IS AXL ROSE ALWAYS LATE BECAUSE HE HAS STAGE FRIGHT?
The latest incarnation of Guns N’ Roses kicked off a seven date intimate club tour over the weekend, and while the good news is that Axl Rose has actually shown up for the concerts thus far, the bad news is that he hasn’t done so until about 11:30 pm — meaning that even if you appreciate his playing for three hours every night, if you have work in the morning, you probably do not appreciate getting home until after 3 am.
Of course, Rose’s perpetual tardiness has become part of his myth. And for years fans have wondered, “Dude, what is your deal?!” Like, does the guy just not own an alarm clock or something?
As it turns out, the answer might be much simpler. In a new, awesome multi-part interview with Metal Sludge, GN’R’s original manager, Alan Niven, reveals that Rose actually has stage fright. Speaking about the band’s stint opening for Aerosmith in 1988, Niven reveals the following:
“Axl actually wanted to cancel that tour. He did not want to do it. By that time, it was very evident he had a form of stage fright. He’s a singer, and singers who have to go out there three, four or five times a week, they invest their spirit in what they’re singing. The guitar players have something in their hands. They’re not naked. The singer is out there naked, and sometimes that’s hard to do. Obviously, Axl still has problems with it because he’s still late.”
Niven goes on to say he knew Axl wasn’t just throwing a hissy fit because, well, he actually DIDN’T lose his temper — and that’s when Niven knew Rose’s fears were legit:
“…I empathized with him, but I told Axl, ‘Look, I signed five individuals collectively as Guns N’ Roses. My responsibility is to the entity, not the individual,’ but he called back again and said he just could not do it.
“Now, even though there were some days when Axl would scream at me, that kind of stuff would usually just go in one ear and out the other. But this time, he was very quiet and reasoned. I always listened carefully when he was low-key and soft. He said he just couldn’t do it.”
But Niven never relented, much to Rose’s dismay:
“So the next thing I did, I had the rest of the band fly out to Detroit for the first date, all our gear, everything. Axl had no choice, he had to do it. He was really mad at me. He didn’t talk to me for a long time after that.”
And that actually makes a lot of sense, and is pretty much the best explanation I’ve ever heard as to why Rose just can’t seem to get his ass on stage in a timely fashion. Of course, you’d think after twenty-five years, Rose would have gotten any fear of public performing by now. I mean, really, what’s the worst thing that happens? You get really winded on national television, and go on to sell out Madison Square Garden anyway. Big whoop.
ANYWAY, Niven was fired a couple of years later and replaced by his assistant, Doug Goldstein — making him the first guy in GN’R history to learn that, whether he’s screaming or being “reasoned” and “low-key,” Axl Rose does not take kindly to being told “no.”
You can read part one of Metal Sludge’s interview with Niven here, and part two here. Part three should be published shortly. I do strongly suggest checkin’ ’em out, ’cause they’re the kind of fun, gossipy interviews Metal Sludge specializes in, and there’s some other good dirt in there, too.