Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Thoughts On Guns ‘N Roses Without Research

  • Guns ‘n Roses is like if the best sex of your life gave you herpes: immensely fun for a while, but now every few years you get an outbreak.
  • Allow me to state my biases, as if I haven’t already: all you need is Appetite.
  • And maybe Lies.
  • Actually, no maybe about it: you need Lies.
  • This is not a new opinion of mine: I recall buying Use Your Illusion II the week the twin releases came out: I only had the money for one, and II was the one with November Rain on it; I would buy the other one the following week when I got my allowance.
  • Never got around to buying that first one.
  • Anyway: Guns were the last rock band; in fact, they were the two last rock bands.
  • At first. they were the logical and ultimate evolution of the traditional rock lineup, and then they were the parody of said act.
  • Mick and Keith–>Plant and Page–>Axl and Slash.
  • And that’s it.
  • There’s nowhere to go after that.
  • You can’t get blonder and your voice can’t get higher than Axl; and you can’t be on more heroin and your hair can’t get better than Slash’s.
  • Pants can get no tighter.
  • From the beginning: Slash grew up in Hollywood and befriended Steven Adler in high school, Axl and Izzy came from Indiana, and Duff was a punk rocker from Seattle; they all kicked around the Hollywood scene, which was mostly centered around the Sunset Strip and various shops that sold leather trousers; lived in various squalors; got a record deal; became famous and abandoned both punctuality and Steven.
  • They also had good hair.
  • In descending order: Steven’s poodle, Duff’s feathered shag, Axl’s silky bandana-wrapped mane, Izzy’s Johnny Thunders do, Slash.
  • You can argue over what order the other guys should be in, but Slash had the best hair.
  • He also had the best hat: Izzy had a big floppy hat, but Slash had the best hat.
  • Slash also didn’t have to work as hard as Axl to be cool: Axl did all the Rock Moves he could.
  • Obviously, he did the Snake.
  • Twirled the mic, kicked his skinny little leather legs as high as he could, demanded the crowd help him sing, accused the crowd of not singing as loudly as the previous night’s, jumping into the audience (he did that a lot and it rarely ended well).
  • After they got to stadiums, Axl added the classic “spring 300 feet across the stage while singing” maneuver, which is only available to, like, three singers.
  • The run across the stadium stage is the Rock Move version of a super-weapon in a video game; only a few players can have it.
  • And they got to stadiums quickly: people forget how big they got, and how fast.
  • In ’88, they were playing clubs; then a disastrous opening slot for Aerosmith (who were in one of their sober periods); then the double-headliner Monsters of Rock tour with Metallica; and then football stadiums all by themselves by ’91.
  • Maybe they had too much, too fast.
  • Speaking of the Dead: as LSD was to the Dead, heroin was to Guns.
  • They enjoyed it, and sold it in the beginning, and overdosed on it, and accused each other of enjoying it onstage opening for the Stones.
  • The only thing worse than not being able to afford heroin is being able to afford all you want.
  • Izzy straightened up and flew right out of the band, replaced by a non-entity named Gilby Clarke; I still believe he was chosen primarily for his name.
  • Duff preferred alcohol. (Either he was named after the beer from The Simpsons, or the beer was named after him.)
  • Slash and Steven liked heroin, though, and well past the point where it was cute.
  • As the story goes, Steven’s final fuck-up was nodding off during a take while recording Civil War.
  • In his defense, Civil War’s a terrible song.
  • He was replaced by Matt Sorum, who had shameful hair and played the drums with the subtlety of an elephant gang-rape.
  • There were also keyboard players and horn sections and back-up singers and all sorts of rock star bullshit, because Axl.
  • Almost every inexplicable move Guns’ history can be explicated: Because Axl.
  • He’s been written about far better than I ever could by John Jeremiah Sullivan, and you should read what he has to say.
  • So I won’t try to psychoanalyze him, instead just note that he hired Buckethead, and then allowed Buckethead to do a ten-minute nunchuck solo in front of a stadium of people who just wanted to head Sweet Child o’ Mine.
  • Axl also liked to start riots.
  • He would probably argue with my choice of the word “like,” but I believe in judging a man by his actions; if he didn’t enjoy starting riots, then why did he start so many of them?
  • He had it down to a science, too.
  • First, you make ’em wait.
  • Then, you rile ’em up.
  • And leave early.
  • Boom: riot.
  • It’s not a complicated recipe, but you need the proper ratio of ingredients
  • St. Louis, Montreal, Giants Stadium: the man could start himself a riot.
  • And if you asked Axl, politely, to stop starting riots, he would fly into a blind rage and attack you.
  • Although, it was mostly your fault for trying to reason with a man wearing a kilt and a catcher’s chest protector.
  • By ’93, they were irrelevant and Slash and Duff left the band soon after, to be replaced by an unending parade of mutants with goofy names, and also Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, for some reason.
  • Chinese Democracy came out and no one cared.
  • And now this: another stadium tour.
  • Can I tell you a secret?
  • I hope Axl starts a riot at every show.


  1. In the (early 90’s), they played at a horse racing track, with Skid Row as an opener, lots of mud, it had rained, (or horse poo), and Skid Row had something to prove. And mud fights, and everyone lost shoes in the horse mud poo.Oh, this happened in Birmingham AL.

  2. they was opener for iron maiden at hara arena but never showed up. when they did play Dayton at the lame nutter center, show did not start til after midnight then played the next night. so technically GNR did two shows in one day. go figure

  3. I think of Axl & Slash lineage being more close Mick & Keith > Steven & Joe> Axl & Slash. Slash just isn’t as creative as Jimmy Page and Axl is a far better frontman & singer than Plant. Guns are closer to the Toxic Twins & Aerosmith(twin guitar attack)in general than Zeppelin(solo virtuoso guitarist). Keep up the good work!

  4. Jesus — didn’t know about the Tommy Stinson gig.

    Assuming it’s true.

  5. Thoughts on guns

    -lies was ridiculously awesome.
    -illusions was ridiculously terrible. The most disappointing release(s) of my lifetime and that includes built to last
    -I’ll take rocket queen in the best evar rock song/multi part epic category. Speaking of which would you rather see gnr play terrapin or the dead (or what’s left of them) play rocket queen?

    • Thoughts On The Dead

      April 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Not even close: Guns doing Terrapin. Slash doing the big power chords at the end, plus Axl yowling “Inspi-RAAAAAAAYYYY-tion, YOWZA!”

  6. Still bobby kinda ambling in to a 1/2 tempo rocket queen has some comedy value. He is nothing if not a sexual innuendo in this burned out paradise; just a different kind?

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