can finally chill.
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: Erick Sermon. Credit: Erick Sermon Facebook's page.
Following in the footsteps of Pavement, the Pixies and a whole raft of late '80s and '90s bands that either ended before their time or found themselves ready for a big paycheck, the Stone Roses have confirmed that they are reuniting for a 2012 summer tour.
In a press conference covered by the NME with typical breathless flair, all four original members appeared to announce the reunion, which will include two shows at Manchester's Heaton Park in June. No festival dates could be confirmed as yet, but it's even money that a Coachella appearance is in the works for the influential band whose richly melodic mix of dance music and a Byrds-like jangle set the template for the Manchester craze of the '90s.
You wouldn't think there would be much left for Tony Bennett to accomplish. The iconic singer, who turned 85 on Wednesday, has over a six-decade career won 15 Grammys, sold more than 50 million records and been a Kennedy Center honoree. But speaking to Pop & Hiss this week, Bennett said he still felt the itch to learn new tricks.
"I want to keep improving, and I want to keep learning, as a singer and in other ways. It's not that I want to -- I need to," Bennett said. "I've been thinking about that with my birthday. You know, I just started sculpting recently. It's a whole new thing."
As he spoke, Bennett was proving his own point. Immaculately dressed in a suit and matching tie-and-pocket handkerchief, he was between takes on the New York set of the CBS show "Blue Bloods," in which he has a cameo appearance this upcoming season. (Bennett plays himself, performing a duet of "It Had to Be You" with Carrie Underwood at a fundraiser attended by some of the series' characters. The episode, the show's season premiere, will air Sept. 23.)