Thursday, December 8, 2011


I was Richard Beinstock's counselor at sleep away camp a million years ago. Imagine my surprise when I bumped into him at a screening of a Cheap Trick concert DVD and realized that he is Senior Editor of Guitar World magazine! I asked him what he thought about Guns N Roses' upcoming induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Here's what he said.

I can’t say that I followed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot too closely this time around; like any Annual Big Music Event from the Grammys on down, its impact and sense of import in the music world seems only to cool year over year, beyond any bands/managers/label people/media/music geeks/etc. who might have a stake in the whole deal. But come on—Guns N’ Roses! Whether or not you care about this kind of thing at all, who doesn’t want to see this go down?

So Gn’R—while at the end of the day their glory run was relatively short, and their catalog of output relatively slim, the question of whether the band would make the cut was always a no-brainer. Because fuck it, they made what very well might be the greatest hard rock album ever. Top 5 at least, IMO, and the beauty here is that millions of others likely feel the same. So case closed.

So now they’re in, and thus begins the real speculation. Because as much as a Rock Hall induction is considered an honor, in this case it also comes off as something of a dare. Everybody wants this reunion. Everybody’s talked about this reunion. Everybody in the band has been asked about this reunion for something like 15 years now. So it stands to reason that whoever snags this reunion is the proverbial shit. Even if they didn’t deserve inclusion, if I were Jann I’d throw ‘em in just for the potential glory of being the Dude That Made It Happen.

Which bears asking: Beyond all the wondering about Will They Or Won’t They, maybe the question is, Why Would They Do It For, Of All Places, The Rock Hall? No amount of guarantee, no promises of bazillion-dollar tour grosses, no mega-manager muscle, has been able to bring the five originals to the table all these years. So how does the Hall of Fame turn out to be the big man with enough pull to make it happen?

First, some history…or, actually, not. Without delving into the filthy minutiae, let’s just agree that a reunion comes down to Axl Rose  capitulating to stand onstage next to Slash, the man he’s pinned as a cancer and more or less blamed for every bad thing that’s ever happened to him. There may likely be no love lost in the opposite direction, but Slash is, at least outwardly, a fairly reasonable and relaxed adult, and would likely take the plunge. As for the others, Steven Adler’s been praying for this day to come since he wrapped up his drum tracks on “Civil War”; Duff McKagan, like Slash, is a sensible man and still has a relationship, if somewhat tenuous, with Rose; Izzy Stradlin', for all his time spent laying low, releasing killer, Keef-y albums without bothering to tell anyone, and doing whatever other cool-ass things Izzy does, has still managed to find the time to jam with Slash on his 2010 solo disc and pop up beside Axl at a few Guns gigs. So the connections are there. But if the promises of renewed fame and fortune haven’t led them to pull the trigger, why should jamming awkwardly through a few old tunes in front of a stuffy room of suits do it? The answer is it shouldn’t. But the weird thing about the Hall of Fame is that it often does. Hell if I know why.

So assuming Axl does indeed play ball, who’s on that stage with him? Duff and Slash for sure. Izzy (or at least a “Where’s Izzy? sign), a hesitant yes. Gilby Clarke? 30/70. Any latter day exes? No. Dizzy Reed? 80/20. Fortus/Bumble/Ferrer/Stinson/Ashba/Pitman? No …unless Axl works in some weird stipulation whereby the current Guns incarnation has to get airtime as well.

That leaves the drum chair, where the likely scenario is a split, with Adler and Matt Sorum each taking a spin for their own songs. Which, while fanwise, everyone loves the former and is lukewarm about the latter, is probably as it should be. The interesting thing there will be what happens the proverbial day after, when the contracts are signed and tour announcements are made. Adler would be the hopeful choice, though the more stable Sorum the likely winner. Only time will tell whether it would be harder for Adler to survive a reunion tour or the prospect of being left out of a reunion tour. Either way, I’m pulling for him, the band and the Rock Hall to make Cleveland for, at least one night, every music fans’ Paradise City.

One last game-changing scenario:
Axl shows up really, really late…meaning not at all. The four original instrumentalists are on site, and Rose is the lone hold out under the assumption that, hey, Guns N’ Roses still exists, and if you wanna see the band perform, then the band, as it is now, performs. This is where the Rock Hall can still use its muscle to make true magic happen. I’m talking “Welcome to the Jungle” … featuring Mick Jagger! “Paradise City”…. guest vox Bono! “You’re Crazy” … with Bruce! “One in a Million” … sung by Adele!

Let’s just hope the pairings don’t go so well that they decide to wring a whole album’s worth of material out of the thing…

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