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.
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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
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-- 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