A journalist who had unprecedented access to Guns n’ Roses at their peak delivers a big, brash history of the band’s charismatic, fantastically talented and idiosyncratic leader—W. Axl Rose
Even in the world of rock and roll, a figure like Axl Rose doesn’t come along very often. Mercurial and brilliant, deluded and imperious, Rose defies easy description or analysis. Few people have studied Rose as closely as Mick Wall has. Traveling with Guns n’ Roses and writing about them in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Wall first earned Axl’s trust and later his fury.
W.A.R. goes back to the beginning, revealing Rose’s childhood influences (and how he got his name), and tracking the birth of the band and their enormous success with albums like “Appetite for Destruction” and “Use Your Illusion.” With fame and money came substance abuse and infighting, and a lead singer who morphed from eccentric to seemingly unhinged. Wall’s book is richly detailed and offers surprising new views on some celebrated Guns ‘n Roses and Axl Rose incidents, including:
–the death of two fans at a concert in Donington Park in England,
–Rose’s fall-out and eventual split from every one of the other original Gn’R band members,
–fights with perceived enemies like Kurt Cobain, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil and fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger,
–Rose’s consistent refusal to show up at concerts throughout his career,
–Axl becoming a virtual recluse at his Malibu mansion for most of the past 15 years.
The book goes right up to the present, to explore why a new Guns n’ Roses—with a reconfigured band—has toured but still hasn’t released their long-awaited album “Chinese Democracy”, now over a decade in the making at a cost of over $13 million. W.A.R. is about great music, bad relationships, and the public and private personas of one of the most controversial performers of our time.
By Mick Wall