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Spin - November 1990
by Danny Sugerman

Bad To The Bone

Clearly Guns N' Roses are fuckups: aborted tours, arrests, no-shows, broken bones, detox, urinating on airplanes, marriages, divorces, charges of racism and obscenity. Their perennial screwups prolonged their inability to record a proper follow-up to their 1987 debut, Appetite For Destruction, making them failures even at success. But the same thing that threatens to destroy them is the same thing that has made them so popular to begin with: the fact that they are true misfits and outcasts.

Appetite For Destruction remained in the Top 10 for more than a year and has sold more than 10 million copies around the world. Their 1988 EP, GN'R Lies, stormed up the charts as well. Not bad for five guys who only wanted to blow away all the other L.A. club bands, to show the poseurs and wannabes how it was really done.

They should have then walked away, split up, or died, a la the Sex Pistols. Instead, they fought their way out of the trash heap of L.A.'s heavy-metal Sunset Boulevard scene to establish themselves as the last authentic bad boys. Now, the possibilities for them are fantastic - there's a place for that kind of stardom to go that someone like Jim Morrison stopped short of. "You know I went to Morrison's grave site last year," Axl Rose says softly. "I knew I could go the same way Jim did, that I could go down in flames, crucify myself on the altar of rock 'n' roll. Everyone's always talking about me dying anyway."

I tell him that Joseph Campbell said that when you travel to the grave of someone you revere, it underscores the impulse to imitate that person's deeds. "That's why I went there," Rose says. "I just sat down next to where he was lying, if he's even there. I was just thinking; I don't even remember how long I was there. It was one of those depressing gray days. Nobody recognized me. And you know, it was like a turning point. I just realized that I could sacrifice myself like Morrison did if I wanted. That was my turning point - realizing that it was up to me."

One of Morrison's favorite quotes comes from William Blake, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

"But not if you die," Rose says. "If you die, the road of excess leads to a dirt plot in a foreign land that people dump booze and cigarettes on."


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