Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Axl Rose Makes Sense

Axl Rose would rather pass on his Hall of Fame induction, thank you very much.
4/18/12 UPDATE: Axl added some more thoughts via his Twitter account. Certainly exceeding the 140 character limit, but still representing all things rock. Grantland's main  poppy culture guy Amos Bashard shared his thoughts, and we at Lockration. agree wholeheartedly. 
In aw, shucks news Axl Rose officially declined his induction as a member of Guns N' Roses into the Hall of Fame this past week. Typically bands that are inducted into the Hall perform in a celebration of music and musical history. The catch with Guns' induction is that Axl and the rest of the HOF band absolutely hate each other. While their credentials to get into the HOF are not in question, it's without a doubt many were hoping for one night, the band could bury their differences and play something off of "Spaghetti Incident?" or something. Rightfully so, would the Hall have been able to pull this off it probably would have been the biggest moment in their 28 year existence and probably one of the biggest moments in rock in the past decade. Although it probably wouldn't have beat out the Tupac Hologram. Of course, that all sounds grand until Axl Rose becomes a part of the picture.

Axl's mystique is forged over decades of rock n' roll bad-assness. He epitomized everything a rock frontman should be. Charismatic, splendidly talented, neurotic, egotistical, deranged, dangerous, and a total asshole. For those not interested in music history, Axl's rise is comparable to that of Daniel Plainview in "There Will Be Blood" only Daniel Plainview gets away with beating a faux-evangelical to death with a bowling pin from his indoor alley then goes on to record Use Your Illusion II and make a 9 minute music video where he's jumping off aircraft carriers and swimming with dolphins.

Let's face it, Axl is eccentric. It's what alienated so many fans and left so many more eagerly awaiting the eventual release of "Chinese Democracy" exactly 15 years after Guns released their last group effort. Of course, now all that was left was Axl and a guy with a KFC bucket on his head (can you guess his name?). Though out of the many iterations of Guns it's the original line-up everyone wants to see. While Axl and his group of currently merry men are touring the globe, it's no surprise that after the long, long sordid history of the band, the inner animosity, egos, and hostility Axl will not be joining them in Cleveland for a one-night only gig.

Axl is the last real rock star the planet has seen. He's outlasted the David Lee Roths of the world and guys like Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, and Trent Reznor have no need for the infamy required to reach the highest of rock star heights. In all of his, for lack of a better term, insanity, Axl has actually managed to come full circle to a point where rejecting to show up to the Hall of Fame ceremony makes sense.

 The premise Axl highlights in his letter (first link) is that he doesn't associate himself with that version of "Guns". As altruistic as he sounds, trying to find a compromise, etc. the truth is he has moved on from that group and those people, whether it is his own doing or not. He's not looking back and appreciating a phase of his career that he still feels is continuing, and I'm sure in his mind improving.

While it's easy to look at this as Axl being Axl, in his own way he is standing up for something beyond himself. He is making a stand for Rock N' Roll music and in a lot of ways what G N'R stood for in their music. Just because a committee says you're in the Hall of Fame doesn't mean that you're required to participate. Sure in some circles that would be looked at as poor form or not being respectful or something like that, but this is rock music. There is no poor form or formal wear. This is sticking to your "guns" and being an individual. Going against what any committee tells you to do.

Axl isn't going to be guilted into joining his ex-bandmates. You want to see him? Go buy a ticket to his rock concert. The ultimate frontman doesn't want to pose in front of cameras and have Billy Joe Armstrong feign niceties on him. He wants to run out to roaring fans and have pyro blasting off behind him.

Hall of Fames are museums. They are there to preserve history and show future generations what this thing (music, baseball, badminton) is all about. The Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame does have its place. And future inductees will be more than happy to jam along and hear a fellow artist, but it's not for everyone. It's certainly not something we should hold as incorrigible a person as Axl's feet to the fire for. Sure seeing the original Guns line-up is a dream that will probably never come true. But for the spirit in which something like the construct of the Hall of Fame is intended, we should be silently raising some devil horns for Axl.

For someone like Axl and for a thing like rock n' roll the HOF might as well be a mausoleum, and what rock star would want to be a part of that?

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