Yeah, it looks like Axl always wanted to be Elton Rose from the beginning
But that doesn't mean that Axl ever made that "desire" clear to his bandmates like "hey guys, i am doing this rock n roll thing just for a few years, what i really wanna do is huge epic piano music like elton and queen, and thats how its gonna be after appetite".
it also doesnt mean there was any kind of agreement in GNR that GNR would change its style after appetite.
Yes, you can definetely say that the piano was part of Axl's act even in the early 80's, but only offstage, right? I may be mistaken but as far as i know Axl has never played piano in any of his pre-GNR bands (rapidfire, rose, hollywood rose etc) and he had never played piano live in GNR until that fabulous Indiana 1991 gig, when he actually says that "we're gonna try something that we never tried before until right now".
I believe you are mistaken by saying "AFD was 'raw' only because that's the only way they could get an album made w/ Geffen". I believe it was "raw" because that's what Guns n Roses was. I am not sure the five guys ever sat and discussed something like "hey we wanna be a raw rock band". It was probably an unspoken thing that came naturally to them as a sum of who they were and the bands they loved and the music they wanted to play.
So of course Axl had November Rain way before Appetite but i don think thats a track/direction any of the other guys wanted to pursue or follow. I think for the other four guys it was more like "Yeah, Axl likes this November Rain song a lot, its not really my favorite stuff but i am open to help him arranging it and recording it as a Guns n Roses song and releasing it on one of our albums and playing it live no problem". Thats what happens in a band, you give room to other people's ideas, right?
Also I am not sure Axl "wasn't allowed to put November Rain on that album otherwise it would be there". By what i can remember Axl and the rest of the band were advised by Niven (or whoever else at Geffen) to keep the "soft" songs (November Rain and Dont Cry if i am not mistaken) for the second album so the first album could be more cohesive. Apparently the entire band agreed to that. That didnt prevent the album from having at least two love songs (Think About You and Sweet Child O Mine). Which, by all accounts, at least one of the guys (Slash) didnt really wanna play or record because he felt they were too soft and sappy or something like that (but he did played and recorded them anyway, probably in the "band spirit" of giving room to other people's ideas).
I really dont think that "Dizzy would have been brought into the band and signed to Geffen along with the others". Why would you say that? As far as I can see, there is zero evidence of that. Guns n Roses never has had a keyboarder on its line up, it began without one even when the five guys werent there yet, then weeks/months later when the GNR line up was cemented they never played November Rain live anywhere (not documented anyway) and i believe if they ever did it must have been the acoustic guitar version similar to the one on the demo that we all know
the acoustic guitar demo (which is most likely from 1986) shows that the band was actually willing to "work" on the track. it appears to be a whole-band effort including backing vocals. it also indicates that the band (and maybe, just maybe, even axl) was willing to completely rearrange the song for acoustic guitars so there would be no need for a piano/keyboard player.
there is also the piano-and-voice-only demo and the fact that there is no one else playing on that demo except axl may indicate that no one in the band was willing to have a piano on the song, that they much rather have guitars on it. but of course thats me speculating
i agree 100% that "14 years w/ piano sounds like some great authentic rock n' roll" and i would add that the piano doesnt hurt on a handful of other tracks from the illusions, specially the "axl tracks".
i also agree that "piano is very much a part of rock n' roll lore and GnR (during the AFD era anyway) were rock n' rollers".
about piano not helping their "street' image, yes, you are correct. yeah, not sure about they being street or not at that point. I dont care, really. Stones havent been street for a zillion years and they still write some good songs!
I would also be curious to know what Izzy thought about the piano being included in their songs. As far as i can tell, he went to rehearsals one day and dizzy was there. now THAT is where things start to go completely fucked up. when that kind of shit happens in a band, things usually go downhill pretty fast and we can all thank Axl for that!
Do any of his albums even have piano?
YES they do, i believe most of them have
Are you against the piano being used in a GnR album or just against having Dizzy in the band? On Illusions, Dizzy is playing Axl's compositions. I believe he had zero creative input on Illusions (thankfully).
Oh, back then i was so against it! Now I have mellowed out a lot on that subjetct. I think the piano fits well in the mellower GNR songs BUT i think that in a band like Guns n Roses the piano ends up being more of a distraction that keeps me from being able to listen to the real gold. Fuck, you have the best rhythm guitar player on the planet (sorry keef, sorry malcom!) and the best lead guitar player in the planet in that band, why the fuck would you want a piano or a third guitar player of horn sections or anything else? You also have the best singer ever and the best drummer ever, why would you wanna hear anyone else other than these guys and the bass player? for my personal taste there is zero need for anyone else in that band! i wanna hear axl, izzy, slash, steven and that other guy who plays bass! yes, these days i kinda enjoy most of the piano/key arragements on illusions but id much rather if there was no piano at all, like in the november rain acoustic guitar demo!
besides, the piano is absolutley useless on the hard/faster/heavier songs so in a live situation you have that pathetic keyboard player playing bongos or whatever for like 70% of the show!
always a pleasure talking to you man!